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Unbelievable RC

Air Hogs Mini Storm Launcher

September 2007

Street Price: $39.99 US
Manufacturer: Spin Master
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 8+
Our recommended age range: 8+
Primary use: Outdoors
Radio: 27mhz, 2 frequencies available
Includes:

  • Assembled craft
  • Transmitter / charger
  • Decal sheet
  • Instructions
Requires:
  • 8 AA batteries for the transmitter
Also available:
  • Black color scheme

Initial Impressions

The Mini Storm Launcher is, like the name suggests, a smaller version of an earlier model. The original was 20" long, while the mini is under a foot. Like the original, the Mini can drive around on the ground like a car and then take off & fly like a plane. However, unlike its bigger brother, the mini cannot go on water, even though it still looks like a racing "hydroplane" boat.

 

Powered by two propellers and having no other actively-moving parts, the Mini Storm Launcher is similar in concept to the Aero Ace. The fact that it has wheels, however, sets it apart and gives it the ability to drive around and take off from land.

 
 

Preparing to Fly

There's really not much to this. Put batteries in the controller, apply optional stickers to the vehicle, install a simple propeller guard (pops right in), and charge up.

Testing

My first tests were done from the ground. The Mini Storm Launcher is faster than most toy-class RC cars, reaching speeds in excess of 20mph. Steering is very controllable, though sluggish at high speed. There's a trim knob on the controller that lets you adjust for unintentional turning, and it's important to get this right while you're still on the ground

I was really anxious to get in the air, though, so I quickly hit full throttle going straight to see what it could do. One side lifted off the ground slightly, but not the other, and I ran out of space and had to turn around. On the way back, though, I finally got airborne, but I turned before I had enough altitude and soon I was in car mode again. On the third attempt, I made sure to fly into the slight breeze, and it took off much sooner. I also waited for it to get a little farther off the ground, probably 5 to 6 feet, before I started to turn at all, and I made the first turn very gradual. I found that once you're up in the air for a little while, the Mini Storm Launcher really reaches full speed and handles better.

Once you're comfortably flying around, it's really a breeze. The Mini Storm Launcher makes most of its moves very gradually unless you happen to hit a small gust of wind. As long as you have enough clear space to fly in, you're going to have no trouble staying up for the full duration of the battery charge.

I should also mention that there's a nice finger tab on the bottom of the plane that gives you a perfect place to hold & launch the whole thing by hand. This can be helpful if you don't have a smooth surface to drive on or just want to get in the air faster & more reliably.

Video

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

Conclusion

The Mini Storm Launcher is a cool toy, way better than the larger original. It's easy to fly and can be operated in a reasonable space like a medium-sized park (unlike the big one that seems to need a football field). I really appreciate not having to buy a battery & charger for it, making the $39 street price very reasonable. I wish it could go on water, especially since it looks like a racing boat! I would also prefer if it didn't need as much of a runway to get airborne, but I don't mind hand-launching it when I need to.

All in all, a big improvement in a small package, and I definitely enjoyed flying it.

B+

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