Article: Propel RC launch at the RAF Museum, Hendon

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A big shout of thanks from James and the boys, from First4Dads, to PROPEL for the invitation to the launch event at RAF Hendon on Saturday (29/11/14)!

If you haven’t seen the latest addition to the UK RC market yet, then you are definitely missing out! Propel have just launched their popular US range in the UK and from what we saw they are definitely going to take the market by storm.

The Propel RC range has been going strong in the US for a long time now and they have just launched in the UK with a limited range of RC helicopters with exclusivity to Maplin (www.maplin.co.uk) in the short term.

On show at the Hendon event we were shown the Hovermaxx UFO, Air Combat and the Nforce2.0 RC helicopters and we (that is myself and two of my most cynical reviewers, my two sons aged 9 and 6!) were certainly impressed!

 
PROPEL RC Hovermaxx UFO

PROPEL RC Hovermaxx UFO (RRP £19.99)
Video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfcsAxAKzQ0)

Starting with the Hovermaxx UFO, this is an entry level RC spaceship aimed at younger children (6+) which is controlled by a speed controller (simply a sliding switch to control rotor speed). Given the simplicity of this one we weren’t actually expecting that much after reading the description, however there is actually quite a deal of skill in controlling the UFO in vertical space. Both boys really enjoyed playing this and it was a great way of developing their skills for the more advanced units on demo.

The UFO has an LED array that gives an awesome mini light show that is really effective as it spins and with a bit of skill (and maybe a bit of luck) it really is great fun to fly. The unit is both controlled and charged through the controller unit (a bit of adult help is needed to connect the UFO and controller for charging) and there are three frequencies available so that three can be in the air at the same time without interference.

PROPEL RC Air Combat 

PROPEL RC Air Combat (RRP 49.99)
Video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pnu4TctoTSE)

As the name suggests the Air Combat helicopter is purpose built for having air battles with friends (although they ship individually). The unit is controlled slightly differently to the standard two lever systems via essentially a wireless joystick with inbuilt gyro sensors. The speed of the rotor is accurately controlled by a trigger, whilst movement of the “joystick” in the direction you want to go allows for pretty accurate 3D control. Also on the controller were speed controls (two settings for slower and faster flying) and a fire button.

What's the fire button for? Well, think airborne laser tag: you can fire a laser at competition and with each successful hit your enemy’s helicopter is spun 180 degrees until after three strikes they are brought to the ground! This aspect of the Air Combat helicopters had both my reviewers hooked (much bribery was needed to get them to leave!). Due to the fact that the Air Combat helicopters are controlled via 2.4Ghz wireless you can use up to 8 of them at the same time, allowing for the mother of all battles to take place!

 

PROPEL RC Nforce 2.0PROPEL RC Nforce 2.0

Getting closer to a hobbyist helicopter (but still for inside use), the Nforce 2.0 features a multi-channel IR controller (requiring line of sight with the helicopter) with direct control of both speed and direction at the same time using the classic two lever controllers. Of the three this was the most interesting unit to fly (for the adult reviewer) as it allowed far more sensitive control over the aircraft and this was exemplified on the assembled assault course where the helicopter could be flown at various altitudes and around various obstacles with ease (although I never did get it through the rock formation without crashing – due more to pilot error more than the helicopter though!).

All three of the units are aimed at ages over six, however whilst there I consistently saw children of younger ages successfully flying all three of the above after practice, which to me was a big thumbs up to the intuitive controller design for each.

Whilst getting to grips with the aircraft all of the kids did an impressive job of attempting to write off all of the toys in various exciting and inventive ways, against walls, people or props but we didn’t see any breakages and we left with (as far as we could see) all of the toys still functioning. It’s worth noting that even though the aircraft were consistently crashed into adults and children the design of the rotors means that there is no chance of injury to person!

Thanks again to Darren, Darren and Carl from PROPEL for the opportunity to try them all out and it was lovely to see everyone so excited, adults and children alike! Thanks also to Kirsty and team at mi-pr for setting everything up and for the invitation!

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