Wednesday, August 24, 2011

West Seattle Crime Watch: More details on pellet-gun arrests

My take on this whole thing is that parents need to step up and teach responsibility and safety in the use of Airsoft guns to their children. If the kids don't comply then they take away their guns until they are 18 and move out on their own. It would be nice not to have to deal with stuff like this tearing down our beloved sport, but alas, there area always a few fools out there to ruin the fun for everyone.

Proper Airsoft safety should be observed by everyone using Airsoft guns. Never shoot them out in the public...I just thought that was common sense. But I guess it is not because kids continually pull these kinds of stunts. Almost as bad are the innocent kids playing Airsoft in their front yards, or in the local wash or woods. They don't know it but when someone sees them and doesn't know what they are doing, they will call the police because they have guns. If you want to play outside, play in a fenced in back yard, inform the police that you will be in the wash or woods if your laws allow you to play on public land, better yet, only play at designated Airsoft fields. To learn more about Airsoft safety and ways you can support our sport visit the Airsoft Safety Foundation.

Well, you can read the story below about three idiots who lack common sense.

West Seattle Crime Watch: More details on pellet-gun arrests
Courtesy of West Seattle Blog
We’ve finally obtained the report on the drive-by pellet-gun-shooting arrests first reported here last week, when police arrested three 17-year-old boys after two people reported getting hit in Arbor Heights. Read on for the narrative, including one suspect allegedly admitting to police they had done this before:
This is a transcription of the police report, except for names and specific addresses; we are referring to the three suspects as Suspects 1, 2, and 3. (We usually do not identify any suspects who are not charged, and we will usually not identify suspects under 18 unless they are charged as adults.):
On August 18th at 2245 hours [the officer who wrote the report] responded to (11400 block of 37th SW) where (the victim) called in to report he had been shot in the chest by people in a vehicle. (He) told Dispatch it must have been a BB gun he was shot with and described the vehicle as a dark-colored 4-door, possibly a Nissan. (He) was unable to see inside the vehicle to see what the occupants looked like but could tell there were three people inside. At 2251 hours (another victim) called in to report he was walking at 35th/114th when he was shot at with a pellet or BB gun, again from people in a vehicle. (He) described the vehicle was a black Honda accord type vehicle that left NB on 35th SW. (He) also described two passengers as white males around 18-22 years old with short hair.
(An acting sergeant) saw a dark-colored vehicle driving northbound on 35th SW as he entered the vicinity of the call and also saw there were three occupants inside, all who matched the description of white males 18-22 with short hair. The vehicle was stopped at 10200 35th SW and (Suspects 1, 2, 3) were removed from the vehicle and an AR15 style airsoft rifle was removed as well. Suspect 1 was driving the vehicle with Suspect 2 in the passenger seat and Suspect 3 was in the back seat. The airsoft rifle was in the back seat with Suspect 3 and was covered up by a sweatshirt with the squirt gun filled with soda. All three were taken into custody at the scene. I asked Suspects 2 and 3 who was shooting the rifle and Suspect 2 said it wasn’t him. When I turned the question toward Suspect 3 he immediately stated he wanted a lawyer. I did not ask him any further questions pertaining to the investigation.
The report goes on to say the two victims were brought to the scene of the stop and identified the suspects and/or the vehicle. It continues:
(The three suspects) were all read their Miranda warning and transported to the Southwest Precinct from the scene. (An officer) impounded the vehicle at the scene.
Once at the SW Precinct (suspect 1) and (suspect 2) gave written statements. According to Suspect 1, this is not the first time they had driven around while Suspect 3 shoots at things from inside the vehicle with his airsoft rifle. Suspect 1 stated they had probably shot about 4-5 people that he knew about including the 2 people tonight. Tonight he was driving around with Suspect 2 and they picked up Suspect 3 from a house he was watching at around 9:10 pm. They went to McDonald’s, got food, then headed to the Arbor Heights area approximately an hour after he picked up Suspect 3. When they got in the area, Suspect 3 began shooting cars and when he would see a person he would ask if he should shoot them. Suspect 1 stated he didn’t answer and Suspect 3 would shoot at the people anyway. They drove around for an hour shooting cars, signs and people for an hour before being stopped by the police. Suspect 1 stated it was always Suspect 3 with the airsoft rifle and he was always the driver.
Suspect 2 said the same thing as Suspect 1 but could not remember any time frame. When they picked up Suspect 3, Suspect 2 knew he had the airsoft rifle and figured he had it so they could shoot at people. This was the second time Suspect 2 was with Suspect 1 and Suspect 3 while shooting at people. Suspect 2 was in the front passenger seat and did not know what Suspect 3 was shooting at but could hear the sounds of the gun firing. Suspect 2 stated he had a squirt gun full of soda he was squirting cars and signs. He stated he squirted soda at the pizza delivery boy … right before Suspect 3 shot him with the airsoft rifle. Suspect 2 could not remember much of the night, stating it was a blur.
(An officer) took a picture of the (pizza delivery person’s) injury. (An acting sergeant) submitted the photos, the airsoft rifle, two banana-style magazines, bb container, 1000 bb’s, and the squirt gun into evidence. Within the last few weeks there have been several calls about people being shot at from a bb gun and described the vehicle as a dark-colored 4-door.
All three were released to parents or guardians at the Southwest Precinct.
The report notes that police request charges of assault be filed against the three suspects. As of yesterday, the case had not yet been referred to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office; we are checking again today and will continue to check.

