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Unbelievable RC

Air Hogs Osprey

September 2010
RC

Street Price: $79.99 US
Manufacturer: Spinmaster
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 10
Our recommended age range: 12 to adult
Primary use: Outdoor
Top speed: n/a
Radio: 27mhz
Includes:

  • Assembled aircraft
  • Controller / charger
  • Instructions
  • Full set of spare propellers
  • 2 sets of landing gear
  • Spare pair of flybars & linkages
Requires:
  • 8x AA batteries

Initial Impressions

The Air Hogs Osprey "Full Tilt" has probably the coolest idea for a toy aircraft I've ever seen. Supposedly it can fly like either an airplane or a helicopter. Frankly, I was skeptical -- really skeptical -- that it could pull it off. It's a fairly bulky plane for an Air Hogs, over 16" long and wide, bringing back eerie memories of the tragic Skywinder. You get a lot in the package, though, including two full sets of landing gear in case you lose or irreparably bend one, and a full set of propellers and stabilizing "flybars" as well as the linkages to hook them up.

This is a true hybrid between plane and heli designs. The overall design of the fuselage, wings, and tail are 100% airplane. The motor pods, however, sport oversized, freely hinged rotor blades with stabilizing "flybars" in front of each just like an RC helicopter. The Osprey actually gets its name from a real-life plane called the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey. Both of them promise the ability to take off and land vertically (or nearly vertically) by aiming large twin propellers towards the sky, then rotating them forward once in the air for regular forward flight. One major difference is that the real-life V-22 has engines and propellers that rotate at the tips of the wings, while the Air Hogs RC version has the propellers in the middle of the wings, and the wings themselves rotate. Well, there's also the little matter of the real-life craft costing over $100 million each, while the RC costs about 80 bucks at Toys R Us.

Testing

The Osprey Full Tilt charges right from the transmitter like most Air Hogs aircraft, but the controller is a little more power-hungry than usual and needs a full 8 AA batteries to work. This makes it a little heavier than what I'm used to for toy-class radios, but it's still reasonable and comfortable in the hands. For literally my very first test run, I flipped the wings into vertical flight mode and gave it a quick flight in my house. That was a really, really bad idea. The Osprey moves a huge amount of air with those big props, blowing around things in its environment, and it actually cannot fly truly vertically like a helicopter -- it constantly moves forward just a bit.

After that experiment I went out to an open field with a friend and we took turns trying both modes of flight. Though we had the misfortune of going out on a day that was actually a bit too windy to reliably fly small aircraft, the Air Hogs Osprey took to the sky with style and composure. It needed very little "trimming" using the buttons & dial on the controller, and was very stable and predictable. Most impressive was the way it transitioned between airplane & helicopter mode in mid-air. Not only was it always very smooth, but it felt very natural to the pilot as well. Going from horizontal to vertical flight really just felt like slowing down in mid-air, like putting on the brakes. This is where the slight constant forward movement, even in "vertical" flight mode, suddenly made complete sense, as the Osprey can continue to be controlled exactly the same way when you switch modes. It flies in the direction it's pointing, and the throttle stick controls whether it goes up or down, or stays level. It's so simple, yet so nearly perfect. Even more impressive was how little altitude it would lose when switching from heli to plane mode -- when facing into the wind, it was possible to make the switch almost immediately after takeoff.

Only two small issues arose during our tests. It became noticeable after awhile that while transforming from plane to heli mode, it would always pull to the left a bit. The two halves of the wing are actually separate units with separate activators moving them, and it seems that one moves a little more quickly than the other. Also, the front landing gear is really flimsy. It did withstand a number of hard landings on both asphalt and grassy dirt without incurring damage, but sometimes when we'd try to take off, rolling resistance over the ground would bend the gear backwards and the nose of the Osprey would suddenly dive forward into the ground. Just a little more rigidity here would be very helpful.

Video

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

Conclusion

It's tough to design a small RC airplane that will really fly well. It's even tougher to design a stable, controllable RC helicopter. What Spinmaster has done with the Air Hogs Osprey Full Tilt, though, is create one single aircraft that works well as an airplane and as a helicopter, alternating at will between the two at the flick of a switch, without requiring exceptionally advanced pilot skills & training. This is nothing short of a monumental achievement. It is absolutely amazing and brilliant. Best of all, the Osprey is just fun to fly, and easy at that. The large size and clever choice of black coloring makes it easy to keep track of in the air. The design of the wings makes it automatically level itself out after a banked turn. It can take off and land on its wheels without assistance. Very little can be done to make it better than it already is. Unquestionably one of the best RCs of 2010. It's a little pricey at $79.95, but you get everything you pay for and more.

A++

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