BEST RC HELICOPTERS
With drones all the rage it is easy to forget the wonderful world of radio controlled helicopters. We take a look at the best on the market and assess how far this industry has come over the last few years,
Radio Controlled Helicopters
RC helicopters are hardly a new concept, in fact they have been around for decades and were here well before drones came to the mass market. That being said, the development of radio controlled helicopters has been pretty impressive over the last few years with a perfect storm of improved quality and lower prices being seen.
There are obvious limitations when it comes to photography and video when using a helicopter but there are some models that do use cameras to good effect, however we will predominantly be assessing the pros and cons of non-camera RC helicopters below.
Best RC Helicopters
We have compiled 6 of the best RC helicopters and although they are in order of our preference (1 being the best) any of these would make a good purchase. Some have better uses for certain things and so we have tried to label these where possible.
1. Syma S107G RC Helicopter
Best Overall Value
The Syma S107G is one of our favourite radio controlled helicopters thanks to its very cheap price tag. But this lightweight helicopter offers a lot more than just a cheap ticket price. It’s light frame construction looks great in a range of colours with the yellow and black model being our favourite.
The S107G comes supplied with an easy to use controller and offers super stable flight conditions. Being quite lightweight we found this chopper performs best indoors or outdoors when there is almost no wind. There is no camera to mention (but you wouldn’t expect it at this price) but you do enjoy flight times of around 5-8 minutes from a single charge of the Lithium Polymer battery.
The drone is around 200mm in total length and has a built in gyroscope to help keep it steady in flight.
Best of all, this is a fun RC helicopter to fly with a pretty shallow learning curve – meaning it is perfect for beginners and younger people under close supervision of an adult.
2. VATOS RC Remote Control Helicopter
Best For Kids
Whether you are looking for a toy RC helicopter for yourself or for the little ones, the Vatos RC Helicopter has to be one of the top choices. Particularly if you are looking for something suitable for younger people, the Vatos ticks almost every box. It is reasonably priced at around £20, it has a good battery life, it’s easy to use and it isn’t too heavy. That’s four big ticks as far as we are concerned.
The remote control is perhaps more geared towards a child or teenager rather than an adult as it is a little bit smaller than the average flight controller. It does have 3.5 channels though so you can fly more than one helicopter in the same vicinity – perfect if you want to buy 2 or 3 of these. The biggest selling point of the Vatos RC is without doubt the battery life. Vatos claim the battery lasts for up to 12 minutes – in our testing we found it was closer to 10 minutes – but this is still far beyond anything else on this list.
The Vatos RC is extremely easy to pilot thanks to a gyroscope that really does provide a steady and stable flight – although be warned, it is strictly for indoor use only.
Vatos also offer an excellent after sales support with after sales units in the UK, USA and Germany with a year’s worth of free repairs should you have an issue – this is very rare to find for these types of products.
If you are looking for an excellent RC helicopter for kids then this pretty much has to be the number one choice – unless you want something that fires missiles (in which case read on).
3. RED5 Stinger Missile Firing Helicopter
The Red 5 Stinger Helicopter is an excellent radio controlled helicopter that has one neat party piece – it fires missiles. The recommended age range is 14+ but this is a thing of dreams for young people. Aggressive looking red and black detailing to the body gives the Stinger some attitude to go with the altitude and if that wasn’t enough, the front facing missile launcher gives it even more attitude.
This lightweight RC helicopter is pretty reasonably priced, has a battery life of around 6-8 minutes and is not too difficult to get to grips with in terms of controls. It stays pretty steady in flight with a series of gyroscopes to help aid its flight and it can even perform some basic flips and stunts.
It is best used indoors due to its lightweight body but it can perform in very calm outdoor conditions too. The controller that is included is well built, easy to use and is very responsive with the transmission over 2.4gHz more than enough to maintain good control.
If you want a helicopter that is heaps of fun and won’t break the bank then the Red5 Stinger is a top choice.
