Blade Helicopters distributed by Horizon Hobby, were formerly sold under the E-Flite brand which also included planes (still does to this day).
When Horizon Hobby really started to expand its helicopter lineup back in 2010, they decided to re-brand all their rotary aircraft and the name "Blade" has stuck since; now including both helicopters and their quad-rotor lineups.
So why do I claim Blade Helicopters are such a good brand to start your journey into RC helicopters with, when the market is literally saturated with entry level RC helicopters and quad-rotors?
I all comes down to some very important criteria, much of which I talk about on my Best RC Helicopter page, but I will reiterate the specific features as they apply to the Blade brand that are both time & money savers for most people who are first starting out in the Hobby.
After that, we will look at each model they have so you can get a good idea of what models and features they offer.
I guess the first criteria to look at is overall quality since the main reason we get into the hobby is to actually fly, and for a model helicopter to fly and stay flying, a base quality line is a necessity.
Blade helicopters & quadrotors of today are all of pretty decent quality.
Sure, there have been several duds over the years such as the Blade SR (link takes you to a review I did on it), but for the vast number of helicopters they have released over the past 8 years or so, there were & are way more good ones than bad ones.
Their track record in other words is very decent for the lower cost, entry level stuff and it only seems to be getting better.
There is no question, there are some other low cost entry level brands out there such as Walkera that have some decent flying entry level machines as well, but it's still very much hit and miss, and you don't get the same level of after sales support and help that Blade/Horizon Hobby offers. It goes well beyond that however as will be covered shortly.
You notice I keep calling Blade helicopters "Entry Level", why?
Simply because that is exactly what they are. These are not $1000 dollar plus larger high end machines like Align's T-Rexs, MSH, or SAB's Goblins that many experienced RC helicopter enthusiasts seek out and aspire towards. Blade helicopters are lower cost, small in size (nothing larger than a 450 size), ready to fly RC helicopters that offer a great introduction into the hobby for the average person.
For a few years, Blade actually did dabble in the larger & costlier higher end, 500 to 700 size electric helicopters, and they were actually fairly decent machines. However, for the rather high cost, they couldn't compete with the established high end brands such as Align, SAB, Mikado, HD, JR, Compass, etc.
Serious RC helicopter hobbyists just didn't see Blade as a viable contender to these other brands after they progressed to that level. So after a short 3 years or so, all the large Blade helicopters were discontinued. Lots of people I know got some really smoking great deals on these larger Blade helis when this happened as some were being cleared out for 1/2 price (even less)!
What I and others have noticed however since Blade dabbled in the larger machines, is the quality of their smaller helicopters started getting better for the most part. A large RC helicopter requires a much higher level of build and component quality after all, and I personally feel Blade learned alot about what makes a decent heli from their time producing the bigger birds; and that has now filtered down into the smaller stuff.
Blade eventually got back to doing what it does best - produce lower cost, smaller size helicopters & quads aimed directly toward folks just starting out or are fairly new to the hobby. This time however, bringing some of their larger helicopter know-how to the table. This is something none of the other lower cost entry level brands can say nor demonstrate.
As Blade's tag line goes... "#1 By Design"
Since I already touched on this, lets talk about after sales support... What is it?
Simply put, it means after you walk out the door with your shiny new RC helicopter, there is a vast help network out there should you have any questions, problems, or simply need parts for repairs or maintenance.
I put extremely high priority on this, especially for newbies getting into the hobby. Blade has helped successfully introduce more people to RC helicopters in recent years, than all other low cost entry level brands combined.
Blade helicopters are simply incredibly popular. They are sold at most good hobby shops world wide (both on-line and off), so help and parts are almost always easy to get.
Horizon Hobby is also very good with their warranties should you get a defective product, and yes it does happen from time to time like any high-tech product.
Yes, they drop the ball every now and then, but it's rare. Horizon Hobby's warranty & help support is on orders of magnitude better than all the other low cost entry level heli brands on the market.
