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Hobbico NexSTAR Mini EP Review

You can build the NexSTAR Mini EP in 20 minutes, throw it in the backseat and head to the field!

Splash

Introduction

Wingspan:44 in (1120 mm)
Wing Area:296 in² (19.1 dm²)
Weight w/o battery:25-28 oz (710-790 g)
Length:36.5 in (925 mm)
Wing Loading:12.2-13.6 oz/ft² (37-42 g/dm²)
Servos:ElectriFly™ ES50 Nano servos (included
Transmitter:TACJ0404 Tactic 4-channel radio (included)
Receiver:TACL0424 Tactic 4-channel 2.4GHz receiver (included)
Battery:SUPP1030 SuperTigre 11.1V 1250mAh 15C LiPo (included)
Motor:SuperTigre® 400 brushless motor (included)
ESC:SuperTigre 20A brushless ESC (included)
Prop:9x6 Propeller (included)
Manufacturer:Hobbico
Available from:Fine hobby stores
MSRP:$189.99

The NexSTAR has gone mini!

Its "mini" status means that this is a plane you can throw in the backseat and head to the field. The NexSTAR Mini is also an RTF and you can build this plane in 20 minutes - FOR REAL! It comes with a brushless motor, a lipo battery, a charger and a 2.4 TX. This plane has ample power, good looks, comes in at a great price and is totally complete.

Kit Contents

The NexTAR Mini arrived in a moderately sized box. Everything was well protected by foam. Its box, that includes a handle, is a great way to store and carry the plane. This RTF goes together so quickly that you should get out the provided battery charger and lipo ahead of time because you will be finished with the plane before the battery is charged.

Kit Includes:

  • Fuselage set
  • Wing set
  • Tail surfaces
  • Landing gear
  • Cowl
  • Spinner
  • Battery hatch
  • Wing joiner
  • Plastic parts set
  • Nose wheel assembly
  • Screw set
  • Servo linkage hardware set
  • 9x6 propeller (2)
  • 400 brushless motor
  • 20A brushless ESC
  • NANO Servo
  • Great Planes 3S LiPo Smart Charger
  • SuperTigre LiPo 11.1V, 1250mAh 15C

Kit Requires:

  • Small and medium Phillips head screwdrivers
  • Wrench

Assembly

I really have to brag on the way this planes goes together. I read over the instructions and literally had it ready to fly in 20 minutes. I used two screwdrivers (a small one and a medium size one) and a wrench to tighten the nut on the prop adapter. Everything that was prebuilt looked to be of good quality to me, and I did not feel like I had to modify or strengthen anything. You could literally take this RTF and build it in the field with no problem. I am impressed.

Fuselage

The fuselage comes loaded up and ready to go. The servos are pre-installed, the rx is installed and uses Velcro to stay in place. All the control rods and clevises are already installed, as well as the speed controller and brushless motor. I was blown away at how complete it was.

Tail

You will find that the elevator and rudder are made to fit together. One thing to note is that the rudder has a notch in it that is covered by the covering. The rudder and elevator will not fit until you cut this covering away. These two pieces then slide into the fuse. I slid the control rods into the control horns and screwed in the two provided wood screws to secure everything.

After I slid the control rod into the elevator and rudder control horn I made sure to tighten them up! The other side gets tightened in the "Radio Installation" section.

Wing

The wing has the servos and control rods already installed. There is a y-harness coming out of the fuselage. I took my label maker and marked the wires to keep things simple in the future.

After connecting the wires, all I had to do is line up the dowel in the front of the wing with the hole and then screw the wing on with the supplied screw, being careful not to overtighten the wing and also making sure the wires weren't hanging out before tightening.

Radio Installation

There really is no "installation." After I had the tail group assembled, I made sure the servo arms were 90 degrees and tightened up the screws that secure the control rods to the elevator and rudder.

Power System

This is a really amazing RTF. It comes with a great brushless motor and speed controller, and the supplied lipo is good quality. There really is nothing to do other than to put on the prop adapter, spinner and prop (it comes with an extra prop). It really is that easy.

A charger for the lipo is included. I started the battery charging while I was building the NextSTAR Mini EP. Remember, the white plug from the battery goes into the charger.

I usually put the Velcro on the back of of the battery so I can read the info on the battery in the future. The access hatch has a very nice embedded magnet and, once again, it is all ready to go and needs no building at all.

I have been building RC planes for many years, and I'm not used to RC models coming with transmitters. I'm especially surprised that the NextSTAR Mini EP came with a 2.4 TACJ0404 Tactic 4-channel radio! That is really nice for the price.

