In this age of drones, a great introduction to close-in flying is the hobby of radio-controlled vehicles. With adult supervision, kids as young as seven can enjoy this fast-growing toy market. The ready-to-fly RC vehicles in this review are helicopter versions for both indoor and outdoor fun. 

Adults should always pay attention when young pilots are earning their wings. You’ll want to head off any bombing strafes of the dog, a sibling or great-grandma’s antique vase. We’ll review seven of the best RC helicopters to help you select the one best suited to your child’s ability and interest. 

Remember to fly responsibly. Check the rules of the air. Yes, even for your backyard; it’s important. 

How to Pick the Best RC Helicopter

1. Recommended Age

Radio-controlled helicopters require a fair amount of coordination, timing, and judgment. It will take some time for any child or teen to get the hang of proper and effective procedures. Younger children can be impatient. Remembering that the heli won’t rise if its propellers are on the floor can be tough. Especially for younger children, adult supervision is essential. It will be safer and more enjoyable for all.

2. Use

There are smaller RC helicopters which operate indoors only. This type uses infrared light for control, so there must be a line-of-sight between the controller and the helicopter. These won’t operate at any great distance and are unable to operate in the wind. Those powered by an engine are only for outdoor use. They can go hundreds of feet in the right conditions. It is unsafe if the helicopter is not operated only in the space the manufacturer recommends.

3. Batteries

Every RC helicopter uses batteries, and there are two types needed. One is for the operation of the helicopter, and the other is for the remote control. It is surprising to me how little time a fully charged battery can operate the heli. It may take an hour to charge the battery which may give 10 minutes of operation. This is frustrating to all. One solution may be to buy two of the vehicle batteries so that one is already charged up to use. At least it will double the play time.

4. Charger

For rechargeable battery use, some manufacturers supply a USB or a wall outlet charger. You can use the USB charger on a USB-equipped computer or cellphone.

5. Motor Type

Powerful RC vehicles from hobby planes to professional drones usually use a Brushless Direct Current (BLDC)  motors. These are too powerful for a child or teen to use until they get very proficient at the entry level first. Brushed DC motors have been around for more than 100 years, supplying power for buildings down to the tiny hand-sized RC helicopter.

6. Frequency

Radio-controlled vehicles rather obviously operate on a radio frequency. The controller and the vehicle must be on the same frequency. They must remain on the frequency set by the manufacturer, usually 27 MHz, or 2.4 GHz which ground-based RC vehicles must use. This restriction means flying the heli in the backyard won’t open the neighbors’ garage doors.

7. Channels

Each RC craft has communication channels. Helicopters with three channels use them to control the rudder, throttle, and elevator. Those with four channels can control the ailerons, elevator, rudder, and throttle.

8. Control Distance

Depending on the power of a helicopter designed for outdoor use, it can be controlled anywhere from dozens to more than 100 feet. The indoor models only move a few feet. If there is wind, sun, rain, or snow, this will affect the radio frequencies between the controller and the heli. Some models may not work at all outdoors in even the mildest adverse weather conditions. Warning: it’s a bad idea to decide that the basement will work just fine if it’s snowing outside.

9. Size

The sizes of the RC helicopters are so small you can hold it in your hand up to a couple of feet long. It is a good idea to check on the size to make sure your younger child can handle the size easily.

10. Weight

From a few ounces to several pounds, once again judge whether your child can manage the weight easily and proficiently.

11. Reviews

We’ve researched seven of the best RC helicopters for dependability, engineering, and suitability for kids from 7 to 14. We’ve awarded some of the outstanding examples with our awards in several categories. At the end of this review, we’ll award the three best heli toys.

rc-helicopter

The Winners

#1

If your child is new to radio-controlled flight, Syma S107G Heli is our recommendation for a first RC helicopter. It is easy to operate and even hover with ease. Made of lightweight aluminum, it’s durable and can last through many crashes. The controller moves the heli Up/Down, Left/Right Turn and Forward/Backward.

Recommended Ages: 14 + with adult supervision
Use: Indoors only
Batteries: Lithium Polymer (LiPO Battery)
Charger: USB
Motor Type: Brushed
Frequency: NA (Infrared)
Channels: 3
Control Distance: NA
Size: 8.7 x 3.9 x 1.5 inches
Weight: 8 ounces

#2

There are probably only two scenarios that will take place when you open this package. One, the neighbors should not go into the pool or hot tub unless wholly clothed. Two, you are going to have a hard time not playing with this heli before Sis or Junior gets a chance. The UDI U13A RC Heli comes equipped with a camera that can take photos or videos and then store them on the 1G micro SD card. The vehicle has a 3-axis gyro to keep things nice and steady. Fun, some pics, and a decent price make this work looking into for teens (and you).

Recommended Ages: 14 +
Use: Outdoor
Batteries: 1 Rechargeable Li-Polymer
Charger: Wall charger
Motor Type: NL
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
Channels: 3
Control Distance: 500 feet
Size: 7.5 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches
Weight: 2.2 pounds

#3

The GearRoot Flying Ball is a fun toy for kids to begin their adventure into flight. GearRoot decorated the body of the heli with a Kawaii cartoon on the fuselage along with red-blue flashing LED lights. The controller is quite limited. It only controls stop, start, and speed up. It will not direct the heli to go forward/backward or left/right. There is an induction mode that lets the child put her hands a few inches under the heli to control up and down directions. The remote-control mode starts, stops, and can speed up the vehicle.