M4 3181 Electric Airsoft Rifle with M203 Grenade Launcher

I think just about every person with more than a couple Airsoft guns has an M4 style rifle.  It represents the classic assault rifle image permanently burned into our brains through military commercials and Call of Duty games (or Counterstrike for those of us born before the 90’s). If you have ever shot a real steel assault rifle, there is a fair chance it was an AR-15, which is basically an M4 for reasons I won’t get in to. While popular culture and the trust of the military have certainly added to the M4’s reputation, there are many other reasons why you’ll see extremely high numbers of them at your local Airsoft field. One of these is ease of customization. An M4 is actually kind of already customized. It’s essentially an M16 with a shorter barrel and retractable stock. The M series of rifles are one if not the most customizable rifles you can get.

This M4 3181 Electric Airsoft Rifle with M203 Grenade Launcher comes with everything you need to customize the rifle and make it suit your body type and playing style. It comes with two handguards, one of which has an RIS system for your flashlights, lasers, or what have you. It also comes with a vertical grip for the RIS handguard that you can attach anywhere to get the most comfortable fit for your particular size. Two adjustable stocks are also included, one has a cheek rest and BB holder which is a nice touch. The normal stock is pretty standard fare, fully adjustable with a screw-in system so it won’t slip around. For the record you cannot fit a battery in the stock. Most people with M4’s (including me), just run the battery to the hand guard anyway, which is where it’s located on this rifle, so that’s cool. With M4’s I personally think having the battery up front gives it the best balance anyway. A tactical 3 point sling is also included, with standard attachment points.  These generally cost ten or twenty dollars by themselves and are pretty much necessary, so the inclusion of one is a nice bonus.

This is a plastic-bodied Airsoft rifle with a lot of accessories for a really low price. It has a plastic gearbox and is marketed towards beginners, so they could have put out a really terrible product and probably gotten away with it. However there are some nice touches that make this rifle stand apart from other guns in the price range and really add to the quality. The barrel is metal which adds some weight to the gun and also saves it from being completely useless. Cocking the gun will pop open the plate that allows hop up adjustment.  This is a small thing but a lot of the more affordable rifles don’t have it and they always feel really cheap when they don’t. Also the rear sight aperture is adjustable for elevation and windage, a feature that every good rifle should have. The M4 3181 shoots around 300FPS as well which is just about as hot as most indoor Airsoft fields will allow you to fire.

Of course the pièce de résistance of this particular rifle is the included attachable M203 Grenade Launcher. It works pretty much like any M203, you pull back the pump shotgun-style to cock the launcher and then it has its own separate trigger to fire. However this one just fires BB’s straight out of the barrel, which is actually better for this particular set up. It might not be quite as cool an Airsoft grenade launcher that fires shells, but keep in mind that just one shell for one of those costs almost double the price of this entire rifle. I personally love the M203 Grenade Launcher solely because it makes a great backup weapon.  AEG’s have a tendency to jam. They also have a tendency to run out of ammo and batteries. The grenade launcher is a completely separate system from the rest of the rifle, and will still fire even if it isn’t attached. This means when you suddenly run out of mags and batteries you don’t have to quit. Your rifle basically becomes a shotgun, and you can still get some tags. Nobody likes playing decoy and I think shotgun blasting people with an M4 is certainly a better alternative. It’s a much better alternative than just calling yourself out, because that doesn’t help your team now does it? 

Overall the M4 3181 Electric Airsoft Rifle with M203 Grenade Launcher is a really good deal simply because it has everything you need to go play Airsoft and have a lot of fun with it. I’m not going to lie and say it’s the best AEG money can buy, because it isn’t. Is it the best AEG for the money? I don’t think that statement would be too far off base. This is an entry level rifle geared towards newer players, and I don’t think any newer players will be disappointed with it. The 300FPS rating is probably the most important factor, because if you aren’t shooting high enough FPS you won’t have range and you won’t hit anything.  Most indoor fields only allow 350FPS anyway, and a majority of players will shoot for something like 320 or 330FPS to avoid accidentally firing some BB’s over the 350 mark. Therefore you are going to be running with the pack and able to keep up. The firing rate on this M4 is very decent as well. I really like that it comes with a vertical grip, because this is the first attachment that usually gets bought for M4’s anyway. And of course the M203 Grenade Launcher, aside from just being really awesome, genuinely makes a very reliable backup to the rifle’s main operation. I really think this AEG surpasses anything else in its class and price range. Try it out for yourself.

