Flytech Bat and FairyFly Snowflake - A ReviewPosted by MrScott on Monday, 7 July 2008
A Review of the FlyTech Bat and FairyFly SlowFlake
I was given the opportunity to get a sneak peek at a couple of WowWee Flytech products due for release soon. I have test driven the FairyFly SnowFlake and the Bat. These two products have more similarities than differences, so I am combining the review into a single article. I will be contrasting them against the gold standard of FlyTech products, the Dragonfly.
First up, the packaging. These FlyTech fliers have very similar packaging. They arrive well protected in a modest sized box that shows the contents through a large clear panel. The flier is cradled in a clear plastic vacu-formed insert. It is held in place by a combination of tape, plastic tabs, and wire twist ties.
The Fairyfly and Bat are labeled for children ages 6 and up, but I would leave the deboxing to an adult. I found that a knife worked best for slicing the tape to release the plastic tabs and gain access to the wire ties. Be especially careful of the taped plastic tab that holds the body to the plastic insert. It's easy to miss this attachment, and the tape is stronger than the foam body. If a tug of war were to take place, I suspect the flier's head would pull off of the body before the tape would pull off of the insert.
Once you get inside the box and free the flier, you will have the following items -
- The Flier (FairyFly or Bat)
- The Remote Control
- The Stand (the FairyFly controller forms half of the stand)
- The Instruction Book
There are no batteries included. Each remote control needs 4 "AA" batteries. Unlike the DragonFly, there are no replacement wings included. Take care not to break the wings they come with until you can find a source for replacements.
First impressions are important. The most important feature is their ability to fly, but how they look sitting still is crucial, too.
The Bat is not a friendly looking fellow. The body is black foam with purple and grey highlights. It sports red colored eyes (not glowing LEDs like the DragonFly.) The mouth is formed in a half snarl that reveals more than a few foam teeth. He reminds me of the character Batty Koda, from the movie Ferngully. The wings are similar to the DragonFly, in that there are two pair, made of cellophane, and stiffened by thin carbon rods. The wings are detailed with purple "skin" and black fingers. They are a reasonable representation of how a bat's wings appear in flight.
The FairyFly Snowflake is a much friendlier looking lass. Her foam body is flesh toned, with a light purple dress. The head sculpt sports a small smirk, pointed ears, large eyes, and a pixie haircut formed in light blue. The wings are the same size and shape as the Bat's, but they are decorated with swirls of white and blue, and include snowflake graphics on the background.
The tails for both fliers are similar. They are both made of light foam, start narrow at the flier's feet, and broaden out at the tip. A foam rudder extends below the tail. There is no directional controlling propeller like that found on the Dragonfly. The controls for the electronics are in a thin package mounted to the top of the tail. There is a power switch, and a charging connector.
The stands are an accessory that the DragonFly did not come with. The idea seems to be to give the flier some place to safely rest when not in use. The bat controller rests on the base of the stand. The bat itself hangs upside down from a forked vertical piece. The FairyFly controller forms the vertical part of its stand.
The manual illustrates hooking the shoulder joints of the FairyFly onto the controller's bent flower petals, but the flier doesn't stay hooked on the petals in that position. The flier tilts forward until the tail touches the flower stem, but in so doing it leverages itself off of the flower petals. I was able to get the Fairy to gently wedge between the petal hooks by having it face the flower with the hands just above the petal hooks.
Preparing for Flight
The FlyTech fliers need to be charged before they can fly. Installing the batteries in the remote control requires a Phillips head screwdriver. I had no problems using NiMH rechargeable batteries in the FairyFly or the Bat controller. The batteries are put into the base of the flower stem, or the bottom of the bat controller.
Once the controller has its batteries, it's time to find the charging cord that is attached to the controller. The charging cable is stored differently for the Bat and the FairyFly.
The FairFly controller resembles a thick stemmed flower. The charging cord is visible tucked into a groove along the backside of the stem. Simply pull it out of its groove, and carefully plug it into the charging port on the flier's tail.
The Bat controller is shaped similar to an oversized mouse for a computer. The charging cable is stored behind a sliding door on the bottom of the controller. On my Bat controller, I had to be careful not to lose the sliding charging cable door. When the door is open, it can twist to the side and detach from the controller. It won't affect the way the controller works, but loose plastic pieces are a concern for any parent.
Make sure the flier is switched off (a very small switch on top of the flier's tail.)
