The Magical FlutterBye Fairy Reviewed

At one of the local shopping malls last week, I saw some incredible – and very large – fairy displays the mall had commissioned for the holidays. I imagined this was because the holidays are a magical time and fairies are pretty magical in their own right. Last night, I spent some time with a fairy of my own, FlutterBye.

FlutterBye Fairy

What Is FlutterBye?

My first thought when I saw this toy was, “Another remote control toy… Cool!” But There’s no remote control here, at least not how you’re thinking. The fairy flies in the same way a helicopter or quad-copter might, with a kind of propeller except that she is the propeller. For the most part, she will fly on her own and without guidance she will eventually crash down. The control comes from your use of sensors on underneath FlutterBye that can tell how close your hand is. She will attempt to hover inches above your hand, but will wander off horizontally. Check out the review video below for a demo and a better idea of how she works.

The Magic

When I get toys in the mail to review, I joke with friends about how horrible it is that I have to go play with all these toys. In this case, I wasn’t dreading it, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I’d enjoy FlutterBye. After some initial doubt (see below), I found myself having a lot of fun with it and forgetting I was reviewing it.

I also found the battery life to be pretty amazing. With a remote controlled helicopter, I often get about six to eight minutes of flying time on a charge. Here, I was well into about 15 minutes with no sign of slowing. And while I’m comparing her to a helicopter, she turned out to be tougher as well. Crashing her a lot of times before getting the flying down, I left no sign of damage anywhere on her. She’s one tough fairy.

Some Cautions

Something that wasn’t immediately apparent to me was the risk of long hair and propellers. Though I hadn’t thought of it, it’s worth mentioning although the use of a pony tail and and not headbanging to FlutterBye are probably sufficient precautions. Having that fast propeller hit your hand is another story, though, so you’ll want to heed the advice in the user guide and grab FlutterBye close to the ankles when recovering her mid-flight.

Control eluded me at first, but it wasn’t like with R/C aerials that require practice. This was more about learning. Once I learned how to control her height and became more comfortable with when to grab her feet to regain control, all was well.

Final Thoughts

Retailing for about $28, she’s priced well to fit under nearly any tree this Christmas and well worth the cost, which is probably why it made the Amazon Hot Holiday List, among other things. While the box indicates FlutterBye is a toy suited for children aged five and up, I would think this would be a great toy for girls seven to twelve or so.

Performing Stunts With The Helix X4 Stunt Quadcopter

RC Helicopters are cool, but I’ve always thought quad-copters are even cooler. The use of four rotors makes them fast, stable, and easier to manipulate mid-air. Still, I never got around to buying one. Then the Air Hogs Helix X4 Stunt showed up in the mail. As one of Wal-Mart’s Top 20 Chosen by Kids, I was excited to dive right in.

Air Hogs Elite Helix X4

Usability and Control

With 4 ducted fans and gyro stabilization, the Helix X4 was really easy to get (and keep) in the air, even for a first-timer like myself. I’ve had a few RC helicopters and this was a lot more fun. While a helicopter requires constant attention in the air, the X4 was a little more self-sustaining and as a result, I crashed it far fewer times. The controls are easy to use and understand though not immediately intuitive. By this, I mean that you should always read the manual first. The thing that caught me off guard was how it isn’t ready to fly until it’s really ready. The X4 indicates via its lights when it is stable for launch and then you can get to the fun. The benefit is that it will always have a clean lift-off.

Features and Stunts

Other than the launch procedure, the lights on the front of this quad-copter will also flash orange if the battery is getting low and red when it’s time to land and re-charge. This is a step up from other quad-copters that just drop out of the sky when the batteries are done. Below is a list of other features of the Helix X4:

  • 2.4GHz radio control
  • Gyro stabilization
  • 4-ducted fans
  • 4-channel control
  • Incredibly crash-resistant materials
  • Superior durability
  • Charges from remote or using USB cable (included)
  • Did I mention stunts

Durability and Design

Let’s talk about the durability for a second. I’m super extra nervous-guy careful about my electronics, especially the ones that fly. The problem is, once it’s in the air, there’s not a lot you can do when it crashes. I’ve crashed my share of flying gadgets and much of my X4 flight time was in a cramped office, so I crashed this one even more. The difference this time is that the fans are protected by ducts as an extension of the quad-copter’s body.

The design, to me, is secondary, but also wasn’t lacking. There’s really not a lot of room to make one quad-copter look substantially better than others in it’s class, but the right colors and a little aerodynamics make all the difference.

The controller had a good weight to it and felt right in my hands. It also had features I liked such as the smooth stick control and right-hand placement of the stunt button and control as well as the handle, which was a nice touch. Unfortunately, the few fake controls that are built onto the controller but don’t do anything seemed out of place and the batteries didn’t seem to stay put very securely – although neither impeded performance in any way.

Helix X4 Stunt Video

With anything as fun as this, I try to include a little video with the review, so here you go!

Conclusions

With the suggested price of $79.99, the Helix X4 Stunt is might be a little more spendy than some of the lesser quad-copters, but it has the features to back it up. If you have limited skills and want to wow friends with some stunts, wrap your hands around one of these and you’ll be set.

Desk Pets Trekbot Nearly Escapes Review

I love robots and remote control toys and Trekbot is both. He comes to us from Desk Pets, the makers of Skitterbot as well as other fun remote controlled toys. The irony is that these things are so fast that they’re much better suited for use on a floor rather than a desk. My review subject nearly escaped, but I pinned him down for some quick photos and video.

Desk Pets TrekBot

Trekbot Features

Like Skitterbot, Trekbot’s remote has a few button batteries that it runs on and the bot itself recharges via a cable from the remote. To charge the bot, you plug the remote’s cable into the bot and insert the retractable USB end of the remote into your computer’s USB port. Charging time is said to be about 30 minutes for about 15 minutes of play time, but mine took only about 15 minutes to fully charge out of the box. When the Trekbot is not charging, the usb plug retracts into the remote.

On the remote are four directional buttons to make Trekbot spin left or right or move forward or in reverse. In addition, there is a center button to stop movement completely. The cool thing about this bot – other than it’s pulsating blue eyes – is that no matter how bad you are at directing it, it won’t flip over. It’s hubless design lets the body of the Trekbot flip while the wheels stay in place, always keeping its little plastic mo-hawk pointed up.

Controlling Trekbot is a little harder than controlling Skitterbot for two reasons. First, it’s simple one-at-a-time control means you’re either moving or turning, but not both at the same time. This means that if you get off track, you have to hit the right or left button to correct the angle and then very quickly jump back to the forward or reverse motion. Alternatively, you can stop movement, turn the bot, and then start again, but turning gets tricky at that speed. I’m sure a little more practice wouldn’t hurt, though. This is actually the exact same as how Skitterbot is controlled, but Trekbot is just a little trickier to get pointed in the right direction sometimes.

Trekbot comes in 4 colors and each has its own frequency. This means that if you and friends want to battle and race as the packaging suggests, you’ll want to be sure to have different colored bots.

Trekbot In Action

Starting around $13, this is a great little toy for anyone, including yourself. It’s fun to play with and even more fun if you have pets that will chase it with curiosity. If I were to buy one in the store, though, it would have to be the black one. What color would you choose?