hy bother with model rocketry and remote control airplanes when you can control your own flying… fish? The William Mark Corp. booth, known for a wide variety of toys that can be launched, flown or thrown, was turning heads at New York Toy Fair last week as they demoed their new Air Swimmers in the middle of the expo hall. If you weren’t paying attention, you may have thought you’d stepped into an aquarium.
Let’s just get this straight: these things are cool. They actually float through the air with a very fish-like motion that you just have to see to believe, so I shot this quick video (watch for when the shark goes in for a kill at the 40-second mark):
The technology behind them is fairly simple. Each Air Swimmer is a refillable helium balloon that receives commands from an infrared remote. The user’s input via this remote controls both a tail motor and an adjustable weight. The tail fin motor can vary its flapping rate and range of motion to control both speed and left-right direction, while the adjustable weight uses a motor to slide along the length of the Air Swimmer’s underside, thereby controlling tilt. Using the relatively low-tech infrared remote that requires a line-of-sight connection allows the Air Swimmers to retail for what I feel is a pretty reasonable $39.99. All you need to do is provide a helium fill-up and fresh AAA batteries prior to use.