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Reccomendations for a Toy Helicopter

Started by Simon W, November 07, 2015, 09:54:22 am

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Simon W

My grown up lad was in Maplins and liked the look of the little contra-helicopters in there, and would like one for Christmas.

He is not a model flyer and just likes technology and gadgets and quite liked the little £30 toy type.  As a time served modeller I can't help but look  at them and think that spending a bit more could get him a better bit of kit.  May just be a 5 minute whim though.

I had a contra years ago for indoor flying and was bored with it in about 30 seconds.

So the decision is buy a cheap toy which will end up in the bin by the end of january or buy a proper job which may never get used.  If I go for the toys is there any which I should go for or more importanly avoid?
A few planes flying and loads to fix!


You don't say how old he is and TBH I have no great experience of whats out there but I can say that the Hubsan X4 mini quad is an amazing bit of kit. Small enough to be an indoor flyer, in fact too small to fly outside, you will loose it, but superb electronics that make it very controllable. 

The 'in box ' instructions are dire and will not get it flying as it should. Look on the web where detailed set up instructions can be found.

Mine took some serious bash, apart from buying replacement props which pinged off, never to be seen again, I didn't have anything break.

The X4 straddled the line between toy and  a more serious machine  but might be too much for the younger flier

Simon W

He is 22 so not a kid, just a typical techno freak of today, he really fancies a heli rather than a quad.

I tried bringing him up right with rc boats, cars and planes and while he can happily fly a plane through the A cert the bug never bit.   More interested in Xstation, scateboards, girls cars and motorbikes to mess with toy planes.  Think he wants the heli to buzz around his flat and annoy his girlfriend.

A few planes flying and loads to fix!


November 07, 2015, 11:39:18 am #3 Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 11:41:12 am by DarrellW
A bit more expensive but well worth it - the Blade Inductrix
They are almost indestructible! Mine has been bounced off most things in our lounge and survived completely unscathed!
Well recommended - also is cheaper if you already have a Spektrum  radio, bnf is about £10 or so cheaper.
If he really wants a heli then I would say get a fixed pitch one like the Blade msrx or something similar.
I think.......I think I am........Therefore I am. .....I think!


Focussing on the heli rather than the quads:

You're right, the contras get very boring very quickly because they are too easy to fly and then don't do a lot, and they also tend to be "fragile" because the coaxial shafts and the associated gear train involves a lot of very thin sections in the mouldings. The ones in Maplin [etc] are even less interesting because they tend to have pitch control by way of a "vertical tail rotor" rather than by swash-plate control, which is very vague. If you want one of this type you can usually find them on market stalls for around a tenner.

A better bet that will do more and me generally more interesting would be something like the Blade mSR which is a "conventional" 4-channel fixed-pitch heli. A bit more challenging to fly, does a lot more but also much more rugged (they generally survive wall impacts and tumbles without damage). These cost something approaching £100.

The next step up from there is one of the collective-pitch variations on the same theme (which come in flybar and flybarless versions, some with autostabilisation) but these take quite a bit more skill. They *are* fully aerobatic, but they are also both far less stable and rather touchy to set up and learn to fly, as well as being a bit fragile. If your son has little flying experience I wouldn't recommend one of these because it's highly probably that it would be months (and a lot of spares) before he got past the initial lift-off without damage.

An absolute beginner stands a reasonable chance of learning to use an mSR without continually crashing provided that he take a couple of hints:

1. They fly indoors. Yes, they can fly outdoor in very calm days, but we're talking about the sort of days where cigarette smoke would rise in a straight stream within about 20 degrees of vertical. Anything more will have turbulence and gusts that exceed the available control power or even the maximum airspeed (people have had them blow up onto roofs or into trees!). Try to find a largish space (a squash court size would do). Once mastered an mSR is fun to fly in the sitting room, landing on coffee tables, bookcases, dogs etc, but it takes a while to acquire that skill and until then you will need more space.

2. General advice for learning helis - for the first flight gently raise the throttle until it starts to move (but doesn't lift off) and trim the "rudder" so it stays pointing straight. Then take a deep breath and apply a lot of power (~75%) so that it leaps off the ground and gets to about 4 feet up, then back off the power and hover it there. An mSR will easily trim to hover at 4feet hands-off for 10-20 secs at a time. But if you try to be tentative and just lift off to an inch or so (in the misguided belief that this is "safe") it will skitter off in all directions and be a real handful to master. Helicopters are extremely unstable right next to the ground, but can be very stable a couple of feet higher up.

If you want quads there is a vast choice. I have a small fleet of microquads (and one microhex) that came from chinese suppliers like "goodbang" (I think). Most of these are only a couple of inches across and all work very well, both stable and agile (although the camera-equipped one only does VGA resolution). They typically cost ~£10-£15 each including shipping...

£0.03 supplied,

There are no shortcuts on the long, hard road to success. But if your dad's rich there could a limo service...

Simon W

Thanks for the replies so far, seems a bit daft asking about a toy heli that costs less than a round of drinks but as always I look for the value in spending just a little more.  Got a spare 2.4 tx, will have a chat with him next time he is here.

Then it is down to research google ant internet shopping, great way to waste winter evenings.

A few planes flying and loads to fix!


i got a little ail framed one with 4 LED's down the side a few years ago for just 17 quid, and it was blimmin brilliant.
not aerobatic in the slightest but in a pre mass market quad era it did laps around my room with great control and would make the perfect gizmo with no outlay or risk toy.
Something like this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Syma-S107G-Version-Indoor-Helicopter/dp/B00BFSF66O/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1446937453&sr=8-3&keywords=rc+helicopter
I know you believe you understand what you think i said, but i am not sure you realise that what you think you heard is not what i meant.

Bad Raven

November 08, 2015, 07:34:39 am #7 Last Edit: November 08, 2015, 07:41:19 am by Bad Raven
At the risk of repeating ground in other threads, I run a School Club for 11-18 year olds.

For  initial Helicopters I use JP "Twister Sports". These are very tough and bouncable, I have three, not damaged anything at all despite some pretty dire "non-pilots"!  These fly on HK Nano-Tech 160mAh 1S which cost pence and I run them back to back for an hour a week.

I'd show you on JP Distributions website but they ruined it!! However, after struggling with their useless menu system....................


Whatever you do, do NOT buy one with an internal battery that cannot be swapped to fly again quickly!
The user formerly know as Bravedan........... Well if Prince can do it....................