Silverlit X-UFO
Although we tend to stick to covering either traditional build kits or the rise and rise of the ARTF phenomenon, every now and then a ‘toy’ comes along that is just too interesting to ignore. It’s safe to say that the X-UFO from Silverlit falls into the latter category.

Opening up the box, the first thing that hits you (once you’ve got past just how unusual the X-UFO itself looks) is quite what a comprehensive package you get for your money. A good quality transmitter is always welcome, of course, and here we have one that is more than up to the job. It’s nice and sturdy for a start, which is more than can be said for the examples you tend to get with some products aimed at the 'mainstream'. The four-channel digital proportional Mode 2 Tx also looks the part, so there’s little chance of gentle ribbing from your clubmates should you decide to take it down to the field on the weekend.

Also included are a rechargeable NiMH battery pack, charger and mains adaptor. Those who fancy taking the X-UFO with them on a day out are also provided with an automobile adaptor, which allows charging of the battery pack from your car’s cigarette lighter socket. Another nice surprise is the inclusion of a trainer cable - if you know someone else who owns one of these, you can connect the transmitters to form a buddy box system. This is an unexpected bonus, but logical on reflection. Since it’s a product aimed at people who aren’t yet seriously into model flying, some guidance along the way will be helpful to say the least. Rounding off the contents are some spare propellers. Not that you’re likely to need them - the existing blades are well protected by the X-UFO’s lightweight but robust carbon fiber / EPP foam frame.

TO THE SKIES
Right, time to get this thing charged up and in the air. The included instruction manual suggests that the slow charge setting should have you ready to fly within around 100 minutes. However, as this product is aimed primarily at the younger market, it’s more likely that they’re not going to want to wait that long between flights. Fast charge it is then. According to the instructions, this should take 20 - 25 minutes. In practice, however, the charger was still indicating that the job hadn’t been completed after an hour. Being an impatient sort at the best of times, I decided enough was enough and unplugged the battery before attaching it to the X-UFO’s cradle.

The saucer utilises four powerful electric motors, contra-rotating propellers and an electronic gyroscope to offer what the Flying Toys blurb claims is ‘incredible stability’. Let’s just see about that. The initial test took place indoors and I have to say it was a pleasure to fly. After some minor trim adjustments I soon had the X-UFO steady in the hover and under control. It’s surprisingly responsive and answers to the traditional fixed-pitch helicopter comands, i.e. throttle, cyclic (left / right; forwards / backwards) and yaw.

Although the craft is symmetrical in shape, the ‘front’ sports a red decal as well as a red flashing LED (as opposed to blue LEDs at the other three points), so flying in the ‘right’ direction is always intuitive. And how about those LEDs? Spectacular. I only had the chance to take the X-UFO outdoors briefly in mildly dusky (and calm) conditions, but even then the surprisingly powerful lights looked majestic against the sky. You just know it’ll look the business in proper night flight. The LEDs also, obviously, go a long way to aiding orientation. The lights have more than mere aesthetic reasons for being there, though. Once the craft is grounded, the pilot must throttle forward and immediately back to reset the gyroscope before taking it back into the air. With throttle gently applied once more, the lights slowly blink into life, flashing in sequence in a clockwise fashion. They get quicker and quicker until they reach their peak, indicating that the mechanical gyro is up to speed, and in turn the X-UFO is ready for take off once more.

Although it’s undoubtedly aimed at a younger and more mainstream market than the majority of you who will be reading this, the X-UFO will surprise a high percentage of those that give it a try. Yes, it’s important to remember the history of our hobby and to promote the continued relevance of traditional build kits, but everyone likes to have a little fun now and again. In that respect, the X-UFO delivers in spades.