Review of the FlyTech Hoverpod RacerPosted by Peter Redmer on Friday, 9 October 2009
As many of you might know, I have a soft spot for R/C toys, including cars, planes, and helicopters. However, the Hoverpod is a first for me... it's the first R/C hovercraft I've ever had a chance to play with, and it's a lot of fun. Read on to discover what the Hoverpod can do.
Unboxing the Hoverpod
The outside packaging of the Hoverpod is colorful and nicely done. You can see the little speeder housed inside.
I have to say that I'm a huge fan of WowWee's new packaging schemes. No more of those silly wire ties; the Hoverpod and its remote were very easy to remove from the two-part plastic shell inside the box. The new packaging also feels much more economical.
Examining the Hoverpod
The Hoverpod itself is really neat to look at. It feels solid, like the rest of the FlyTech toys, and appears to be constructed of the same EPP foam used in other FlyTech products. As we all know, that foam is extremely durable, and I expect that the Hoverpod will endure quite a bit of abuse. In the photo above, you can see the body of the Hoverpod and its rear fin, which enables it to turn on a dime.
The Hoverpod is powered by a single prop that is mounted in the middle of its body. The design is really quite clever, and you have to hand it to WowWee's engineers for devising a product that works in such a unique way. Basically, the prop pulls in air (in the direction of the arrow on the body.)
As you can see in the photo above, some of the air that is drawn through the prop flows through to the bottom of the Hoverpod and into the channel you can see that is carved in the bottom, thus forming a "pillow" of air on which it floats and is propelled forward. Pretty cool! You can also see a fin in the photo above, which is adjustable to direct the flow of air so the Hoverpod doesn't do 360's all day long.
So, are you ready to race this thing? Head on to the next page.
Charging the Hoverpod via the Remote
Not so fast, sport. We have to take a look at the remote and get this baby charged up before we can do anything... and a little "flight school" won't hurt, either.
The remote is pretty simple, actually, with throttle controls on the left and steering controls on the right. You'll need to unscrew the back panel and load up 4 "AA" size batteries, which are not included in the package. After you do this, you'll need to charge up the Hoverpod with the charging cable embedded in the remote (you can see part of the plug in the photo.) It only takes a few minutes to charge, so you won't have long to wait.
The Hoverpod can be a bit tricky at first due to the nature of hovercraft. One has to remember that the Hoverpod, rather than being driven by wheels or tracks (which maintain direct contact with the ground) it is "floating" or "skating" on a pillow of air. This means that there will be a delay from when you input some control action, such as a turn, and when the turning actually happens. You'll have to predict the Hoverpod's movement and react ahead of time.
If you overcorrect, the Hoverpod will twirl around in place, and if you undercorrect, it will plow into corners like a front wheel drive car in the snow losing traction (if it has ever happened to you, you know exactly what that feels like!) Also remember to point your remote in the direction of the 'Pod at all times. It's pretty zippy and can move out of IR range quickly if you're not careful.
With a little bit of practice and a properly adjusted bottom fin, though, the Hoverpod is loads of fun. There's a bit of a challenge and unpredictability to it, but that's a big part of the entertainment value. I compare it mentally to flying a model helicopter, there are quite a few parallels. Check out the video for some nice turns and high speed passes. The Hoverpod can also do some nice 180 kick turns, one of which you see late in the video.
The Hoverpod is innovative and different; a nice change of pace from typical remote control cars. There's a bit of a learning curve, but I feel that is part of the fun. As such, I think it's best suited for "older" kids or R/C enthusiasts (such as "grown up kids" like myself.) That being said, though, even small children would probably have a blast just watching it spin around!
The construction of the Hoverpod itself is solid and well done. The remote leaves a bit to be desired, but at the price point of $20 USD, I expected some plasticky bits somewhere. However, it works just fine and feels like it could take a beating.
Speaking of the price, this is really a bargain priced product at $20. It easily beats the pants off of cheap, generic R/C cars and presents a unique experience. I would love to have two of them, either to have battles or races! As long as you (or your child) is willing to spend a little bit of time getting used to piloting it, the Hoverpod will provide far more than its price in entertainment value, especially if you purchase them in a pair.