Coaster Dynamix® "Phoenix" Roller Coaster Modeling System
No stranger to innovation, Elkton, Virginia based Coaster Dynamix® has done it again with the 2010 introduction of their NEW "Phoenix" Roller Coaster Modeling System. With never before seen features, technology, precision and ease of assembly, "Phoenix" raises the bar in model coaster building design and entertainment.
Unlike it's 100% Flex-track equipped older siblings "Dragon" and "Scorpion", "Phoenix" includes only three Flex-track segments. These segments arrive pre-cut to size with redesigned end connectors already installed. In what are certainly the biggest and most ground breaking departures from previous models, the remaining track segments, representing the bulk of the track system, are injection molded and connected together using 120 screws and nuts. Sure, installing the many screws and nuts is somewhat time consuming but the payoff is definitely worth it. The result is extremely precise and the assembly process nearly infallible. Molded track sections and cross ties also make installing the familiar track rails a much simpler process.
Indeed, the "Phoenix" goes together flawlessly and, if one follows the instructions carefully, will function exactly as it should each and every time it is assembled. This assurance of positive results is in itself a major step forward in model roller coaster design and construction and makes "Phoenix" highly accessible to novice and experienced builders alike.
Innovation with "Phoenix" doesn't end with the track system. The train, similar to the (now discontinued) Dive, Floorless, Looping and Hyper Accessory Trains, is much more rugged and dependable than the "Dragon" and "Scorpion" trains while still maintaining a very high level of performance. Even more cool is the new station module with an on-off switch and controls on the console for complete control of train operation. As the train cruises into the station, new movable safety restraints on the train raise as the motor shuts off and the train slows to a stop. After a delay of about 30 seconds, the motor restarts and the safety restraints are lowered as the train leaves the station. Though it would be nice if passengers were included, or available, the level of added realism offered by the cleverly designed train and station can be found nowhere else.
Innovation with "Phoenix" continues with the inclusion of a computer simulation on Windows/Mac CD-ROM. Powered by the popular "NoLimits" Roller Coaster Simulation, it allows you to "ride" "Phoenix" from any seat in any car and to change the viewing angle any way you please. Though it doesn't allow you to actually build "Phoenix" in different configurations and then "ride" it, which would be VERY cool, it is a bit of fun none the less.
One really has to dig deep to find flaws with "Phoenix" and those which do exist are either minor or soon to be corrected.
- The manual (addressed below) is quite well done but needs to be followed VERY carefully.
- A Phillips Screwdriver with a thin shaft and small tip, which some "Phoenix" buyers may not have, is required for some assembly operations.
- The many molded track sections, while greatly increasing stability and positive connections, at the same time somewhat limit design flexibility as reflected in our somewhat low Design Flexibility rating above. Expansion Packs, available later this fall will correct this issue and warrant a much higher rating.
- The manufacturer states that "Phoenix" is "fully compatible with the flexible track system of our award winning Scorpion model". For the moment, this is technically not true. Until the new Flex-track connectors are available either separately or in Expansion Packs, there is no way to use "Scorpion" or "Dragon" Flex-track with "Phoenix" or to use "Phoenix" molded track sections with "Scorpion" or "Dragon". The remaining structural components, however, are compatible between systems.
- The "chain dog" component, which grabs the Lift Spring and is located on the bottom of the train, differs on "Phoenix" from ALL other trains. Though most of the Accessory Trains and "Scorpion" and "Dragon" trains will certainly run on "Phoenix" they will not function properly on the lift hill. The Dive Coaster Train is too wide and will not work without also modifying the Phoenix Station. The chain dog component is fairly easy to replace and, when the "Phoenix" version becomes available as a separate part, it can be installed on any other train thus curing this temporary incompatibility. The safety restraints on accessory trains will not go up and down on Phoenix.
Again, these are all minor concerns typical of the growing pains accompanying any new and ground breaking product. As Expansion Packs and individual parts become available for "Phoenix" later this fall we can forget about this stuff and go back to anticipating more "Phoenix" wonders to come.
The many included parts are colorful and high quality and a decal sheet is included to dress up the train and station. Assembly is a breeze and should require between four and six hours to complete. As always, we have a few hints which may streamline the process even further:
- If you look inside the vertical support sockets on the molded curve sections you will notice a small injection molding ridge. Lightly remove this ridge with sandpaper or a small round file to prevent any damage which might occur by forcing the vertical supports into the socket.
- Initial tolerances where the vertical supports fit into the bases and curved track segments are very tight. Use Faller® resin free Special Oiler or water on the supports to help them slide into place. Use this same process when installing ALL structural components. DO NOT use Coaster Lube or any silicone product on the track segments as it will discolor them.
- Part #T, installed in Turn 4 on Page 11, which allows the Lift Spring to pass through it, looks almost identical to the more common Part #R. Make sure you use the correct part.
- Curved Track Segments M and N, though different, can also seem identical at first glance. Segments M have a slope from left to right and allow, on turn 1, the Lift Spring to pass through. Segments N are flat. Again, make sure you use the correct part.
- Try not to touch the adhesive side of the decals with your fingers when applying. If the decals refuse to stick, use a dot of Gel Super Glue to hold them in place.
You should consider these tools and materials to aid you in your project:
- A Phillips Screw Driver with a thin shaft and small tip. If the screw driver is also magnetic it will help during disassembly.
- Small Diagonal Mini Cutters for cutting the Track Rails to size.
- A small file, such as our Blue Cushion Board, for filing the ends of the Track Rails flat.
- Sandpaper or a round file for removing injection molding ridges.
- Requires 4 AA batteries not included by the manufacturer. As always, if you purchase "Phoenix" from MRCHQ, we DO include the batteries at no additional charge!
2013 Update: Unfortunately, after it's initial release and the writing of this Review in 2010, the Phoenix has disappeared from the marketplace. The reasons for this are unclear especially considering the quality of the product and how well it was received. Hopefully, Coaster Dynamix will see fit to reintroduce the Phoenix again in the near future. It is much missed.
Remarkable and innovative, the "Phoenix" sets new standards in realism, operation, fail safe assembly and just plain coaster building entertainment. The future of model coaster building is here and it is "Phoenix".
Due to some fairly small parts and some technical assembly this terrific construction toy is rated for modelers fourteen and above though, with adult supervision, could certainly be an appropriate family activity involving younger modelers as well. Very highly recommended. Jump on this one.
We are interested in hearing about building experiences with this model and would like to share your impressions with other visitors to our site.
*Categories are rated on a scale of from one to ten where applicable and reflect only the opinions and experiences of our staff. We provide these ratings only as a guideline to aid you in your product choices. Your experience may vary.