Cigar Aficionado

However you fall on the complex issue of the government’s use of drones, you may want to consider having your own—in the form of a remote-controlled Swann helicopter, that is. They may not be truly weaponized like the ones for black ops, nor have much flying radius, but Swann’s line of who-would-have-thunk-you-could-buy-that toy choppers is amazingly versatile and a lot of fun.

The latest from Swann, the Sky Duel, are twin indoor helicopters with laser beams that allow dogfighting. Strike your opponent with three hits and he falls out of the sky. Not into competitive sorties? You can take the Missile Strike out for a spin and shoot plastic ballistics at the sitting-duck target of your choice. More the pacifist? The double-rotored Air Force and Military Thunder are modeled after larger helicopters for rescue missions. The Swann fleet includes 16 other specialty choppers.

Considering that real helicopters are a bear to master, these birds have friendly learning curves due to the Easy-Fly Gyro techonology and infrared six-way multidirectional controls. Most models fly for six-to-eight minutes on a one-hour charge. The plastic parts (including spare rotor blades) are durable enough to withstand the inevitable indoor crashes and hard touchdowns on the included landing pad.

The parent company, Swann, may be better known for its advanced home security systems with camera surveillance, and a certain amount of synergy exists between that and the Black Swann Stealth Helicopter. The matte black chopper comes equipped with a built-in video camera that records 640 x 480 footage to a MicroSD for later viewing on a PC. When something goes bump in the middle of the night, you send your Stealth down to check, instead of going yourself. But remember to be careful about the subjects of your reconnaissance. You might end up knowing more than you want to about your wife’s relationship with the gardener.