At its core, RC is a social hobby; while it’s perfectly fun to take your RC heli, car or plane to your local park or track and enjoy some quiet time, it’s even more fun to meet up with friends or family that share your enthusiasm and enjoy the hobby together. Last month we gave a quick look at Force RC radio control helicopters–but we merely scratched the surface. Before we even get started here, I want to make it perfectly clear that if you’re looking for the most satisfying RC experience that you can have with up to 4 other friends, Force RC Helicopters are about as good as it gets. Read on, and find out why these easy-to-fly Micro Helis are not only the gift you’ll want to buy for yourself, but that you’ll certainly want to give to others…
When it comes to the world of radio control vehicles, helicopters have always been a bit different than the rest. First off, the way they fly is much different than a plane; because of this, they’re a bit more complex mechanically and have always been more expensive than other vehicles. There’s also something different about helis just in the way we perceive them–their ability to hover and maneuver in small spaces still fascinates and manages to attract a crowd. A lot has changed in recent years, and just as technology has advanced in other areas, it’s advanced at the hobby level as well; RC helicopter prices have come down and this once “expert only” level of vehicle has become available to everyone. Micro helicopters have become particularly attractive; unlike cars and planes that require plenty of open space to run, micro helis need very little space, making them perfectly suited to the confines of a bedroom or small family room. I’m sure you’ve been to your local mall or Target and seen any number of new radio control helicopters; some metal, some plastic–some big, some small. How is the average consumer supposed to know what RC heli will give the most bang for the buck–and more importantly, survive long enough to be around next Christmas? I’m going to let you in on a little secret…and it’s something hobbyists have known about for years: Horizon Hobby. Horizon has been in the RC business for years, and has an especially excellent reputation when it comes to helicopters. When I spoke with the folks over at Horizon about sharing their products on our site, they said they had something special to send that our readers would love…and they couldn’t have been more right–it’s called Force RC.
Force RC is a new brand from Horizon, that takes everything that worked so well with their mCX2 helicopter and adds something extra–the ability to battle with your friends. Although the Force RC helicopters are great fun to fly on their own, they really shine when you get a few friends together for a full scale battle, either 1 on 1, 2 on 2, or the truly challenging 2 on 2 with a 5th heli going rogue. We’ll get into the air battles in a minute; but first the basics:
Force RC helicopters come in 2 flavors; the red FHX and blue MH-35 (though each model has an alternate body you can buy). Each box contains 1 helicopter, a 5 channel transmitter, 1 miniature lipo battery for the helicopter, 4 AA batteries for the transmitter and a small screwdriver that matches the hardware–you even get extra parts for keeping the body secure as well as a spare servo retainer. Many companies talk about their kits being “RTR,” (ready to run) but Horizon truly delivers in this area. The helicopter itself measures at just under 8″ in length, with rotors that have a 7.5″ diameter. You’ll notice I said rotors–Force RC helis, like their mCX cousins, have 2 rotors; this, along with the built-in gyro allow greater flight stability, making them easier for beginners to fly
(don’t worry, helicopter vets…these copters are sophisticated enough to keep you happy as well). Though Force RC helicopters are incredible light, don’t let their weight fool you–they’re incredible durable. This light-weight design means that there’s less mass when your copter lands not-so-smoothly; the plastic parts are also designed using the old football “bend, don’t break” philosophy.
Force RC helis and their transmitters work on the 2.4 ghz frequency, which means you don’t have to worry about “swapping crystals” to avoid being on the same channel as your friends–the
helicopters automatically get their own connection. You’ll also notice that I said the transmitter is of the 5 channel variety…but what does that mean to you? Your typical “mall” helicopter usually works with an IR remote (infrared, which requires line of sight to operate) and only uses 3 channels; these channels are for elevation, forward/reverse and turning left and right. More sophisticated helicopters–like the Force RC–use a fourth channel that controls strafing left and right (moving sideways); this adds another level of control that truly simulates the physics of helicopter flight. Force RC adds a 5th channel that’s dedicated to your “guns.” These IR guns fire when touching the shoulder-mounted buttons on the remote, and make the appropriate sound when fired–their sensor is also made to recognize when someone fires at you and you’ve been hit; even though it’s not flight related, this 5th channel plays a huge role in what makes these helicopters special. Speaking of flight…
To say that the Force RC helis fly well is a huge understatement; these are scaled down, world class RC flyers and the control you have over them is incredible. I’ll admit that I’m not the most experienced helicopter pilot–yet within minutes, my family and friends thought that I’d been doing it for years. I mention this because helicopters can be intimidating to those that have never picked one up before–and I’m here to tell you that within 15 minutes (and with a little open space) you’ll be amazed at what you can do with these.Along with changing battle modes, the transmitter will also let you tweak your settings to account for your experience level–veterans get greater sensitivity of controls, while newcomers are given less to worry about. Force RC helis also have incredible range. Because these are not IR controlled, line of sight is not an issue–they have a huge range; the only limit you have is that these are meant to be used
indoors, so you’ll probably lose sight of them before they ever get out of range. Horizon says you get around 10 minutes of flight per charge, and I’d have to say that’s accurate–I’m still not sure how these tiny lithium polymer batteries generate so much power being this size. As for charging your batteries, Horizon pulls off another stroke of engineering genius by letting you plug your battery directly into the handle of the transmitter; it will take about 45 minutes to recharge fully, so a second battery is highly recommended. As for that second battery, you’re actually able to charge it while using playing with the helicopter; simply plug in your spare to your transmitter and enjoy flying while you charge–this is not only clever, but very appreciated. And now for the fun…
Right out of the box, the FHX and MH-35 are natural enemies–this means there is absolutely ZERO for you to setup to immediately enjoy battling with a friend. I have to say, as much as I enjoyed flying solo, getting airborne and fighting against a friend was like a high-end video game come to life–it was an incredible rush. When fighting, your first hit will cause your opponent’s helicopter to spin; your second hit causes them to spin in opposite directions, and the third hit puts them into a controlled spin and grounds them. Though the sound effects come form the remote itself, the result is very satisfying and you’ll quickly become obsessed with exacting your revenge. Your transmitter has multiple settings for combat that not only allow you to change game-types and the number of players, but also allow you to toggle friendly fire on and off–more experienced fighters may choose to leave friendly fire on, as it adds a bit more tension when you accidentally shoot down a teammate. For even more of a challenge, you can buy land targets; these targets also have built in sensors that recognize being hit and add a completely new challenge to your battles.
Before we wrap this up, I have to mention something that happened that made me love these helicopters even more. While flying, I had a particularly hard landing that damaged my landing gear; when I saw that it need a repair, I was pretty frustrated–until I realized that it was a great opportunity for me to see how available parts were and how easy these helis were to repair. Guess what? The first hobby shop I called had the part in stock (it was under $5) and the repair took me less than 10 minutes; not only is Force RC fun to fly, but it’s easy and inexpensive to fix, should “life” happen. We’ve had a blast here at YourTechReport playing with the Force RC helicopters, and we’re pretty sure that anyone that touches one will enjoy it just as much; not only are we putting it on our shopping lists, but you should put it on yours as well. Happy holidays…and let the battles begin!
Force RC helicopters sell for $139.99 and can be found at most hobby shops, as well as online at Horizonhobby.com.