“Flying toys sell well all year,” says Nicole, manager of a Walmart Canada toy department in central Alberta (who didn’t want her store or last name used in this article) in an interview with us, “but are especially popular at Christmas.”
Nicole was referring to the miniature high-tech toys that have hit the shelves over the last five years. Ultralight, safe to kids and furniture, and remarkably durable, these RC helicopters, planes and ornithopters are largely designed to be flown indoors by pilots age eight and up.
The brands and toy names look familiar, with a lot of Air Hogs series on the shelf. “Some are new, but some are basically last year’s toys made to work better,” explains Nicole. “They’re more durable, longer lasting, the packaging is more friendly to the environment.”
How does Nicole decide what toys to stock each year? “I rely on my vendors. They do the market testing, they attend the toy fairs, they submit samples to parent groups and consumer councils. So they have a good handle on what will be popular and what will sell. But I also rely on knowing my local market, and I make decisions based on past sales in my own store.”
Here are Nicole’s picks of Best Flying Toys for Christmas from the Air Hogs lineup.
Air Hogs Havoc Cruiser RC Helicopter
Part of the popular Havoc Heli mini chopper line but new for this year, the Cruiser adds wheels for ground handling. Drive it, Fly it. Age 10+, indoors.
Air Hogs Atom RC Helicopter
The Havoc Heli scaled down for this year. Air Hogs’ smallest micro helicopter, a remarkable 4″ total length (blades and boom). Though not as small as the RAV Mosquito, which offers 4-channel control, the Atom is half the price, and offers up/down and left/right control through an IR (infrared) controller for indoor use only. Age 8+
Air Hogs Zipper Micro UFO
The tiny (2″/5 cm) three-winged thingy rises and hovers on command, flashes a colored light show selectable from the controller. Weird but fun. Age 8+, indoors.
Air Hogs Micro Hovercraft
Also new for this year, the palm-sized micro hovercraft is more maneuverable than some previous (larger) hovercraft models. Indoors only on smooth surfaces. Age 10+, indoors.
Air Hogs Havoc Cyclone
The Cyclone is back. Another weird flier like nothing that exists in real life, but definitely cool. Age 8+, indoors/outdoors.
And even though the kids might not be able to fly them inside, Nicole had these on the shelves.
Air Hogs E-Charger Free Flight Airplane
In the opinion of this reviewer, the original 2003 eChargers suffered from limited capabilities. The ducted-fan models may offer better performance with the same fast charging and flights up to 90 m/300 ft. Age 5+, outdoors.
Air Hogs Transformer: Switchblade RC Helicopter/RC Plane
In the Transformers’ vein, Air Hogs offers this odd creation that takes off like a helicopter then morphs at the push of a button into a flying wing. Age 10+, intermediate, outdoors.
These toys require varying degrees of skill and practice in order to match the performance shown in advertising videos, and may not be suitable for all children (or adults!).