Ah, remote control helicopters. No doubt you've seen them before: lightweight polystyrene things that swoop erratically around the room before bouncing off a wall and crashing to the ground. Not this one.

The Carson Apache is both bigger and better than those 'toys'. It's also more expensive – £100 is about double what you'd pay for one of the more popular models – but it is justified, as we'll come on to explain.

Serious flying machine

Firstly, size. This Apache is 370mm long, with a rotor diameter of 345mm, and it weighs 260g. Two observations about this. One, it means you fly the Carson outside in light winds that would lose you your polystyrene model forever. Two, it's heavy enough to break itself into smithereens if you get it seriously wrong.

You'll need to learn to fly this one properly. Most cheap RC choppers are three-channels, which means you get three planes of movement controlled by your fingers on the control sticks – up/down, forward/backward and spin left/right.

This one has four, because it can also yaw, or slip sideways left and right. That's one more thing to get your head around as the Apache is drawn inexorably towards the bookcase but it also, once mastered, makes this a terribly rewarding thing to fly.

Keeping control

You can properly hover, maintain position and move around the room. There's none of the seemingly random swooping of cheaper versions.

Lose control, of course, and the unprotected rotors will shred themselves on the nearest hard object, but spares can be bought relatively inexpensively (3 sets for £13). In fact, might be an idea to get a couple of spare sets when you buy the helicopter. The battery lasts for about 15 minutes of flying, and takes a few hours to charge.

Trust us, spend a bit of time learning to control it, watch Wings of the Apache if you lose faith, and this'll be the best present you ever bought yourself.

Stuff says... 

Carson Apache AH-64 review

A proper remote control helicopter – tricky to master, but worth persevering with