Children often have a fascination for insects of all varieties. I have a clear recollection of one of my younger sisters often carrying worms around in her pocket but that's another story. Along with the overwhelming desire to get to grips with the insect world, the aspect of flight - a vital ability for many insects - can quickly arouse and captivate a child's attention. Combining these two interests in the form of a child-centric (and possibly many fathers also) device, is the FlyTech Dragonfly manufactured by the unusually named Wowwee and available from that treasure trove of useful and unusual gifts we know as Gizoo.com.
The FlyTech Dragonfly is described as a "fun RC flyer" with the "RC" referring to its radio control ability. Once you have liberated the dragonfly and accompanying remote control device from the packaging - no mean feat in itself due to the numerous pieces of sellotape and wire holding everything in place - you can begin the process of charging the insect. Six AA batteries are required, and before you ask - no they are not included in the box. The batteries fit into the remote control.
You then need to attach a lead, located in a compartment on the front of the remote, to a socket found on the polystyrene body of the dragonfly. This connection is rather fiddly with the plug being of the miniscule type. I have to say the connection does feel rather flimsy although it managed to survive my clumsy handling. A light on the remote will flash to indicate that a connection has been made while the dragonfly's eyes will pulse as the charging takes place. The process should take around 20 minutes and give approximately seven minutes of flying time.
As mentioned earlier, the dragonfly's body is constructed of polystyrene. Its tail is made of the same substance while the 16-inch wings (two on each side) are made of thin plastic sheets with metal wing span rods. A spare set of wings are included in the box in case of accidents.
The remote control, with more than a passing resemblance to the one supplied with various game consoles, has a detachable and extendible antenna plus power and directional mini joystick controls. There is also a trim wheel and a toggle switch to move from beginner to expert mode. My performance at controlling the dragonfly was such that I rarely ventured into expert mode.
According to the supplied User Manual, you are supposed to launch the Dragonfly from your hand with a gentle horizontal motion once you have adjusted the power controlling the wing speed. I found this process rather hard to master with all my early efforts resulting in a dive-bombing dragonfly. Fortunately, as all these failed attempts were indoors, the landings were fairly soft and resulted in no damage to the dragonfly. Once the dragonfly is successfully launched into the air, and you will require a reasonable expanse of space, you can alter direction with the right control while the left control deals with power which affects the height the dragonfly operates. Basic turns were within my field of expertise but I have yet to master a take-off from the ground or venture outside to check the promised range of 15 metres.
Rather than opt for a booklet format for the User Manual, the documentation supplied by Wowwee is of concertina design which unfolds out to give five pages of double sided instructions. I found this to be rather unwieldy and would have preferred a booklet format. The FlyTech Dragonfly, which should provide hours of fun, has been priced at £39.95.
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