Like any inventor, Steve Davis' first experience of pitching a new idea ended in frustration. It seems in 1998 the big toy manufacturers - those in Britain, the United States and Canada - had a hard time coming to terms with his radically new concept. The most common response was to be listened to politely and then shown the door. 'They didn't know who I was,' Mr Davis says of the reaction from one company that had invited him to present several demonstrations and had hired a psychologist to conduct children's focus groups on the product. 'I guess they were a little scared.' The item in question is a pizza-shaped aircraft that experts are hailing as the next generation of flying toys. The Vectron, launched earlier this year, resembles a helicopter in flight but takes a radical approach in design. With a saucer-like form and a three-propeller set-up, the Vectron is so different in both its appearance and aeronautical principles that it won a Federation of Hong Kong Industries Consumer Product Design Award earlier this year. The toy is controlled by a remote-control box tethered to a wire that runs through a base station to the under-belly of the aircraft. Although classed as a toy, some of the Vectron's most enthusiastic fans hail from a much older group of model-plane hobbyists. Aviation enthusiasts appreciate the Vectron's finer points: the aircraft behaves much like a helicopter but achieves flight through a different set of aviation principles, making it more science experiment than toy. Helicopters rely upon a tilting single rotor that changes angle to create lift and directional control. The Vectron uses a patented new design that relies on a rotating body. This provides all the gyroscopic stability necessary for hovering flight. Directional control is achieved by continuously changing the power to the three electric motors as they rotate to create vectored control of the vehicle. 'It's like a gyroscope. If you want the whole thing to move to the right, the propeller moves faster on one side and slower on the other. The effect is you get more lift on one side and less on the other, which makes the thing shift over that way. When I went to file for a patent, there were no other inventions that fitted the structure of this method,' Mr Davis says. He first developed the concept at his home in Portland Oregon in 1996. He says he stumbled upon the vectored flight concept while tinkering to find an alternative to the conventional helicopter design. 'A real helicopter works by the main rotor spinning around and directing it one way or the other. The pitch of the blade changes as it rotates and that's done with a pretty complicated mechanism,' Mr Davis says. 'What I was trying to do was simplify that or actually make that an electrical process instead of a mechanical process.' After several failed attempts to market the toy, Mr Davis followed the advice of a fellow inventor who said Hong Kong's entrepreneurial environment may be more willing to lay a stake on the product's high-risk development and production costs. Mr Davis eventually met David Choi, founder of educational toy manufacturer Edu-Science. The Vectron was a little out of the Edu-Science's regular product line of microscopes, telescopes and other purely science-related toys, but Mr Choi liked the idea, believing in its potential to entertain and educate. Bardeen Lai Shu-chung, Edu-Science's research and design manager, says: 'It was a big gamble. Other manufacturers told Steve: 'Making a prototype is easy but making a mass-production item is very difficult'.' Production difficulties were enormous. Because Edu-Science had never built anything like the Vectron before, the engineering team had to undergo a steep technological learning curve. Problems involved finding materials that were light yet strong enough to withstand the bumps. Next came a host of technical problems in sourcing the right components at affordable prices. Because the Vectron consumes a lot of electrical power for a toy, engineers had to turn to the latest technological advances from power-hungry laptop computers, even adapting a special transformer to power the toy. They also had to overcome one of Vectron's most complicated engineering hurdles: an infra-red positioning system which allows the saucer to orientate itself in relation to the control box. It took more than a year of work but the results were worth it. The flying-saucer style craft can be flown up and down and back and forth, giving aspiring pilots a real sense of three dimensional flight. The toy is recommended for children 10 years of age and above. Mr Davis says the toy has been popular, pointing out that most hobby shops and toy stores have sold out of the first production run. Sales of the Vectron are expected to soar during the Christmas season, as United States retailer Wal-Mart has picked up the toy for distribution. More than 200,000 units are scheduled to be delivered to retailers before the end of the year. While the Vectron has made its mark, and firmly established Mr Davis' reputation as a design maverick, the inventor is looking to the horizon. 'The new prototypes we are working on are mega-cool,' says Mr Davis of a series of new flying toys that should be on the market by the middle of next year. 'Whereas the Vectron was really for older kids and hobbyist, what's coming up next will be a lot easier to fly, so we're looking towards a lot younger kids.'