Wednesday 6 December 2017

Drones - which is the best for your big kid?

Drones are likely to be a big seller this Christmas. We've reviewed a handful and the technology has moved on so far in the last year that they are almost unrecognisable - and the prices have come right down. Gyro stabilisation keeps them upright, ultrasound and other sensors help prevent crashes and bluetooth or other control systems have become so finely tuned that they can power your drone far beyond your own back garden.

Drones can be a real education for your child. Even the simplest drones teach hand-eye coordination, about electricity and direction commands. Drones teach about wind speed, friction, design and engineering - and how to get objects down from high trees. Programmable and VR drones with an array of sensors expand anyone's understanding of their world.

In case you are considering one and are still confused by the choice, here is a comparison of those we've reviewed this year. These are not cargo drones or professional photography drones, these are for big kids of all ages. Amazon links are affiliate links, but don't cost you anything, they just earn me a few pence. Please excuse the earlier videos - drones take a while to master, but once you've got the hang of it...

AirHogs DR1 Micro Racing Drone

Age: 8+
Size: 7.5 x 7.5 x 2.5cm
Range: 250ft
Charge Time: 40
Flight Time: 7
Camera: N/A
Stability: 6-axis gyro
Noob Suitability: Great. This is a really neat drone to learn with, although we did find it gets confused going over bumpy surfaces, such as from bed to floor, so bear that in mind if you try to take it down the stairs!
Toughness: Brilliant. No replacements so far.
Extras: 4 Channel for racing.

AirHogs DR1 Micro Racing Drone is one of the smallest drones we've reviewed. The price of this drone has come down massively recently, to £29.99 in Smyths. It's an excellent drone at that price and unlikely to disappoint anyone, of any age.

Hot Wheels RC Bladez Drone Racerz Drone and Car

Age: 8+
Size: 7.5 x 4.4 x 7 cm
Range: 30m
Charge Time: 60 minutes
Flight Time: 5 minutes
Camera: N/A
Noob Suitability: Brilliant - learners can switch to drive mode when they are frustrated with flying.
Toughness: The body shells and chassis are quite fragile and do break if you stand on them - the drone survives crashes well though.
Extras: 4 Channel for racing. 2 body shells and wheels for driving as a powered car. Cardboard accessories - 2 ramps, a ring (to jump through), a start/finish sign and a phone stand

Hot Wheels RC Bladez Drone Racerz Drone and Car is the most accessory filled set and offers massive range of play. Comes complete with ramps, hoops and 2 different body shells. Also massively reduced, rrp £34.99, currently £25.99 on Amazon. Excellent value for that price.

R/C X-Bladez Quad Blaster with Missile Launcher

Age: 8+
Size: 23cm x 23cm x 23cm in the cage.
Range: 30m
Charge Time: 40 minutes
Flight Time: 6 minutes
Camera: N/A
Noob Suitability: Quite a tricky one for a newbie to learn with, but the rollcage protects the drone well while you do - and the bouncing is hilarious.
Toughness: Very robust. We've not broken it yet.
Extras: Choice of cage or blade guards. The cage is fiddly to put on and remove and not as protective as you may think - avoid hair at all costs. Missiles! They're excellent and work well, you need a lot of practise to get a direct hit while flying, but it's rewarding when you do!

RC X-Blades Quadcopter Racer with Missile Launcher is another one that's been massively reduced. It started at £59.99, reduced to £34.99 and currently on offer at Argos £19.99. You really can't argue at that price. It doesn't have the fancy brains of newer drones, but it's a a great RC vehicle for the price.

Parrot Swing Minidrone and Flypad Controller. 

Age: 14+
Size: 33cm wingspan
Range: 20m smartphone /60m Flypad
Charge Time:
Flight Time:
Stability: via ultrasound, pressure and the camera. You could virtually balance a cup of tea on it.
Camera: 0.3mp with 1GB built-in storage
Noob Suitability: Awesome. I found this ridiculously easy to fly quite accurately. Trying to take photos at the same time was hilariously tricky though.
Toughness: Despite appearances the Parrot Swing is robust. We've broken one blade and chipped one human belly (it's in the video).
Extras: Can be flown as a plane or a quadcopter, which is great fun over distance. Amazing accuracy, but you can't really use it in your bedroom though. The Flypad controller is excellent - full of information about your flight. The on-board camera is great quality, but faces backwards/down and is not live - you can only view your photos and video afterwards.