The Legend 9050 Electric Gyro RC Helicopter

The Legend 9050 is an indoor/outdoor coaxial RC helicopter with the addition of gyro technology. This helicopter comes in at almost two and a half feet long and 9.5 inches high and is quite a bit larger than the next largest 3 channel gyro helicopter, the SkyAce 9099. This is where we get in to serious helicopter territory, and if you are planning on flying the Legend indoors you should make sure it’s in a large enough area. The Hobbytron warehouse is perfect, but your living room may not be. Unless of course you are fabulously wealthy and have a gigantic house with 30 foot ceilings, in which case congratulations to you. The Legend is extremely stable indoors, and goes pretty much unfazed by air conditioning vents, open windows and the like. Outside it fairs very well, although you should still only fly in stable weather conditions. Apparently the Legend 9050 can be flown to well over 300 feet, and the controller has a 200 foot range, so if you are flying from the balcony of your 10th story apartment it works out very nicely. Either way, I didn’t have a comically large ruler with me  to test the height but this helicopter gets up there.  I could easily land on the roof of the Hobbytron warehouse and fly off again.

The Legend 9050 features essentially the same 3 channel remote as the Sky Ace. It still has the speed file switch and a light display that changes color as you go faster. The Legend is quite a bit harder to pilot than the Sky Ace and beginners will have a challenge to look forwards to. With the gyro technology it isn’t frustrating or anything, and is still actually quite easy, but it will take little bit of getting used to if you have never flown an RC helicopter before. With the PhantomS107 and Sky Ace 9099 almost anyone can pick them up and be flying confidently pretty much immediately. The Legend is larger than these helicopters, and beginners will likely have to put in some time before they are confident enough to start performing risky maneuvers. Unlike the Phantom and Sky Ace, the Legend does actually suffer from ground effect which means it does not stay in control when barely hovering off the ground. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a lightweight coaxial helicopter with 3 channel controls and a gyro; even beginners will master it pretty easily. It just might take a few hours instead of a few minutes.

The Legend is very light for its size but still has sturdy metal construction. You can’t throw it around without a care like you can with the Phantom, but it seems very durable and I’m thinking in the event of catastrophic failure on the pilot’s part it would still be ok. You might manage to take out the rear rotor or stabilizing bar, maybe some of the plastic body work, but the metal frame seems pretty indestructible and the main rotor blades are extremely flexible, as they are in all of Hobbytron’s 3channel gyro models. Of course all the parts are still easily replaceable and readily available so if you do break something it isn’t the end of the world (I promise).

In its class and for the price, I don’t really think you can beat the Legend 9050. The durability is a key aspect here. This helicopter will take a serious beating in a way that most helicopters won’t. You can also fly it wherever you want, and at high altitude which is always more fun for some reason. It is still great for beginners but gives them a little more room to breathe and grow. If I was going to buy a 3ch gyro helicopter, I would probably buy the Legend 9050.

Electric Mini RC Buggy

The Electric 1:52 Scale Mini Buggy is one of the biggest sellers we have at HobbyTron because everybody can use it. You don’t need any RC experience to have a lot of fun with the Mini Buggy, and it is suitable for ages 3 and up so it’s great for kids. It comes in 4 different colors and body styles. Mine is light blue and says “BANDOG” down the side.  I don’t know what a bandog is but it’s painted well and has a lot of detail for a 1:52 scale model, it even has little chrome exhaust pipes underneath. The box it comes in doubles as a display case as well so you can display the Mini Buggy proudly in your house. Mine sits on top of the TV. This buggy is only 5 inches long and fits in the palm of your hand so you can bring it anywhere with you. The antenna screws out of the controller to make that more compact as well, and fits nicely in a purse or bag. The Mini Buggy only takes 5 minutes to charge and plugs right in to the controller, so you can pull it out anywhere and start having fun. Kids love the Mini Buggy, I brought it to my daycare class and the only problem was them fighting over who got to use it next! You can also run four of them at the same time and race your friends, which is very fun. I’m not sure which color is the fastest so you’ll have to find out yourself. 

The Mini Buggy has real working suspension and rubber tires, and the back tires have spikes in them to help get you through loose surfaces. It also has automatic headlights that turn on when you go forward, so you can actually use the Mini Buggy in the dark if you want. Just by pressing down on the body you can tell that the suspension is very bouncy and it doesn’t have any trouble with dirt or asphalt. You can even drive this buggy over jumps which is fun, I made one out of a binder and the Mini Buggy handled it very well. The instruction manual says that if you take a turn at full speed you can accidentally flip the Mini Buggy over, but I tried a lot and am happy to report that it stayed on all four wheels the whole time. I actually tried a lot of things to flip it over and wasn’t able to, the top is kind of round so it always gets back on to its wheels.

I’m not going to lie, I had much more fun with the Mini Buggy than I was expecting. Its faster than I expected, going about 10mph on the right surfaces. You get about 10 minutes of racing on the 5 minute charge which is very good for an RC car. The range on the controller is supposedly 15-25 meters, and I got about 50 feet indoors with no problems which is really impressive for an RC car in this price range. Most cars in this price range can’t even go off-road, let alone everywhere.  I tested the Mini buggy on carpet, rock, dirt, asphalt, glass, and wood, and couldn’t find a terrain that stumped it. This is probably the most versatile 1:52 scale RC car I’ve ever used. 

