PowerUp was conceived back in 2007 and four years later the company released the PowerUp 2.0 to the market. The product was a great success due to its low cost and simple premise of allowing you to give thrust to any paper plane (the box included a marked template to get you started). It was fit and fly and, like a modernised version of the original elastic band balsa plane we had so much fun growing up with, once you launched it, your plane was in the hands of the gods. The box included a portable charger which gave you 30 seconds flight on a 20 second charge, enough to have a good flight without the plane disappearing off into the distance.
The firm, founded by Shai Goitein, innovated further with their first Kickstarter project in 2014 although the product failed to quite hit the mark. Adding bluetooth to the unit and allowing thrust and directional control from a mobile phone or tablet gave users control of the PowerUp 3.0 after launch. Unfortunately it proved tricky to master due to the course input of the rudder and throttle. The low weight of the plane also required perfect weather conditions for the best hope of a successful flight. Reviews are mixed on Amazon but it may not be totally unfair to say that the low scores are mainly down to user error. From the start PowerUp toys have been designed to encourage trial and error with the plane design to get the best flight and this to promote learning.
And then, in 2016, came the considerably more expensive, but incredibly cool, PowerUp FPV! Twin engined and fitted with a camera it allowed you to fly your paper planes FPV (First-Person-View) sending video feed from the front mounted camera back to the “pilots” mobile phone. Reviews were considerably kinder to this model, despite the increase in price, mainly due to the increased weight of the unit allowing more stable flight in more challenging weather conditions.
This brings us to Shai’s latest addition to the PowerUp line, the PowerUp Dart 2017. Launched on Kickstarter on September 2017, it was fully funded within a few days. I’ve backed the project at the “Dogfight” level to receive two darts, takeoff/landing kit and twin desk stand. To say I’m excited to get my hands on this is an understatement. Earlier I said that some of the problems of the PowerUp 3.0 were due to it’s low weight; well Shai and has team have circumvented this issue by reducing the wing area of the Dart and doubling the power, allowing it to pierce through wind like, well, a dart I guess. There is also an adjustable cross beam – nicked from the PowerUp FPV – to give additional support to the wings and prevent them bending. It is hoped that increased structural strength will make the plane more responsive in the multitude of aerobatics moves that will now be possible. The range of the Dart is stated to be around 200 feet, it should be capable of 25 mph and battery life is a fairly decent 10 mins. It takes around twice that to charge via a standard micro USB cable.
Only time will tell how well the PowerUp Dart is received and, with shipping set to commence soon, I look forward to being able to present you an in-depth review of this awesome toy early in the new year. The Dart will go on general sale in Spring 2018 and will be available from Amazon and good toy shops worldwide. You can still pre-order the Dart through the official PowerUp website at a discount here.