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Real Review by a Real User: Read This First (UPDATED JULY 2012)
on September 4, 2011
We have the shark, and first of all, let me say that virtually everybody's first reaction upon seeing it is to yell out a four-letter word! If you want to get a good idea of what it looks like and how it flies, look up Airswimmers on the web and watch the videos. They are also on YouTube. It looks and flies just like the videos.
This toy does not work outside, because there are too many air currents, and the slightest breeze will send this large balloon flying out of control. It does not work in small apartments or small rooms, because it is too darn big. You need a decent sized house, or an auditorium, church or basketball court to use this. Our house has normal 8-foot ceilings, and a big family room-kitchen area, which works great. Make sure there are no fans running. And it's a bit too delicate for little kids!
Wow, it really flies! You move forward by flapping the tail back and forth. You steer by flapping more left or more right. You climb and dive with a separate button that tips the shark up or down. With a bit of practice, you can steer wherever you want. Unlike many flying toys, this one really works.
You need to be somewhat adept at assembling delicate things to build this from the kit. There is a detailed video available that shows every step that is a bit easier to follow than the instructions-the video is highly recommended. The link is given in the instructions, or just search for airswimmers on the web. In any case, take your time, and make sure you have a second person to help.
Any store that sells helium balloons can fill this for you. It stays inflated for a long time, then the store can top it off. I bought a tank of helium for this, and my guess is I have a lot of refills remaining. It hasn't deflated appreciably since we got it. The good news is, you use putty (included) to adjust for the amount of helium remaining (neutral buoyancy), so you won't have to refill often.
Like many of you, when we saw this, we had to have it. I assembled it carefully, and it works. We're planning a trip to the community center with a two-story lobby to amaze some of my daughter's friends. It's fun, albeit a bit expensive with the currently inflated prices. Once some more of them make it into the country and the price comes down, expect to see more of them.
It's fun, a bit delicate, it works as advertised. Enjoy!
UPDATE: We've had the shark for a year now. We surprise guests with it every time new folks come over. It still works great, but we've learned a lot over the year. Here's what you need to know:
1. You really want to purchase a helium tank. It gets expensive topping off every 1-2 weeks at the party store, and it is hard to haul around unless you have a large vehicle. Do not top off with air as the manufacturer suggests, as this affects buoyancy. We are still on our first tank, since we are just topping off every few weeks.
2. Be careful not to lose the four rubber bands that hold the tail in place. These are the only small, loose parts and are critical for operation.
3. The shark will fly without needing to attach other helium balloons (as other reviewers have suggested). All you need to do is fill the shark completely, and adjust the trim (forward-back position on the remote control) for level, up or down flight. I have heard that some helium is not pure, but mixed with air, but haven't seen it myself.