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Think Geek's Dueling Space Marines Copter Set Review

Michael Heer is a Think Geek shopper and just had to review their Dueling Space Marines Copter set. After all, a toy this good comes out once in a millennium.

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Introduction


Dueling Marine Copters:1 blue, 1 green
Transmitters:two infrared transmitters
Receiver:infrared
Battery:internal battery in each Marine copter
Available From:Think Geek
Price:$49.99 a pair

Although my now adult children don't share my passion for RC flying, I do try and include some kind of “toy” for them every Christmas. These have included Cylon USB snowmen, flying screaming monkeys and puzzles from the Think Geek website. I even got my wife her own Star Trek Phaser from them, and I am on their e-mail list by choice as I like to see their new products. Recently they announced the Dueling Space Marines Copter set, and I knew I had to try them out. So far, everyone who has tried them has liked them.

What you get

The set includes two infrared transmitters that run on channels A,B or C along with a green and a blue dueling space Marine copter. There is also a small Phillips screwdriver and four replacement tail rotors. Finally, there is a small piece of lead tape that can be added to the Marine to adjust the way he flies, but there was no indication as to what it was or where it goes.

Additional Items Needed:

  • 12 AA Alkaline batteries (6 per transmitter)
  • A feeble opponent to repeatedly shoot down

About the Marines

There is no assembly! Just insert 6 AA Alkaline batteries into each of the two infrared transmitters. Use the included small Phillips screwdriver to remove the screw securing the battery cover and insert the batteries.

The Space Marine bodies are made out of durable EPP foam according to Think Geek's website. The box calls it: "unique material withstand crashes”, and the material did indeed do a good job of holding up despite many crashes.

Charging

The Space Marine Copters charge from the transmitter via an attached cord in the transmitter. Total charging time is 15 minutes or less. On a full charge you should get 5-7 minute of flight time. There is a large WARNING on the box to not let it charge for over 20 minutes. During the writing of this review the chargers always shut off before 20 minutes, but don't leave these unattended while they are charging.

Switching Channels

I wanted to make sure the transmitter and Space Marine Copters were on the same letter by set: A, B or C. The letters were in plain view on the transmitters, and the transmitters could be switched between the three letters. On the Marines I found the charging jack and On/Off switch on the back right side of the helmet, but I found no switch to change the channel. My blue Marine was on letter C, and my green Marine was on letter A. There is a flashing blue LED behind the charging jack and On/Off switch in both Marines that shows it is turned on by flashing.

Controls

The two stick controls on the face of the transmitter control Up and Down and Left and Right. A control on the shoulder of the transmitter is the Fire control. Each copter has an internal battery that is rechargeable. Four extra tail rotors are included as spares.

Flying

These are indoor RC devices. They can be used outdoors on days with no wind (and I mean ZERO) but since they are infrared controlled the range, control and combat may be affected by sunlight. Even indoors watch out for flying near air vents, hear outlets or fans.

When we went to fly two together for the first time we had some problems and ended up with one transmitter controlling both space Marines. To avoid this, lock in your Marine to your transmitter when you turn on the Marine copter. Following that method, we were able to keep individual control of our Marines.

Basics

Vertical Control

Flight is initiated by pushing up on the left stick on the transmitter that controls the throttle for the rotor. I found this control worked very well once flight was started (see below). I had very good control of height and was able to maintain altitude and raise or lower the Marine copter at my direction with the left stick.

Directional Control & Forward Speed

The right stick controls side to side direction and has a trim tab to adjust to get steady facing hover. Directional control does exist, but it is not nearly as precise as the vertical control. Due to torque, the control to the right is different than control to the left. Turning left can slow down the copter's forward movement, while turning to the right tends to increase the copter's forward movement most of the time, but not always. The amount of battery charge also had an effect on my ability to control the Marine copter. When fully charged, a left turn done with too much stick movement often caused a left spin. Fully charged, the right turn caused more forward movement then when the battery was about half discharged or more.

