In the two years since I reviewed the ESky Lama, the magical electronic pixies in South East Asia have been hard at work. They’ve sprinkled their pixie dust all over the coaxial helicopter design, and come up with the positively puny Blade MCX.
Despite the similarity in size, don’t confuse this helicopter with the pathetic Picoo-Z and various ripoffs thereof. The MCX is completely controllable in 3 axes, and perfectly capable of flying down a house hallway, or landing on an upturned cup. It’s powered by a tiny lithium battery, and comes with a handy recharging base. All for NZ$179.
As is the trend in radio control, the MCX works on a digital 2.4GHz Spektrum system. This does away with the dedicated frequency crystals of yore, in exchange for a unique digital key in each transmitter. You simply “bind” the receiver and transmitter (like a Bluetooth device), and fly. The downside of these “bind and fly” kits is that they assume you already have a Spektrum compatible controller. Unfortunately even a cheap Spektrum controller will set you back upwards of NZ$200, so you’ll need to be comitted to flying to make that sort of investment. Having said that, the guys at RC Bandit may be able to sort you out with an MCX kit including controller for under $300.
With radio control helicopters, the general rule of thumb is the smaller the helicopter, the harder it is to fly. Somehow, the manufacturers of the MCX have reversed this trend. The tiny heli is incredibly stable, and most definitely easier to fly than the Lama. As long as you can perceive direction in 3 dimensions (which I imagine most humans can), you’ll be fine to fly the MCX. Things do tend to come a little unstuck when the helicopter is facing towards you (controls are reversed), but if you keep it tail-in, you’ll be fine.
Coaxial helis like the MCX work without a tail rotor, instead using counter-rotating main blades on the same axis. They are inherently more stable than a regular helicopter, but at the cost of manoeuvrability. You won’t be setting any speed records with the MCX, and you certainly won’t be flying it outdoors in any breeze whatsoever. The MCX is small enough to be upset by the draft from a heat pump on low power.
Wait! What madness is this? I appear to be complaining that this palm-sized helicopter only flies around in my lounge. When I was a boy I would dream of such a thing. And here it is now, sitting in my hand. Truly wonderful.