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350QX V2Think the 350QX can’t get any better?¬†Horizon Hobby¬†has upgraded the firmware of the Blade¬†350QX to version 2.0, featuring a new flight mode built for ultra stable Aerial Photography and new features new and improved compass and GPS technology.¬†In the new BNF and RTF versions, the quadcopter comes with an improved charger, and the start (arming) procedures have also been improved as well.

Already own a 350QX?¬†Never Fear! The firmware will be made available early April for current 350QX owners, and at this point¬†Blade Helicopter¬†states: ‘For owners of the original 350 QX (BLH7800/BLH7880) an optional upgrade solution for the firmware will be available by early April for a nominal fee’. Personally, if one has already paid over the $470 plus tax for the quadcopter, the software upgrade should be free like the updates for¬†Spektrum controllers. Unless for some reason it’s more than just downloading an update. Maybe I need to buy a cable?

The new 350QX V2 will be on hobby store shelves shortly. The prices still are the same for both versions of the quadcopter ($470¬†for RTF and¬†$420 for the BNF), but look for the ‘A‘ at the end of the part number (BLH7800A¬†and¬†BLH7880A, respectively) for the updated software. For more information, check out Blades website via This Link.

For more Blade Helicopter news on BigSquidRC, click here.

350QX Case Front

With the¬†Blade Helicopter’s 350QX¬†becoming a quick heavy hitter in the consumer quadcopter market, it was nice to hear that¬†Horizon Hobby¬†just announced a case for their current model 350 size quadcopter that will also fit the¬†350QX AP that will be out in a few months. This new case also touts the following features:

  • Sturdy foam insert provides protection for everything you need to fly your 350 QX and more
  • Accommodates the 350 QX with long landing gear
  • Accommodates the GB200 gimbal
  • Holds up to 6 flight batteries
  • Holds various tools and accessories
  • Holds charging or camera equipment
  • Fits DX5e up to DX18
  • Locking design with keys
  • Brushed aluminum with bright graphics

The part number for the case is BLH7849¬†and will sell for¬†$140 when it starts to ship later this month. More details can be found on Horizon Hobby’s website via This Link. For more Blade Helicopter information on BigSquidRC, click here.

 

JR America at E-Fest 2014
Surface radios are no longer sold under the JR banner now days in America, but their air radios are alive and well. JR America’s booth at E-Fest 2014 was big and filled with electronic goodness. From uber high end transmitters to servos of every size, they have radio gear for all sorts of air applications. Hit up their Official Website to see everything they produce, and check out the pictures below to get a feel for what their booth was like.

Horizon Booth E-Fest 2014
Also in attendance at E-Fest 2014 were the folks from Horizon Hobby. Their large booth was well staffed and the BSRC Bash Crew had a great time picking their brains on some of their new air products. The newest item they had in the their booth was the Blade 200 QX. The 200 was just announced a couple of weeks ago and should be a real blast to fly because it is brushless powered. Horizon had a bunch of other products on display, take a look at the pictures below to get a feel for what it was like to be at their booth, and you can Click This Link to visit their official website.


The Snowbirds Nationals is one of the biggest rc races in the world. Each year hundreds of racers flock to Florida and race 24 hours a day to get their rc fix. All that racing can get stressful, so as a way of blowing off steam they hold a Figure 8 Race. Our friends over at Horizon Hobby took some video of the Figure 8 race this year to show everyone just how crazy it gets. Enjoy the massive collisions and hit up This Link to see all the products that Horizon has to offer. They even have a Valentines special of free shipping on every order for the next couple of days.

Thank Goodness It’s Friday, have a go at a BigSquidRC Mystery Link.

Blade 200QX BNF Lit Up
With the Toy Fair in Nuremberg already in our rear view mirror, it’s important to decompress and think about everything brought to our attention and the new RC items coming in the next few months.¬†Horizon Hobby¬†alone announced over 24 products this past week! My head was spinning; not only from being overwhelmed, but from all the excitement I felt with every new announcement.

Let’s talk about all the exciting helicopter news that was announced; granted this may be a bit redundant, but I will focus on key features as well as my personal impressions on what this means for beginning bashers and experienced flyers alike. All of these products have months before they reach hobby store shelves, so changes may happen, so my comments may not apply by the time the products come out.

