RCU Review: Flying Styro Rare Bear Reno Racer - EP

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    Contributed by: Michael Luvara | Published: August 2002 | Views: 40136 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Model Name: Rare Bear

    Wingspan: 29"

    Wing Area: 159 sq. in.

    Length: 22"

    Flying Weight As Tested: 6.8oz

    Motor Used: GWS IPS Drive w/5.86:1 gearing

    Speed Control Used: 2 Amp GWS

    Battery Used: Sanyo 7.2V, 120 mAh (9V style)

    Radio Used: JR 347

    Receiver: Hitec Feather

    Servos: Hitec HS-55 (2)

    Channels Used: 3 Total. Throttle, Elevator, and Ailerons

    Manufacturer: Flying Styro

    Distributor: Hobby Lobby
    Flying Styro Rare Bear

    Mini Reno Racer ARF

    By Michael Luvara

    • Lightweight Construction
    • Highly detailed airframe
    • Excellent finish
    • Easy to construct
    • Simple equipment setup
    • Excellent flyer
    • Instructions vague in some areas
    • Fuselage seam joint may come unglued if subjected to temperature.
    • No instuctions for race launch system


    Lyle Shelton's famous Rare Bear has been crowd a favorite over the years at the Reno National Championship Air Races. Having established an extensive line of records, including the 2 kilometer speed record at 528.3mph, she is admired amongst specators and modelers alike. Many one-off models of Rare Bear have been done by R/C'ers with very few, if any kits available.

    However, like many racing planes and machines, motors blow and the Rare Bear has had its share of them. The latest setback in 1999 has parked the plane while the Rare Bear team searches for financial support in order to compete at Reno 2002. Currently, the Rare Bear is under repair with a motor in the shop as the crew feverishly tries to complete the tasks ahead and secure sponsorship for racing. You too can help if interested. Check out the "Get the Bear in the Air" sponsorship drive.

    In the summer of 2002, Hobby Lobby introduced a model of the Rare Bear in miniature. Made by Flying Styro, this 28" span model recreates Rare Bear in stunning detail for a model of its size. I was offered the opportunity to review this electric powered park/slow flyer model of the famous Rare Bear and leaped at the opportunity to do so. Lunchtime racing at work!

    The kit arrived in a compact white box illuminated on the front with an artist's painting of Rare Bear and Strega rounding the pylons. Boldly, it said "Let's go racing".

    Lets get started - and get racing!

    Kit Includes
    • Fully Molded/Detailed Fuse
    • Molded Foam Wings
    • Pre-hinged Elevator and Stabilizer
    • Vertical Fin
    • Clear Canopy
    • Three Bladed Propeller
    • Colorful Decal Sheet

    Kit Requires
    • GWS Geared Motor (5.86:1 drive)
    • 2 HS-55 Micro Servos
    • Micro/Feather Receiver
    • 2A Speed Controller
    • 7.2V Rechargeable Battery
    • 5 Minute Epoxy
    • Standard Building Tools


    Kit components

    Engine is slid onto a wood bearer as its motor mount

    Once engine is slid onto bearer, it needs to be secured in place. A small wood screw served the purpose here.

    Motor Mounting

    Looking at the Rare Bear kit right out of the box, it is obvious that there is not much to work involved with constructing the plane. Being highly pre-fabricated out of foam and already painted, the model takes shape very quickly.

    The kit does not come with any electronics or motor. These are left up to the builder to purchase. For this model, I used a GWS geared motor with a 5.86:1 gear ratio and a 2A speed control made by the same company. A three bladed propeller is included with the Rare Bear kit.

    The 27 step photo-illustrated instructions begin by describing the wing being mounted. Because my curiousity had already turned to the cute little motor, I jumped ahead a few steps and decided to give it a trail fit.

    The instructions say to "Push the motor assembly onto the motor mount stick and connect the speed control". I was caught off guard here as there was no mention of how the motor is secured to the stick (what I call a bearer). I elected to drill a small hole in the side of the motor's plastic case and use a small wood screw to secure it to the bearer.

