£20 on eBay for a fully working ‘semi-vintage’ electric helicopter complete with on board radio and battery – not bad!
Ikarus (Germany) first released the Eco Piccolo in 1999 and took the world by surprise. Small helicopters are now everywhere both in the hobby store as fully functioning machines and in toy stores as… well toys. At the turn of the Millennium Nitro power reigned supreme and electric helicopters were rare, extremely expensive, specialist machines. Small helicopters were unheard of and Ikarus’s initial launch advert said it all:
A few years later in 2003 Ikarus released the Piccolo Fun which is what my new purchase is. Essentially an Eco Piccolo stripped of ball races and carbon fiber shafts, the aim was to market a budget helicopter alongside the 3D capable Piccolo Pro and similar offerings from other manufactures.
I’ve owned both the Eco and the Fun in the past and didn’t find the lack of ball bearings made that much difference to the flight performance or duration. Remember this was when electric helicopters were still in their infancy and NiMH, let alone Lithium batteries, had only just become available so duration wasn’t exactly an exact science.
The ‘Piccoboard’ at the front was a work of art in miniature by packing a 4 channel receiver, speed controller, mixer and gyro all in one. This technology is now found in the humblest of toy helicopters so without the little Piccolo today’s market would be very different.
This new purchase was unfinished and didn’t take long to complete. I elected to attach the servos with tape rather than glue. From experience I know this makes it much easier to fit replacement parts if (when) required. And spare parts availability? Well they are still made as are some nice scale body kits 🙂