Blade 200 SR X: I am a big fan of finding a great training helicopter that allows a great learning curve so frustration is the last thing that happens. With the new SAFE technology, the 200 SR X not only has multiple modes of flight, but a panic switch to reorient the helicopter and get you back flying. My only concern is the price point. I know there is a price to pay for performance and great technology, but making a training helicopter powerful using brushless motors may be a tad overkill. With companies like Ares offering a simple yet durable fixed pitch helicopter for $100 Ready-to-Fly, the $260 may be tough to swallow. I cannot wait to fly one myself so I can personally vouch on the investment.

Blade 200 QX: By standardizing the platform, Blade has found a great niche to put their line of quadcopters. For those wanting the looks of a 350 QX, but not the price tag, the brushless, SAFE powered 200 QX will be a great add to anyone’s collection. I really like how the opaque fuselage brings all the lights on the quadcopter to a brilliant glow that encompasses the whole aircraft. Currently, the 200QX will only be available as a Bind-n-Fly format for $230, so at that point an investment in a Spektrum radio (I would suggest the new DX6 or DX9) would also be required. This is a great upgrade from any of the budget quadcopters already on store shelves, and will be great power in a small package.

Blade 350 QX AP: Now the Blade 350QX series is a great platform that is suitable for flyers and bashers alike. The new 350QX AP takes the stable setup of the 350QX, improves the technology and adds a controllable camera harness with an included C-Go1 sport camera  that supports 720p quality First Person View video transmission to smartphones with included hardware. With the only competition being the DJI Phantom2 Vision at $1300, the price of around $1000 for the Ready-to-Fly 350QX AP is a bit easier to swallow, but one REALLY must want to do Aerial Photography to pick up this fine machine as compared to the original. NOTE: Those already with a 350QX will be able to upgrade your tech to catch up, but no pricing or listing of changes have been released yet.

Blade 300 CF X: I’m putting this at the bottom because this is primarily for stunt helicopter flyers, but I really want to discuss this helicopter. The original 300X collective pitch helicopter is a stable platform that features the BeastX gyroscopic system, as well as a decent size at a decent price (The BeastX alone is $250, so paying $320 for the whole helicopter was not a bad setup). Blade has evaluated everyone’s comments on the helicopter, and made a whole bunch of improvements, including:

  • Aluminum Head, Swashplate, and Blade Grips
  • Replacing the mainframe with Carbon Fiber
  • Changing the servo setup to match that of the Blade 700x (for efficient servo placement)
  • Carbon Fiber Main Blades

The helicopter is being sold as a Bind-n-Fly Basic (Helicopter only; no battery and no charger) for $400. This is definitely for the expert pilot groups only, but I couldn’t miss talking about this great helicopter platform. More details can be seen on Blade’s website by This Link. I have a 300X myself, and can’t wait to see what I can do to upgrade it using 300 CF X parts.

Quick side note: Wednesday (2/5) on ABC was a new Modern Family episode that features what looks like a DJI quadcopter featuring a FPV setup¬†(check local listings for air time, or stop by Hulu). I always love seeing the hobby on TV, and I haven’t seen anything since the Blade MCX2 on a recent Nutella commercial.

As always, it’s a pleasure talking helicopter, and already cannot wait for next week. The clock is counting down towards the 2014 Quadcopter Championships so get your quadcopters ready, or stop by your local hobby shop and pick yours up. Details about the event can be found here.

Feel free to visit me any weekend at my local haunt and I’ll demo every great quad there is to offer on our shelves.

Enjoy this week, and for many of you stay safe as we get battered with more snow. Until next time, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

Blade 350QX AP

Coming straight out of Nuremburg is a number of great stuff out of Horizon Hobby. One of many from Blade Helicopters is the newly upgraded 350QX AP. The AP stands for Aerial Photography and the RTF Quadcopter Kit not only come with a camera control gimble but the new E-Flite C-Go 1 1080p sport camera.

Now the questions have already been flying all over the internet and Blade has already announced the original 350QX can be upgraded to carry the gimbal and there will be a GoPro adapter mount for those who need one.

Other Specifications include:

  • Included 2-Axis Brushless Gimbal
  • Included C-Go 1 Camera 1080P/30
  • 5.8Ghz Wi-Fi Video Downlink to Supported Devices
  • Large 3S 3000mAh Flight Battery
  • Improved Receiver with External Antenna
  • Improved GPS
  • Visual Compass Error Detection
  • Compatible with All Spektrum Radios

The part number is BLH7900 and will be selling for around $1000 when it releases in late May. Hit up This Link for more information on the Blade Website.

