Estes Rockets: One of the “Nifty” Science Brands

For Americans to again embrace production, innovation, science and enthusiasm, we need to get kids, mainly young boys, doing crap with their brains and their hands. Science stuff.

This Fourth of July weekend, we are thinking about great American brands with FIRE-POWER. And for decades, there has been no greater fun (and learning) for boys than Estes Rockets. Along with brands like Chemcraft and Gilbert chemistry sets (click here for a great rant on the subject of politically correct chemistry sets on the blogsite 12 Angry Men), Heathkit electronics kits, and Radio Shack Science Fair kits, Estes was part of a great American commie-beating tradition.

What’s not to like?

Estes was the creation of Vernon Estes. The company, headquartered in Penrose, Colorado, was a great innovator and became an icon of its time. If Erector Sets were for the early 20th century, then an Estes Rocket was the toy of the late 20th, and perhaps 21st. The first great toy of Estes was the Astron Scout. Pictured here is the AstroVision, which seems to be the perfect toy for our Google earth era. It is described thusly:

Get ready to take fantastic movies or photos from over 300 feet (91 m) with the Estes® AstroVision™, a Ready-to-Fly camera rocket. Select “Movie Mode” and take a 12 second digital movie while the rocket is in flight. Switch to “Photo Mode” and take a digital photo of your neighborhood.

Now that’s fun!

Rockets are not an easy thing to give to pre-teen boys, as they do have a habit of doing things with them that might not always be safe, like shooting them at things that are NOT up in the air. That was the problem with chemistry sets; boys wanted to blow crap up, like their sister’s Barbie planes. But to learn about rockets, you’ve got to let boys shoot them. Often.

If you are interested in model rocketry, the website Greg’s Rocket Page has some great information, including photos of Vern Estes himself in his house, with all of his model rockets.

Want to read about Radio Shack and how they are bringing back innovation with their Innovation Labs? Click to BrandlandUSA’s post on Radio Shack’s Invention Lab. Interested in how chemistry sets have spurred interest in science careers? Read this article from Today’s Chemist on Gilbert and Chemcraft brand chemistry sets.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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