For our last review of the year we are taking a look at the Air Hogs Hover Assault a remote control helicopter which also has wheels so you can drive it on land and fly through the air. When the product arrived I expected that such a combination would be impossible due to weight issues so let’s see if Air Hogs have managed to pull it off.
There were two reasons I thought the helicopter would weight too much to fly well – the first was the added weight of the wheels and the second was the weight of the engine to power the car part forwards. Although the wheels may look thick and chunky in the box they are actually made of a soft squishy material and are very light (then painted to look hard like wheels). In terms of overall weight it really doesn’t weight much more than the Air Hogs Sharpshooter.
The other reason for the low weight is that the Hover Assault doesn’t have a traditional RC car motor. Instead it’s the blades on top of the helicopter that push it forwards. So when you are driving the car the blades on top are also spinning around and pushing it forwards. Likewise the axis on the wheels don’t move either, and it’s the blades that alternate movement to change your direction in exactly the same way they do when you are flying it as a plane.
What this means is that Air Hogs Hover Assault is definitely a far more capable helicopter than it is a remote control car. It’s certainly fun to drive, but having to turn left and right by using helicopter blades is nowhere near as easy as with wheels that angle themselves. For example it’s really easy to accidentally pull off 180 and 360 degree spins whilst driving and learning to drive the helicopter on land has the same sort of learning curve as flying an Air Hogs product for the first time.
Subtle movement is possible but it requires a degree of practice so even if you are great with remote control cars you will have to re-learn how to drive with this model. The Hover Assault also promises to allow you to “hop” over objects which is another feature that is better executed on stand alone remote control cars. The wheels don’t pop up and down as you’d expect, instead what happens is you hold down a trigger for the car to take off like a helicopter and then you release it for it to land. This isn’t as instant as a hopping motion so you have to factor in a few seconds for your car to gain some air if you do want to hop over things.
When you appreciate these two limitations the Hover Assault is good fun, and it’s clear that the flying is up to the usual Air Hogs standards with two way control and missiles that fire like the Sharp Shooter – although you can load four missiles at a time on this model. The wheels do also help with landings which is good for me as I’ve never been good at landing Air Hogs helicopters. In times where my helicopter fell from the air the wheels did sometimes provide a softer landing as well.
Switching between the modes is also handled well. With a press of a button your car will take off from the ground after a slight delay and then another press when you land means you can drive again. When you learn how to drive the car and fly the helicopter it’s certainly something you can impress friends with and feel cool using.
Whilst I have to admit I was wrong when I believed it was impossible to make an RC car that could fly you can also see the compromises in land based control and driving ability that have been made to achieve such a product. If you are expecting a great remote control car that can fly then you’ll be disappointed by the Hover Assault. However if you want a great two way controlled helicopter that also has wheels for a brief burst of driving then it’s a much more fun product.