Air Hogs RC Helicopters are likely the first name many people associate with toy remote control helicopters. This is because almost every toy, department, and big box store carries them, so they get way more "in-person" exposure than just about any other toy heli brand out there. Not to mention, fairly decent TV commercial exposure at certain times of the year.
This doesn't mean they are the best toy helicopters on the market (link takes you to a full write-up I have on toy RC helicopters, how they work, and what to look for in one), but they are not bad either. Most are decent, easy to find, little indoor toy helicopters.
If you just want to get yourself, or your child a simple RC heli to start with; there is no doubt one of Air Hogs RC helicopters or quad-copters will likely be an okay choice as they have a really good variety to choose from based on skill level, features, and budget.
Air Hogs is just one product line of the Spin Master toy company. You therefore will also find Air Hogs called Spin Master Helicopters & Quads while looking for/at them.
Air Hogs represent Spin Master's remote controlled vehicle lineup including both ground and air vehicles. Since this is an RC helicopter website, we will take a closer look at their aircraft that have the ability to hover, and my general impression on each model listed, and links to each one if you want to read more about them or purchase one.
Like the vast majority of toy RC aircraft, Air Hogs RC helicopters and quad rotors sold and flown in the USA, don't require you to register them with the FAA like you must do with larger, hobby grade RC helicopters & quad rotors.
This is because they are all under the 0.55 lb minimum weight restriction. About half can only be flown indoors as well, so that also means they don't require any special registration.
Unbox, charge, and fly in other words!
My first introduction to Air Hogs RC Helicopters was the first generation single rotor fixed pitch Havoc Heli (seen above in a size comparison photo I took a number of years back).
I saw it at the end of a display isle at a Walmart (slickly marketed of course) one day way back in 2006.
For only $30 bucks, I had to give it a try considering I had been flying much more advanced RC helicopters up to this point that cost several thousand dollars and I was obviously curious what $30 beans would provide.
It only had two channels of control (lift & yaw), had vague control at best, and had short flight times; but it was FUN to fly something that was so small indoors.
A complete novelty to me at the time, even though it wasn't a "true" RC helicopter by any stretch of the imagination. Even many of today's Air Hogs Helicopters are not true RC helicopters. RC stands for radio control and most of Air Hogs stuff is infrared controlled (IR-control).
IR control can't compete with too much ambient light, so these types are primarily all indoor helicopters; but I will mention the ones that are able to fly outdoors as well using true radio control over the less expensive and range limiting IR control.
If you are in the Air Hogs RC helicopters section of the toy isle wondering what to get, or perusing the internet looking for an Air Hogs heli; hopefully the following information will help you make a more informed decision based on my knowledge as an RC helicopter enthusiast. My "2-cents" in other words :-)
As I mentioned, Spin Master Air Hogs has both helicopters and quad rotors to choose from. Their base helicopter line goes by the name of "Axis", while their quad rotors are labeled as "Helix". There are of course a few others they have that go by other descriptive names, but for this article, I have divided them in the two basic designs of helicopters and quad-rotors. Most models are also available in several color schemes.
Let's look at their helicopter lineup first going from the most basic ones up to more advanced...
The Air Hogs Hoverblade is about as simple as it gets! Not a helicopter by any stretch as it's basically a foam rotating lifting platform powered by a single coreless motor & propeller located on one of the three lifting "winglets".
One channel of control gives you proportional speed control of the propeller, which in turns will speed up or slow down the aircraft rotation rate and thus, allow you to change the lift vector. Think of it as a "motorized boomerang" with lift control. I would pass on this one if you are primarily after an RC helicopter experience... Ages 8 & up, Indoor Environment Only.
Not even sure if I should include the Air Hogs Vectron Wave as it's not really an RC anything, but it is listed as one of Air Hogs current RC helicopters so here it is. This is basically an air powered top for the lack of a better description.
