on August 28, 2011
We bought the Shark for my husband for his birthday. It took a little while to get here, but Amazon had told us that it did not ship, and when the vendor's new shipment came in, it shipped right away. It needs four AAA batteries. It cost $1 to have the balloon filled at Kroger's and then about 30 minutes or so to put it all together (We tethered it with a fishing line and weights and one of the kids held it while my husband attached everything to it). Be careful and follow the instructions to put it together correctly! Once it was balanced we were ready to go. It is surprisingly easy to control because it "swims" so slowly. All of us, kids (16 and 11) and adults, were able to use it well in a few minutes. It uses infrared so it works on line of sight. It cannot be used out of doors, even in near windless conditions - wind and drafts make it impossible to control, but it works beautifully indoors. It is obviously not a very sturdy toy, but with a little care (and if you have small children good supervision) it can last a long time. Overall a really fun toy, it looks and works just like shown on the u-tube videos.
on October 13, 2011
I like gadgets and unique items, that's why this flying clownfish caught my eye for my daughter's birthday party. It comes with many parts and even more stickers and tape to hold the fins onto the fish. Here are some things to keep in mind.
1) Fins do not match the picture...at all! They are cheap brown and are not painted to match the balloon. Big disappointment when you want it to look as real as possible. It's false advertisement and I feel ripped off.
2) Sticky pads and tape are nearly impossible to remove from their paper sheet and apply to the balloon. This process of taping on fins took almost 30 minutes alone. You peel up a sticky pad and the whole sheet of paper tears and comes up with it. Poor quality.
3) It is IR remote controlled only, which means you have to be within line of sight. I knew this going in, but I didn't know that the model sold in Toys R Us is RF and has a much longer range. They have a contract with the store to only sell Toys R Us the RF model. Pretty ridiculous and underhanded it sounds to me. I was very disappointed and felt I got the knock-off version...for the same price. The Toys R Us version probably has the REAL fins with it too.
4) The thing is huge. Yeah it fits in my living room but where am I supposed to fly it to. Ok hit that wall, turn around, ok hit the other wall. I'm done now.
5) Balancing the fish is difficult. They supply some putty to weigh it down to float. Adding the right amount is trial and error. But you also have to mount the motorized weight distribution device in the right location according to your altitude. They give you a guide to do this, but it was incorrect for me. My fish will only float or point up to swim upwards. I cannot make it dive because of where I mounted the weight. And you can forget taking it off and remounting it. They already had you apply the sticky pads and sticky reinforcement tape to the balloon so there is no way you are getting it back off again without breaking something.
6) The motors operating the fish are LOUD! It looks so cool floating in mid air, then you begin moving the fin and flying it. EERRRRRRRRRRR. ERRRRRRRRR. That's the sound as you descend or ascend the fish. The tail fin is not as loud, but all the sounds really take away from the illusion of it being a fish.
These were just some of my thoughts as I set-up and flew it around for an hour or so.
So bottom line...it is over priced and is better suited for the $19.99 price range. Maybe if I got the painted fins to match the fish, it wasn't so loud and it came with a better RF remote I might pay $40 for it. Skip Amazon on this one and head to Toys R Us to pick one up if you want to give it a try. At least you can return it there easily and only be out a few bucks for the helium.
on March 10, 2013
I've gotten this item 3 times through Amazon, and it's a great toy IF you receive the legitimate item-- BUT 2 out of the 3 times I ordered it ("fulfilled through Amazon"), I received knock-off versions (like gray market versions of things you see at flea markets), and NOT the genuine Air Swimmer described on the website.
Amazon did refund me, but many buyers may not have realized when they get counterfeits (which would not be covered by toy company's warranty). My guess is these fakes account for some of the 1 or 2 star Amazon ratings due to quality for this toy (see end for my review of the genuine item).
Knock-offs I got weren't exactly alike, but both packages were made to look a lot like real one-- used same photo, colors, typeface, and box shape (smaller though). 1st one I ordered (Xmas 2011) was genuine one, and I still had original box to compare to when something looked fishy with new ones I ordered this December (2012) because we liked 1st one so much.
MY TIPS FOR CHECKING IF YOU GOT A KNOCK-OFF:
(If you see things like on mine, below, I suggest you contact Amazon, even if it's been a while)
1) Legit item should be named "Air Swimmers".
