Pros: Fun, simple to use
Cons: Not what it looks like on the box (read on)
My friend Jim is probably the biggest kid I know. Even though he's almost 40. He's blind, but loves planes and boats (both toy and real). When I told him about this airplane that ran on an air-powered piston engine, he got excited. Well, we went to the local Wal-mart, and found one. The box looked impressive; it appeared to have a hard plastic body and nose, and according to the box, would go for over 100 yards.
We were a little disappointed when we opened the box, however. The body was a soft plastic, the nose was actually a hard styrofoam (on the box, it definately looked like shiny plastic!) It did, however, come with two sets of wings, and two tail sections. The wings were styrofoam, and snapped onto the fuselage with a plastic clip. Same with the tail section. It seems that the majority of the cost went into the air pump; the pump seemed well built, and included a pressure guage on it to keep you from over-inflating the plane (and I suppose, bursting it).
Well, our first flight was a crash. Literally. Up, down, bang! right into the ground. I understood now why the wings and tail snapped on; because they snapped off again as soon as it impacted the ground. The plane continued to flop around like a fish out of water, until the propeller stopped spinning. A few more flights later, and we managed to have a pretty good flight... around in two large circles, until it smacked into a tree and got stuck. Oh, the fun of watching a 270 pound guy, standing on a blind man's shoulders to climb a tree to get down a toy plane.
Anyway, the engine works on a flutter-valve, kind of like an air compressor in reverse. It has a small cam going to the prop, and a quick spin gets it running. The plane flies well, overall, after a little tweaking to the tail and wings for a straight flight.
Was this plane worth $30? Probably not... the box is definately misleading on the construction of the plane itself. The weighted propeller and speed at which it spins would probably not make it a real safe toy for kids under about 10 years old. But, overall, it's a fun toy to play with. Just keep it WELL away from the trees. :)