It uses both ground effect and gyroscopic effect provided by reactive torque from a spinning propeller to hover/float over hard surfaces. If you want control over something remotely, cross this one off the list. A novelty at best IMO... Ages 8 & up, Indoor Environment Only.
The Air Hogs Axis 200 is the first in the Axis lineup. First off this little heli is a fixed pitch, coaxial helicopter design (link takes you to my page on coaxial RC helicopters & how they work). The "2"00 number is Spin Masters way to identify this is a 2 channel toy helicopter (lift control & yaw control only).
This 2 channel version however has a sliding weight on the tail boom that you can adjust manually. This adjustment lets you alter the center of gravity of the heli to get it to drift very slowly forward or backward, or hover stationary.
For very young children this is a decent little first toy helicopter. Older/more RC experienced kids will get bored with it very quickly however... Ages 8-10, Indoor Environment Only.
The Air Hogs Shadow Launcher is way cooler sounding than it really is. This is a simple two channel, coaxial toy heli (like the aforementioned Axis 200), but it comes with a matching transport truck.
Please note however the truck is not remote controlled or powered; only the helicopter is. Like many of Air Hogs videos, the one below is fun & entertaining, but it's not a truthful working representation of this toy... Ages 8-10, Indoor Environment Only.
The Air Hogs Rollercopter is again a simple two channel toy coaxial RC helicopter like the Axis 200, but it's surrounded by a rolling protective cage.
If you are looking for even a rudimentary controllable flight experience, this is not the toy heli for you. There is little if any directional control offered with all that external mass, and having any RC heli rolling around on the ground will do one thing and one thing only, contaminate it with dust and hair - not good!
It looks quite fun and for 5 minutes it is. For less money however, most RC experienced children will enjoy the 3 channel Axis 300X much more... Ages 8-10, Indoor Environment Only.
Next in the Air Hogs' Axis line is the 300X. Like the 200, it's a fixed pitch coaxial design. The 300X gives us 3 channels of control (lift, yaw, and pitch). By mounting a small horizontal tail fan on the end of the tail boom, the heli can pitch forward and backward (the 3rd channel of control) to allow slow forward and backward flight instead of using a manual center of gravity adjustment found on the 2 channel Axis.
This is the most popular form of toy helicopter control these days as it's both economical, and does provide rudimentary control allowing you to fly in a rather controlled manner.
For kids with some RC experience, or have a good aptitude for flying, this little 3 channel Air Hogs helicopter is a solid choice... Ages 8 & up, Indoor Environment Only.
The Air Hogs Altitude Video, is a 3 channel coaxial toy helicopter. It basically uses the same design & control method as the aforementioned Axis 300X. This little toy heli however also has a built-in, adjustable video camera to take both video and still photos at the push of a button on the IR controller.
It's not HD resolution at this price point, but for some basic fun indoor aerial photo & video capture, it's acceptable. After the photos or video are taken, you download them off this little toy heli onto a computer, laptop, or other device by using the supplied USB cable (which is also used to charge this little toy coaxial heli).
Somewhat of a novelty, but if indoor aerial imaging is important to you or your youngster, this 3 channel toy heli may fit the bill... Ages 8 & up, Indoor Environment Only.
The Air Hogs 400X, unlike the 200 & 300 versions, is a single rotor fixed pitch design. This makes it much less stable than the coaxial design and is a good training aid for those thinking of getting into more advanced hobby grade 4 & 5 channel RC helicopters down the road.
It has 4 channels of control (lift, yaw, pitch, & roll). Meaning it can move sideways as well as forward and backwards just like any advanced hobby grade RC or full size helicopter.
It doesn't use a swashplate however like all true RC hobby grade or full size helicopters use. It instead uses a floating main rotor axle hub that will tilt the main rotor forward & backward, left & right; giving a rudimentary, yet acceptable amount of directional pitch & roll control. No question, it's not as aggressive as you can get with a proper swashplate; but for a first 4 channel single rotor fixed pitch RC helicopter, this little toy version is not half bad at a decent price point.
