My BEST guess would be that they are still SITTING on old inventory.
Even in the 'Golden Era' of model rockets (circa 1950s/1960s), Estes
sat on inventory until they either morph it into something else, or
just threw it in the trash can ... alot of items that are now
considered valuable/collectible were just thrown away ... this is
standard through out all manufacturing arenas. Remember, something
that is now VERY desirable now, wasn't back then. Sure Estes sold Mars
Landers, but they sat on alot of stock over the years. In the final
years of the MLs sales, Estes had to HEAVILY discount them to finally
move them out. Parts that were no longer manufactured, or used in kits
had to be moved out of the way for newer products ... what better way
than a [S]pare [P]arts [E]limination [V]ehicle.
Pallets of Cold Powered Rockets/Cars were thrown in the dumpster.
This had to do with the Freon eating Ozone and not really lack of sales
... but I wonder about that too ... as a kid back then, I didn't see
the cold powered stuff [FLYING] off the shelves.
I don't think anyone really sat around in 1967 and said to themselves,
' Ya know, I had better order 100 Saturn 1B kits now ... because in 40
years, I will be able to sell each one for hundreds of dollars on a yet
to be invented web site, that runs on a yet to be public/commercial
medium called the internet!' ... no and if they were, then they were
So with all that diatribe out of the way, no DCs are still available
due to Estes ordering 10s of thousands of units initially from China in
order to maximize their profits. Don't be surprised if the G. DC isn't
still available into the next decade and/or heavily discounted via mail
order specials by Estes.
Question: If the Gemini DC was produced and discontinued in the 1960s,
would it be fetching $100+ on auctions today? I guess based on rarity
... but I really don't like the design and have no interest in the kit
today ... maybe that will change in 30 years ...
They were sold in Michaels stores nationwide as well as many other retailers.
They leapt off the shelves at Michaels and were regularly restocked.
The packaging had changed over time, so they obviously kept making more kits.
As with every Estes kit, it will stay around as long as it continues to sell at
rate that it does.
It is no longer in the Estes catalog.
-Fred Shecter NAR 20117
"""Remove "zorch" from address (2 places) to reply.
Not true in some cases ... I have many 'skill level' kits from the
early to late 70s that have the
'K Kit' instructions clearly visible inside. Estes repackaged
pre-Damon kits into Damon packaging and repackaged pre-Damon/Damon
kits, into 'skill level' packaging.
Then there are very RARE cases of discontinued 'K Kits' (pre-Damon)
being packaged in 'Skill level' packaging. E.g., the Astron Falcon in a
'Skill Level' blue package, or Astron Space Plane
in a 'Skill Level' package. Same for the Astron Space Man (Man in
Space) and the Hornet.
I believe the above examples are from the time when these kits were
being closed out via advertisements in MRN and catalog specials. The
parts were still laying around in bins, but they needed a way to move
them out. They can't go back to the old pre-Damon packaging, nor the
original Damon packaging as everything at that time was geared toward
the newer 'skill level' packaging. So put together a few hundred 'skill
level' , pre-Damon kits and get them out the door. I know they
repackaged boxed kits and starter sets.
I have SEEN Scouts (skill level) with 'K Kit' old fonted instructions
(1966/67ish), Big Berthas,
Birdies, Betas, Cherokee-D, Trident, Orbital Transport and many more
with this same
situation. Packaging (face card) says 'Skill Level', but the
instructions and parts are from the pre-Damon/Damon era. This is also
kind of nice, because I prefer the balsa parts over plastic.
Plus Skill Level kits sell MUCH lower on auctions, than the K-Kit
I know for a fact, that Estes did in fact repackage Citation Boxed kits
and starter sets. I have examples where the original boxed kits with
Citation engines are in one form with original documentation and
instructions. Then in a later form of the SAME kit, the engines were
removed and there is a sticker placed over the spot on the box where
the 'Engines Included' would be visible. There are also Estes stickers
denoting a price change on the front of the box and the box resealed
with tape, shrinkwrap. Also, I have Citation Bomarc examples with and
without engines where even the instruction sheets have been changed
(Copper plastic cone and then the hollow Balsa cone versions). Now for
Estes to have had the time to re-open kits,
make changes, apply content change stickers, remove/add contents, and
apply price change
stickers, then re-seal (tape/shrinkwrap), indicates that these kits
did 'sit' for some time in
As for the packaging changing in the Gemini DC, that could be due to
changing hands several times, government/U.N. shipping regulations, or
a different company
doing the box art/manufacturing of the box. I am sure Estes tries to
keep itself competitive by
looking for the lowest prices for manufacturing of its products. If a
different box maker could undercut the current maker by a few penneys,
then Estes would/should go with the lower cost provider as long as the
quality is maintained.
Bottom line is, I really don't think the sales are that hot. It took a
decade for Estes to finally discontinue its originial stock of K-Kits
back in the 1960s. With todays CNC, and everything made in China for
penneys on the dollar, buying 20 - 30 thousand units at a time is the
common thing today. It costs Estes (and this is just guesstimating)
maybe $0.75 to a dollar on every Alpha III they order from China (when
the orders are in the ten's of thousands of units). Then they turn
around and sell that Alpha III to distributors for maybe $2.50 - $3.00.
Then the Distributor sells that Alpha III to a hobby shop for $5.00 -
$7.00 each ... then the hobby dealer sells that Alpha III to the
consumer for $12.00 - $15.00 each. Now that was based on large number
of units, up to the point of Distributor - Shop and Shop to consumer
sales. Those numbers of course wouldn't be in the thousands.
It may not be in the catalog, but they are still in the distributor and
retail channels. Its in bulk packs, and free give-aways that Estes
does. And I bet that in the Estes warehouse there are still a few
hundred siting on pallets collecting dust ... but what is interesting
is that it ISN'T in the the 2006 catalog ... if it had/has been such a
hot seller for Estes ... why would Estes drop it from their product
line??? We all know Estes is hurting for sales/money, so why drop it?
In my opinion it is no longer there because it NEVER was a hot seller.
It takes time for a product to slowly sell off to a point that they can
drop it from the catalog. Same with K-kits of
the 1960s and the same with the stuff they sell today. You
manufacture the numbers you
hope to sell within a given time. You then wind up sitting/selling on
that product and hope you
make your expected profits/margins.
Realise that when Estes, or any manufacture, drops a product from it's
line, the decision to do so wasn't made just a week before. It took a
couple or more business quarters (business quarter = 3 months) previous
to decide to drop an item. When Estes would let a kit discontinue back
in the 60s/70s, the decision was made a year or two in advance not to
produce the kit any further, but let the product line expire. I
believe the same holds true in this case. The Gemini DC was slated for
the chopping block back in 2004/2005. What you see on the shelves
today are the last few instances of the kit in its present form ...
hmmm, maybe I will pick up a couple kits and stash them in the basement
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