I would recommend the Mini Buggy to anyone that wants a simple, fun RC car they can bring anywhere and use anytime. I would especially recommend it for children because it isn’t hard to use and they seem to really love it. The working suspension, rubber tires, working headlights, and tough construction really set it apart from other RC cars in the same price range, and I don’t really think you could get a better deal anywhere as far as the amount of technology packed in to this cute little guy. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had with a 1:52 scale RC car and is probably the most advanced one I’ve seen as well. I can’t wait for it to finish charging!

Sky Knight 9101 Electric Gyro RC Helicopter

In the world of 3 channel Gyro helicopters the Sky Knight rules the skies. It is the pretty much the biggest gyro helicopter we have before you get in to the really huge helicopters for outdoor use only.  The Sky Knight is actually intended to be an outdoor helicopter, but is small enough that you can still fly inside if you have a very large, open area. For a look at what gyro technology actually does in an RC helicopter you can check the blog post we did on the PhantomS107, but it mostly makes flying much, much easier for beginners. A gyro adds a level of stability that makes learning to fly RC helicopters a more pleasant experience. The Sky Knight 9101 puts gyro technology in a very large helicopter that is 31 inches long by 10.5 inches high, which for reference is about the size of Toto in The Wizard of Oz.

When flying your small dog, you may notice that it is easy and enjoyable. This is the gyro at work. After a simple trim adjustment the Sky Knight 9101 will go pretty much wherever you tell it to in a stable and consistent manner with little drama. The large size of this helicopter means environmental forces won’t affect it very much. You should still fly on calm days whenever possible, and never fly in extreme or hazardous conditions, but a light breeze will not affect the Sky Knight much at all. It can also fly to heights of around 160 feet and the remote has a range of well over 300 feet. With this helicopter you can fly anywhere you want, and 3 channel control means it can go up, down, left, right, forward, backward, and hover. It also has LED lights so you can fly at “knight”. That was pun, try to keep up.

The frame is painted black which actually makes it more sought after by RC enthusiasts, frames are usually just chrome and the black paint gives the Sky Knight an aggressive “stealth” look. The canopy has gone over well with the RC community as well, and I agree it is very appealing. A carbon fiber style finish on certain components is like icing on the cake, and all these combine to make a very attractive helicopter. Like most of Hobbytron’s 3 channel gyro helicopters, the Sky Knight 9101’s frame is constructed of lightweight metal and is extremely durable. The Sky Knight is a large, heavy helicopter and crashes might not go down so well with certain components, but the frame is solid as a rock and you would have a hard time trying to break it. Seeing as the Sky Knight is hobby grade, all of the parts can be found and replaced easily. Most of the repairs are simple and can be done yourself with only a small screwdriver. 

The Sky Knight is the perfect helicopter if you are looking for a 3 channel outdoor gyro helicopter. It’s basically the cheapest one you can get that is made specifically for outdoor use, the larger helicopters like the Colossus are more expensive, and smaller helicopters like the Legend 9050 will be more affected by environmental constraints. It has more features than any similar helicopter in its class, and extremely durable components. I would recommend it for beginners or anyone looking for a 3 channel gyro helicopter for outdoor use.

Electric EP Racing Boat

The 28 Inch Electric EP Racing Boat is a popular boat among beginners and experts for completely different reasons. Beginners love that it is easy to control, tremendously powerful, and highly affordable. Experts love the durability of the components, the large stable hull, and of course the affordability. In the world of RC boats, EP Racing boat is a name that most everyone is familiar with. You would be hard pressed to find an enthusiast that hasn’t piloted some variation of EP Racing Boat, and now Hobbytron offers a 28 inch ready to run variant with some impressive power.

The EP Racing Boat is an excellent boat for beginners for a number of reasons, one of the biggest being its vector-push design. Vector-push design means that instead of the boat’s steering being performed by a rudder, it is performed simply by cutting power to one of the two propellers. Vector-push design tends to be simpler to control than traditional design with a rudder. The EP Racing boat also comes equipped with an extremely powerful 380 type racing motor and can reach speeds of up to 20 MPH. At 28 inches long it’s a stable ship and you can use this boat anywhere you want. You aren’t limited to the backyard pool but can rather operate the boat in rivers, lakes, or anywhere else you can think of. The actuating mechanism is 100% metal and the propellers are extremely durable as well. The battery pack is a 7.2V NiCd. 

Experts love the EP Racing Boat mostly because it is affordable. It is a sturdy shell that they can basically rip everything out of and replace. It’s a hugely popular platform for customization and if you just look around the internet for a while you can find masses of videos and forum posts from people who have made drastic modifications to EP Racing boats. These can range from larger batteries and engines to additional propellers, body modifications, and everything in between. Because of the low price of the boat you don’t take too much of a loss discarding the old internals. Some people have even done complete internal swaps from other boats. You could call it the Honda Civic of RC racing boats. Even if you are buying the 28 Inch Electric EP Racing Boat as your first boat, you know that down the line it will be a sturdy enough platform to upgrade. The EP Racing boat could be the only boat you ever buy, and it would keep you busy as well. 

