DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter
Take to the skies and shoot aerial stuff like a pro with DJI’s brand new addition to its world-conquering Phantom quadcopter series. The ready-to-fly Phantom 2 Vision+ comes equipped with a new GoPro-style, wide-angled 14 megapixel camera and a very welcome three-axis gimbal to keep in-flight footage rock steady. The camera itself transmits what it sees back to an IOS or Android device, effectively turning the drone into a bona fide FPV (First Person View) aircraft. Video and images are also saved to the camera’s MicroSD card. The new Vision+ is 50% faster than its predecessor, has a range of up to 700 metres and runs for around 25 minutes on a single charge. In the pantheon of camera-carrying consumer drones, this one’s still top of the class. It’s pricy, yes, but well worth the outlay.
Price: €999 I DJI
HPI Pulse 4.6 Nitro Buggy
Nothing beats the smell of nitromethane in the morning. This scarily quick 4.6cc nitro-powered buggy rips along at 50mph, emitting puffs of sweet nitro smoke and a glorious high-pitched scream in the process. Nitro cars are harder to set up than battery-powered vehicles – their engines also need carefully running in – but at least you can race them all day without the hassle of recharging batteries. The Pulse comes ready to run straight out of the box; simply throw in some AA batteries, a tankful of nitro fuel and a glow-plug starter and you’re good to go.
Price: £329 I HPI
Parrot Jumping Sumo
In-car connectivity specialist Parrot hasn’t been sitting on its laurels since introducing the world to the impressive AR Drone quadcopter. No siree. Coming real soon is an RC vehicle unlike anything else on the planet. The Jumping Sumo is a smartphone-controlled, two-wheeled insect-type thingamajig that dashes around the house like Roadrunner and can leap from floor to kitchen worktop with consummate ease. And because it has a gyroscope and accelerometer built in to it, it’ll always lands on its wheels, negating the need for you to leave the comfort of the armchair. The Jumping Sumo is expected towards the end of the year.
£TBC I Parrot
Hubsan X4 Quadcopter
This tough little bundle of fun comes out of the box ready to fly. Simply charge it up via USB, bung some batteries in the transmitter and away you go. Because it’s so small, it can be flown indoors although you might wish to fit the supplied rotor guard lest you clout the chandelier. The X4 comes with a 0.3 megapixel camera that streams footage from the drone to a MicroSD card on the transmitter. It’s not the most striking image quality we’ve seen but it’s ample enough for casual use. If you’re looking to joining the burgeoning drone-flying brigade, look no further than this remarkable beginners’ model.
Price: £180 I Red5
FTX Banzai Drift Car
Make like the dudes in ‘Fast & Furious’ and commandeer the local car park for a spot of snazzy drifting. The 10th scale FTX Banzai is equipped with a shaft-driven 4WD system and shiny slick tyres to help it produce glorious tail-out powerslides and balletic spins. It takes a little practice finding the optimum balance between power and steering – finesse is key – but once mastered, you’ll likely be running rings round the kitchen table.
Price: £119 I CML Distribution
Remember those cool little polystyrene gliders you used to play with as a kid? Well here’s the 21st Century edition. The SmartPlane flies under its own power and you control it using your iPhone. It’s strictly an indoors-only flyer but because it’s so slow in flight, it’s easy to get a handle on the controls. A single charge provides around 15 minutes of flying time – and that’s not too shabby for an RC plane.
Price: €69 I SmartPlane
Halix Vaterra Monster Truck
This is no ordinary battery-powered 4WD monster truck. Aside from a hair-raising top speed of around 50mph and a commendable running time of more than 20 minutes on a single charge, the ready-to-run Vattera also comes equipped with some very clever stability control software that automatically adjusts both steering and throttle output based on the vehicle’s driving attitude. You can tell it’s working because the car drives straight as a die no matter how rough the terrain. If you want to be able to drive quickly without crashing all the time, give this high-tech dirt basher a spin.
Price: £339 I Horizon Hobby
Hubsan Spyhawk Plane
Flying a radio controlled plane is an undeniable hoot but there’s always an underlying dread that its first flight may well be its last. Well here’s a revolutionary battery-powered glider that makes flying and, more importantly, landing a little less fraught. The Spyhawk has an auto pilot on board that automatically adjusts the ailerons mid flight, and because all the action unfolds in slow motion, you’re given plenty of time to take avoiding action. It also has a camera in its snout that streams live images to a 3.5-inch monitor while saving it to an SD card mounted in the nose cone. Despite being made of polystyrene, the Spyhawk is a surprisingly tough bird. Great fun, too.
Price: £160 I Maplin
Thunder Tiger Outlaw Jr Powerboat
How does 30mph of spectacular water-skimming derring-do grab you? The battery-powered Outlaw Jr comes ready-assembled with a resilient 72cm, ABS deep-vee hull – handy for those obligatory log-bashing episodes – that cuts through wavelets with aplomb and steers with the precision of whippet on steroids. Its water-cooled brushless motor delivers oodles of power for bombing up and down canals or round the local park lake, and you’ll get a good 20 minutes out of the LiPo battery before you need to think about getting your cozzie on.
Price: £170 I Swift RC
Walkera QR Ladybird V2 Quadcopter
If you’re looking for a cheap route to drone flying, consider giving this cute lil’ four-bladed, ready-to-fly model a whirl. Although the Ladybird tends to drift around a little, it’s relatively easy to fly and is a great budget-priced introduction to quadcopter piloting. It’s not as tough as the Hubsan X4, mind, so be sure to give it plenty of space. Outdoor flying is fine – just make sure it’s not windy or you might never see it again.
Price: £60 I Buzzflyer