Nothing can truly prepare you for the Eachine E011C Flying Santa Claus—the most absurd holiday decoration you’re likely to see this year.
Parts and Features
In the box, you get the micro quad, controller, USB charging cable, battery, and “Block Man” Santa figure. Like the other E011 RTF micro quads, you’re also provided a manual, a full set of extra props, and a tiny screwdriver for removing the main board from the frame. To get flying, you’ll also need three AAA-size batteries for the controller which are not included.
A plastic frame has six LEGO-compatible studs on top which you can attach the Santa figure or other bricks you might have. The provided mode 2 radio controller is small but adequate. A Philips #1 screw holds the battery door on. This isn’t the same size as the included screwdriver—which works, but isn’t ideal. It’s said to use the Bayang protocol, which some of the multi-protocol radios are able to connect to. Motors are 716s: adequate but certainly not amazing. Santa’s chariot is powered by a 1S 260mAh Lipo which gives it a flight time about as long as the novelty.
The Santa figure needs to be assembled without instructions, but he’s not hard to figure out—he’s the same as every LEGO minifigure from the last 20 years. It’s a good thing he has a beard, because his otherwise scary-looking mouth would surely erase some of his charm.
I’ve left the most definitive and important feature for last: it plays Christmas songs. This isn’t the tiny square-wave generator that was jammed into ornaments at fast-food chains in the 1980s; it’s an actual recording of children singing the chorus of “Jingle Bells” and then “We Wish you a Merry Christmas”, alternating between on infinite loop. It’s loud enough to hear from the next room, even while in flight, guaranteeing that Santa always makes an entrance. The track that was selected couldn’t be more perfect; it’s a whimsical and fun rendition of the two songs.
Having been built on the same platform as Eachine’s other micro brushed quadcopters, it provides a reasonably stable flight but is definitely toy quality. You can’t connect it to a computer to update or tweak its software and settings. You can expect it to drift around a lot and it will be terrible in the wind. If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll spend a fair amount of time compensating, recalibrating, or trimming out subtle drift. I advise you to simply not try, because it’ll go out of perfect calibration again in short order. I’d say the flight character is on par with the Hubsan X4 and its clones from 2014. There’s a mode for doing flips and rolls, which it of course performs badly. I shouldn’t even have to say this, but don’t buy it if you’re looking for a top-performing micro quad.
When you’re ready to put away the holiday cheer, the E011C doesn’t necessarily have to get mothballed. If you’re even a little skilled with soldering, you can disconnect the speaker pretty easily. This will leave you with a great starter quad, perfect for learning line-of-sight even for someone who has never picked up a quad before. If you’re more advanced, the frame can support a little weight—transform it into a “tiny whoop” by getting a micro FPV camera/transmitter. The battery connector leaves a few solder pads easily exposed on the top side of the flight controller board, so simply choose a 1S-compatible camera/VTx unit and wire it there. The original Eachine E011 has been used as a platform for FPV many times, so you can follow the parts recommendations and tutorials that have been made for that model.
It’s pretty hard to overstate reactions to the Eachine E011C Flying Santa Claus. It’s marvelously absurd; the perfect amount of Chinese trying-too-hard. Bring it to every holiday party and relative’s house that you’re invited to during the holiday season. Take it to work. Fly it around outside when the kids’ holiday concert lets out. The reception you’ll get will be immediate and filled with incredulous laughter. Yes, it really is that amazing. To get the most out of it, keep it a well-guarded secret and then break it out on the unsuspecting by flying in from the next room. If there’s a group of kids nearby, expect them to follow it—and you—around. (Oh, and have an answer prepared for “Can I fly it? Can I fly it?”)
But let’s be frank: this is a novelty of the highest order. There is no practical purpose for it whatsoever. The first time someone sees it, it’s absolutely hilarious. The second time, it’s funny. If you try for a third, your friends, family, and the cat will all be glaring at you until you shut the damn thing off. When the holiday is over, plan to just store it until next year, (but be safe with the LiPo,) or strip out the speaker. You can make the conversion to a great line-of-sight trainer, or pick up a camera for a first foray into FPV. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Unlike a lot of products from Banggood, this one seems to have a significant stock in US warehouses. There’s still time to pick one up for this season.