Click Right Here for more Blade news on BigSquidRC.

Blade 200QX BNF

Blade Helicopters announced another ship for the fleet, the 200 QX. Built as an upgrade to the 180QX HD, the 200QX is a brushless powered, LED lit, SAFE technology quadcopter brother with the good looks of the 350QX. It has impressive specifications:

  • SAFE‚ĄĘ Technology equipped
  • Three flight modes
  • High performance brushless motors
  • Internal LED illumination for easy orientation and night flying
  • Optional camera available separately

Offered currently only as a Bind-n-Fly package, the part number is¬†BLH7780¬†and will sell for¬†$230¬†when it releases at the end of April. Hit up This Link for more details on Blade’s Website.

Click Right Here for more Blade news on BigSquidRC.

BladeHeliSoundCloudPreview

…Because there isn’t one!!!

Horizon Hobby decided to shake things up in their Blade helicopter line by teasing not a picture, but a sound clip. The full announcement is next week, but crank up your speakers and check out the clip on Soundcloud!

Check it out, we have the ultimate comparison charts of the Losi 5IVE-T vs the Desert Buggy XL for those that just can’t make up their mind. Sizes, weights, you name it.

5IVE-TvsDBXL_Comparison_Chart_01

5IVE-TvsDBXL_Comparison_Chart_02If you need a part number, the Losi Desert Buggy XL is LOS05001, and has a street price of $999. The 5IVE-T number is LOSB0019 and is about $1599.

Having trouble seeing the charts bigger? Right click them and open in a new tab or window.

Need more Losi News? Click Here on BigSquidRC.

the cub report helion rc boatHola everyone, I hope you had a great Christmas, and welcome to the last Cub Report of the year.

First up- BigSquidRC notes. This Saturday we’ll be finishing up our latest and greatest quadcopter shootout at a track in Paxton Illinois. If you are a reader or a member of the industry and want to check out our shootout process, or just want to hang out with the bash crew, you are officially invited. For more details hit the contact us link and shoot Brian an email for the specifics.

We’ll be naming our “2013 Bash Vehicle of the Year” tomorrow. We tested a bunch of kick ass vehicles this year so we still haven’t decided the winner, but right now the top three are the Pro-Line PRO-2 short course truck, the ARRMA Granite BLX monster truck, and the Duratrax 835E buggy. The Pro-Line is super trick, tough, and flies around a track. The ARRMA Granite was our vehicle of the year last time around, the BLX version is even better. And… the Duratrax 835E is a tough 8th scale buggy that handles well and takes a solid beating. Check out our front page sometime on Tuesday to find out who we end up picking.

And yes, the BigSquidRC Bash Crew are the only people with a say in our “Bash Vehicle of the Year”, but you guys get your chance to have your voices heard when March Bashness rolls back around.

We’ve got a couple of reviews coming your way this week, the Durango DEX408 V2 buggy and a Helion Lagos boat. I’m not for sure exactly which day they will hit, but both will go up this week. Also of note, we should have a very sic video of the Durango to go along with the review, we were certainly hucking it sadistic style.

On an F1 note, if you have not heard, Michael Schumacher is said to be “fighting for his life” today after a head injury suffered while skiing in France. I only worship two people, God and Michael Schumacher, and not necessarily in that order. Here’s to hoping Schumi pulls out of this one just fine…

So… 2013 is nearly in the books, and what a year it was for rc. We saw various big names change hands, we’ve been told by an LHS owner that the hobby is in a state of “terror”, and depending on who you talk to, 2013 was either a banner year or a huge flop.

Traxxas- If anything, Traxxas had a wild year. On the product side of things they didn’t release anything crazy, although they did dust off the LaTrax name and stuck it on some low end rally cars. They are rumored to have gotten rid of a bunch of people in August, they don’t look to be a part of the TORC series next year, and it is rumored that a divorce is changing the landscape for the big Texas company. Some industry types will tell you that Traxxas has singlehandedly kept the hobby afloat since the T-Maxx, and if they are to falter, it would have huge ramifications throughout the hobby. For 2014 I can only hope they get back to doing what they do best, putting out affordable bash vehicles.

