There’ve been a lot of options for toy drones over the years, and you may think that they’re all pretty much the same. At first glance, that’s understandable since they typically lack the premium features you find on more prosumer level drones, like 4K cameras. That’s why I appreciate what Spin Master is doing with the new Air Hogs Supernova. I’ve covered Spin Master products in the past, and usually come away impressed – this time is no different. Spin Master sent over the Air Hogs Supernova for me to test out, and it actually took away some of my uneasiness about using more expensive drones that I%u2019ve acquired in the past.
The Supernova is Spin Master’s first motion-controlled drone. Don’t expect it to be as feature-rich as the DJI Mavic Air, but do expect to be able to pull off some pretty impressive tricks with hardware that’s responsive and kid-friendly to boot.
With the Air Hogs Supernova, what you’ve got is a small quadcopter form factor that’s built inside of a lightweight, spherical plastic cage. It’s open enough to allow the propellers to generate enough force to go airborne, yet tight enough that little or big fingers will have a hard time getting hit by the spinning blades. This one is recommended for kids age 8 and above, so it’s a genuine beginner%u2019s drone and an introduction to the product category in general. There are a bunch of motion signals you can input, and as a parent, I think 8 is a good age for where kids can learn them all, and perform them with some responsibility.
I mentioned the Supernova also giving me less anxiety about bigger drones. I’ve tested others in the past, but I’ve always felt nervous about damaging them. It’s hard for me to want to go all out when flying a $500 drone, not knowing if I will be hitting a tree, or just somehow ending up damaging an otherwise expensive gadget. For an adult, the Supernova is like drone training wheels. Master it and get a feel for how drones work from a basic level, and built up your comfort from there.
The Supernova doesn’t ship with a remote control, and also doesn’t pair to your smartphone over Bluetooth – two features that have become almost synonymous with modern drones. Those motion controls I mentioned earlier are the only way to control it – it’s all about the hand gestures. The Supernova has four small infrared sensors on its spherical housing alongside a laser sensor on the bottom – these all work in tandem to interpret the various commands that you give it. The Supernova also comes with an instruction sheet showing which hand motions you can input to make it perform certain tricks, like Super Spin, where it spins above your hand, Orbiter, where it spins around your body, and Disco Dance, where the Supernova actually performs a dance for you. In fact, the Supernova boasts over thirty different moves you can perform, alongside nine different tricks to master – you can practice and play alone, or easily pass it between multiple people all controlling with their hands – no touching required!
To start, you lightly toss the Supernova drone away from you – not too hard so it doesn’t start meandering away. If you want it to follow you, you can place a hand in front of one of the sensors and it will attempt to stay close by. If you want it to hang out in place, use two hands and cover two sides – it’ll stay put and spin in place.
One area that impressed me in particular was how high it can fly. Again, it’s not to the level of a professional drone, but for something that’s marketed as a toy, my son was super excited to see it rise high above us. It will eventually lower itself back down as it recognizes there’s nothing nearby to take commands from, but it’s a cool trick nonetheless.
The gesture controls are simple to remember and easy to use – as you get used to them, you start feeling like a character from a superhero movie or Star Wars using the Force. It’s a fun, futuristic feeling to just use gestures to control your flying sidekick. If you have kids who wants a drone to play with you’ve found the perfect toy. Being able to remotely control a device that flies and hovers in the air, and perform tricks with a wave of a hand, is simply fun – the holiday season isn’t far off, so be sure to keep this one in mind.
The Spin Master Air Hogs Supernova is available now for $40, and you can pick one up here – based on what it can do and the amount of fun to be had both indoors and out, I’d say it’s one of the few tech toys that’s worth the asking price.
Big shout out to Spin Master for sending over the Air Hogs Supernova and for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.