It uses a tail gyro as well giving fairly good tail hold but not as good as most hobby grade helis of this size and design type.
The biggest issue is because it's a toy grade heli, if something breaks (which is much more likely as single rotor helis have more rotor energy to release when they hit something), there is no way to repair it. Toy heli's are after-all disposable. It's also IR controlled so no outdoor fun either.
There is no denying, it works and works pretty well; but I'm of the opinion if you are in the market for a 4 channel RC helicopter, you are much better off by spending a little more money on a beginner hobby grade one so you can at least get replacement parts when something breaks, and be able to fly it outside as well... Ages 10 & up, Indoor Environment Only.
Next up we have the Air Hogs Quad-Rotors (also called quadcopters, quadrocopters, and incorrectly drones). These are all 4 channel quad propeller driven RC aircraft with 3 axis electronic gyro stabilization. If you don't know much about RC quadcopters and want to understand what 3 axis stabilization is, my RC quadrocopter page goes into more details.
4 channels of control give you lift, yaw, pitch, and roll. The electronic stabilization makes them very stable and quite easy to fly. All of Air Hogs' Quads also use true RC radio control (2.4GHz), so they can be flown both indoors and outside on calm days - no wind!
They are not the best choice for younger children unless they already have experience successfully flying another RC toy. 4 channel toy quad-rotor RC helicopters however make great gifts for older children and adults who are just big kids at heart ;-)
Another feature that all Air Hogs Quad Rotors have is the built in LiPo flight battery is charged with a USB cable/computer/USB power outlet.
As with all of Air Hogs Helix Quad's, the Ion uses a ducted fan arrangement to protect the four propellers with the foam body surround. Not only are the propellers protected with this design, so are the objects in your house and bare skin when those "inevitable crashes" occur.
The other added advantage with this design is ducted fans tend to be a little less noisy, while being more efficient than quads that have exposed propellers.
The other thing to note with the Ion, is charging can also be done with the RC controller as well as with the USB cable.
The Ion is a tough little quad that is easy to fly and has good stability. Definitely a good toy quality RC quad-rotor for the price... Ages 10 & up, Indoor/Outdoor Flying Environment.
As with the Helix Ion, the Air Hogs Helix Video quad-rotor is of the ducted fan design and has all those same aforementioned benefits.
The Helix Video as the name suggest has an on board video camera for recording your aerial flight. The camera is rated at 60 FPS so it can capture the overall movement quite well. Still images are also possible by pressing a different button on the controller.
Images and video are recorded on the included 4 GB micro SD card... Ages 10 & up, Indoor/Outdoor Flying Environment.
The Helix X4 Stunt, as the name suggests is the highest performance quad rotor Air Hogs currently has in their Helix line.
Again, the same ducted fan design & associated benefits with this quad design are apparent.
This ducted fan quad however has simple pre-programmed flip and roll maneuver execution built in, and is able to execute these maneuvers at the touch of a button. This is not new in the quad rotor stunt world of course, as many hobby grade RC quads have had this ability for several years now.
It does make flips and rolls however less intimidating and "somewhat" easier to pull off successfully for more novice fliers (yes, you still have to know what you are doing to some extent). Not a bad little toy quad if push button flipping and rolling is an important flight feature to you.
The other thing to note with the X4 Stunt is charging can also be done with the RC controller as well as with the USB cable... Ages 12 & Up, Indoor/Outdoor Flight Environment.
Next up in the Air Hogs Helix family is the Helix Race. This is a very similar toy quad rotor to the Helix Stunt, but it's "stretched". This is the same design seen on true hobby grade racing quads and it allows better forward and backward speed as the propellers are in cleaner air with the further separation. This makes them more efficient and the result is faster flight.