Regardless of your level of experience, I would recommend the EP Racing Boat to anybody based solely on the price. You can have all kinds of fun with it because it goes 20 MPH, and everybody knows top speed is the only important statistic anyway. It also sprays a pretty dang satisfying rooster tail as it zips around your surface of choice. And you will never get bored with this boat. If you get bored of the vector-push design, you can put a rudder on it. If 20 MPH becomes too slow, you can get a more powerful engine. Down the road you can upgrade the 28 Inch Electric EP Racing Boat to be basically as powerful and high-tech as you want, which is what really makes it such great value for money.

Sky Ace 9099 Electric Gyro RC Helicopter

The Sky Ace 9099 is essentially the second size up in a series of coaxial helicopters equipped with gyro technology. It is larger than the Phantom S107, and smaller than the Legend9050, making it the largest gyro helicopter in the series that is intended solely for indoor use. You might get some flight time outside on a particularly calm day, but inside is where the Sky Ace operates most effectively. You might think because of its similar size to the Phantom (which we discussed here, along with an explanation of how gyro technology functions and what it does for an RC helicopter), that the Sky Ace 9099 would perform similarly. While it is true that someone who has mastered flying a Phantom should have no trouble with the Sky Ace, it does perform differently than the Phantom.

First of all, although the Sky Ace is still fairly small and intended mostly for indoor use, it is quite a bit larger than the Phantom. The Sky Ace is about 5 inches longer, 1.5 inches taller, and has a wingspan that is 3.5 inches longer than the Phantom’s. On paper it may not seem like much but when you are actually flying the helicopter you notice the difference immediately.  The Phantom is a great learning tool for first timers, excellent value for the money, and a heck of a lot of fun. It is nimble and operates with almost robotic precision. The Sky Ace however, does not feel as robotic. When you lift off for the first time to adjust the trim it doesn’t just obediently hover and rotate in place. It will start to swing backwards or forwards a little bit, so it’s up to you to get the trim dialed in quickly (which really isn’t a daunting task at all when you are flying with a gyro), and to keep track of the helicopter’s position at the same time. Getting it to keep a steady altitude is slightly harder as well. It just feels more dynamic, and keeps you on your toes a bit more. I think the Sky Ace 9099 would hold my interest for longer than the Phantom if I had to only fly one helicopter all the time.

The Sky Ace operates on 3 channel control, same as the Phantom, but the remote itself is significantly different. A major difference is that the throttle stick is not rigged with a spring to return to zero. I liked this on the Phantom because it just seemed to work and made keeping a constant altitude really easy. However, free moving throttle sticks are the preferred medium for most RC enthusiasts for a good reason, they do allow more control, and most of the RC helicopters you fly will be in this format. For the Sky Ace 9099 it was certainly the way to go. The remote also includes a speed file switch which is pretty cool, it makes some fancy lights start to glow on the controller and the helicopter starts to go a little bit faster. It doesn’t make the Sky Ace go as fast as a 4 channel helicopter, but does make a small difference and is a nice little feature to play around with.

Although The Sky Ace 9099 is heavier than the Phantom S107, and would be easier to break, it still seems extremely durable. Mine had its fair share of running in to walls and failed low altitude maneuvers but is still completely fine. The main rotor blades are very flexible and won’t snap just because you accidentally fly in to the couch or fridge. It comes with a spare rear rotor because it is hard plastic and more likely to break, but I have to say I haven’t managed to actually break one yet on either the Sky Ace or Phantom (and not for lack of trying).

Overall for an indoor 3 channel coaxial gyro helicopter I can’t think of a better deal. For a great price you get a full hobby grade helicopter, with all replaceable parts that can be found anywhere and the opportunity for customization. LED lights and some other cool features help this helicopter stand apart, but the durability of the Sky Ace’s components is where the major value comes from. Especially for beginners, but really for anybody, not having to constantly be worried about impending doom and total destruction in the event of a crash is a big plus. You don’t buy anything else that breaks easily, why would you buy an RC helicopter that does?

VB M14 Spring Airsoft Sniper Rifle

Ah, sniper rifles. Pretty much everyone that plays Airsoft either has one or wants one. The great thing about Airsoft sniper rifles is the simple operation. Sometimes it’s a bit more complicated, but most bolt-action Airsoft sniper rifles essentially work the same as those $25 clear plastic Desert Eagles. They generally have more powerful springs and components, but at the end of the day it’s just simple spring operation. This means less moving parts and less chance for failure, and just a more reliable rifle. Repairs on spring operated guns are usually very simple as well. Not to mention the fact that you don’t have to worry about batteries or gas so you can go out and shoot whenever you want.