Recommended Ages: 6 +
Use: Indoor
Batteries: 3 AAA for remote (not included); 1 Lithium Polymer battery (included)
Charger: USB
Motor Type: Infrared
Frequency: NA
Channels: NA
Control Distance: NL
Size: 5.7 x 5.7 inches
Weight: 4 ounces

#4

The WL-Toys Large V912 4CH is a more advanced version of the RC helicopter. The four channels allow 3D, side flying, up, down, forward, backward, turn right and left, and left and right fly. Even though the manufacturer states this heli is suitable for a 7-year-old, this very well may be far too big, cumbersome, and complicated for a child that age. It would be hard for a younger child to handle the 150-meter range of the vehicle. The V912 would be a good second or third step in line to getting a real drone.

Recommended Ages: 7 +
Use: Outdoor
Batteries: 4 x AA (not included)
Charger: 7.4V 1500mAh
Motor Type: Brushed
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
Channels: 4
Control Distance: 150 meters
Size: 20.1 x 5.5 x 9.8 inches
Weight: 3.15 pounds

#5

The WL- 4CH Gyro V911 RTF is indeed miniature. It’s also decked out in spiffy blue and white colors, and ready to give great flights outdoors with a 4-channel control. This RC toy is for intermediate skill levels. It can fly outside in a light-to-mild wind, so if you live in a windy area, this little guy might merit a closer look. It’s the first of the toy-hobby line that can handle the wind. The improved battery just snaps in, and you must use this specific battery for the heli to work.

Recommended Ages: 12 +
Use: Outdoor
Batteries: 2 (included)
Charger: USB
Motor Type:
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
Channels: 4
Control Distance: Not listed
Size: 14.6 x 10.2 x 4.1 inches
Weight: 1.74 pounds

#6

This Blade E-flite mCX2 RTF is an ultra-light indoor heli. It is assembled, tested, and ready to go when it hits your door. Scratch that; when it arrives on your doorstep. This guy even sports flashing LED lights on its body. It has a coaxial, counter-rotating rotor head design that will take it anywhere indoors.

Recommended Ages: 12 +
Use: Outdoor
Batteries: 2 (included)
Charger: USB
Motor Type:
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
Channels: 4
Control Distance: Not listed
Size: 14.6 x 10.2 x 4.1 inches
Weight: 1.74 pounds

#7

The Syma S109G 3.5-Ch is an excellent gyro-equipped indoor RC helicopter. The gyro gives it greater stability that means easier operation. These features make it a good choice for a beginner or younger child. This is an ultralight vehicle. At more than 16 inches length, it weighs less than an ounce.

Recommended Ages: 8 +
Use: Indoor
Batteries: Lithium Polymer
Charger: USB
Motor Type: Brushed
Frequency: NA
Channels: No (Infrared)
Control Distance: 8 feet
Size: 16.7 x 7.3 x 3.5 inches
Weight: 0.16 ounces

A yellow RC Helicopter in flight

DIY, Craft and Décor Ideas for RC Helicopter Fans

With enough imagination, a little skill, and steady nerves, your child’s radio-controlled helicopter can become more interactive, personalized, and even more fun if possible. 

Target Practice! Duck!

After a while, it gets kind of boring just moving the helicopter up and down and maybe a few times around the yard or the living room. Why not give the heli a real purpose? Put small paper plates either on the floor of the house or in the yard. Be sure to put a rock or weight on them. Write a points value on each one. Give each flyer 10 minutes to land on as many plates as possible, running up their scores to win. Prize? Maybe just an extra turn with the heli would be plenty. 

How Low Can You Go?

This game is kind of like Limbo for radio-controlled helicopters. Put up a sheet of butcher’s paper vertically on an indoor or outdoor wall or fence. Draw bright horizontal lines to measure the distance from the ground. Whoever flies the heli closest to the ground without crashing wins. 

Forever Flying!

There’s no reason why the little heli should spend its downtime just laying around. Fishing line and a ceiling hook can give the toy a place of honor in a child’s room, right above all the play action. 

Quick Decision

Syma S107G Helicopter – Best Overall
Syma S107G Heli is light yet is fully controllable. It might be a great toy for your beginning flyer.

UDI U13A 3 Channel 2.4GHz – Upgrade Choice
UDI U13A 3 has it all. A built-in video/still camera, SD card storage, and a long flight range is a good option for the older and more experienced operator.

GearRoot Flying Ball RC Helicopter – Best Budget Buy
GearRoot Flying Ballis a fun little copter for the younger and less coordinated children. Remote-free control by hand is innovative and fun.

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Gary B.

Gary B.

Gary is a father of two, self-identified RC fanboy, and part-time guitar plucker. When he's not racing his collection of remote-controlled vehicles or strumming away, we bend his arm and get him to write with precision and expertise on a range of mechanical and electrical toys.

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