4. WL V912 RC Helicopter RTF V911
Best Alloy Based Helicopter
This is where we start to get out of the realm of toy RC helicopters. The WL V912 is a well built single blade 4 channel helicopter that has a 15.75 inch diameter for the main rotor blade – that is a significant piece of kit! Weighing in at just over 300g the WL V912 is not for the feint hearted and will test even the more experienced pilots.
Despite there being a steeper learning curve with this copter, the likelihood is that it will take you longer to tire of this chopper thanks to the range of manoeuvres it can perform. At 52cm in length, this is not the sort of helicopter you just shove in your bag an carry around with you for a chance flight – this will become a dedication and hobby that you plan down to a tee.
The WL V912 does not ship with a camera but we have it on good authority that you can purchase one separately if you so wish – this will no doubt require a different controller though so do your research if a camera is important to you.
Flying time of around 8 minutes is pretty typical at this price point so you may want to grab some extra batteries – but beware putting too much strain on those motors as high temperatures will cause them to reduce the overall life span. We did find that the rotors got quite hot whilst flying for just 6 or 7 minutes.
You can control the V912 at a range of around 100m and it will manage to get to that height if you want to take it really high. It will cope well in light wind but nothing more although it is pretty robust and can withstand small impacts.
Overall, we loved the V912 (if nothing else just for its sheer size) but it is certainly not one for the kids without very close supervision.
5. XciteRC Flybar 290E
Multi Skill Level Copter
XCiteRC are a German based design and manufacturing company that focus on creating great quadcopters, RC-helicopters and airplanes. There are a few different models to choose from when it comes to their Flybar range of choppers but we have opted for the Flybar 290E thanks to its top specs and reasonable price.
XCiteRC promise to focus on functional design and premium technology and it looks like they have nailed their brief with this product. The Flybar 290E looks similar to many of the cheap radio controlled helicopters but has some great tech under the hood. One thing that really sets the Flybar 290E aside from its competitors is having two skill modes – this really helps beginners to learn but also provides enough challenge to keep you interested once you have mastered the piloting – so it is a great RC helicopter for beginners as well as experienced pilots.
The Flybar 290E ships with a 3.7v 500mAh Lipo battery and a 2.4GHz controller. The controller is worthy of mention as it is very well built, easy to use and sits really well in your hands. It also features digital trimming to really help get your helicopter as stable as possible.
You can charge the battery using USB so if you are out and about you can charge direct from a laptop which makes it very convenient. Flight time lasts around 7 minutes from a single charge and extra batteries are very cheap to buy at around £10 each.
We found the Flybar 290E to be a real joy to fly in the harder skill mode as you could really get some speed up and perform some very agile movements in the air. If you want something to learn with that will challenge you in the future then this is an excellent choice.
6. Syma RC S109g Helicopter
Best Military Copter
The Syma RC S109g is one of the most recognisable RC choppers on the market. With its distinctive army like design and green colouring it is without doubt a beauty to behold. It’s not just its looks that the Syma RC S109g excels in either, despite its relatively low price tag it has a pretty good spec.
With 3.5 channels this well built plastic helicopter is controllable within a range of around 10m. Best used indoors rather than outdoors, this military style radio controlled helicopter can move up, down, forwards, backwards and can turn left and right. The built in gyro allows for super stable control and piloting this copter is pretty easy. In fact, you might say that thanks to its design and usability it is perfect for younger people.
The S109g is chargeable via a USB cable (comes supplied) and takes around an hour to fully charge from empty – giving you a full 6-8 minutes of flying time. There is a reason why we have two Syma helicopters on our list and that is that they are one of the most reputable budget RC helicopters on the market.
Overall, we loved the S109g and with its bright flashing LED light it has everything that a kids RC helicopter could need. It is just as suitable for big kids too!
When it comes to fun per pound it is hard to beat a radio controlled helicopter. Predominantly used indoors, these things are the perfect winter gift and the Syma S107G has it all really. Ease of use, decent battery life and above all a bargain price. What’s not to like? If you want to make someone smile this is probably the easiest and cheapest way you will find.
- Ease of use
- Value for money
Amazing value for money
Easy to use
Decent battery life
Only two frequencies (you can still fly two of these)