Early one Monday morning as I was getting ready for work my son approached me holding his remote controlled Lamboghini.
He got this car as a birthday present a couple of years earlier. It was nothing amazing. It was a cheap model with a very limited range and it needed something like eight AA batteries between the car and the controller to make it run.
He bought it to me because it didn’t work. I took it and checked that both controller and car were switched on – they were.
I did what anyone would do – i switched them off and back on again. Still i got nothing. For a moment I was a little perplexed. Then I worked it out. The problem with toy grade remote control cars – they’re crap!
Either it was broken in which case its game over and the toy would have to be thrown out or my son had packed it away switched on and the batteries had run down. Either way its time to get rid.
Toy Cars are a False Economy
Toy grade RC cars seem like a good thing because they are so cheap and as presents for kids maybe they are. The problem is they are no good if that kid ends up liking it.
There are two major downsides.
- Once they are broken they are broken – end of.
- They can cost a fortune in batteries.
Hobby Grade Cars
One of the big differences between toy and hobby grade is the price. Toy grade are the cheapest of RC cars. Hobby grade cars on the other hand are more expensive and in some cases a lot more expensive.
Here is the thing though. It doesn’t have to be a lot more expensive to get a decent sized hobby grade car that your kid will love and can play with endlessly.
While a tog grade car is cheaper you need to power it with batteries. This can actually get costly. At Amazon 12x Duracell batteries cost £6.79 – it doesn’t take long before what you saved in the initial purchase is wiped out with the cost of powering the car.
A hobby grade car be it a truck or a buggy are most often chargeable through the mains. They use a re-chargeable battery which costs pennies to full charge the car. Compare that to £6.79 a time.
The other major difference in types of car is that once a toy grade car is broken that is it. You cannot take them apart piece by piece and replace just the broken part. You cannot do anything to them.
On the other hand for a few pound more you can get a car that can be repaired with parts often costing just a few pound from a hobby shop such as Al’s Hobbies. You simply replace the one part that is broken as opposed to replacing the whole car. Again it is much more cost effective over the long term.
QUN FENG Lamborghini RC Car from Amazon – £19.99
Just to prove it I actually found the car my son has which was given to him as a birthday present on his third birthday. (please note I did not buy him this nor would I ever buy him this. I would much rather have spent a little more on a better car) While it took him a while to be able to control it he has used it a fair bit over the last couple of years.
Also due to failings when packing it away we have had to replace the batteries more than once. I have probably spent another £20 on new batteries and would probably spend more in the future.
Just for the record this is a 1:18th Scale vehicle.
Haiboxing 1:18 RTR Electric 4WD Blaster Truck
Now as the name suggests this is a truck that is delivered ready to run, it has four wheel drive and is 1:18th scale. It is charged through a USB port so it clearly comes with a rechargeable battery.
This is just £49.49 from Al’s Hobbies which is £30 more expensive than the Lamborghini. That being said you will never need to buy AA Batteries again and in total honesty it is a much better vehicle.
Lizard 1:18 4WD Electric RC Truck
It too is a chargeable truck that is the same scale, is four wheel drive and just like the Haiboxing truck above is massively better than the Lamborghini.
Both cars will go faster and both will have a far greater radio transmitter range. However I must admit both cars will need batteries for the controller – you cannot have everything.
The Moral of this Story
So while you cannot control what people buy your kids and you can never be sure that your kids will like a radio control car (pretty good guess they will) it is important to remember that while the initial cost is higher you will ultimately save on batteries and repairs.
Of course you also have to take into account that as we mentioned above not only will spending money help you save it but spending that extra gets you a far better vehicle and that is never a bad thing.
I am not going to buy endless batteries for a crap car with a limited range. I’m going to sell on a car that won’t last. I would much rather go out and send £50 or so on a good value for money hobby grade car that has a fighting chance of survival.
If you would like to read more then please check out our guide to radio control cars for kids or check out our recommendations for the best places to by RC cars. If you would like to make a recommendation for this site or want to ask a question please use the contact me page. I would love to hear from you.