Radio control toys are scale model cars, trucks, helicopters, boats, and other vehicles that are controlled by a hand-held controller that sends radio signals to the vehicle. Although not technically vehicles, radio control toys also include some robots and radio controlled animal toys such as dinosaurs, spiders, or dragonflies. To help avoid making a bad buy when choosing radio control toys there are a few specific steps you can take.
Pick age-appropriate radio control toys. Although most radio controlled vehicles are designed for older children and adults, there are several radio control and remote control toys aimed at preschool and elementary school age kids. In addition to the age indicators on the package, consider these guidelines for choosing age-appropriate radio control toys:
Choosing RC Toys for 1-5 Year Olds
Choosing RC Toys for 6-12 Year Olds
Should You Buy Your Child a Hobby-Grade RC?
Pick the right frequencies. Some radio control toys only come in one particular frequency, such as 27MHz or 49MHz. It should be clearly stated on the package. Others may offer a choice of frequencies or have selectable bands. The main thing to look for when choosing the frequency is getting different frequencies or bands when buying multiple radio control toys for two or more people. For two people to operate their radio control toys together each vehicle must operate on a separate frequency, band, or channel. Learn more about Choosing RC Toy Frequencies and look for helpful frequency labeling found on some toys.
Be skeptical of marketing hype. Some manufacturers, even those considered leaders in the field of radio control toys, may overstate the features and abilities of their vehicles. Consider some of these:
What Does Easy-to-Fly Really Mean?
How Fast Do RC Cars Really Go?
Avoid the Fake Hobby-Grade RCs
Check for recalls. Reputable toy stores are generally good about removing toys from the shelf that have been recalled due to safety concerns. Lead paint, small parts on toys intended for very young children, and battery overheating problems are some of the common reasons for recalls on radio control toys. But it’s always a good idea to take a look at the recall list for toys at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (US) before shopping. This is especially important if you are buying used radio control toys.
Before Buying Used Radio Controlled Vehicles
RC Toy Helicopter Recalls
Toy Recalls and Lead Paint
Pick the right type of vehicle. In addition to being age-appropriate, your radio control toy should be one that you or the recipient has a suitable area in which to operate. A large radio control boat needs a pool or pond. Indoor helicopters often need medium to large rooms. Very large radio control toys may not be suitable for indoor use.
Where to Fly an Indoor RC Airplane
Choose a Safe Area to Operate an RC Car or Truck
Give Yourself Enough Flying Room
Get extra parts and accessories. It is difficult to find replacement parts for most toy-grade radio controlled vehicles. That often includes batteries. When choosing radio control toys, look at the battery requirements. Get extras, especially if it requires special batteries. Buying Extra Batteries or Parts can extend the life of your purchase and extend the fun of owning and playing with radio control toys.
Repairing radio control toys. Unlike their hobby-grade counterparts, toy-grade RCs are generally not as durable or long-lasting. And parts are often hard to come by. But there are ways to fix broken radio control toys.