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Unbelievable RC

Air Hogs Havoc Cyclone

September 2008

Street Price: $29.99 US
Manufacturer: Spin Master
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 8+
Our recommended age range: 8+
Primary use: Indoors
Radio: n/a - infrared
Includes:

  • Vehicle
  • Landing struts
  • Transmitter / charger
  • Spare rudder assembly
  • Instructions
Requires:
  • 4 AA batteries for the transmitter

Initial Impressions

I've seen some really weird-looking RCs, and well, this is one of 'em. At first glance I thought it was some sort of odd hand-tossed winged dart that you throw through the air, but then I saw that it's actually remote-controlled, and I got even more confused. I've definitely never seen anything like this. It is about as long as it is wide, with an unusually large propeller not in the front, not in the back, but right in the middle of the craft. The "wing," if you can call it that, starts upside down in the front (concave from the top) and then flows into the more expected downward slope towards the rear. I like to think I know at least basic physics, but I simply cannot figure out how this thing is supposed to fly.

 

Preparing to Fly

Here's a surprise for an Air Hogs product -- some assembly is required! The Havoc Cyclone has long, slender, flexible landing struts that need to be carefully attached to the main wing/fuselage with sticky strips. It's worth taking time to check and re-check to make sure you're getting these lined up right before you stick them on, because once they're on you don't want to have to take them back off and use up some of the sticky adhesive.

  air hogs havoc cyclone

Once the struts are on, though, it's back to business as usual, with the controller doubling as a charger. I like that only 4 AA batteries are required for really small craft like this one, versus the usual 6.

Testing

The instruction manual gives various specific directions about how to hold the Havoc Cyclone when you're ready to launch it, what angle and speed to start it at to get what flying effect, but honestly, that all sounded like too much to remember, so I just gave it 1/2 throttle and tossed it out with a flick of the wrist like it was a really flimsy & small paper airplane. It flew, but not at all like I expected. Instead of gently floating off straight, it went into an immediate spin while flying forward VERY slowly. Surprisingly, it was holding its altitude. Spinning. I couldn't understand it, but I was excited and tried to see if I could get it under control by trying to make it turn in one direction and slowly altering the throttle up & down, seeing if it would stabilize. First it went into a complete hover like a helicopter, spinning in one place without really going anywhere. I turned the opposite direction and it started to move around a bit, and then, suddenly, it switched to flying like a regular plane!

With its wits about it, the Havoc Cyclone flew incredibly slowly, but fully under control. I've never flown a fixed-wing plane that could move so slow and stay in such a small area. It doesn't fly with the wing level, but instead sort of drags its tail through the air, the propeller pointing diagonally upwards. After flying around the room a bit, I took too sudden of a turn with too much throttle, and it started spinning again. This time I wasn't able to control it and it crashed harmlessly, but after more tries I kind of got the hang of it. Ok, enough talk, just watch...

Video

(You can click on a video a second time to view it larger in a new window.)

Conclusion

This thing is weird, Weird, WEIRD, but it works! Sometimes it likes to get a mind of its own, but when it does, it puts on a great show pulling surprising aerobatic stunts. With practice, you can learn to control it pretty well, but it always retains just a little bit of mystery and unpredictability in its actions. For a kid who wants an airplane that will do stunts safely indoors, the Havoc Cyclone is perfect. Spend some time studying the instructions and you'll learn exactly how to perform a wide variety of stunts. For those of us who want a little more stability and control, it gets a little funky at times, though it's never frustrating. Leave it to Spinmaster to bring us something different!

B+

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