(My fakes were something like "Air Swim Fish" and "Flying Fish", a similar enough idea you could easily miss they weren't the true official name)
2) True toy company's name, "William Mark", should appear somewhere on box. Knock-offs didn't have it anywhere.
(This is a small American toy company, getting their great patented design apparently ripped off by overseas manufacturer(s), probably too small to fight it and receiving no share of the $ you spent if you got a fake. Makes me mad)
3) Knock-offs had UPC codes printed on a sticker, that was pasted on the back of box over where UPC should go, instead of the UPC actually being part of the printed package
(a sign these probably weren't originally meant for sale in USA, but instead in countries with lax copy right laws)
4) Distances were in metric (meters, not feet), and some codes and small print on back weren't what you usually see on USA packaging-- Asian or arabic typefaces, mfg codes oriented to Europe and Asia, etc
(Sorry, don't have boxes anymore for exact examples, but looks like what you see on "imported" products, not on a typical toy pkg here. Real Air Swimmers said "made in China", but that's it, should still be domestic packaging)
5) One of the knock-offs actually had a fake "customer service" phone number and web site boldly printed on the box.
(When I called, it was some hair products company, and the website wasn't real)
ADDED NOTE: airswimmers.com website also lists some ways to identify illegal knock-offs
If you are wondering why Amazon would sell "counterfeit" items, remember that "Fulfilled by Amazon" (vs. when it actually says "sold by amazon.com") just means Amazon handles the shipping and billing to you, acting as a store front. The "sold by..." is the seller who provides the actual product and is responsible for it matching the website description. Anybody can sign up to be an Amazon seller (like on eBay), and they have multiple sellers selling the same items. Sellers do get ratings, but customers mostly rate them on delivery, and probably don't recognize signs when it's a "gray market" or counterfeit version. Then if quality is bad, we wrongly blame the true manufacturer for the fake, and give the product a bad rating, but not the seller.
Amazon tells me they are working on cracking down on knock-offs and gray market goods, in the mean time check what you receive carefully!
MY REVIEW OF THE REAL AIR SWIMMER:
This toy was nifty, gentle fun, entertaining enough that I was ordering another, as mentioned above. Got it for my 77 year old "child at heart" Mom, and our whole toy-loving family enjoyed taking turns flying it around, and making it go over and nudge up to people as we sat around and talked. It's an open loft apartment, so great space to fly Elmer around (yes, Mom named her clown fish "Elmer"). Tail movement surprisingly fish-like, making the room feel relaxing, like we were all in a giant fish bowl. Mom was ill at the time, so it was nice she could fly Elmer from a recliner.
It did take some time (1/2 hour?) to assemble and balance for flying (a challenge only if you're hopelessly non-mechanical). So suggest assembly ahead if it will want to be used right away (could fly it in from hiding to the recipient!). Not super-delicate, but wouldn't recommend for any kids that can't take turns without grabbing, or keep themselves from fighting and rough housing over it. Ours lasted over 6 months (just needed to be topped up with helium occasionally) until one of the plastic fins fell off and I haven't found a way to stick it back on (would be great if they provided spare double stick tape)
So not a "forever" toy, but it's cool and everyone wants a turn flying it, well worth price under $30, and nice for a gathering in a big open (indoor only) space. Probably not as good for a house with small rooms, lots of doors, and low ceilings-- fish is pretty big, and has to be in line-of-sight of the remote.
on August 29, 2011
Fins are fragile, can be very easily broken, what happened to the top fin when it hit the ceiling (coming very slowly by the way).
Clear patches do not come off the paper easily (I tore apart at least 4 before I realized that I have to be EXTREMELY careful and slow when I take them off) but instead they come off the fish surface with no force at all - just by themselves.
Fins DO NOT look like on the picture, they are very cheaply made and of a different color that the fish, They don't have black borders like the clown fish has. What you see in the picture and in videos is NOT what you get, only the baloon looks similar, but the photos are composed of different parts and photoshopped.
It does not look like an authentic product but more like a cheap chinease imitation.
The fact that it's an American company does not mean anything, all parts are made in China anyway and are of the worst quality.