My 'tween son absolutely loves a present he was given by my friend Kimmer and her hubby, a remote-controlled helicopter with light-up eyes that reminds me of a supersized dragonfly.
Don't ask me how to fly it. My son seemed to instinctively catch on; maybe all those video games were good training. It weighs just a few ounces so when it crashes into household objects, it rarely inflicts any damage. Once our Michigan winter snow finally turns to spring, I can see him running all over with it outside, as long as he finds a spot protected from the wind. Maybe its dragonfly appearance would even be good for scaring rabbits and deer away from our garden. If all goes well, this could be the year we finally have sweet corn and snow peas. (Don't feel too sorry for the poor animals; we're surrounded by farmland so there's plenty for them to eat without having to ruin our garden).
Remote-controlled vehicles are good for boys of all ages, especially, it seems, those with a couple cats in the house. Kimmer's hubby had his own helicopter he used especially for playing with their cats, who chased it down and attacked it so greedily there was little left of it. Last Christmas, RC helicopters were on my son-in-law's wish list. I found him two (allegedly) laser-equipped helicopters for battling, the Laser Tag Combat Apache 2CH RTF models. According to my daughter's last report, he was having fun "terrorizing the cats."
Because the helicopters are so lightweight and fragile, you can expect to go through several stages with them. First, the experimental stage, in which the pilot learns to fly. Second, the having-a-blast-with-it stage, where everyone in the house has to duck as the pilot becomes proficient at swooping the helicopter millimeters from their heads. Third, a crash inevitably affects a helicopter part, motivating the pilot to develop mechanical skills. Fourth, the helicopter flies a bit differently than it did on the first day out ─ it may appear a bit intoxicated at this point ─ but it's still loved and appreciated.
My son's helicopter has already taken a few beatings and continues to fly. This is the kind of toy that intrigues kids (I'm sure girls would love it too) and lures them away from the couch-potato life. It's something every child should have. They're also relatively easy to find ─ I've seen Air Hogs helicopters at most department stores as well as online. Whether you're looking for a birthday gift or you're like me and keep a running list of gift ideas, I highly recommend this toy.