RCU Review: Model Tech Magic 3D

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    Contributed by: Jim Langley | Published: July 2002 | Views: 51925 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    Model Name: Model Tech Magic

    Wingspan: 52"

    Wing Area: 725 sq in

    Length: 41"

    Flying Weight As Tested: 3.6 lbs

    Wing Loading: 11.08 oz/sq foot!!!

    Engine Used: Thunder Tiger Pro 36

    Prop: APC 10 x 5

    Radio Used: Airtronics RD 6000

    Receiver: Airtronics 92777Z

    Servos: (4) Hitec HS-225, (1) HS-81

    Channels Used: 2 - Ailerons, 1- Elevator, 1- Rudder, 1- Throttle

    Manufacturer: Model Tech

    Distributor: Global Hobby Distributors

    Model Tech Magic

    Fun Fly Aircraft

    by Jim Langley

    • Quick building
    • Light wing loading!
    • Solid Construction
    • Pull-pull controls.
    • LOTS of decals
    • Great flight performance!
    • Mistakes in the instructions
    • Missing hardware
    • Tank does not fit


    This is a great looking AND flying plane! The plane is 95% assembled for you with a beautiful shrink type covering and loads of decals. Assembly is quick although you will need to suffer through a few mistakes in the instruction manual. With the huge thick wing and solid construction, the air frame will support a variety of engine types ranging from .32 to .46 2 stroke or a .40 to .61 4 stroke. The real fun of this plane is assembling it light and flying low and close to the ground. Good hovering ability and large control surfaces redefine the words "fun fly".

    The Magic is manufactured by Model Tech, Inc. and distributed by Global Hobby Distributors. The plane has made a big splash this side of the pond over the past year with fun fly enthusiasts all over the country. This kit is a very complete ARF. I think part of that is due to its simplicity, no wheel pants, no cowl, simple and sweet!

    When I received my Magic, it came in double packed box shipped from Quantum Models in Shelbyville, Kentucky. I was very excited when I finally opened the box and found everything neatly packed and bagged in a logical order. Upon removing the contents for a close inspection, I was happy to see that everything arrived in one piece and there was not one wrinkle on the plane, none! Out of habit, I ironed over all of the edges for good measure and checked all the glue joints that I could see. Now I was ready to start putting this thing together!

    Thunder Tiger Pro 36

    The Thunder Tiger Pro 36 was my choice for an engine as I wanted lots of power, but very light weight. The TT is right at 11.3 oz. compared to strapping a 16 oz. .46 type engine on this plane. Remember "light is right" when it comes to close in. I was pretty sure the TT would hover this plane, it was just a matter of figuring out what prop to use.

    Kit Includes

    • Balsa and Plywood Construction
    • Fully Covered with Red, Yellow and Blue shrink covering (lighter than Oracover)
    • Pull-pull control rod setup
    • Tall wire landing gear
    • Glass Engine Mount
    • 10 Oz. Fuel Tank
    • All Necessary Hardware
    • Detailed 16 Page Instruction Manual with Pictures

    Required Items

    • Engine (.32 - .46 2 Stroke or .40 to 61 4 Stroke)
    • Propeller (To match engine)
    • 2" Spinner
    • 5 Standard Servos
    • Receiver
    • RX Battery and Switch
    • Foam for Wrapping Battery and Receiver
    • Fuel Tubing (medium size)
    • Thin and Thick CA
    • 15 and 30 Minute Epoxy
    • Standard Building Tools

    Reviewed Upgrades

    • Used micro servos instead of standard.
    • Dubro Pull Pull Kit for Rudder


    Make sure to trial fit the wing half before gluing it together


    Attach the wing tape on one side, then to the other half while stretching. This give you a very tight fit. Do both the top and bottom sides

    You should have quite a bit deflection in your control surface.

    Wing Assembly

    The original Magic shipped with a one piece wing, but for whatever reasons now, it comes with two wing halves that you need to glue together. Model Tech has included a one page supplement to the manual to cover this step.

    A nice touch is that they have installed a string in each wing half. This makes it a lot easier to pull your servo wire back through the wing to the center. Use masking tape to keep the string ends out of the way when gluing the wing halves. Make sure you trial fit wings together to insure a tight fit. I took a hint from a Super Kraft review in RCU Magazine by Erick Royer and used a wood pecker to create some holes in the ribs for extra bonding power.

    The instructions tell you to epoxy, (30 minute), the plywood joiner into one half of the wing, and then apply epoxy to the remaining half. I pressed the two wing halves together and applied 1" masking tape along the lines of the wing to create a stretch clamp. It is amazing how tightly masking tape will hold a wing together. Use alcohol soaked paper towels as you go to clean off any excess epoxy.

