Late last year I received a pair of Jada Toys’ Battle Machines RC racers for potential inclusion in GeekDad’s annual holiday gift guide. Not only did the laser-packing roadsters make the cut, but my children and I have been steadily playing with them ever since — drifting across the kitchen tile at blistering speeds, looking to clip the leader of the pack with a well-placed shot so as to leave his car momentarily paralyzed.
It’s a lot like other kinds of family bonding. Except with simulated gunfire.
Recently the company added even more motorized mayhem to the line with the Battle Machines Combat Zone Air vs. Land playset. Consisting of a fully functional RC helicopter and a swiveling gun turret, two players can compete head-to-head in a battle for terrain supremacy, or a single player can practice his skills and attempt to rain death from above on the turret by setting it to autopilot mode.
The helicopter handles like a dream. In fact, its performance far surpassed that of the various other models of RC helis that have made their way into the household. The radio control unit is a bit bulky, particularly for your tiniest geeklings, and the tight dual-stick throttle and gyro/movement controls take a bit of getting used to, but after a few moments of tinkering most players will be able to grasp the subtleties of this unique brand of flight.
Left and right trigger buttons control the chopper’s weapon, and a compartment in the controller’s lower quadrant conceals the charge cable. The rechargeable cell in the helicopter itself draws juice from the six AAs inside the controller, and there are even some fun “charging” and “charge complete” audio clips that play at either end of the process.
The gun turret uses 3 AAs of its own, and its controller — styled similarly to those of the original Battle Machines cars — requires another pair. The “steering wheel” offers nearly 360 degrees of horizontal rotation on the turret’s base, though, sadly, the angle of the turret (and thus its IR laser fire) must be adjusted manually. There’s some nice simulated recoil as the dual gun arrays fire, and, though the helicopter always seemed to have a bit of an advantage in our battles due to its uncanny maneuverability, this showiness helps to make the player controlling it at least feel like he’s doing some damage.
Combat Zone Air vs. Land is compatible with previously released Battle Machines toys, so, while the copter doesn’t exactly play nice within our regular Mad Max-style throwdowns, the turret makes a handsome addition as a malicious track obstacle. Perhaps most impressive, however, is the durability of these toys. Not only are our original Battle Machines still road-worthy, but this helicopter has survived its fair share of falls on hardwood and carpet as well as grass and asphalt. (Even though this set was designed for indoor play, we still had to try it out in the backyard — we’re rebels!)
Offering better controls than its peers, an innovative combat system and the bleak near-future styling already associated with the line, the Battle Machines Combat Zone Air vs. Land playset is a great toy for GeekDads. Not to mention their kids.
It’s now available at retailers nationwide for around $60. A bit on the steep side, sure, but you can’t put a price on vehicular carnage.
Review materials provided by: Jada Toys