PROS / You can adjust the Cyclone’s flight speed to match your level of expertise.
CONS / Its battery takes about an hour and a half to charge, which is on the longer side.
VERDICT / The WL Toys V262 Cyclone is simple, affordable, easy to control and, most importantly, a blast to fly.
Big, fast and fun to fly, the V262 Cyclone is one of the best RC helicopters on today's market. While regular, single-rotor copters can be difficult to maneuver, the Cyclone's four-rotor construction is significantly more stable in the air. Of course, like all quadcopters, it can take some getting used to, and first-time pilots can struggle figuring out which side is the front and which is the back. Once you get oriented, you'll be veering, dipping and flipping through the air in no time. For its easy controls, sturdy construction and over eight-minute flight times, WL Toys' V262 Cyclone earns our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
A good remote control helicopter should fly for as long as possible and as easily as possible, even if there's a decent breeze. It should also have an easily accessible battery so you can switch out cells in the field without special tools, and those batteries should charge as quickly as possible, so you can get back to flying.
The V262 Cyclone checks most of those boxes. Its controls are easy to learn. It sports a flight time of eight and a half minutes, which is long enough to tire you out as a pilot, especially if you're fighting a bit of wind. It can handle that wind, though, being big and powerful enough to remain upright and stable. If you want more flight time, you can purchase an extra battery online to double your time in the air. The Cyclone would be close to a perfect beginner helicopter were it not for its long charge times. That 850mAh battery took about 95 minutes to top up during our charge tests, and an hour and a half is a long time to wait when you can get RC helicopters that charge in half the time. We're nitpicking, though; for a quadcopter this big and stable, we were actually happy to let it charge up. The experience was worth the wait.
Like all quadcopters, the V262 Cyclone uses an internal gyroscope to recognize where the ground is and do its best to stay level. It has to be properly calibrated, of course, so once you've plugged in its battery you want to set the aircraft down on level ground as quickly as possible. The LEDs that shine beneath each rotor are more than merely decorative; they flash rapidly until the gyroscope has oriented itself.
Flying the Cyclone was surprisingly easy for us. The left stick controls throttle, raising and lowering the aircraft, but it also lets you turn the copter left and right. We didn't use the rudder very often, though; the Cyclone turns slowly, and it's much easier to use the transmitter's right stick to navigate. With the ability to sideslip laterally, as well as fly forward and backward, you can leap and dip in any direction without turning.
As you advance in skill, the Cyclone is designed to advance with you. It has four different speed modes that offer 40 percent, 60 percent, 80 percent and 100 percent of its power and maneuverability. Once you've properly trimmed the aircraft and gotten comfortable with its aerodynamics, you are free to scale its nimbleness up until you're twisting and turning faster than any full-size helicopter could manage.
A good transmitter is crucial to a solid RC experience, and the V262 Cyclone comes with a great transmitter. Four channels let you move in any direction at a whim, while the radio's LCD screen provides clear readouts of how much power is being consumed, where trim values are and whether the helicopter's rotors should be turning at any given moment.
The Cyclone's transmitter communicates on the 2.4GHz digital frequency. This makes it very resistant to interference, even when other 2.4GHz devices are in the area. It also lets the Cyclone fly out to between 250 feet and 300 feet from the remote. Our test model managed a solid 260 feet before starting to lose its connection.
The downside of running a 2.4GHz transmitter with an LCD screen is the battery requirement. AA batteries aren't cheap, and the transmitter needs six of them. They should last you through perhaps a dozen individual flights, so you do get your money's worth.
Among our RC helicopter reviews, the V262 Cyclone uses a unique construction material: expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam. EPP foam is far softer than expanded polystyrene (better known by the brand name Styrofoam), and it is able to resist impacts and withstand crashes with very little wear and tear. Technically, it's not as precise or aerodynamic as other types of foam, but that doesn't matter on a quadcopter. Here, durability is king, and the V262 Cyclone is appreciably durable.
Should you push your Cyclone past its limits and shear the foam, there's an easy fix: epoxy glue. Epoxies like Gorilla Glue expand as they set, which is perfect for the many little air holes that make up EPP foam – the glue can grow into those holes and form a durable bond. Be sure not to use super glue; its chemicals literally melt foam, and you'll end up with a ruined hull.
Having tested $20 mall copters and $150 hobbyist aircraft, flown them indoors and out, and experienced more than our fair share of crashes, we believe that WL Toys' V262 Cyclone is the best remote control helicopter a beginner can buy. Its 21-inch girth and 9.2-ounce weight give it heft and stability in the air, while its EPP foam hull can withstand crash after crash. What truly sets the Cyclone apart is the ease with which it flies. With desks piled in helicopter parts and hours of tests filling our days, this was the aircraft we most enjoyed taking to the sky.