The Parrot Swing is incredibly clever and excellent for a newbie to learn with, but impressive for an advanced flier. It's by far my personal favourite. Another drone that has been massively reduced and this one is a beauty. When we reviewed this was £119.99 and seemed great value. It's currently a mere £46.96 on Amazon and an absolute bargain at that price.

NIKKO Air Elite 220 Pro Drone with FPV (First Person View)

Age: 14+
Size: 30cm
Range: 50m
Charge Time: 60-90 minutes
Flight Time: 6 minutes
Camera: 130 degree wide-angle
Noob Suitability: You can learn with this drone and it also offers plenty to the experienced flier and is my OH's clear favourite. There's a free Nikko app so anyone can practise without actually crashing.
Toughness: Brilliant. It was in the tree for 35 minutes, had things thrown and waved at it and fell 40ft, yet was unscathed by the entire ordeal.
Extras: FPV! Game-like flying via the included headset and 4.3" colour LCD screen - which means you don't need to have a Smartphone. It takes a lot of getting used to, but it's great fun. The screen gives you plenty of information during flight and has excellent clear display. Included are batteries and an SD card, and a screen mount to connect the LCD screen to the controller - a great touches.

The NIKKO Air Elite 220 Pro Drone with FPV is the best all rounder for someone with experience. It's a great outdoor drone and just about small enough for a large indoors. My partner managed a barrel roll after 10 minutes. This is also heavily reduced. When we reviewed rrp was £199.99, currently £119.99 in Smyths or on Amazon

AirHogs DR1 FPV Race Drone.

This uses an AirHogs DR1 drone similar in look to the one above, slightly larger and with obvious updates and additions such as the camera.

Age: 10+
Size: 11.5cm x 11.5cm x 3cm
Range: 250ft
Charge Time: 30 minutes
Flight Time:  7 minutes
Noob Suitability: It claims it's ideal and I suspect this is the case
Toughness: A slightly larger model similar to the other DR1 drone, so I suspect it'll be very robust.
Extras: FPV using the headset and your smartphone. The headset is great - that strap is super soft.

The AirHogs DR1 FPV Race Drone  is available to buy now priced £99.99rrp

Air Wars Battle Drones. 

I've just been sent the Air Wars Battle Drones and will struggle to review these before Christmas. Very different as this is a double pack of drones and controllers and these guys come with a range of attachments for battling - the aim is to be the last one in the air.

Age: 8+
Size: 20.3 x 20.2 x 3.8cm.
Range: Unknown, I'm guessing around 30m by the size, size of battery and as it's 2,4GHz
Charge Time: Unknown
Flight Time:  6 minutes
Noob Suitability: As long as both players are on a fairly level most abilities can play. Once you increase in skill it'll be more of an actual battle rather than a stramash.
Toughness: They are built for toughness and feel like they will survive well. The 10 'weapons' are more just to annoy the other player and tangle the blades rather than break anything.
Extras: 10 assorted weapons, a complete set of spare blades for both drones and of course you have everything in duplicate because this is a 2 drone set. 4 programmed attacks.

The Air Wars Battle Drones are available now rrp £79.99, currently £68.99 in Argos. Review to follow. 

Drones can be dangerous. The minimum age for piloting is 8 years because you can harm humans or other animals very easily. Only fly where you have permission, don't take photos of people or their property, and children should always be supervised by a mature grown up.

We were sent all of these drones for review - the reviews are linked via the clickable names. I'm an Amazon affiliate, so if you buy through an Amazon link then I earn a few pence, but you don't pay any more. 


  1. This post has everything that I was looking for. I was little confused on what to pick for my kid. These gifts are fabulous.

    1. You're welcome! Glad I could be helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment :)


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