Sometimes we get so caught up in the technicalities of quadcopter ownership here that we forget what drew us to the hobby in the first place – remote control drones are fun.
Today we’ll be getting back to that fun by looking at some of the top drone toys on the market. Toy drones differ from other drones in that they’re focused mostly on being easy to use and fun to fly. They often don’t have a lot of fancy features, and if they do those features are more about looking cool than they are about practical use cases.
Drone toys like these differ from professional drones, which are mostly high-end expensive flying cameras with built-in obstacle avoidance and similar high-quality convenience features; hobby drones, which are cheaper version of professional drones; and racing drones, which are all about going as fast as possible and are often customizable.
|Product Name||Our Rating||Check Price|
|Altair Aerial AA108||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Holy Stone HS170||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|Syma X5C||VIEW ON AMAZON|
This is the best all-around remote control toy drone. It’s small and fun to fly, good for indoors and outdoors, and made of durable plastic, like you’d expect from a toy. But it also has a lot of features that make it great even as a higher-end hobby drone, like Headless Mode (which Altair calls Heading Hold Mode), a 6-axis gyro for stability, multiple flight speeds, a full suite of alarms, and a long range and solid flight time. These features make it easy to fly and perfect for beginners.
Plus, Altair Aerial has a great reputation for customer service – they’re based in the US and very easy to talk to over the phone.
This is a very sleek and powerful drone considering it only costs $40. It’s designed to be wind-resistant and performs well with about 6 minutes of flight time, with multiple flight levels that let you adjust this remote control drone toy to your skill level. It’s also very cool looking and can pull off 360 degree spins with the touch of a button – perfect for a toy of this kind!
This is a great remote control camera drone for kids. The camera isn’t as good as the AA108’s, but it’s a lot cheaper. It also controls very well (better than the Altair, at least in this reviewer’s opinion) thanks to a more advanced controller layout that allows for a lot of fine-tuning.
If durability is your main concern when purchasing a remote control drone toy, the Hornet 818 is probably your best bet. It has very thick prop guards and a very stable design that means it can be flown indoors or outdoors.
In all the ways we usually think about what makes a drone great, this is not a great drone. It’s designed primarily for indoor flying with awful performance in almost any other setting, it’s a little difficult to control, and each battery only gets about 7 minutes of flight time. But the thick rubber guards make it perfect for flying indoors, and it’s extremely colorful and fun, especially when you turn on the lights and fly it in the dark. Adults may not be so easily amused, but this is an ideal drone for children.
The Altair Aerial AA108 is the best remote control drone toy overall. It has all the features and functionality you’d expect from a hobby drone, but it’s still small, fairly cheap, and fun to fly. This makes it a toy drone that’s great for beginners, yes, but also very good for more advanced fliers who are looking for something with a focus on fun.
The Holy Stone HS170 and the Syma X5C are pretty good alternatives to the AA108 that are a lot smaller and a lot cheaper. Neither can match it for range or flight time or durability, but if that’s less important to you then these are both great options! The HS170 is more wind-resistant and can be flown outdoors, while the X5C is best left to indoor use.
The Force1 Discovery U818A is a very good choice for younger children (say 10-14) because it’s incredibly durable, even moreso than the sturdy AA108. I’m not gonna say it’s impossible to break, but it can take a lot of hard crashes thanks to its design and its thick prop guards. It’s also not too expensive.
And the UFO 3000 LED Drone is just pure fun. Again, this is a drone that’s probably going to be more enjoyable for younger pilots, but who doesn’t love seeing a drone light up as it flies in the dark, looking like something straight out of Blade Runner? I would also recommend keeping this toy indoors – its rubber prop guards will prevent the toy from marking walls or damaging furnature, and it just doesn’t have the power to compete with any kind of wind outside.
What are drones?
A drone is any aerial vehicle that is not flown by an onboard pilot. A lot of drones are also quadcopters, a specific type of aerial vehicle which (as the name implies) is kept in the air by four propellers – two turning clockwise, two turning counterclockwise. All quadcopters are drones, but not all drones are quadcopters. Drones are usually controlled with a radio transmitter (similar to an RC car) or with a mobile device.
Do I need to register my drone?
It depends where you’re located. If you’re in England, yes. In America (as of 2017) you usually only have to register your drone if you’re using it commercially – that is, if you’re using it in some capacity that makes money. You also have to meet specific pilot and aircraft requirements. It’s best to look up your local laws and regulations and make sure to comply with them.
What makes something a “toy drone”?
Toy drones are designed to be cheap and exist only for recreational use. They prioritize being cool or fun to fly over other features like the camera or durability or range or more high-end features like obstacle avoidance.
What are some things to be aware of when buying a toy drone?
Toy drones are often made entirely of plastic. This isn’t bad in and of itself, but the plastic is often cheap, leading to easily broken propellers and other pieces which (obviously) limits how much fun you can have with the drone.
Look for toy drones that have landing gear and propellers that are mounted at a safe angle and not just made out of a single piece of molded plastic.
Are toy drones good for kids?
That largely depends on the kid. Treat drones like an expensive RC car, because that’s essentially what they are – only they can also fly into things.
Most toy-quality drones won’t cause serious damage to property or person (we accept no liability if that does happen), but you should always take proper precautions and fly in an open area as free of obstacles as possible.
Most drone manufacturers recommend a starting age of around 14, which is a good general cut-off.
It’s worth noting that some manufacturers make drones specifically aimed at younger children, which obviously are an exception to the rule.