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Unbelievable RC

Air Hogs Havoc Heli - 2011

March 2011
air hogs havoc

Street Price: $29.99 US
Manufacturer: Spinmaster
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 8
Our recommended age range: 8 to adult
Primary use: Indoor
Top speed: n/a
Radio: n/a - infrared
Includes:

  • Helicopter
  • Controller / charger
  • Instructions
  • Spare tail propeller
  • Tail prop changing tool
Requires:
  • 6x AA batteries

Initial Impressions

The Air Hogs Havoc RC heli started as a rebrand of the original hit micro-sized heli, the Silverlit Picco-Z. I reviewed that original Havoc all the way back in 2007. After that, Air Hogs continued to improve the Havoc and I reviewed a much nicer-looking version in 2009. Here it is 2011, and I'm more than happy to be trying out yet another update to the Havoc!

Though this latest version is the same cost as the older ones, it adds a lot of new stuff. Starting with the less significant items, the fuselage has been updated with an even more futuristic and aggressive look, and it now has real landing skids plus a subtle rear landing brace in the form of a vertical fin. This makes it more stable when sitting, and easier to land right side up. It also has dual forward-facing LED lights that you can turn on & off right from the remote. Getting to the more functional bits, the new Havoc has a moveable secondary fin on the tail boom with a small metal weight in it. You can slide this forward or back to change the position of the Havoc's center of gravity. The farther forward you place the weight, the more the heli will "pitch" or lean forward, which will convert some of the main rotor's power into forward thrust. Originally to adjust your center of gravity, you had to tape little strips of aluminum onto the nose of the Havoc, and those were unsightly. With some later versions you could either use weight or twist the tail boom to make the tail rotor tilt the heli forward a bit.

Saving the best for last, this latest Air Hogs Havoc promises 5-direction control, meaning left/right, up/down, and independent forward control, like a 3-channel heli! For forward motion there are two buttons on the top of the controller (you push them with your index fingers like "bumper" buttons on a game controller). The button on the left is supposed to give modest forward movement, while the one on the right is called "turbo" for even faster flight.

As is always the case with Air Hogs micro RCs, the controller doubles as a charger, with a charging jack in a neat sliding compartment that plugs right into the heli itself.

Testing

For my first flight with the Air Hogs Havoc Heli, I put the tail weight in the rear-most position and used only the two main control sticks, leaving the forward movement buttons alone. Like this, the new Havoc flew very much like the one I reviewed in 2009, though perhaps just a tiny bit slower. I was hoping that keeping the weight all the way to the rear would let it almost hover, but this was not the case -- it still has continuous forward motion. It's actually important to have some movement because if you make these 2-channel craft try to hover by adding extra weight to the rear, they tend to flop and teeter around in the air sloppily, in my experience at least. Like with other Air Hogs micro helis, right turns can be executed smoothly and with grace, but when you go to turn left, you have to use very short control inputs, or the craft will spin all the way around.

Next I moved the weight forward part way to try a little faster flight. This took about two seconds to do and worked just perfectly in the air, giving me consistently more forward speed. In the fairly small room where I was filming, I found it to be actually pretty tough to keep the Havoc away from the walls. Because of the way the main rotor attempts to stabilize itself, the Havoc will fly forward for awhile and then stop mid-air, collect itself, and then lunge forward again. It flies like it has a spinning top inside of it.

I ended up moving the weight back to the rear, then experimented with the forward motion buttons. These do work, but not as well as I had hoped. When the Havoc is moving forward, using either button will increase its forward speed. However, it will still sometimes come to a stop as mentioned above. It keeps up good speed when turning right, but in those left turns, more speed makes the spin happen more quickly, and it does its little spinning top dance in the air swinging back & forth once or twice before heading off in the new direction.

Video

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

Conclusion

The Air Hogs Havoc Heli has been the low-cost mainstream micro RC helicopter for years, and it has been continually improved without raising the cost. It's a good toy. However, I feel the RC world in general has changed a lot faster than the Air Hogs line itself, and the Havoc no longer dominates in value & quality. For the same price as the Havoc (around $30 USD) or even less, you can find a Syma S107G, a 3-channel metal-chassis micro with nearly hobby-grade construction quality, outstanding automatic gyro stabilization, and true 3-channel, fully proportional control for the ability to hover, go forward at variable speeds, turn well in both directions, stop, and even go backwards. I can't badmouth the Havoc, but it just doesn't compete in performance for the price. It remains a very durable, safe heli that's easy to get in the air, though, and it's a better choice than the Syma for younger kids who don't appreciate things they own and like to crash a lot. For the 12 & up crowd, you can do better.

C+

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