The VB M14 Spring Airsoft Sniper Rifle is a bolt-action spring operated Airsoft rifle that comes packaged with everything you need to fulfill your (likely video game fueled) fantasy of being a top sniper. We’ll start with the attachments. This M14 comes with a removable RIS rail that you can attach scopes, flashlights, lasers, and all manner of other crazy gizmos to. It also comes with a scope, of course, for placing those long range headshots that make you feel sooo goood. Included as well is a little attachable flashlight which is super cool. I don’t believe I’ve seen a rifle packaged with a flashlight before, I wasn’t even sure it was going to be functional. It is entirely functional though, and even comes with a bunch of batteries. Flashlights are great, and usually the first attachment I get for my personal rifles. Obviously they make it so you can shoot at night which doubles the amount of time you can shoot every day. The reason I really love flashlights though is that they are amazingly disorienting. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a guy with a flashlight on his gun come around a corner at you, but if you are in low light conditions it basically makes it so you can’t see the person at all. Your only options become getting back behind cover or firing blindly towards the light source. I used to play games in a darkened warehouse with a guy that would set up in a corridor in prone position with his rifle a little above his head. When you came around the corner he would turn on his light and you would be blinded and start firing for his chest, but of course he would be prone so you would just miss every shot and he would shoot you in the leg. It was really annoying. It was also why I started using flashlights, and to this day I almost always op for flashlights over lasers.

This rifle is actually really heavy. I was totally caught off guard. I have a full metal MP5SD6 that seriously weighs about the same as this rifle, when it has its battery in.  Remember that the VB M14 Spring Airsoft Sniper Rifle doesn’t have a battery. For a mostly plastic rifle I seriously can’t believe how heavy they got it. The barrel, operating rod, and fully adjustable rear sight aperture are all metal which I’m sure helps with the weight. Honestly I’ve shot some real steel rifles that weren’t even that much heavier than this thing. Everything seems very sturdy on this rifle as well. The bolt action is satisfyingly heavy, the bolt is plastic but they did a good job making it look metal so it makes you feel like you are cocking an actual rifle. The trigger pull is nice and heavy as well. Overall the gun feels really good, I was pretty blown away considering the price. It also shoots 278FPS, which isn’t half bad actually.

The package also comes with some other accessories that aren’t as fun but are possibly even more useful. First you get a speed loader.  If you don’t have one of these, believe me, you want one. They basically just make loading clips way less of a hassle, and help you not spill BBs all over the place.  You also get some safety glasses! This means you can start fooling around immediately even if you don’t have any other eye protection. Remember that they are not for protecting you from being shot at however, they are only enough protection to be worn while firing. You also get some BB’s so you can take some shots right out of the box. A tactical sling is included as well, I don’t think it’s 3 point but it’ll get the job done.  

I was actually really impressed with the VB M14 Spring Airsoft Sniper Rifle. It completely caught me by surprise. For the price, with the accessories, I don’t think you can get anything better. I’m kind of considering getting myself one. It’s just a heck of a lot of fun, heavy, seems really well made for the price, and comes with a bunch of cool attachments. It would make a great backup gun for fooling around the backyard with, or to give to your friends who don’t have rifles when you go to the Airsoft field. I would recommend it for a first Airsoft gun as well, especially if you were already looking for a bolt action. If you spend the same amount of money on an AEG it won't be anywhere near as reliable. So yeah, sweet rifle. Go get one.

Wild Wolf Off-Road Electric RC Truggy

Truggy is a hot word around the RC community right now, it’s a vehicle that is currently seeing a major surge in popularity. Truggys are similar to buggys except they are based on a truck instead of a Volkswagen Beatle. In the RC world buggies tend to be just slightly faster but are also slightly harder to control, and many of the people in the know claim that truggys are just more fun. They are extremely hard to flip, they do not bottom out much, and they handle jumps very well. This is due to a low center of gravity, large off-road tires, and independent suspension. The Wild Wolf RC Truggy is an entry-level truggy that comes at an affordable price and anyone can pick up and use right out of the box.

The Wild Wolf has many features that allow it to go anywhere at any time. Fully working plastic independent suspension is chief among these features, and it really does let the Wild Wolf handle almost anything you can throw at it. Big off-road tires help with this as well and they add traction in sand or other loose surfaces. The Wild Wolf’s light weight also helps a lot on these loose surfaces. I took my Wild Wolf to a local national park and was able to conquer anything I came across. For an entry level RC vehicle I was very impressed with how well it handled large rocks and sand. The suspension is tremendously springy and coupled with the off-road tires soaks up bumps like nothing. The front and rear bumpers are nice as well, they made me feel safe from accidentally jamming a rock in to the internals because they are attached like skid plates. They also stop the Wild Wolf’s body from being destroyed when you land hard after a big jump.

The Wild Wolf would make a great truggy for anyone looking for a first RC car, because it has an affordable price and is simple to run. There is no assembly required and they even give you a 9V battery for the remote and a small screwdriver, so you literally have everything you need right in the box. The remote itself is a very simple pistol grip design, no extra crazy knobs or anything to fiddle with.  Just pull the trigger and turn the wheel to steer, you’re on your way. Of course you can push the trigger forward to go in reverse, do J turns, or whatever else you can come up with. The Wild Wolf features a Lexan hobby style body as well, which means if you break the body or just get tired of the colors, you can switch it out for a new one. Or you can take off the body and run it naked, although it does look a little funny.

For an entry level RC car the Wild Wolf Truggy gives you a plethora of options. Many entry level off-road RC vehicles look like they would be capable of tough going, but lack the features to back up the visual claim. The Wild Wolf actually has fully working suspension and bumpers, and big, heavy traction tires. So it can actually go off-road like it’s supposed to, and is just a lot of fun. The first time you send it careening over a jump you’ll realize that you made a good decision. 

