Spinmaster RC Air Hog Switchblade

July 20, 2009

The Spinmaster RC Air Hog Switchblade — has gotten a lot of buzz lately.  It was  featured on Letterman–where happily for the company and our friend Shannon…it worked on air–much to the delight of the audience (and Dave).

So we were eager to give this one a try.  The results were decidedly mixed.  If the Switchblade is fully charged, there is no wind–and you’re relatively skilled with these types of toys–it goes up and will fly–and it  is extremely cool.   Now here’s the down side–we could only get it to do what it’s supposed to do two or three times in the course of a full afternoon of testing.   This is not a load it up, charge it, take out and fly it kind of toy — it requires much more finesse.

After having several teens try it with limited success — (they all really wanted it to work)…in come my two adult engineering friends  (one  designs drone helicopters and the other has a degree in nuclear engineering).  Nothing like watching grown men get very excited about these types of toys.  I shared the reports of the day—and they both were not satisfied. They were sure that they could get it to work.  After about a half-hour of consulting  –they both gave in and concurred with their younger counterparts.  “Great idea, poor execution.”  They then offered a much more detailed report about why it wasn’t working.  (I love these guys.  I remember when we first started  toyportfolio.com, one dad (he worked for Dupont) sent back a ten page review of an Erector set with design modifications!)

One of my go to teen testers told me that he often reinforces the very lightweight material with some duck tape–so that crashes are less likely to do permanent damage to the toys. I thought  that info was worth passing on–of course, he warned that if you don’t put it on the right way you can blow the whole aerodynamics of the toy.  Of course!

So even though this toy can be fantastic…in the end, it can not sustain the wow factor.

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We’re building the Star Trek Enterprise….

March 26, 2009

The new Star Trek Enterprise…the first to fly…arrived!  We’re all really excited.  When we opened the box we were somewhat surprised that we have to build the Enterprise from lightweight board (the kind that toy gliders are made of)…stay tuned.


Trends From ToyFair 2009: SpinMasters Air Hogs Switchblade

February 26, 2009

airhogsswitchblade2Last year we spent way too much time flying Spin Master’s little Havoc Helis around our office. We got pretty good at it too–so we’re pretty psyched that they have new flying machines!  The Switchblade promises to take off like a UFO and transform in the air–into a hig powered aircraft.   We’ll have to go outside for this one…field trip!


So cool: WowWee’s new FlyTech Butterfly

April 3, 2008

flytech-butterfly-pink.jpgI’m always on the look out for toys that fly–that don’t hurt. As a professional toy tester, I do feel a responsibility to stick my fingers near the propellers (as I think most 8 year olds would) to see if it hurts. Most really do! For the past few years I’ve been a huge fan of the Kid Galaxy planes–they work, easy to launch and very satisfying. I still like those a lot. This week we received Wow Wee’s new Fly Tech Butterfly ($24.99). While I’m not big on gender specific toys, this pink and purple butterfly really works. Much like the Kid Galaxy launcher, you hold down the button until the wings really start to flutter–aim and there it goes! It’s really easy to use (the age label is 6 & up). The launcher takes 3 AAA batteries.

Interestingly all the boys loved playing with it but said they wouldn’t because it was sooo pink.  There is also a yellow and orange butterfly (is that less gender specific or is it the butterfly itself that makes it gender specific?) We didn’t have one the day we tested this product with kids.  I wonder if a blue butterfly would have sparked the same reaction from our boy testers. Would girls play with a blue butterfly? This would make an interesting research project.

In either case, the company also makes a mosquito! My suggestion, have a fly off–which flies further.