Completion

Once at the field, it is important to know how to arm the ESC and set the safe start function:

  • Turn the TX power on.
  • Move the throttle stick towards you.
  • Connect a fully charged battery to the ESC. The motor will beep to indicate the brake setting (once for off, twice for on).
  • Move the throttle stick to full. The motor will again beep once or twice to indicate the brake setting.
  • Move the throttle stick to "off" or "brake", and the motor will beep four times. The ESC is now "armed", and the motor will ROTATE anytime the throttle stick is advanced.

As a safety precaution to prevent the motor from rotating when the battery is first connected, the ESC must be "armed" every time the battery is connected. The propeller will NOT rotate until the ESC is armed. To arm the ESC, move the throttle stick to full position, then back to "off". The motor will then rotate anytime the throttle stick is advanced away from the "off" position! Watch out for that prop!

Flying

The NexSTAR Mini has more than enough power. I would suggest that a beginner stay under half throttle. The plane will take off at quarter throttle. The great part having more than enough power is that if your a beginner the plane can grow along with your skills. If you are already a sport pilot, you won't have to think about upgrading the power plant.

The plane built so fast and easily that I was reluctant to put her into the air. I'm used to spending many days and nights getting a plane ready to fly, so 20 minutes of build time just didn't seem like enough! My reluctance went away as soon as I took to the air. The plane flies great!

Taking Off and Landing

Both days of testing there was almost no wind.

As you can see in the video, the plane takes off easily. The NexSTAR Mini tracked well on the ground. The supplied brushless motor creates enough power to "torque" the plane during takeoff, so be careful to not give it too much power. I hit the throttle, and the plane took off with authority. A light touch on the elevator was enough to get the plane off the ground quickly. I could do scale takeoffs or jam the throttle, add some rudder to keep the nose going the right way and jump off the ground.

I was amazed when I landed, chopped the throttle, and was able to taxi right to my feet.

Landing with the throttle off is possible but the plane really wants to land with some power applied. The landing gear is made to take a hit, and that's great, but it does make it hard to "grease" the landing. My best looking landings were made by flying the plane to the ground with the throttle always on. I managed to do get some pretty landings after just a few tries.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

The NexSTAR Mini has enough power to do loops, and it does feel fast in the air because of its size and weight. It does have nice stall characteristics, and I managed to get a slight harrier out of the plane just for fun.

Is This For a Beginner?

The wing assembly is definitely designed for beginners. The wing will give slightly on a rough landing, and if you hit too hard it should come off without breaking the fuse. The "spin control" air foil extensions are something I put on my trainer. These make a stall mush forward and keep the plane from spinning out of control. There are also some cool looking speed brakes which help slow the plane down for landing. I want to point out that the NextSTAR Mini is also very much like a sport plane and has more power than most beginner planes. I think this is a good thing that allows the plane to grow with your skills.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Here is my video of the NexSTAR Mini EP:

Below is a great video showing more of what the NextSTAR Mini EP has to offer:

Conclusion

I can't say enough about how easy this RTF is to put together. From the build, to the covering to the power supply, the quality is top notch. This is the perfect size plane for the car. I was impressed with the power, too!

Pluses:

  • This plane can really be built in 20 minutes.
  • Everything is put together well.
  • The plane is small and can fit in your car's back seat.
  • There is plenty of power to carry it beyond being a trainer.
  • Very stable in the air and fun to fly.

Minuses:

  • Because it has so much power it can be "torquey" on takeoff.
  • The landing gear is flexible, which is good, but it makes it difficult to nail a smooth landing.

Thanks very much to Victor Mattingly for helping with the video!

Last edited by Angela H; Jan 27, 2010 at 05:05 PM..

Discussion

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Old Jan 26, 2010, 05:42 PM
War Eagle!
Spackles94's Avatar
Birmingham, Alabama
Joined Feb 2007
7,876 Posts
Good work, Jim! A nice review of a timeless trainer!
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Old Jan 26, 2010, 07:05 PM
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Xpress..'s Avatar
Joined Oct 2007
20,928 Posts
Nice review Jim!

Is it ProBro approved?
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Old Jan 26, 2010, 09:53 PM
Slow Flyer
sterling, Illinois
Joined Feb 2006
1,051 Posts
Excellent review here, well done !

I have this one, and still amazed on its beautiful handling, I have loads of snow here so frequent the hand launch which is does quite well, if your use to deadstick landings this one is easy, simply drop the nose if necessary to keep things flying, it comes in on the money...love this bird !

