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Unbelievable RC

Air Hogs Gryphon

June 2011
air hogs gryphon

Street Price: $99.99 US
Manufacturer: Spinmaster
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 12
Our recommended age range: 11+
Primary use: Large indoor spaces, outdoor with zero wind
Top speed: n/a
Radio: 27mhz
Includes:

  • RC helicopter
  • Controller
  • Charger with AC adapter
  • Instructions
  • Spare rotor blades, full set
Requires:
  • 6x AA batteries

Initial Impressions

The Air Hogs Gryphon took me by complete surprise when I saw it at my local Target store. Unlike all Air Hogs RC helicopters before it, the Gryphon is big, the normal size for a low-end hobby-grade heli. It measures 16 inches from nose to tail, not including the two large, free-swivelling, counter-rotating ("coaxial") main rotors. This is a 3-channel heli, meaning you control not only up/down and left/right movement, but forward/backward as well. That's all of the control you need to move in any direction! Because of the Gryphon's size, it cannot be charged directly from the controller the way most Air Hogs craft can. Instead, a separate charging unit with an AC adapter is included. This is a really simple unit to use, plugging directly into a port on the rear of the main fuselage. There's a single light on the charger that will blink in different colors to indicate the status of the battery. Because RC helicopters invariably crash into something at some point, a full set of extra rotor blades are included -- two pairs of main blades and a spare tail propeller as well.

Testing

The instructions very clearly say to only use the Air Hogs Gryphon outdoors, but it warns against using it in "windy" conditions, noting that you may have trouble controlling the heli. This whole statement really needs to be clarified. If there is any wind out, even the very slightest breeze that you can barely feel, you cannot fly the Gryphon. This is very normal for small RC helicopters, except for the very expensive, difficult, advanced hobby-grade models made for experts. The design features that make a helicopter like the Gryphon stable and safe enough for a novice to intermediate flyer absolutely require still air.

After quickly confirming that even a very mild breeze will carry the Gryphon away no matter how good of a pilot you are, I took mine inside of a building with a large, open space. Here, the Air Hogs Gryphon truly shined. The videos below capture my very first flights. I was even operating the camera while flying. I didn't have to make any adjustments, and the heli was very stable in the air from the moment it took off. It hovers nicely, holds its direction well thanks to the built-in gyro (gyroscopic stabilizer system), and has very managable forward/backward motion that takes it up to a good speed without being unsafe.

Videos

(Click a video a second time to view it larger in a new window.)

Conclusion

Spin Master knocked it out of the park with the Air Hogs Gryphon. The performance is excellent. The design is ideal. The controls are as simple as they can get for this large of a heli. It comes with some spare parts, though everything is pretty durable to begin with (as helicopters go). It's really important to keep in mind that it cannot be used anywhere there is any wind at all, and because of its size and power, you should start flying it in as large of an open area as possible until you get the hang of it. Places like gymnasiums are ideal, as long as there aren't people nearby. The only thing that's not perfect about the Air Hogs Gryphon is the price! Places like Xheli.com that sell a wide range of intermediate to advanced RC helicopters have similar-performing helis in the range of $65-$70 US plus shipping. With the Air Hogs brand, though, you get the comfort of a well-established brand with good customer support, and you can buy from a larger store that you're more familiar with. I personally think it's a fair trade-off.

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Note: This review was not sponsored or sanctioned in any way by Spin Master, the Air Hogs brand, or any vendor. I bought this item at full price at the store and evaluated it from a completely unbiased perspective, as always.

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