Going well beyond the hobby store and Horizon Hobby for after sales help and support, there are countless websites & forum posts offering help as well with all of Blade's helicopters and quad rotors. This is true for many brands, but going by the numbers, there is simply way more on-line help should you need it with Blade. For seasoned and experienced RC helicopter enthusiasts, this is not so important, but it can be an invaluable resource for beginners and newbies.
This also makes used Blade helicopters more desirable than other entry
level brands for the simple reason they are both so popular and work
with a very popular radio system. Many newbies really catch onto the
hobby fast when they get bit by the heli bug. It's very nice at this stage to be able to easily sell your first or
second Blade heli to get into a more advanced model. This is where the
slight cost premium of Blade's entry level helicopters can easily be
recuperated over other brands.
SAFE stands for "Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope". Big term but what on earth does it mean; and more importantly, what is the benefit to you?
The benefit is fairly easy to understand - it helps prevent crashing. Not crashing as often while learning generally equates to a faster learning curve & less frustration; while saving both money & time, along with the odd change of underwear.
The most basic way to think about SAFE, is when it's turned on in either beginner or stability mode, it won't allow you to overfly the helicopter or quadrotor. By overfly, I mean over control it to the point you lose control. When beginners are first starting to fly RC anything, the most common problem they have is over-controlling - they simply have not developed the fine motor control skills yet.
This results in applying way too much stick input to get the aircraft moving or getting it back under control. Think of it like driving a car by constantly giving masive steering wheel inputs to stay in your lane. You would be swerving from lane to lane and soon lose control of your vehicle if you drove that way - right...
Well, when you are flying an RC aircraft, the exact same principles of over controlling apply. The only difference is it's happening in 3 dimensions (yaw, pitch, roll), not just yaw like it does with a land vehicle so it's naturally harder and simply takes longer to learn the "flying finesse" required.
SAFE technology that is used on many of Blade's helicopters and quadrotors as well as Eflite airplanes, simply limits the maximum amount of movement the aircraft is capable of so it can't get overflown. SAFE technology also can self-level the aircraft automatically when the sticks are centered, and on some of the SAFE equipped Blade helicopters, has a "save" or "rescue" feature that will get the aircraft back under control if you are performing aerobatics for example and get into trouble.
SAFE has changed the way beginners learn to fly!
Okay, many beginners won't even understand what this means (you will shortly however); but it's the single biggest reason why I, and most other experienced RC hobbyists put Blade head and shoulders above the rest of the entry level stuff on the market.
Spektrum DMS2/X is a 2.4 GHz spread spectrum protocol used by all Spektrum brand RC radio system and earlier JR spread spectrum radio systems. This is basically the digital language & coding sequence used in the radio system that allows the radio (RC controller) to communicate with the aircraft. I have a page that goes into much more detail on spread spectrum if you want to learn more about it.
Every brand of RC radio system has it's own unique protocol so they are not compatible with one another.
So why is this important to understand right now?
First off, DSM2/X protocol is a very robust spread spektrum radio control communication system. In fact, in the RC heli world, it's one of the most popular (even for the higher end stuff as you progress).
I often say the radio system is more important than the helicopter if you are even somewhat serious about the hobby, and I strongly support this statement. When you get a good radio system to start with, you won't have to change systems later on and Blade is the only entry level heli & quad brand that provides this very important benefit.
There is no question, when you are first starting out with a low cost, entry level, RC helicopter or quad, you don't need a top end radio system; but as you progress, you will soon realize just how beneficial this is.
First off, you won't have to get a new radio for each helicopter or quad rotor you purchase.
As you progress further, you can then fly all the higher end machines with this radio. So many of today's top flybarless systems are designed to work seamlessly with Spektrum DSM2/X systems for example.
The other big convenience here is for RC airplane enthusiasts that already fly their planes with a Spektrum computerized radio and are thinking of coming over to the "dark side" of the flying eggbeater world to give it a whirl. If that describes you, starting out with a Blade helicopter or quad is almost a no-brainer since you already have a radio that will work with the aircraft.
