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Unbelievable RC

Halo RC Falcon

November 2011
halo rc falcon

Street Price: $39.99 US
Manufacturer: NKOK
Mfr's recommended min. age: 8+
Our recommended age range: 8+
Primary use: Indoors
Top speed: n/a
Runtime per charge: 4-5 mins.
Controller: Infrared
Includes:

  • Assembled aircraft
  • Controller/charger
  • Spare rotor blades
  • USB charging adapter
  • Instructions
Requires:
  • 6x AA batteries

Initial Impressions

As a Halo fan and an RC maniac, I've been happy to test out anything remote-controlled that has to do with Halo -- the original small RC Warthog, the bigger one, the RC Halo UNSC Scorpion, the RC Hornet. All fun in their own ways, but I've really been looking forward to RC versions of the iconic Pelican and the more recent Falcon gunship. NKOK has now given us 1 of those 2, and the first time I saw one in stores, I immediately bought it.

The RC Halo Falcon looks pretty good for its size and low cost, except for the big helicopter rotor blades it has all over the place, eight blades on two pods, plus weighted "flybar" stabilizers. Those really detract from the look of the toy, but it's the most sensible form of vertical propulsion they could use for a scale Falcon, so I really can't complain as there's no better alternative in the real world. The controller doubles as a 30-minute charger for the RC Falcon, and a USB charging cable is also included to help save money on controller AA batteries.

Testing

I discovered a design flaw with the Halo RC Falcon set before I even got to fly it for the first time. The problem is the on/off switch on the controller. It doesn't like to turn on. There's some flexibility in its mount, and sometimes when you slide it to the "on" position it just bends into the case and doesn't slide all the way. You may need to use a fingernail to put pressure on the lower part of the switch as you push it up, or use an object with a narrow tip to push up from the very base of the switch. That's pretty annoying, and I fear it could be an instant total turn-off for folks who didn't figure out the trick to it.

Moving on, though, my first flights were very brief as I adjusted the "trim" settings. The most important one to adjust is the "rotor trim" dial on the left upper corner of the controller. This changes how fast the left & right helicopter pods spin relative to each other. If the one on the right is going faster than the left, the right side of the Falcon will rise faster in the air, causing the whole craft to tilt and then slide to the left. For a novice, it will take some concentration to observe exactly what the Falcon is doing wrong, so you can correct it. Once the lift is balanced left to right, you may need to adjust the steering trim. This is very straightforward and works just like on any other RC. If the thing turns left on its own, turn your steering trim slowly to the right until it goes straight.

The RC Falcon will always travel forward very slowly on its own, as it doesn't have independent forward/backward controls. This makes it slow to move through the air, but it gives you less to have to think about. You just need to control up/down movement, and left/right turning. The up/down control is a little dull or sluggish at first, but around the middle point it becomes suddenly more sensitive. With just a little bit of practice you'll find the area you need to keep it in most of the time, and just move the control stick very slightly up & down to control your altitude. Steering is more predictable, except the design of the RC Falcon has so many things trying to keep it stable (i.e. not moving), it will actually try to resist turning too fast, making it look very odd and unpredictable. The trick here is to just turn slowly.

Once you've got all of the tricks figured out, the Halo RC Falcon flies wonderfully!

Video

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

Conclusion

For a really experienced RC pilot, all of the trimming and balance & control stuff will come pretty naturally and be pretty easy. However, for an average toy-grade RC'er looking to just charge up a battery and fly around, the things needed to make this RC Falcon fly well can be a little intimidating. For folks who don't get help or don't read this review carefully, I fear the phrase "I give up" could be uttered prematurely. I give this one a modest passing grade because it has this initial barrier to success, but does work very well if you triumph over the early obstacles.

C

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