    What I found to be intriguing was the engine mount bearer's installation. To prevent any damage to the firewall with a prop strike or bad landing, the bearer was mounted with a rubber-like silicone which gives when moved. I really thought that this was a clever idea as it is virtually impossible to break the motor or firewall loose.

    The propeller is supplied in the kit and is of superb quality. The interlocking propeller blades are pressed into the hub and are securely fastened with a tight fit.

    To install the cowling, it is simply slid over the motor and onto the fuselage. No tape or screws needed.

    The propeller is held on between two nuts and washers which act like jam nuts to keep it in place.

    The spinner is simply pressed onto the motor shaft and held in place by the shaft fitting the spinner's cone snugly. The spinner is filled with the same rubbery material as the engine bearer is mounted with.

    Fuselage before wing installation

    Wings attached and tips blocked up the required 2.5" of dihedral on each side

    Elevator horn glued into place

    Vertical fin being set into position
    Fuselage and Wing Assembly

    Next step is to glue in the wings. Once a proper fit is achieved by sanding the openings in the fuselage, it's time to test fit the wings. After being satisfied with the fit of the wings, I worked on the supplied control horns for the ailerons which are eventually glued onto the pre-installed music wire toque rods. When satisfied with the control horns, I rigged 2.5" tall blocks to set the proper dihedral in the wing halves. Some 5 minute epoxy was mixed up, spread over the support in the fuselage and the wings pressed in. Before the final connection was made, glue was spread on the roots of each wing half. The fuse and wings were then set on the bench with each tip blocked up 2.5 inches. After the initial gluing was done, I went back and filled in any necessary areas around the wing/fuselage intersection. At this point, the final pieces of the aileron control horns are glued in place and it is time to move onto the servo mount plates.

    The servo servo mount trays and battery tub are pre-cut and shaped in the kit. The tub is simply a piece of vacuum-formed ABS which sits into a slot at the front of the wing. The servo trays are light ply which are already cut out and fit the Hitec HS55 servos nicely. These trays were mounted with small amounts of 5 minute epoxy.

    After the servo trays are mounted, the stabilizer and vertical fin await installation. The elevator requires that a control horn be glued in place first. Once the horn is in place and dry, the stabilizer is test-fitted into the slot in the fuselage. When the alignment is right, it is marked, the stab removed, some 5 minute epoxy mixed and the stab slid back in for final placement.

    The vertical fin is then test-fitted to the fuse. Minimal sanding was needed and the fin affixed in place with 5 min epoxy.

    Elevator and aileron servos mounted

    Radio installation details

    Center hatch

    Airframe ready for decals

    High quality decal set
    Battery and Radio Installation

    Radio installation in the Rare Bear was a cinch. Simply mount the two Hitec HS55 servos with two servo screws each into the servo trays and then start hooking up the control surfaces. The control surfaces are activated through the use of very small music wire pushrods.

    Once the servos are in place, it's time to mount the Hitec featherlight receiver and GWS speed control. Both are attached to the fuselage sides with double sided tape and may need to be moved to satisfy the airplane's required center of gravity.

    Hitec Feather receiver

    The top hatch is held in place by a guide dowel in the front and a small piece of clear tape in the rear to holds it down during flight.

    The kit also comes with a stunning set of stick on decals which bring the feeling of Rare Bear to life. The 3/32" stripes which line the gold pattern are also included on this sheet. The drawback is that one has to cut out these stripes individually and they would probably peel off easily, so I elected to leave them off the plane.

    Rare Bear ready for its maiden flight

    Rare Bear's radio installation details

    Jeti charger with 7.2V battery attached. Very compact!
    It's Close to Race Time!

    Final C.G. adjustments were made at 2 1/8" from root leading edge according to the instructions. The radio installation works out such that the receiver is the controlling factor in setting the center of gravity. Simply slide it around until the proper C.G. is obtained. Because the airplane is so small, I used the tips of pencil erasers to balance the plane rather than my fingers. This gave a more accurate measurement point.

    Elevtator throws were adjusted to 3/8" elevator and 1/2" aileron on low rate with slightly more for high rates.

    One of the interesting things about this model is that it is powered by a 7.2V, 120mAh battery which is in a 9V package! Quite small and light at the same time. I used a Jeti mini peak charger to juice up the battery. Charge time is approximaely 15 min.

