I first noticed while thumbing through old Estes ephemera on this site when I saw it staring me in the face:
Estes is a company that has, for a great many years, built and sold flying model rockets-as in, you build them, stick a solid fuel engine in the back, and launch it into the sky. It’s very much an orthogonal hobby for someone who’s a fan of spaceships. The same camp where I learned the art of model rocketry was where I found out about Escape Velocity, which brings us back to the point. If you’re an Escape Velocity or EV Nova fan, you probably recognize that as fictional space pirate “escort Frigate” the Atinoda Kestrel.
Probably the most iconic ship from that game, it made its way into EV Nova as a post-game bonus option and NAEV as its poster-ship. Matt Burch, author of Escape Velocity, had this to say in an Ambrosia Times interview:
Ambrosia Times: […] Is it true that some of the graphics in EV are the result of a model rocketry hobby?
Matt Burch: Well, I used to build model rockets when I was little, and a couple of the ship designs in EV are loosely based on my memories of some of my favorite Estes kits.
That confirms my suspicions. So, which other ships are based on Estes rockets?
From the 1990 catalog, we’ve got these two:
I’d seen the Rebel Cruiser described as having “babylon 5 roots” but I think its lineage is very clear from this:
I’m less sure about the Clipper (which I think is the astro blaster.) The configuration is the same (two back-swept wings with giant winglets and canards in the front.)
There are two possibilities for the Manta, and I’m not sure which one it really is, despite it sharing the name with one of the rockets. Maybe a combination of both:
So, several of the ships in EV share more than a passing resemblance to Estes rockets. There may be others that I’ve missed, or other sources of inspiration. I’d love to hear about them!