Downloads

I found as with other miniature helicopters I have flown, I had better control if I gave the rear rotor an occasional twist downward. A little downward rotation seems to give me better control of my right turns.

Taking Off and Landing

Both Marine Copters work wonderfully with a hand launch, and can be easily steered back for a hand catch to end the flight. Starting with a vertical take off from a flat surface was often successful if the pilot was standing completely level. If the pilot was leaning, the initial torque would usually cause him to flip over onto his side. Landing upright was even more of an iffy thing. Most of my launches and landings were from and into the hand.

Downloads

Combat

Each Space Marine is holding a cannon at his waist that fires invisible infrared beams. A switch on the shoulder of the transmitter activates both the cannon and the sound of the space cannon firing. The first hit on the opposing Space Marine Copter causes your opponent to lose directional control and make his Marine start to spin. On the second hit, the Marine loses some power, and on the third hit, the Marine plummets to the ground, explodes and is consumed by fire. (OK I exaggerated on that last part. They actually only fall to the ground on the third hit.) After the third hit, the Marine has to be switched off and back on before he can resume flying.

Aim did not have to be right on to score a hit. Shooting in the general direction in a normally lit room was sufficient to score a hit. The rush of combat seems to adversely effect one’s ability to control the flight pattern of their Marine to some extent.

Alas, winning in combat seems to be as much a factor of luck as anything else. Range proved to be important, as more hits were recorded when the copters were near each other. Hits were recorded from 10 to 12 feet away, but I don't recall any hits from distances greater than that. I would be facing my opponent, in excellent control of my Marine, shoot and not score a hit while my opponent's Marine would fire on me while spinning like a top and: "He shoots! He scores!” Of course that luck factor worked both ways.

Downloads

Are the Dueling Space Marine Copters For a Beginner?

These Marines are approved for beginner to expert pilots. The operator will need some developed eye/hand coordination, but the durability of the helicopters make it ideal for everyone to have fun with them. Affordability also makes them great for the smart masses. The manufacturer lists the product for ages 8+.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Conclusion

The control of flight is about what I have experienced in other miniature helicopters that sold for $20.00-$25.00, and none of the others that I have flown were able to do combat. Combat is what sets these Space Marines apart and makes them special.

I have had several different people fly them and engage in combat in the short time I have had them, and everyone has enjoyed the experience. I have seen some real adrenaline rushes in some of the pilots when they switched from training flying to combat.

For an RC junkie like myself, this is a very fun little product. When a friend comes over we can have a little fun flying around the room and then have a little combat. Or as I have done with one person, fly around the room and then shoot him before he knows about the button on the top right and what it does. Nothing gets someone going like a little ambush.

Pluses:

  • Good Vertical control
  • Copters and transmitters have held up well to abuse
  • Combat is surprisingly fun
  • Range is sufficient for a large family room

Minuses:

  • There is a luck factor to the combat. The most skillful Marine doesn't always win.

Last edited by Angela H; May 09, 2008 at 07:40 PM..

Discussion

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Old May 09, 2008, 07:56 PM
ooops
StCalvin's Avatar
Dekalb,Illinois
Joined Oct 2003
1,452 Posts
Was playing with my PTU today. This looks like fun. My college age sons and their roommates might get a kick out of it.
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Old May 10, 2008, 01:55 PM
Actively makin humans obsolete
Razor_Racer's Avatar
Northern Virginia
Joined Jul 2007
773 Posts
Cool! ThinkGeek is only a 5 min drive away (FairFax, Virginia) so I might have to pay a visit soon.

