Griffin told us to expect its low-cost iPhone-controlled HELO TC helicopter in time for the holiday shopping season, but it seems the company just couldn't wait to put the R/C toy on sale. $49.99 gets you a rechargeable chopper bristling with LEDs and, while lacking the video streaming of something like the Parrot AR.Drone, has far less of an impact on your bank account.
The remote control is basically a sled into which your iPhone or iPod touch slots, hooked up via the headphone socket. That means you could also use it - though not dock it with - your iPad; Griffin has released the remote app as a free download in the App Store. The remote sled asks for four AAA batteries, while the chopper itself recharges via USB; a single charge is good for around eight minutes of flight, and you can save up to three routes via the app so as to repeat them later on.
The Griffin HELO TC is on sale now, and comes complete with spare rotor blades just in case you're a klutz. Up to three can be flown simultaneously, thanks to support for three different infrared signal sets that won't confuse everybody else's helicopter.