Testors Galax IV Hovercraft
By James Grahame
Battery-driven electronic gadgets have taken the fun out of childhood. As a case in point, I present Peter Hirschberg's tremendously cool fleet of Testors Galax IV Hovercraft from the late 1970s. These little vehicles don't rely on puny batteries and microchips, opting instead for brilliantly noisy and somewhat scary Cox Surestart .049 engines. They run on "glow fuel" - a planet-choking mixture of 20% castor oil, 25-35% nitromethane and methanol.
The Galax IV has no remote control. In fact, it has no controls to speak of at all. You simply start the motor and let it bounce around your patio or yard untethered until it runs out of fuel or dismembers an unlucky passing squirrel (I jest - the prop is fairly well protected).
The Galax floats about an inch above the ground, and the instruction guide reveals several excellent ways to destroy your new toy in a hurry: "The Galax will fly best over hard surfaces, such as asphalt and concrete, the cleaner the better. Grass surfaces might work, but you'll have to try each one yourself. Galax will fly over water. However, it does leave an oil slick and it will not float when the engine stops." (In other words, the first thing I'd have done with one of these is scuttle it not-so-accidentally in a swimming pool).
Hirschberg's Galax IV tribute page includes more pics, a scan of the instructions and even an mp3 recording of the flexidisc instructional record that came in the box.