Best Gift Ideas - Toys Under $40 - RC Helicopter Sharpshooter - Air Hogs Red Canopy Sharp Shooter Ch B
Air Hogs Sharp Shooter
Available at Amazon
Affordable Indoor RC Helicopters
NOTE: As you see in the Amazon Link to the right, these are now UNDER $30! Last time I checked, there were 3 left at the lower price... if you're thinking about one, now's the time to snap it up!
I've always been fascinated by remote control helicopters. There's just something awesome about it hovering out there, moving at your command, knowing that what it did was decided by the controller in your own hands.
I've never had the money nor the inclination to get the big outdoor models. The little in-door mini copters have always been what held my imagination.
I'll admit, price is a big issue. I don't need another expensive hobby. Luckily, Air Hogs has a line of toys that are affordable, surprisingly durable, and tremendous fun. (And not just for the kids!)
If I Really Needed To, I Could...
The Sharpshooter model is especially fun because it can fire 2 little red lightweight plastic missiles, independently controlled, while in the air. Anybody who can still access their inner kid (or still happens to BE a kid) can see potential for all kinds of fun with actual working missiles. And they are pretty quiet in flight, so you could sneak up unnoticed before firing… though you should never, never, actually fire a missile at a person. It's just nice to know that if you needed to, you could. :^)
Note: They're not really THAT quiet... though they are very quiet for an RC Heli.
Some other Air Hogs Choices:
Easy to Learn - And Fun
While there's a bit of a learning curve, these remote control copters have a pretty simple command set, and are a lot easier to fly than most of the more expensive models. You have up, down, rotate left, rotate right, and fire the missiles. Like the majority of inexpensive indoor RC helicopters, (infrared helicopters, in this case) the Sharpshooter does not have forward or reverse. Instead, it's balanced to drift slowly forward, and you control height and which way it faces to determine where it goes. Still, it's remarkably effective, and fun. Watch the video below to get a feel for how well they fly.
A great review... but I'm not sure I'd do his trick with the balloons and missiles!
Currently, I own 4 Air Hogs helicopters, and while they all have their unique quirks, they're very easy to fly… and harder to damage than you'd think. Slam them into walls, furniture, or just take a dive to the floor. It's possible to break them, or parts on them, but more often than not, they bounce back, still ready to fly. As a matter of fact, my hobby store rep told me "If you get in trouble, power down." Most of the time, your rc helicopter will survive an unpowered fall better than a high-speed impact.
Be Prepared - Order Spare Rotors Before You Need Them
If you break something, most often it's the rotors. So they make replacement rotors cheap, and easy to install. I recommend getting a couple of spares when you buy the Sharpshooter. During the initial learning curve is when you're most likely to need spares. And it's a real drag to have to wait on your order to arrive… AFTER breaking the blades. To be honest, I still break a blade now and then, and I've been flying these little mini indoor rc helicopters for a couple of years.
RC Helicopter Design is a Delicate Balancing Act
While sturdy, Air
Hog makes the Sharp Shooter, and all of it's flying toys, very
lightweight. Design for these RC copters
is very much a balancing act between expense, looks, weight, durability, and power. Some feel that the battery should provide
longer flights… but if you use a stronger battery, the added weight takes more
power to keep in the air, and you wind up with a stronger battery that can't fly
any longer than the smaller one. That's
oversimplifying a bit. There are other
considerations in the design as well. But you get the idea, anyway.
Still, regarding battery life, my favorite rc heli gives me about 7 to 9 minutes of battery life, and subjectively, that feels like a very long time in the air. With the Air Hogs Sharpshooter, the battery gives between 3 and 7 minutes of flight time. It seems to vary from one heli to the other; some of mine can stay in the air noticeably longer than others, I guess it's just minor differences from one unit to the next.
The controller takes 6 AA batteries, and you charge the Sharpshooter by plugging it into the controller. This means you either buy lots of AA's, or be smart and get Rechargeable AA's up front. After a flight, the Sharpshooter's battery is hot, and needs cool-down time before recharging. Air Hogs recommend waiting 15 minutes before recharging, and the charging process itself takes between 15 and 30 minutes. (For me, it's closer to 15 most of the time.)