    Next, attach the ailerons. They have already installed the hinges into the the control surface side. Insert the hinges, line them up, deflect the control surface to about 60 degrees and add 3-4 drops of thin CA to each hinge. Turn it over and do the same on the other side. You will have a small gap between the aileron and the wing, this is good as you are going to seal the hinge gaps anyway. If you get it too close, you will have very little throw.

    Follow the instructions for sealing the hinge gaps. I used clear Monokote cut to about 3/8" wide and folded it over. Don't try to seal the whole thing at once. Do one side first and then work your way slowly to the other. This is an important step, don't skip it!

    Add your control horns and servos and you are done with the wing. Not including drying time, the wing goes together very fast.

    Tighten until you see dimples

    Attach wheel collar using Loctite

    Attach servo tray with 30 minute epoxy

    Cut the guides to within 2-3mm

    After aligning the tail, use a weight to hold it in place while the epoxy dries.

    Fuselage Assembly

    One thing I do to all of my fuses is glass the firewall. In the interest of "keeping things light", I used one piece of cloth on the back side with thinned 30 minute epoxy. In addition, I coated the tank compartment and servo bay with a epoxy/alcohol mix to fuel proof. This adds a little weight, but protects the fuse and adds some strength.

    The landing gear that they provide is VERY tall. Kind of looks like an SUV when attached to the plane and gives you clearance for a 14" prop! (don't get any ideas...) I had heard that the intent was to allow for a geared 14 " electric prop. and it certainly has that! When attaching the gear, make sure you mark where the plywood clamp plates are and do not over tighten the screws. When you see a little bit of a dimple in the wood, you have gone far enough.

    Attaching the wheels is simple, but you will need to JB weld the plastic collars in place before putting the wheels on the axle. Mine were very loose. Then just tighten down the provided wheel collars, (use a little Loctite), and you're done!

    Next comes the tail skid. Some people put Sullivan tail wheels, (#S859). I like to keep things lighter while keeping the challenge of driving with a tail skid. The skid drops in a supplied hole and is screwed down with three supplied brackets. Be sure to drill starter holes in the hardwood to keep it from splitting. My kit was missing one of the brackets so I just went with two instead of three. I also CA'd back inside the end of the fuse for fuel proofing during this step.

    Next attach the servo tray. I used epoxy and reinforced it with four balsa strips. Use 30 minute epoxy for this step and be sure to check the height of the tray at 27mm. This lines your servo tops up with the supplied control rod guides.

    You then will need to trim the control rod guides with a hobby knife. Leave 2-3mm exposed out from the rear former. This is critical as when using the supplied control rods, the closest servo control rod does not have a lot of lateral play, so do not leave too much guide sticking out of the former.

    The manual shows this next step after the engine mounting which is a good idea. It saves the stabs from the hanger rash when mounting the engine.

    When mounting the tail section, first CA the hinges using the same technique mentioned above. You can use a debonder dampened paper towel to wipe off any excess, just don't get it in the hinge gap. Set the horizontal and vertical stabs in place and mark the point where they intersect the fuselage. You will need to make sure you are lined up correctly. I started with a center line down the middle of the horizontal stab and secured it to the middle of the fuse at the attach point with a T-pin. I then checked the alignment of each back corner, (stab, not elevator), with a 36" ruler to a centered T-pin mounted just behind the firewall. Once this was done with a equal distance, I stuck another T-pin at the rear of the stab to hold the alignment while I traced the cut line.

    Now carefully cut away the covering just inside these lines. Do not cut into the wood as this will weaken the joint. Put a little Vaseline inside the top elevator control rod exit tube to keep the epoxy out and then glue the horizontal stab in place with 30 minute epoxy. Check the alignment again as per the instructions. Once this is dry, glue the vertical stab and recheck the alignment with a setsquare. Use masking tape to hold it in place and wipe off any excess epoxy with alcohol.

    Mount the 2 stroke engine at 225 degrees. This allows the muffler to hang out the bottom of the fuse.

    Reshape the tank to fit with a heat gun. Hold the tank down with a piece of Velcro.

    Engine and Fuel Tank

    The engine installation is pretty straight forward, however, you will need to install the mount so that the cylinder head is pointing at 225 degrees. This allows the 2 stroke muffler to clear the bottom center part of the fuselage. Start by drawing a line on the firewall 54mm up from the bottom edge. Now create a second line 38mm from the side. Where the lines cross is the center of the trust line.