I caution its speed for the novice, even at just over half throttle it zooms slightly compared to my other trainers, but its solid handling, slightly coarse on the ailerons but not bad...mine has only a wire for the nose landings in the snow simply to keep the prop clear and works fantastic...give it all stars, dozens of flights and no issues...nice design here, its indeed a winner...love it !!

Note I don't fly mine below half throttle, just me perhaps but this one wants to fly !!

One other alert on this puppie, its slightly small so don't fly out too far even over 12 seconds one direction with any speed and makes a tiny targer for my older eyes, simply keep it in a good visual range, nearly lost mine on an early maiden turning abit late but caught a view of the wings as it turned and able to bring her back, just be aware..<>..
BEST ..<>..
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Old Jan 27, 2010, 01:24 AM
どうもありがとうミスターロボット
Wrend's Avatar
United States, IL
Joined Jul 2009
3,063 Posts
Good job with the review. This does seem like a pretty complete trainer setup along with their larger version. If I were just starting out I would definitely consider this plane. As it is I might pick one up as a loaner for some buddies I'm trying to get into the hobby.

I just thought I'd point out though that it's NexSTAR not NextSTAR.

It kind of reminds me of spectrum vs Spektrum. Good thing I'm a Futaba guy.
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Last edited by Wrend; Jan 27, 2010 at 01:31 AM.
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Old Jan 27, 2010, 09:23 AM
Administrator
Jim T. Graham's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Mar 2002
11,295 Posts
Thanks for the good words and the heads up!
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Old Jan 27, 2010, 06:20 PM
Registered User
Pacific Northwest
Joined Jan 2004
273 Posts
Nice review.

Thought I'd point out however:
On Tower's website
The RTF version is $269.97
The RR (receiver ready) version - No Radio, Battery or charger - is $189.99

Regards,

Dennis
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Last edited by Rcflyer9; Jan 27, 2010 at 06:47 PM.
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Old Jan 27, 2010, 06:37 PM
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Gotta Love Edwin Warner Park .....
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Old Jan 28, 2010, 12:01 AM
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jasmine2501's Avatar
United States, AZ, Mesa
Joined Jul 2007
25,354 Posts
It is cute

I enjoy flying the big Nexstar at our training nights. Maybe this one will be nice for that too. It's good that it comes with a receiver-ready version because mostly we use Spektrum around here and that's what works with our trainer boxes. I'll be interested to give this one a try when ever we can get it around here.
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Old Jan 28, 2010, 07:36 AM
Slow Flyer
sterling, Illinois
Joined Feb 2006
1,051 Posts
Hi Jasmine

I wouldn't even hesitate on this one, is slightly quick for a beginer but with help from an experienced pilot is an awsome flyer, simply love mine todate, friend of ours has a version similar to the big Nexstar and flys very well indeed, my mini I never tire doing low speedy passes and the aileron rolls are a breeze, lands easily...give it all stars...true winner here !!

Again a very nice review and well done ..BEST ..<>..

Pssst for those that easily tire on just a few flights with the Super Cub or Slo-Stick, and learn quickly, this is the one, no question !!! Will have a thrill ride defintely and love it !!
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Old Jan 28, 2010, 08:59 AM
Registered User
Portland, OR
Joined Nov 2009
526 Posts
My car of kind of cramped and I was wondering, given how the wing attaches to the fuselage, is it possible and ok to take the wing on and off between flights to make transport easier; or, would that compromise the strength of the plane.

Don
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Old Jan 28, 2010, 09:01 AM
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Jim T. Graham's Avatar
United States, TN, Nashville
Joined Mar 2002
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The wing can come off super fast and does not compromise the plane.
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Old Jan 28, 2010, 10:33 AM
Registered User
Portland, OR
Joined Nov 2009
526 Posts
Nice.

Well, I am training with ailerons on a foam Decathlon, which has been great, and am close to feeling confident enough to have a wood based plane at this point, and one that is faster.

Can't wait.

Thanks,
Don
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Old Jan 28, 2010, 03:30 PM
Flutter-Bys are fun
Conehead's Avatar
United States, MI, Honor
Joined Dec 2005
5,029 Posts
From this review, it sounds like this little Nexstar flies like the wet engine one and I have had a total of 9 Nexstars. Great plane to fly.
I have learned a lot, had more fun with my Nexstars than could be possible with a trainer.
This little one, with floats would be a great float plane and it is priced right.
Nice review.
Conehead
Orrin Eldred
Honor, MI.
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Old Feb 02, 2010, 09:42 PM
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alexedit's Avatar
United States, NV, Rachel
Joined Dec 2008
1,174 Posts
Good Review. How is the flight time with the provided lipo and good throttle management?
I want to get this airplane, but I am looking for something that flies at least 20 minutes

thanks
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