Remote-controlled cars are cool, especially the outdoor buggies are fun. They whiz through the garden, over streets and through the sand of playgrounds or beaches, are robust and surprisingly fast. We have tried several remote-controlled cars of different classes and are trying our hand at a guide for everyone who has been flirting with the subject for a long time. The contribution is part of our RC toys theme world. If you are looking for an even quicker general overview, we recommend the car, boat, drone, plane & robot guide: Wacky RC toys up to 50 euros.
The connection between the car and the remote control is based on 2.4 GHz, WLAN or Bluetooth. To be clear, 2.4 GHz is probably the best choice to get started with. WLAN and Bluetooth are nice for smaller toys, but these technologies have a short range and usually a higher delay. However, WiFi is a cool addition to a video return channel to get a live picture of the vehicle. This is rather rare with cars, this technology is more likely to be used with cheap drones, more on this in the purchase advice: Drones for beginners and children under 100 euros.
Most vehicles rely on a remote control that you hold in one hand. With the index finger you control the speed (forwards or backwards). With the second hand you can turn the steering wheel on the side and drive left or right.
There are two major differences in steering. Most vehicles rely on the classic front-wheel steering. If you turn the control knob on the remote control, the wheels on the front axle turn and the car moves in the corresponding direction. Other vehicles, such as the All Terrain Racer from Carrera, turn both wheels on one side. This enables tighter turns or turning on the spot. Both versions are fun.
With their large tires, the All Terrain Racers are well suited for off-road, sand boxes or the beach. They are solid vehicles if you are looking for an all-rounder that can handle pretty much any environment. On the other side of the spectrum are the classic racing vehicles, sporty cars that score particularly well on asphalt. Offroad is not their forte, they are suitable for indoor racing or for trips to streets and parking lots. Our tip is the cars in the middle. RC buggies are good on asphalt and also get along well with off-road and sand. They may lack the top speed or the drifting ability of the racers, but they can be used pretty much anywhere.
The energy for the motor in the cheap devices comes almost entirely from batteries. But there are a few cars that use a gasoline engine. To get started, we definitely recommend batteries. They are easy to use, easy to swap, and replacement devices are everywhere. Disadvantages are runtime and loading time. After 10 to 15 minutes it is usually over, the charging time is usually a few hours. Most models therefore have at least two batteries with them, so that you can use them for longer. You can always get more batteries.
It’s tempting to pick up a high-speed racer and go full throttle. However, we recommend a slower model for children or beginners. Because if you push your model against a tree, curb or parked car at full throttle, you can probably buy a new racing car.
That doesn’t mean the smaller cars are slow. The entry-level vehicles from Carrera RC can go from 9 km / h, which is a pretty respectable speed, especially for children. With it you can whiz through the playground and at the same time have enough reaction time to react and avoid obstacles. And even if you hit something, at the slower speeds there is likely to be a small amount of damage to the plastic that can be glued.
In the price range up to 30 euros you get a surprisingly large selection of cars, most of which are aimed at children. For example the remote-controlled speedster from Fisher-Price. But you can already find racing cars there, for example from Revell. Big tire stunt cars are also well represented. The advantage here is that you can ride in any position and on almost any surface.
Over 30 euros, the selection is significantly larger and less child-like, and the running time increases. The topic of off-road cars is particularly well represented here. The operating time also increases, with multiple batteries 40 minutes and more are no problem.
Around 100 euros it gets really serious. Here you can hardly find the toys, buggies and racing cars dominate the selection here. This also increases the top speed. But the availability of spare parts is even more important. For cars like the Amewi Blade Buggy you get good customer service from the manufacturer, almost every part can be reordered. With a little patience, you can also find good promotions for significantly more expensive vehicles here. Especially if you want to get away from toys and into a hobby, you are in good hands there.
At first glance, the offers on RC cars from China dealers like Banggood are quite tempting. Alone The overview of the RC cars is 15 pages long, prices start at under 10 euros (including the new VAT for China imports). But there are a few things you should consider beforehand. First of all, many models are likely to appear larger than they are in the package. In any case, you should study the details carefully and check the dimensions. Then you should immediately check what is in the package. Ideally, it should contain the vehicle, remote control, charger and batteries. Two power packs are good, more are better. Cheaper vehicles, like that MGRC 1/18 2.4G 4CH 2WD Crawler RC Car for just under 30 euros bring only one battery, you should pay attention to that. Attention: At the department store you should choose CZ or ES, then the cars will come from Europe.
It must also be clear when buying that you can expect little help in the event of a defect. In our case, the remote control broke after a long session and the vehicle could only turn left afterwards. Basically, you can couple a new remote control with the vehicle, but the pairing is well hidden or deactivated, especially with the cheap cars.
This post is intended to help anyone who either wants to get into the hobby or is looking for a remote-controlled car for a child. Because the selection is huge, at the beginning it is easy to get overwhelmed. In our tests and in our circle of friends it quickly became clear that at the beginning one should rather rely on cars from well-known manufacturers with existing support. Batteries or chargers can break if you don’t already have previous knowledge (e.g. from the drone and FPV area (advice)), you will quickly find yourself in front of a pile of plastic waste.
But once you’ve discovered the hobby for yourself, the world is open. There are numerous forums and websites for enthusiasts, everything from tuning to building your own OpenRC car in 3D printing is discussed there.
If you prefer to go into the water instead of the street, then we recommend a boat. In the guide Great driving fun with small RC boats from 20 euros, we show that you can have a lot of fun even with a cheap boat. Or maybe you prefer something indoors? Then off to the article Car Racing Games Compared. There we let the classic Carrera track compete against modern opponents like Anki Overdrive (which is still running despite bankruptcy) or the Switch AR game Mario Kart Live (test report).