Phantom S107 Electric Gyro RC Helicopter

The Phantom S107 Electric Gyro Helicopter is one of the lightest, smallest, and cheapest coaxial gyro helicopters on the market right now and as a result it draws a lot of attention and is a massive seller. As you may know, gyro technology has pretty much reinvented the RC helicopter industry by allowing much more stable flight and making trim adjustment actually comprehensible for beginners. I remember my first time flying an RC helicopter when I was a teenager and….well it didn’t go so well.  In fact, it broke - pretty much immediately. It was impossible to fly and incredibly fragile, and not surprisingly I didn’t fly an RC helicopter again for quite some time after that day. My first time flying a gyro helicopter, however, was much less harrowing. With the addition of a gyro, trim adjustment becomes a small, simple task you must complete before you start whizzing all over the place with ease. Without a gyro trim adjustment is more like a constant frantic chore that must be taken care of to avoid massive, dramatic failure. This is because without a gyro the trim must continuously be readjusted to compensate for the battery losing power. So as you can see, especially for beginners, gyro helicopters are really where it’s at.

The Phantom S107 takes the gyro technology and puts it in a simple, lightweight helicopter that fits right in the palm of your hand. These micro helicopters are really fun because they generally have a shorter charging time (about 45 minutes for the Phantom), they are portable, and they are very fun to mess around with. You can take off from and land in your palm, do low flybys easily, and you can actually flip the blades around and fly the little guy upside down because of the gyro. Doing something like flipping the blades around is simple and requires only a small set of screwdrivers, the same single requirement for basically all parts replacements. Unlike with a $10 toy helicopter, the Phantom is hobby grade so all of the parts can be ordered easily and replaced in a matter of minutes. In my experience they are very hard to break though, and my particular Phantom has survived multiple crashes into ceilings, fifteen foot drops on to hard surfaces, and even getting its blade stuck in a light fixture and hanging there for about 10 minutes before being rescued. Through all this she still flies true so I’m confident in saying it’s a very durable little machine. The easiest part to break seems to be the rear rotor, because unlike the main rotors that are extremely flexible it’s made from hard plastic. The company has apparently realized this however, and they give you an extra one in the box which is a nice touch. 

The Phantom S107 features simple 3 channel controls and is very responsive. Literally anyone should be able to put the Phantom exactly where they want it after about 10 minutes flight time (which is about what you get on a single charge), even if they have never flown an RC helicopter before. The throttle stick that controls altitude is spring-loaded so it returns to zero when you aren’t putting pressure on it. Some people like these and others don’t, personally when I first started flying I found the spring-loaded ones to be easier so I think it was a good choice on this entry-level helicopter. If you end up not liking that it’s a fairly simple modification to remove the spring anyway. A lot of people have actually gotten quite creative with modding the Phantom, doing everything from more powerful batteries, body modifications for speed, and even extra LED lights. I think it just goes to show that even though it’s one of the cheapest coaxial helicopters you can get, the Phantom is still hobby grade and provides so many more possibilities than a toy helicopter. 

One of the really cool features the S107 has is its USB charger. You can actually just plug the thing in to your computer, which makes it perfect for causing havoc around the office during lunch hour. The plug has a handy red light so you know when it’s done charging as well. I love the decision to package the USB charger with this particular model, because it just makes it even more convenient and accessible. That is what the S107 is all about: accessibility, simplicity, and fun. You can give it to someone who has never flown an RC helicopter before and they will pick it up immediately. It isn’t frustrating at all and won’t be turning anybody off RC helicopters. But if you give it to even the most jaded RC pilot who’s used to eight hundred channel control and spends thousands of dollars on helicopters every year, I’ll bet they would still be hard pressed to not have a good time. 

All in all, the Phantom S107 is a steal.  For barely more than you would spend on a toy helicopter you get a legitimate coaxial RC helicopter. It won’t crash and burn, all the parts are replaceable, and you can customize it. I would recommend it to any beginner; I think the S107 is a great starting point for those who have never flown an RC helicopter before. Even if you aren’t a beginner though you should probably have one to chase your friends around the house with, or two to play “bumper helicopters”. For an incredibly affordable, no-nonsense, indoor micro helicopter, look no further than the Phantom S107. It’s fun, and we like fun.

Avatar Dragon Fighter Electric Gyro RC Helicopter

When the Avatar Dragon Fighter showed up on my desk I was quite excited. We have a lot of 3 channel gyro helicopters at Hobbytron in all kinds of sizes and I’ve flown most of them. But the Avatar Dragon Fighter is different, it’s special. It is the first ever gyro helicopter with 4 channel control. Get excited. Gyro technology is the new tech that is just redefining the RC helicopter world. For an explanation of how gyros work on RC helicopters you can check out the blog post on the PhantomS107, but essentially they make flying RC helicopters a lot easier. Especially for beginners, a gyro will save you all kinds of hassle when learning how to fly. But so far gyro helicopters have only been offered with 3 channel control. The Avatar Dragon Fighter is here to change all that. A helicopter with 3 channel control can go forward, backward, up down, rotate left, rotate right, and hover. A helicopter with 4 channel control can also strafe, meaning you can go left or right without first rotating in that direction. It may not sound like much but when doing aerial maneuvers it adds a lot of possibilities. It also adds a little bit more complication to the controls, so it will keep you busy longer. Online forums and other mediums of RC helicopter discussion generally suggest that people get a 4 channel helicopter for their first one. Now you can have your 4 channel controls, and still have the added stability of a gyro. And oh yeah, it fits in the palm of your hand.