Hobbico- If there has been one rock solid company in rc over the decades, it has been Hobbico, and in 2013 they once again proved why they are number one. Solid marketing, people who have their heads screwed on right, and a commitment to the hobby have kept Hobbico/Great Planes/Tower on point. For 2014 I think you can expect more of the same. They’ve turned around their in-house Duratrax line, and with the scale scene being white hot Axial is a great showroom performer. Durango keeps getting better, ARRMA is a hit with the bash crowd, and when you throw in exclusives with Futaba, HPI, and Thunder Tiger, good ole’ Hobbico is looking mighty good for next year.

Horizon- They also had wild 2013. Vaterra, their uber slick looking scale/basher line-up, is still new and growing. Their entry level ECX line-up also continues to grow and is quickly making its way into more and more basher’s hands. Going into the new year Horizon is in the process of changing hands, which many an industry type thinks is filled with doom and gloom, but I am one of the people that thinks it will work out for the best. Time will tell, but they have a lot of good people in place and some solid product lines.

HPI- So 2013 was definitely a wild ride for HPI. While we’ve heard some of the details of their exclusive Hobbico distribution deal, there are still people out there that think they were bought out completely. They didn’t put out much new product in 2013, and their yet to materialize “Octane” series gas powered vehicles have become the punch line in many an industry joke. Alas, 2014 could be their year, they are great at scale and that genre is super hot, and their Octane stuff could turn the industry on its ear. However, do they have the capital and marketing prowess to pull it off? I see 2014 as a make it or break it year for HPI.

Associated- Ya know, I am a big Associated fan and I have driven 2wd AE buggies more than anything else during all my time in the hobby. Therefore… I have been anxiously waiting for the B5 just like many of you. Sadly, when the B5 and B5M were announced all I could think was “facepalm”. Yes, AE is much different now days, and have been since being acquired by Thunder Tiger, but I still can’t wrap my head around how far behind they get sometimes. When people think Associated, they think 10th scale buggy, and the B5 is yet another “catch-up” vehicle. Long gone are the days where AE was leading the world of rc innovation, these days AE seem to be all about hitting the showroom 2-5 years late. The B5 could have been a bold new statement that they are still capable of industry leading innovation, instead it fell short. I have desperately been wanting AE to give me a good reason to bust open my wallet on some of their product, I want to give them my money, but they still haven’t put out anything innovative enough for me to pull the trigger. “Sigh”. I hope for 2014 they skip the “catch up” products and start funding “way ahead of the curve”.

Pro-Line- The King of all the aftermarket companies pulled the trigger on their very first full vehicle in 2013, which was a huge statement piece and sounds like it has been a good seller for them. Like always, they’ve got their act together, they are dialed with their marketing, and 2014 should be huge for them. More and more companies jump into the tires/body market each year, but Pro-Line always finds a way to stay on top, I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the hobby in ’14.

So…

What will be the trends in 2014? From talking with multiple industry insider types, I think the biggest trend I heard was “less, less, less”, instead of “more, more, more”. Instead of you seeing a bunch of new company names in ’14, you will see less and less. And where companies used to put out boatloads of new products each month, several industry types think that will downtrend. For example, if Happy Flower car company put out 15 new cars in 2013, you might only see 5 or 10 from them this year. The trend of putting out a huge variety of product (with a short shelf life) might just be replaced by fewer products marketed to stay at the top of peoples wish lists for a longer time span.

Happy New Years to you all, thanks for reading BigSquidRC, support your local hobby shops and bash spots, and see ya next year.

YOUR Cub Reporter

Cubbys haremHello all you rc hobbyists and industry types out there, it is Monday and welcome to this week’s Cub Report.

I haven’t talked moto for a while because it is the off season, but 2014 was looking to be a great year. Unfortunately… lady injury has reared her ugly head and already taken out 2 of of the top guys for the season opener. Davi Millsaps got his knee/leg all fixed during the outdoor season, only to tweak his knee practicing for SX. Davi was killing it in ’13 with a messed up leg, many industry types were looking for him to give RV a real run for the money in ’14. And last week word came out that Trey Carnard broke his arm. Trey has had a long string of serious injuries so I wasn’t surprised to see him riding somewhat conservatively in ’13 to keep from being injured. Fully healed and ready to jam Trey could have given RV2 fits in ’14, but it appears that once again Trey will not be at full mast for the SX season. With Trey and Davi injured I can only hope that Dungey takes it up a notch this season. RD5 is incredibly fast and consistent, but it’s been a long time since he ran down and passed RV2. Bubba won the Monster Cup and looked good doing so, but as far as I know he still hasn’t had his knee repaired, and while still fast, he just hasn’t had “normal Bubba speed” since it got jacked up. “Sigh”, 2014 is looking like another runaway for RV2…