Using one radio to fly everything is not only extremely convenient, it saves a substantial amount of money over the years.
Many of Blade's helicopters and quadcopters for example come with or without a simple RC radio. The version's without the radio are for those of us who already have a Spektrum or JR DSM2/X radio and naturally those versions cost less money. Blade calls this "Bind N' Fly" (BNF). I talk about this feature in the many Blade & Eflite helicopter reviews I have done, and is once again why I feel this feature alone is so beneficial for so many people.
So, if you already have a computerized Spektrum RC radio system or older computerized JR DSM2/X system, you will want to get the "BNF" version of whatever Blade helicopter or quad-rotor model you are looking at.
If you are just starting out and have no radio system, you can get the RTF version to start with and then get a better quality Spektrum computerized radio later on as you progress to open up all the benefits of programmable radio systems to cater your radio to your flying style. One radio to fly multiple helicopters, quadrotors, planes, and gliders - that is what I mean by growth!
So, those are the main benefits to you as the consumer that Blade offers that no other brand does.
suppose a very simple way to look at all this, is out of all the lower
cost, entry level, small RC helicopters and quadrotors on the market, Blade is the only brand that allows you to truly "invest into the hobby".
Blade has a vast array of helicopters and quadrotors to suit most budgets and ability levels. They even have a few FPV ready quad-rotors that are compatible with FatShark video goggles.
Blade has more or less divided their lineup into three categories based on experience levels.
As you may likely know from my Best RC Helicopter page, I personally don't feel you can simply pigeon hole any RC helicopter to cater to a specific experience level. It's possible for example for people to start with any of Blade's (or any other brand for that matter) more advanced collective pitch RC helicopters if they do their research and know what to expect.
You can for example setup any collective pitch helicopter to be very tame and as you progress, change the setup to allow more aggressive flying. This takes a good deal of understanding at first to do properly; but for someone who knows they have the correct mindset (I was borderline obsessed when I got into the hobby for example), and wants to start with a more advanced model, it's certainly very doable. This is more true now then ever with any of Blade's aircraft that have SAFE technology.
In short, take these Blade experience categories as guide lines only.
No question they are good generalized guidelines to follow; but you know your underlying passion towards
the hobby and natural abilities better than the manufacturer or I do. Base
your Blade helicopter purchase decision on what's the best match for you.
Blade's model naming process is not intuitive at all! For the most part however, here's how the confusion plays out...
As I said, there are several exceptions, but for the most part, this list should help you out with the basics behind Blade's model identification.
On that note, let's look at all the models Blade offer in each of the 3 experience level categories. I have links to most of them if you want more info or wish to order one. I also show if they are available in BNF, RTF, or both versions and which models employ SAFE technology.
I try my best to keep this list updated, and it currently represents the Blade models as of August 2016.
The remarkably affordable Blade Scout CX weighs just over half an
ounce (17 grams) but will fly circles around other toy helis in the same price range. If you've never flown a heli before and want to start
small, the Scout is one to check out.
The the mCX is the micro heli that started it all. Its compact size and 1 ounce flying weight have allowed thousands to discover the fun of RC helicopters. In fact, it's so easy to fly, anyone can hover it like a pro on their very first flight. See my review.
Like the original Blade mCX, the Blade mCX2 is easy enough for anyone to fly and small enough to fly just about anywhere. But it adds an extra shot of excitement with user-selectable swash sensitivity and flashing LED lights that are built right into the body. See my review.
Ideal for beginner and advanced pilots alike, the Blade Nano QX utilizes SAFE technology to deliver two distinct flying modes. Lower cost brushed coreless motors and a weight under 19 grams enable the Nano QX to reach dynamic speeds and to execute fluid maneuvers. The small size of the Nano QX makes it ideal for flying in tight indoor spaces and in calm outdoor conditions.