First things first, this helicopter looks really cool. It has crazy science fiction-y stabilizing rotors on either side that look they belong on something built by Doc Brown. I think if this helicopter hit eighty-eight miles an hour we might see some serious…well anyway it looks really cool. In the box you get a USB charger, a replacement rear rotor, a replacement stabilizing rotor, and two replacement main rotor blades. That’s quite a goody bag, the USB chargers are incredibly convenient and don’t drain the remote’s batteries, and all the replacement blades and rotors should keep you going for a long time. The remote is pretty basic, takes 6 AA’s, and of course has a throttle stick that goes in all 4 directions for strafing. You can also switch it between 3 frequencies – a feature you don’t usually get with helicopters in this price range. The instruction manual says it takes over 40 minutes to charge, but I have to say mine only took about 25 minutes.

When you turn on the Avatar Dragon Fighter you might notice it has really cool LED lights. Basically all of the coaxial gyro helicopters at Hobbytron have LED lights but for some reason I really like where they put them on the Dragon Fighter. Mine were a really pleasing purple color as well, a nice change from the generally red & blue standard. It goes well with the sci-fi theme. The Avatar Dragon Fighter takes off and flies much like a standard 3 channel gyro helicopter, but has its own unique feel. It finds a nice balance between the robotic precision of the Phantom S107 and the more realistic flight of our larger gyro helicopters, like the Legend 9050. Everything works like it should and if you have flown a 3ch gyro helicopter before then you should have no problem with the Avatar Dragon Fighter.  If you are a complete beginner it is slightly harder to control than something like the Phantom or even the SkyAce 9099, but is by no means harrowing. It should only take a few flights for basically anybody to master the controls. The 4 channel aspect of this helicopter, namely the ability to be strafe, seems to be the reason for the stabilizing rotors. In fact I’m not sure they are even for stabilization, because they don’t seem to even spin during normal flight. When you push the throttle stick left or right to strafe, they start spinning and make it happen. It actually works very well, and they also make a cool whirring noise that sounds totally unique, easily distinguishable from the noise being put out by the main and rear rotors. The Avatar Dragon Fighter is really fun to fly, and the extra dimension added by the 4 channel controls should keep you busy for quite a while.

Of course the Avatar Dragon Fighter features the same durable construction as Hobbytron’s 3 channel gyro helicopters, with a lightweight metal frame and extremely flexible main rotor blades. Especially with the smaller helicopters like the Avatar Dragon Fighter, these guys are pretty indestructible. Over the last few days I’ve played with basically all of the new ones, and had my share of crashes, and they have all been completely fine. I did pretty well with the Avatar Dragon Fighter, but it did have a couple small run-ins with walls and ceilings, and is no worse for the wear. If you do break something, parts are easy to find and replace. 

The Avatar Dragon Fighter really is an incredible machine. Gyro tech and 4 channel control are amazing features by themselves, and now are finally brought together in one helicopter. It’s pretty amazing with how complicated gyros are that they can even put one on such a small helicopter, let alone with 4 channel control. I really like the micro helicopters because of how convenient they are, especially with the USB chargers. You can keep them in your office or wherever and goof around for 10 minutes whenever you want; it makes for great stress reduction. They cost basically nothing but can be as much fun as their larger, more complicated brethren. Now you can own a micro helicopter with the latest cutting edge technology for the price of a meal at Friday’s. And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011 Store Day at CPP Store Day at CPP (California Paintball Park)

Date: August 21
Time: 9:00 am
Location: California Paintball Park -- 31050 Charley Canyon Rd., Castaic, CA 91384 (See Map)
Cost: $20

We sponsored a day of Airsoft game scenarios at CPP Airsoft. We played a few games then provided lunch from Domino's Pizza with drinks and chips. After lunch we had a CQB game and then did our Mystery Box Game. In this game we strategically placed 8 small numbered boxes around the field 'Tire Town'. We had the players start at a gate and race eachother to get the boxes back to the gate without getting hit. The employees were skirting the edges of the field shooting trying to prevent the participants from getting a box. This lasted about 20 minutes wherein there were some great acrobatics into the boats and lots of fun had by all. We then presented the winners with boxes of full of free merchandise corresponding to the number box they were able to return from the field.

We gave away an AK-47, a Steyr-Aug, multiple gas handguns, T-shirts, and much much more. We then played a couple more scenario games and called it a day.

This event is the first of the monthly Airsoft events. The next event will be the Operation Black Shield event held on September 24th and 25th. Don't miss out on our next event, come and join us for some free food, awesome prizes, and tons of fun!