Yes, I could ramble on about moto for hours. I can’t say the same about rc racing. There are just too many “big” rc races, no off-season, and even the “big” races seemingly don’t mean much now days. How much can this weeks big race mean when there are 2 races next week just as big??? Or how much can this weeks “national” race mean when it gets the exact same amount of coverage as one of the other dozen nationals?? So…

After a several requests, I thought I would go old school Cub Report, basically commenting on the weeks press releases. So here ya go…

* Kyosho has been putting out some really sweet looking Mini-Z cars lately, and ya, I’m sure they are huge hit in Japan. However, America is all about tenth scale, and we have a whole lot of dollars to throw around. Since leaving Hobbico, Kyosho hasn’t been exactly flying off hobby shop shelves, but… if they put out as gorgeous of tenth scales as they have been putting out for Mini-Zs they might start moving some product in the States.

* St Louis company Pit Bull Tires are putting out some new short course truck tires. That might be notable because they are known for scaling/crawling tires and these are their first tires for the masses, but perhaps more importantly their new tires come with ribs inside to ward off the dreaded pizza cutter effect. I can tell you first hand that one of the big name tire companies has been putting a lot of time and effort into ending tire ballooning, we’ll have to get our hands on a set of the Pit Bulls to see if they’ve come close with their internal ribbing.

* The TORC off road series announced their schedule for 2014, but what industry types are really waiting for is the announcement of their new series sponsors. I also know first hand that one of the 3 biggest names in rc would really like to get involved with the TORC series, whether or not it ever happens only time will tell. The TORC series has seemingly lost a lot of steam from ’13, I wish at some point short course truck racing would get its act together. They’ve never been able to keep a series going for long. There is a reason why the racing has been so divided between West Coast and Crandon, hopefully at some point they get it together.

* Did ya see that RC4WD got a licensing deal with Warn winches? Ya, if you aren’t a scaler you could probably care less, but even if you don’t scale you have to admire how hard RC4WD is going at it right now. For the genre the Warn licensing is a big dealio, for the rest of the industry you have to wonder how well they could do if they concentrated their efforts on scale buggies or SCTs.

* No, I have not forgotten, the biggest news of the week would have to be the announcement about Horizon and their ownership situation. I am “tight” with several people there and even after talking with them I didn’t get much info. The employees were called down to the DC the morning the PR went out and were told about the future of the company, so they didn’t have a whole lot of advanced notice about it. The staff in Champaign were told not much would be changing and that the changes coming would be positive. Of course some of the forums went into full meltdown mode after the announcement, with people speculating wildly (isn’t that my job? WTH? LOL) that ECX, or Vaterra, or Losi, were already on the cutting block. IMO, Horizon doesn’t distribute as many car manufactures as they used to, so they need all 3 of those in-house lines. Some would argue that this line or that line has been under-performing, and while I would agree that the Losi line is a bit of a mess at the moment, ECX is laser beam focused as an affordable/noob/basher line, while Vaterra makes an excellent scale line-up. I have no idea if or what the changes at Horizon will be, but like any company, there are always changes ahead, that’s just how the world turns. I will say that from first hand working with various team members over at Horizon, that they definitely care more about the bashing market than I’ve ever known them to.

That’s it for this week ya freaks, look for our review on the Axial Jeep G6 this week, perhaps a mini review (or two, or three) this week, and as always, support your local hobby shops and bash spots when ya can.

YOUR Cub Reporter

THE Vaterra Halix 4wd Monster Truck Review

Vaterra Halix Review

Vaterra has made quite a name for itself in a short amount of time. The relatively new name from Horizon has been putting out solid performing vehicles that offer stellar scale appearance. Today we’ll be giving you the scoop on the Vaterra Halix (officially H√§lix for those looking for the official name). The Halix has already made waves being one of the first two vehicles to roll out from under the Horizon banner sporting AVC/Active Vehicle Control, a system that uses electronics to help make the truck easier to drive. Is the Halix in the same league as a Traxxas Stampede 4×4? Is the AVC a help or a hindrance? Hit that “Read More” button to find out…

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