    I attached the engine to the mount with mini clamps and held it up to the firewall, centering the prop shaft on the cross hair. You should have a little clearance at the bottom for the muffler. Heat a scrap pushrod with a torch and push it down through the center of the mounting hole and burn a mark in the firewall. Now drill through this mark and attach the engine mount with one of the supplied screws and blind nuts.

    Now recheck the alignment and mark the remaining holes. Drill and mount the rest of the blind nuts by tightening the mounting screws. You can take the engine back off and use the engine mounts to keep the screws from tearing into the front of the firewall. Do not mount the engine at this time as you will need it later to help balance the plane after all the radio gear is installed.

    Cut off the excess mounting screws that stick out the back of the firewall as they will keep the tank from mounting correctly. Use Loctite to hold them in place.

    The tank positioning is kind of a pain. The engine thrust line is so high up on the firewall, that it elevates the carb and the tank is supposed to fit in a pre-drilled convenient hole. The problem is that the rubber band dowel gets in the way. I used a heat gun to reshape the tank so that it would sit in the saddle area without hitting the wing hold down dowel. I then installed some foam and used a piece of Velcro to hold the tank in place, neat! Don't forget to pressure test your tank before you install it!

    Using micro servos required a few modifications to the servo tray

    Modified tray shown with servos mounted and elevator control rods installed

    Final Assembly - Pushrods and Servos

    The next few steps in the manual involve installing the servos, locating the throttle linkage and the pull-pull pushrods.

    The openings that they made in the servo tray are just the right size for most of today's standard size servos, however, I chose to use mini servos to save weight. I also used a micro on the throttle. This saved me approximately 4 ounces.

    I made some modifications to the tray to allow the fit of the smaller servos. Now it's just a matter of screwing the servos in place. I use socket head servo screws available from Micro Fasteners. I hate stripping Phillips head screws!

    The pull pull control rods will slide through the pre-installed guides. You may need to trim a little epoxy off of the top guide, (did you remember the Vaseline?). Follow the easy instructions for setting up the servos, control horns and servo arms. The rudder servo is elevated to allow clearance for the pull pull setup. I used a Dubro pull pull cable on the rudder as I wanted a faster response over what the control rods could give me as they tend to bind a little.

    Unfortunately, some of the supplied hardware did not match size wise. Besides using the Dubro pull pull, I had to supplement with some of my own. Otherwise everything that was supplied with the ARF worked fine.

    When using a 2 stroke engine, you will need to add a little "Z" bend in the throttle linkage to clear the cylinder head. This was simple enough to do. I created a "Z" bend at the throttle arm side and used the provided adjustable servo connector for the servo side. When mounting this, be sure to not tighten the bottom nut all the way as it will cause binding. Make sure it is snug and then add a drop of CA to keep the nut from coming loose. It's now easy to adjust the throttle linkage by sliding the control rod forward or backwards and then tighten the set screw to hold it in place.

    Flat pack fits under the servo tray on Velcro and allows fine tuning of the CG

    Ready for some SUVin' with that high landing gear.

    Final Setup and Preflight

    The instructions tell you to balance the model at 115mm behind the leading edge of the wing. This is a good starting point and will provide great fun, yet docile flight when desired. I previously had a Magic and decided to move the CG back to 120mm. This would give me better hovering stability and make for nicer tumbles. I marked the bottom of the wing with masking tape at the balance point and used my home made balance while adjusting the engine on the mount. I used heavy rubber bands to hold the engine in place while I slid it around to achieve balance. After marking the mounting holes, (remember the technique above?), I drilled the mounting holes and attached the engine with the supplied screws and lock nuts.

    One thing I tried out with this plane was a new flat 850mAh NiMH from OnlyBatteryPacks.com. This allowed me to use a higher capacity receiver pack, it slides under the tray and with Velcro allows me to easily fine tune the CG by sliding it forward or back.

    If you are using a .46 sized 2 stroke engine, you will have to add weight in the rear to offset the bulk up front. Note however that this wing supports the weight easily, but you will be adding upwards to 8-9 oz. with the engine, fuel and tail weight. "Light is right"!!

    I connected the fuel line to the carburetor and the vent line to the muffler using standard size Sullivan fuel tubing. I also attached a Dubro exhaust deflector to try to minimize the "goo" on the bottom of the plane. I may take this off later if I want a little more performance from the engine. Now I'm ready to setup my radio!

    The manual states the following control throws.