Coupon code 8CBB for $10 off $50 at www.thinkgeek.com, expires 6/30/08
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Old May 10, 2008, 02:39 PM
Google 'Blade 400 bible'
Slyster's Avatar
Joined Nov 2006
2,776 Posts
cute!
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Old May 10, 2008, 03:46 PM
Registered User
Joined Jun 2007
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The ones I tried would shoot itself down if you were near any windows or mirrors. Too bad the beam doesn't have its own frequency to prevent shooting yourself down.
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Old May 10, 2008, 06:41 PM
Micro-Heli-Concepts
jasonjetski's Avatar
Australia, NSW, Blacktown
Joined Dec 2006
4,984 Posts
Is this like the Picooz where is you fly with another picooz on another chanel.
You simply land and then switch your transmitter to their chanel and push the throttle right up.Then they fall out of the sky?
Jason
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Old May 11, 2008, 05:56 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,438 Posts
I have confirmed that reflective surfaces such as a window or a mirror can bounch the beam back and a marine copter can shoot itself down via the reflection.
When turning a marine copter to the on position it is important that the marine copter is only receiving the infrared signal from its own transmitter. I find my body does an excellent job of blocking the signal from the other transmitter. This way you maintain control of your marine.
Yes Jason youcan knock your opponent out of the sky by switching your transmitter to the channel your opponent is on. But then again you can knock your opponent out with a baseball bat and that would be equally subtle.
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Old May 11, 2008, 09:24 AM
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Yea when your losing a bat to the opponents head always works for me.
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Old Jun 01, 2008, 01:21 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,438 Posts
Currently on June 1st there is a temporary price drop so that the pair is available for $39.99. A $10.00 savings. FYI Mike
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Old Jun 06, 2008, 08:46 AM
Übung macht den Meister..
Deuce's Avatar
United States, OR, Fairview
Joined Jul 2006
3,014 Posts
Perhaps relevant, perhaps not...

Last Christmas, I gave my nephews a couple of the Air Hog helos, and these Space Marine helos seems similar. As regards the "erratic" forward motion, I read somewhere that the turning effected some sort of control. Supposedly, turning one way would get the helo moving forward, turning the other direction would move it backward. No doubt the "torque" issue mentioned in the review.

I will have to look into the tail twisting trim technique, as that sounds interesting. What I did at the time was start sticking some pins in the nose of the helo to bias the cg toward a forward movement by default. It had some positive results, but as the boys simply wanted to fly them, I was unable to do any conclusive "research!" I haven't as yet picked one up for myself, but these combat helos sound a touch more fun!
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Old Jun 09, 2008, 04:10 AM
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hangglider's Avatar
California
Joined Nov 2005
54 Posts
Utter junk! airhogs havoc more durable

I usually give pretty good personal reviews of things I buy. But I got these and they were just junk! One spaceman would not hold altitude and had a bent main shaft out of the box. The other worked for about 6 flights then the flybar broke. I fixed that using parts from the first. Then the tail boom just fell out. But these space men were a waste of money.
Hint: Buy from toys-R-us and you can return it. Or buy a warranty and get your money back(less the warranty cost). The airhog havoc seems to be much more durable. Mine lasted a month.
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Old Jun 09, 2008, 12:10 PM
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San Carlos, California, United States
Joined May 2002
7,640 Posts
Next up...RCgroup's review of the mini-helicopter keychain ornament.



Toshi
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Old Jun 11, 2008, 08:52 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,438 Posts
Sorry you had a bad experience Hangglider. Mine have survived a number of flights and combats and two parties so far and will be used again this coming Saturday afternoon. Mine have held up very well so far but I don't expect them to last forever. They leave for post graduate combat this Sunday with my oldest son after he visits for Father's Day.
Toshi next up is the Tandem Z Chinook. Mike H
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Old Jun 12, 2008, 08:11 PM
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I got the dueling helicopters, and they stopped responding to the controller after about 2 hours. Get the Havoc Helis they are much better.
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Old Oct 29, 2008, 08:48 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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As of October 29 these were on sale at ThinkGeek for $14.99. Other think Geek RC toys are also on sale.
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