The ultra micro Blade Nano QX 3D quadcopter breaks the barriers of maneuverability. Go ahead and perform smooth flight if you want. SAFE technology delivers self-leveling and bank limitations that make learning fast and fun. But that's only a small part of this drone's potential.
If you thought that flying inverted was hard, think again. When you
fly the Blade Nano QX 3D in the incredible EVO Mode, you can be upright
or inverted without having to learn complicated stick inputs. Forget
hover-toys with a flip button. EVO Mode is all about giving you the
ability to fly upside-down, right side-up and everything in between so
you can quickly enjoy inventing the complicated maneuvers yet to be
dreamed. Go ahead and flip 180 degrees to inverted or rotate all the way
The tiny Blade FPV Nano QX quadcopter is a totally immersive FPV RC experience you can take everywhere. Incredibly light and surprisingly durable, the FPV Nano QX can be flown in spaces no bigger than an office cubicle. Its potent coreless motors are smooth and Spektrum 2.4GHz DSMX radio technology delivers outstanding 4-channel maneuverability. But it’s the exclusive SAFE technology built-in that offers a quadcopter experience like no other. Plus, the Spektrum ultra micro FPV camera & transmitter are already installed which means you can get started with FPV in the short time it takes to charge the batteries.
From the tiny video camera mounted on this quad, real-time action is delivered
before your eyes on a headset you wear like eyeglasses. It’s an RC experience
so immersive that you’ll feel as though you’re actually sitting in the
pilot’s seat. The Nano QX2 FPV requires an FPV headset on 5.8GHz like the
easy-to-use Spektrum, Fat Shark Focal FPV Headset (SPMVR2500) that features
wireless head tracking and channel selection (headset sold separately). SAFE equipped.
Four carefully-tuned electric ducted fans give the SAFE equipped Inductrix quad-rotor smooth performance that produces far less noise compared to normal quads that use propellers for thrust. The stealthy result is a machine that’s less intimidating with the appeal of a jet.
Aerial video/image capture and superior flight characteristics combine for dynamic fun from the leaders in heli excitement. With SAFE technology and the EFLA800 flight camera included, pilots can experience the best aspects of both aerial video capture and stable flight.
The Blade Inductrix is a 200 size SAFE equipped ducted fan qaud-rotor, with integrated flight camera & FPV transmitter. This little ducted fan quad offers a crazy fun FPV flight experience. Video is transmitted at 25mw on 5.8GHz and is compatible with FatShark headsets like the SpektrumTeleporter V4 (SPMVR1100). The four 200-class outrunner brushless motors allow the ducted fans to operate at high speed, yet the fans remain safely contained within their protective shrouds.
The Blade Glimpse with SAFE technology is the ideal quad for starting out in aerial cinematography using any iOS or Android smart phone or tablet as the display device. Durable and able to fly indoors or out, the integrated HD camera can deliver its down-link to multiple smart devices at the same time so several can share in the flight experience.
The Blade Zeyrok is one of the best looking micro size quad-rotors currently on the market in my opinion and is as durable as it is good looking. An integrated HD video/still camera is available as an accessory or can be included. SAFE technology allows easy beginner flying right up to Z-rok'in aerobatics. There are 3 versions of the Zeyrok available in both yellow and green:
The Blade Chroma is a higher-end AP quadrotor. All the advanced bells & whistles one would expect in this level of quad such as multi axis camera stabilization gimbal and even 4K on some models are available.
The tiny Blade Nano CP S is perhaps the PERFECT indoor collective pitch RC helicopter. Not overly powerful, but a great indoor practice aid when first getting into collective pitch.
Blade's 250 CFX uses both main & tail high-output brushless motors along with 4S LiPo flight battery power to suit mild or wild flying styles in this 250 size collective pitch RC heli. SAFE technology along with digital high-speed metal gear cyclic servos add rock-solid flight control in all fight modes from tame to insane.
Larger than a micro-class machine, the sub-micro Blade 120 S is great for outdoor flight in low wind, yet is still small enough to fly in larger indoor spaces. The 120S has SAFE technology to boot! Here's my full write-up on this great little bird.