    Radio was then range tested at the workshop with the motor running and found to be acceptable.

    Off to the race course.......


    Chris shows off the finished Rare Bear

    Launch! Only a slight toss is needed to get the bear airborne

    In the air, the distinctive lines of Rare Bear are unmistakeable

    Here comes the Bear!

    A little pylon practice

    There she goes!

    Another pass by the camera
    Flight Test

    A radio check at the field (park) with the new Hitec Feather receiver showed good range. I charged up the 7.2V motor/receiver battery with the Jeti charger. The radio and receiver were turned on and the motor run up. With the help of my brother, a light toss was made and the Rare Bear was airborne.

    Minimal trimming was needed and we proceeded in putting the Rare Bear through its paces. It turns on a dime without stalling and is capable of mild aerobatics (loops & rolls) if enough forward speed is obtained. The airplane does tend to get mushy when flying slow and requires the use of high rates. At speed, low rates will suffice.

    Because of its undercambered wing, the airplane does have substantial lift and changes trim between upwind/downwind passes if there is a slight breeze.

    The day of the test flight was fairly calm and the Rare Bear handled well. With a slight wind, the plane will get bumped around quite a bit and flying does become a challenge if the wind picks up. Then again, what else can you expect with a 7oz airplane.

    Flight times are approximately 4-5 minutes and provide adequate power to fly the plane around. This plane is not a speed demon in any respects and flies within its designed margins. If one chooses to hop up Rare Bear, some careful reinforcement of areas is needed, as suggested by the instructions.

    I found Flying Styro's Rare Bear to be an enjoyable aircraft. It's one you can take out on a lunch break and relax with all while enjoying racing on a small scale. I know I had visions of Reno while flying this beast.

    Flight Video #1
    Flight Video #2


    All in all, I was impressed with the Flying Styro Rare Bear. From the ultra simple construction to the great flying characteristics, I think it is worth the investment for some lunchtime flying enjoyment or for indoor racing with your buddies.

    I really only had one complaint with the model and that is of the fuselage seam joint. I have been leaving the plane in the car with the windows cracked open at work. On the second day, I noticed that the fuselage seam on the top was starting to open. Whatever type of adhesive that was used to join the fuselage is temperature dependent and is subject to loosening under heat. I would suggest tack gluing the seam with foam friendly CA or dabs of 5 min epoxy to alleviate this.

    Fuselage seam split

    The kit also makes mention of a race launch system, of which I believe there to be parts for in the box. It is my understanding that this system is no longer shipping with any of the kits and is not needed since it hand launches so easily. The instructions made no comments about the launch system. The instructions are vague in some areas, like motor mounting and mounting of some components, but since this model most likely will be built by the accomplished pilot, they should have no problem constructing the model.

    The Rare Bear box notes that there are three more Reno racer models soon to come on the same scale (Strega, Critical Mass, and Miss Merced). I can easily see organized indoor pylon racing evolving from these models. I know that my brother is already interested in getting one so that we can battle it out at the local "park" race course at lunch. So, if you're into racing or light weight park flyers and want something in a small, lightweight scale that handles well, the Flying Styro Rare Bear is for you!


    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: 1 2 3 4 5
    Paint Quality 1 2 3 4 5
    Flight Characteristics
    Takeoff: 1 2 3 4 5
    Landing: 1 2 3 4 5
    Basic Aerobatics (loops, rolls, etc.): 1 2 3 4 5
    Stall Characteristics: 1 2 3 4 5
    Overall Flight Performance:
    1 2 3 4 5

    Manufacturer & Distributor Information

    Hobby Lobby
    5614 Franklin Pike Circle
    Brentwood, TN 37027 USA
    Phone: 615-373-1444 Fax: 615-377-6948
    Website: www.hobby-lobby.com

    Hitec RCD USA, Inc.
    12115 Paine St.
    Poway CA, 92064
    Phone: 858-748-6948 Fax: 858-748-1767
    Website: www.hitecrcd.com

    Comments on RCU Review: Flying Styro Rare Bear Reno Racer - EP

    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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