Care must be taken when connecting the cable to the flier. The fliers are delicate foam, and the cable only fits properly in one direction. Pressing too hard, or forcing the cable in when its facing the wrong way, can easily damage the flier.
Once the cable is connected, turn on the controller. For the bat, the power switch is the triangular button on top of the controller. For the flower, the power switch is the center of the bloom. A series of flashing LEDs will show that the flier is being charged. A single LED will remain lit when charging is complete.
Once the flier is charged, carefully disconnect the cable, and switch off the controller.
How They Fly
Now for the most imporant part. How do they fly?
In short, they do what they were designed to do very well. Having said that, it should be noted that they were designed to be very simple.
First, find a fairly large indoor space. These fliers are not intended for outdoor use, and they cannot recover their hover when they bump into a wall. They use InfraRed control technology, which doesn't work well in bright sunlight. They also are very light, and easily pushed around by the slightest breeze or draft.
Switch on the flier using the power switch on the top of the tail. A flashing LED in the tail will let you know that it is looking for a control signal. Then, switch on the controller. The flier's LED should glow steadily to show that it is receiving a control signal from the controller.
The only flight control on the controller is the speed control. On each controller it is a spring loaded slide switch. The further you press the slide forward, the faster the wings flap. The Fairy controller's slide switch is molded to look like a leaf on the flower stem.
The single flight control makes these easy to use by young children. It also reduces the amount of control that is possible on the flight path. It's something more than a free flying plane, but less than a fully controllable flier.
When you slide the speed control, the flier's wings will start flapping. Holding the body just below the wings so that the body is vertical, start the flier flapping, and gently release the flier. If it's flapping fast enough, it will rise straight out of your hand towards the ceiling.
The typical flight is a hover as it wanders around the room at the whim of drafts. If the flapping is interrupted, or isn't initially fast enough, there may be a tilt forward and swoop. By carefully controlling the flapping speed, I have been able to get both fliers to hover or slowly ascend and descend. The power charge is important, as the flier will lose lift as the onboard rechargeable battery runs down. A freshly charged flier will zip straight up to bounce along the ceiling. A tired battery will barely be able to hover at full power.
There is no steering control of the Bat or FairyFly. The only control is the speed of flapping, and the resulting gain or loss of altitude. They tend to wander in a circle as they hover, but they are easily redirected by the slightest draft. They also have a tendency to get stuck to any object they bump into. It's not a literal adhesive sticking, but more of an aerodynamic suction that causes them to be unable to fly away from the obstacle. Once the flier bumps into the wall, it will stay pressed up against that wall as long as the wings are flapping. It is this tendency to stop flying at contact with any vertical surface that leads to my recommendation that a large indoor space be used. The longer the flier can avoid bumping into something, the longer the flight can be.
One of the cute quirks of the FairyFly flight is that she tends to twist her body slightly from side to side while hovering. It almost looks like she's nervous and keeps turning her head to see what's around her. I haven't noticed that turning head affect on the Bat, but that may because it is a less stable hoverer than the Fairyfly. The Bat tends to move forward faster than the Fairy does.
I did discover a couple of (not recommended) tricks that the fliers can perform. If the flier is face down on a smooth floor, pressing the speed control will cause the flier to scoot forward along the floor. It won't take off, it will just scoot along the floor. If the flier is face up on a smooth floor, when it starts flapping it will scoot forward slightly, lift itself up onto its tail tip, and then tilt forward and zoom back in the direction it originally came from.
In summary, I'd give these entry level remote control fliers three and a half stars out of five. They hover well, but have a tendency to bump into things that end their flight. They appear fragile, and there are no spare wings included with the fliers. This might not bode well for a parent when a child breaks their new toy.
The problem getting the FairyFly to hang on the controller's petal hooks, and the Bat controller's charge cable door that falls off, count against this as being a "perfect toy" on a parent's shopping list.
I found the FairyFly to be a more gentle hoverer than the Bat. For me, that means I got longer flight times for the Fairy. For kids, that might mean that the Bat is more exciting as it tends to move faster through the air.
I know that spare wings for the DragonFly can be found at various stores. I can only assume that spare wings for the other fliers will be sold, too. If so, I recommend you pick up at least one set of spares and include it with the flier before giving it as a gift to a child. The wing shape appears to be identical for the Bat and FairyFly, so you should be able to customize your flier to have a Fairy with Bat wings, or a Bat with Fairy wings.