Advancing from an intermediate heli to an advanced flybarless heli has never been more seamless and easy with the 200 SR X. The Blade 200 SR X is the first fixed pitch heli to employ SAFE technology for an unparalleled flybarless heli experience. This durable heli is complimented by brushless main and tail motors that make the most of the included 800mAh 3S 30C LiPo flight battery and 3-Cell LiPo AC Powered balancing charger. See Review.
The Blade 230 S features exclusive SAFE technology. Flight mode versatility means that you can instantly choose the level of assistance and maneuverability that’s right for you. Panic Recovery mode that will recover the heli to a level attitude for you at the push of a button.
Same features as the 230 S but features a brilliant LED lighting system in the frame and tail-fin that operate off the flight pack. The main blades utilize individual 1S ultra-micro Li-Po batteries (included) you can easily remove for charging with the 1S USB charger provided. Night time flying fun!
The Blade Micro AH-64 Apache. A micro size scale collective pitch heli with decent detail and SAFE technology; giving you the protection of Panic Recovery at the push of a button.
The Blade Mach 24 quadrotor makes getting into 250-class quad racing easy. Powerful and incredibly durable, this quad delivers an immersive RC experience with intuitive SAFE technology for action-packed racing fun that's easier to enjoy.
The 200 QX is powered by four authoritative brushless motors which provide intense power for aerobatics, precision flight and even heavy payloads. Thanks to this aggressive power, the 200 QX is capable of carrying addition weight and can be flown indoors and outdoors in medium winds. A great 3D capable quad with SAFE® technology.
Blade and ImmersionRC have teamed up to deliver the cutting-edge Vortex 250 Pro multirotor with Spektrum™ technology. ProTuned for FPV racing, now pilots who want next-level performance can enjoy BNF race ready convenience in a 250 size class. Super fun!
The Blade 180 CFX packs everything you'd expect from a pro-class, 700-size electric heli into a small size ballistic machine you can 3D just about anywhere.
The Blade 270 CFX heli goes beyond unlimited performance for its size. By combining the high power of a 22.2V Li-Po battery into a mini-class machine with a rigid carbon-fiber airframe. The result is a helicopter you can pound the pitch with and still have power in reserve. But what sets the 270 CFX truly apart is the exclusive partnership Spektrum, BeastX and SAFE technologies bring together. Not only do you get industry-leading control and utter precision that's absolutely stable, SAFE technology helps you prevent a crash at the press of a button with Panic Recovery mode that will return this heli to a level attitude with the least loss of altitude.
The Blade 300 CFX is a complete transformation of the popular Blade 300 X that combines flight-ready convenience with pro-class features at a very attractive price. See Review
The Blade 360 CFX helicopter designed to meet the demands of today's hard core smacking 3D pilot. This 450 size bird is based on an entirely new platform using 6S 22.2V LiPo power. Improved servo to swashplate geometry and BeastX flybarless technology round out the highlights.
The Blade Trio 360 CFX is basically the exact same helicopter as the Blade 360 CFX except it uses a tri-blade head over a two blade. What's the advantage?
Let's see... Added spinning mass, added drag, added cost, and added complexity. Everything flybarless heads were suppose to get us away from. Oh, and the tail has to work harder to boot.
Anyone who knows me, understands I put practicality and simplicity before looks and any marginal performance increase (less is more in this case).
Tri bladed heads on aerobatic helicopters do give marginal improvements in collective response, but there is a power consumption cost that goes with that and all the other added items I just mentioned. Not for me as I see this as nothing more than marketing hype; but for those who think more blades give a better RC flight experience, the Trio 360 CFX is worth looking at.
No question, the canopy graphics are a nice bright visual improvement over the original. The other nice addition is this 360 CFX uses the new Spektrum AR7210BX FBL/RX unit over the original 7200BX. So you have the ability to purchase the rescue software if you wanted it down the road.