Watch the end- it shoots down 3 targets, then lands in front of it's victims
How About the Missiles?
Air Hog includes 6 missiles and 3 cutout cardboard targets to practice on… but the targets are likely to be blown over by the Sharpshooter before you can get a good aim. I recommend either weighting the targets (tape pennies to them) or using something more stable to shoot at. The missiles are a lightweight plastic. Before allowing children to fire them, a talk about safety and respect for others would be a good idea.
Also bear in mind, the missiles are bright red, but can travel 5 or 6 feet, and are very easy to 'misplace'. It's good Air Hogs includes 6 of them!
Infra-Red Remote Controller
The remote controller is infrared based, meaning you're essentially using lightwaves to control your rc helicopter. If you lose your line of sight, you lose control. So don't send it around corners, or behind large objects. A good strong signal can bounce in a room, so you may maintain control around corners, but it's best to avoid for the most part. Also don't have too much strong light in the room; it can interfere with the Sharpshooter helicopter's reception. You don't have that worry with Radio-controlled toys, but on the other hand, those can have trouble when there are other radio signals around. An infrared controller has total control as long as there's a good line of sight, and not too much light in the room.
Use Different Channels
If you want more than one RC Sharpshooter, or any combination of Air Hogs RC helicopters, make sure you get controllers on different channels. That way they don't conflict with each other, and you can fly them at the same time in the same room. The particular model shown is for Channel B, but there are other channels available.
Adjusting the Trim
Most remote control helicopters spin in place a bit while hovering. Air Hogs has given the Sharpshooter a 'trim' knob to minimize the spin. You can't get rid of the spin entirely, but it can be adjusted to the point that a decent rc pilot can easily compensate while flying.
It's a Toy, but it's a Great Toy!
Air Hogs Sharpshooter is a toy. It's not pro level, or even amateur level. It's an extremely fun toy, at a very reasonable price for what it offers. If you want more, you'll have to spend more. But for a flying, remote controlled infra-red helicopter, the Sharpshooter has a lot going for it. Not the least is the ability to fire missiles!
Learning to Fly
When learning to
fly, remember, don't ram the power stick all the way up for takeoff. Slow and gentle will get you off the ground
and in control. It's also a good thought
to release it from your hands once the rotor has a bit of lift. Much easier than a ground takeoff. Again, watch the videos, you'll see examples
of what I mean.
This is harder than it looks - He's Good!
Now For the Sneaky Parent Part- They Don't Realize They're (Gasp) Learning!
If you're trying to pry children off their computer and console game systems, this could very well do the trick. Especially if you each have one, and learn to fly them together. It's a great way for kids to integrate with the physical world as well. Learning how to make the rc copter take off, land, and fly around the room in full control will increase hand/eye coordination. And learning to control the flight while pointing, aiming, and firing missiles will teach self control as well as coordination. Talk about a sneaky way to teach - they think they're doing something cool, while WE know they're actually learning.
Even the box looks cool!
Good Packaging? You Bet!
As far as the
packaging goes, Air Hogs did a fabulous job making the Sharpshooter safe for
shipping. As a matter of fact, if you
want to make things easier on yourself, go ahead and have the scissors ready
when it's time to open the package. Everything is strapped down safer than a real helicopter on an aircraft carrier! Lots of attention to detail.
Lots of Fun, a big Thumbs Up!
Bottom line - I'm over 50, and I love flying my little fleet of RC helicopters. Air Hogs is a great starting point for the beginner, without spending a lot of money. Whether it's for a child, or yourself, the Air Hogs Sharpshooter RC Helicopter is a lot of fun. I especially enjoy bringing my copters out during family gatherings. A small few will actually try to fly, and everybody else has a lot of laughs and entertainment watching.
Plus, the Air Hogs Sharp Shooter actually looks incredibly cool- that black and red color combination, and sleek dangerous hull, the Sharpshooter is a predator of the first class!
Great for Christmas,
birthdays, or just because! (That last is my favorite reason)