Unlike true hobby grade racing quads however, this toy version doesn't allow an FPV (first person view) flight experience. The Helix race comes in red or blue with a matching color 2.4 GHz RC controller. Charging is done via USB cable either through the controller's batteries or a powered USB outlet.
If speed is your primary interest in a toy quadcopter, the Helix Race is worth consideration. Ages 8 & Up, Indoor/Outdoor Flight Environment.
If you are interested in getting into FPV flight, the Air Hogs Helix Sentinel is a toy quad rotor to consider and without doubt, the very best flying quad rotor Air Hogs has released to date (also the most expensive).
The onboard camera transmits the real time video feed via WiFi to any smart device (smart phone/tablet & free App download required). Up to two smart devices can be used. This allows you to mount your smart phone or tablet on the controller to view the flight, or fit a smart phone (or a second smart phone) to the special goggles that also come with the Sentinel so two people could partake in the FPV flight. Video recording or aerial image taking is also possible.
The Sentinel comes with a protective foam frame for indoor protection that can easily be removed for better outdoor performance. Obstacle avoidance sensors also help somewhat at keeping the Helix Sentinel from flying into stuff.
This FPV quad is similar in design to the Parrot AR Drone and costs about the same. The Parrot (link takes you to my full review on it) is however a much better quad, but not as well suited to younger pilots. Ages 14 & Up, Indoor/Outdoor Flight Environment.
The Air Hogs X-Stream Video Drone is a neat little quad rotor for the low price. Unlike all the other Air Hogs RC Helicopters that use a conventional controller, this one is controlled by your smart device (free App download required).
You can use the touch-screen controls or turn the device's gyros on to control the quad by tilting your phone in the direction you want your quad to go. Height sensors allow "Height Lock" to keep your quad at a fixed altitude if you wish. A removable protective frame helps keep propeller damage at bay for newbie pilots.
I personally don't enjoy controlling RC anything with a smart phone (either with gyro or touch screen controls) as I don't feel as "connected" to the aircraft/vehicle, but that is just my own experience.
Live streaming (thus the name X-Stream) video is sent back to the smart device for real time aerial viewing though the built in camera onboard the X-Stream quad. Video or image recording is also possible. Ages 12 & Up, Indoor/Outdoor Flight Environment.
For the Star Wars fans out there, the Air Hogs Millennium Falcon quad is very cool. It flies surprisingly well, and despite the overall scale detail, it's quite tough and can take a fair amount of abuse.
It's not as tough of course as the Helix lineup, and therefore may not be the best "first" toy quad for younger children, but those with some previous quad or even toy heli experience will have lots of fun piloting it. Lights and Star Wars sound effects add to that fun!
Like the Helix line, it uses a ducted fan quad design and the built in flight battery is charged via a USB cable. True 2.4 GHz radio control enables both indoor & outdoor flight (again in calm zero wind conditions). Ages 10 & up, Indoor/Outdoor Flying Environment.
Okay, I'm a Star Trek fan, so it should come as no surprise that I saved perhaps the neatest Air Hogs quad for last - The U.S.S. Enterprise!
The four propellers are hidden (and protected) quite well in the caged plastic saucer section, while the main body and engine nacelles are made from strong & lightweight foam. The nacelles, are not scale in size due to center of gravity challenges that naturally have to be obeyed, but they still give a decent overall scale effect.
This is the most fragile of all the Air Hogs RC quad rotors, so it's likely not the best choice if you have never flown a quad rotor before; and certainly not for smaller children, unless they are already proficient quad pilots and rarely crash anymore.
This is also not an aerobatic quad rotor by any stretch; it's meant to be flown scale style; meaning slow, smooth, and controlled - for that, it works well. Lights and an assortment of Star Trek sound effects round out the package for all of us who want to "take the helm".
Charging the built in flight battery like all of Air Hogs quads is via a USB cable, and true 2.4 Ghz radio control is used... Ages 10 & up, Indoor/Outdoor Flying Environment.