We're not usually helicopter parents, but this time...
December 15, 2012 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Please hope us to find a remote controlled helicopter?

It's on the wish list for our almost 9 year old daughter. She's enjoyed our relatives' toys at family gatherings, and we'd like to find one for her under the tree. She's really good at getting them to move, and I think it's time for her own.

I've been poking around, and looking in stores, and the choice is overwhelming. I just don't know what to look for, or what features make a difference. Some I've seen listed or in different places appear to be the same copters, but under different names.

Her main criteria: She'd like it to have, or to be able to carry, a basket. I'm sure she envisions taking the hamster for a ride - though that will not ever happen - but she'd like to use it for, say, when GI Joe rescues Skipper or a puppy or something.

Several reviews of the one she saw in the store and think she wants are disappointing. We do want it to be fun for her to use.

Our concerns: Doesn't suck up batteries or need constant re-charging for only 5-9 minute flights. Can withstand a few crashes. Good for indoor or outdoor use. Priced somewhere between $30-60, or not much more than that. Can be purchased in either Toronto or Buffalo, or via Amazon.

Thanks, in anticipation, of any help!
posted by peagood to Shopping (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
After reading this comment here several years ago, I bought one of those recommended models for my nephews as a Christmas present and they loved it. Those models may not fall exactly within your price range, but maybe the info will be helpful in leading you to a model that is.
posted by cribcage at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2012

I haven't used it myself, but I recently read a good review of the Syma S107/S107G ($25.49) on Slate and the Amazon reviews are generally good. From the Slate review:
Back in 2010, the S107 was my favorite tiny RC helicopter. It was well-built, cheap, and because it has an on-board gyroscopic stabilizer, it is exceptionally easy to fly. For a beginner pilot, there’s nothing better to start with.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:58 AM on December 15, 2012

Xheli.com is a good place I've purchased from. Sign up for their newsletter as they have specials. Maybe also get a camera.
posted by anon4now at 12:09 PM on December 15, 2012

Seconding the Syma 107. Very easy to fly. You can pick up little parts kits from overseas for the rotors and whatnot. The only downside is the flying time - 5-7 minutes, tops. Aficionados recommending getting 2 or 3 and rotating them in and out.

They're perfect for indoors. Outside, too, though too much sun can interfere with the controller (which uses IR, like a TV remote and not RF, like a conventional RC model). My kids have flown theirs outside in the dark (they light up) and have had a good time with them.
posted by jquinby at 12:15 PM on December 15, 2012

The small indoor ones won't lift much, you'd have to get something like this to lift a doll. The mini quadcopter might be fun. The full sized one is rated to carry a pair of hamsters, but is a bit out of your price range.
posted by anon4now at 12:17 PM on December 15, 2012

You definitely can't beat the S107 for $25. My 5 year old can fly it. When it breaks you can buy and replace parts pretty easily or just overnight another 'copter from Amazon. Best $25 toy out there, IMO.

Getting something that can actually lift cargo isn't going to happen at a reasonable price.
posted by pjaust at 8:27 AM on December 18, 2012

Thanks, everyone for your input and advice. In the end, we walked into two specialty hobby stores in Buffalo with these recommendations in mind, and kicked a couple of tires and still didn't settle on anything. Later in the day, we happened to be in a Target, and saw the exact one that she'd once seen, and asked for, and it was on sale - the Air Hogs Fly Crane.

We discussed, and decided that though we'd love to have a quality item that could do more, if this didn't do what she'd hoped, we'd just tell her that Hermey made it and oh, well. She's had lots of fun with it and it's survived several crashes. It can carry dog biscuits and she can fly it around and drop them for the dog. It has rescued a few Playmobil people and though our family members with better helicopters keep trying to adjust things to make it hover better, she is happy to get it up in the air, across the room and fly it into the Christmas tree. If she continues to play with it, we can always upgrade at a time when we haven't also had to invest in a flip chair, Totoro slippers and many other items on the wish list. Thanks again!
posted by peagood at 2:21 PM on December 26, 2012

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