    High Rate
    Low Rate

    I normally do not use dual rates but rather setup exponential with full rates. I typically use around 25-35% expo. For the sake of the article, I setup the controls as specified in the manual. If you so desire, on the RD6000, you can setup expo for each rate. In this case you would use 35% on high and 25% on low.

    I also programmed in a little flap to elevator mix to help with slow harriers. With the light wing loading, this plane will slow down to a crawl and you can easily "Walk the dog" down the runway!


    Flight Test

    Here in central Pennsylvania, we have been having a lot of hot and windy days, not my idea of perfect weather conditions to test fly a 3.5 pound plane, but with deadlines approaching, what the heck, I decided to go for it.

    I took the plane out to the field with some 15 MPH winds blowing across the runway. After a range check with the antenna down and verification that all control surfaces were moving the right way, I was ready to test run the engine.

    The wing is held down with rubber bands. Be careful not to put too many on as you can crush the wing sheeting. This plane would fly with six, I used 6 fat and four thin, more than enough for my wild flying.

    The Thunder Tiger had already been setup and run on a test stand so I fueled her up and primed the engine. One flip and the Pro 36 started right away. I let the engine warm up a bit and then ran it up to full throttle adjusting the engine with a tach for max RPM. I then richened the needle for a drop off of 500 RPM and I was ready to go. This engine turned the APC 10 x 5 easily, but I will probably move to a 10 x 4 later. This will give me more power out of a hover.

    Let me say this. This Thunder Tiger engine is one of the best behaved engines I have ever had. Throughout the day it started on the first or second flip and idles beautifully. What a great value!

    I went back and fueled her up and started the engine. I must admit that I was a bit nervous as the wind was starting to gust a bit and the wind sock looked kind of scary. My brother in law John reminded me that "the wind is your friend", so out we went.

    I taxied around a bit and then advanced the throttle to full. This little plane jumped off the ground in less than 5 feet, wow! The wind was buffeting me around a bit, but with all that, I only need one click of right aileron trim. I did a fast fly by and then shot up into the air to test the vertical, wow again! The little TT really responded.

    I decide to test the plane out on low rates. It was pretty much what I expected, tight loops, snaps, even sloppy flat spins. Inverted flight was pretty easy to maintain with a tad of down, (remember the plane is setup for a slightly rearward CG). With the wind, it was almost impossible to test the tracking, but from what I could see, it tracks very well.

    It was then time to switch to high rates. The tumbles were tighter, snaps were snappier, (is that a word?), and the flat spins were paper thin. I would guess that if the wind wasn't blowing the plane away from me, I might even get it into a climbing flat spin as I could almost maintain altitude with the wind. I did try a hover, but the wind would blow the plane away from me in about 15-20 seconds, so that will have to wait for a calmer day. In landing I lined the plane up in a harrier, perpendicular to the runway and let it sink at idle. Just before touchdown, I goosed the throttle for a smooth landing, cool!


    The Model Tech Magic is a great plane, with just a few annoying things that are typical of most ARF's. The covering is terrific looking and they give you lots of decals to spruce the plane up with. The low wing loading makes for a great "low and slow" aerobatic flyer, (if the weather ever clams down, I'll let you know). With high rates, the plane really wakes up. Low rates calm the plane down so that it could easily serve as a second plane. The Thunder Tiger Pro .36 powers the plane easily and will hover it with no problem. It does not have the ultimate power of the .46 class engines, but saves a lot of weight. The neat thing about this plane is that the weight envelope that it supports is very large, so you can put a .46 or even something like the Magnum .61 4 stroke which weighs only 15.3 oz. on it. Now that would be something to see!

    A little searching around and you will find a ton of conversation about the plane on RCUniverse.com as well as other web sites. Here are a few interesting modifications that people have made to the plane:

    At $99 for a quick building quality ARF, the Model Tech Magic scores high on my fun factor chart. The plane will fly docile or wild and with the low cost, it takes the fear factor out of flying aerobatics low to the ground. While I did make some substitutions to the hardware in the kit, I would rate the overall quality very good. One thing to note is that this plane is in very high demand so if you buy one and do not like it, chances are that you will be able to sell it for what you paid for it, not bad huh?


    Kit Quality

    (1=Not so good, 5 = Excellent)

    Packaging Quality:

    1 2 3 4 5

    Construction Quality: 1 2 3 4 5
    Hardware Quality: 1 2 3 4 5
    Quality of Manual: 1 2 3 4 5
    Ease of Assembly: 1 2 3 4 5
    Completeness of Kit:
    Comments on RCU Review: Model Tech Magic 3D

    There are no comments

    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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