A Guide to Choosing the Best Remote Control Cars in 2017 for Your Kids

The best remote control (RC) cars for kids aren’t just toys that provide them with hours of fun driving, so to speak. These are also educational toys that develop their physical, mental and social skills in ways that will surprise parents. These can even be used to teach kids science and technology concepts, especially in information and communication technology (ICT), in an enjoyable manner!

While the term “remote controlled” technically refers to devices connected to their controllers via wires and “radio controlled” to devices controlled via a radio-frequency link, these are usually used interchangeably. In the following remote control cars designed for children, the cars are actually controlled via radio-frequency link, the more common technology used in toys of these kind today.

Emphasis must also be made that these kid-friendly RC cars are powered by electricity particularly by rechargeable batteries or electric motors. These are the safest alternatives for kids to play with instead of the fuel-powered models, known as nitro cars because their fuel consists of a mixture of oil, methanol and nitromethane. The electric cars are considered as the easiest for novices, especially children, to work with since these have safer power sources.

Remote control cars also come in two categories, as is the case for real vehicles. First, the on-road cars can only be used on smooth and paved surfaces, such as in driveways and floors, since these may have a low profile and less robust suspension. Second, the off-road cars can be used on non-paved terrains because these are designed with wide tires, high profiles and functional suspensions.

Keep in mind, nonetheless, that even the best RC cars for kids have their limitations. Be sure to read the instructions manual first before using these toys, thus, ensuring their long-term use.

Best RC Cars for Kids - Our Picks

1. 1/24 Scale Lamborghini Veneno Car Radio Remote Control Sport Racing Car by RW

Suitable for: 8 years old and up

Sleek, streamlined and stylish are the words used to describe the Lamborghini Veneno, which has a $4.5 million price tag at the time of its release in 2013 – and it’s considered as the world’s priciest production car! The 1/24 scale of the luxury car can now be yours – or more appropriately, your kids’ property – thanks to RW. The attention to detail is amazing, too, with the Veneno’s wonderful styling copied in great detail on the RC car.

The toy has a 10 mile per hour (mph) maximum speed, a fraction of the Veneno’s speed but when it’s zooming around your home, it will look like the fastest car ever. The radio transmission of 30 to 40 meters allows for playing with it without running after it all the time. The low ground clearance, however, can be a limitation since it can only be played on a smooth, flat and even surface with the exception of a carpeted surface.

What's Great About It: We like the faithful reproduction of the Veneno’s exterior appearance, a reason in itself to buy it as part of a toy car collection. The wide transmission radius and fast speed makes it a joy to play with, as well as a great tool for encouraging your kid’s love for science and technology. Your kids may not know it but they’re also improving on their hand-eye coordination, role-playing abilities, and creative skills.

2. 1/14 Scale Ferrari LaFerrari Radio Control Model Car by RASTAR

Suitable for: 8 years old and up

The Ferrari brand is known for the lightning-fast speed, eye-catching red color, and uber-luxurious features of its cars so no wonder everybody wants to own one! But since these are such expensive cars, the 1/14 scale LaFerrari RC car will do. Just don’t dismiss it easily as the toy truly looks like the real McCoy with its unique butterfly doors, Ferrari color, and working lights.

The all-independent spring system and functional suspension system makes it a joy to navigate through the ins and outs of your home, as well as in outdoor areas with a smooth and flat surface (i.e., skate parks). The radio controller, shaped like the LaFerrari’s steering wheel, has easy-to-control buttons for driving the toy car. The toy car’s maximum speed of 10 mph may be negligible in comparison with the 220 mph top speed of the real car but at its small size, it’s as fast as it can go.

But the 30-feet maximum remote control distance is a minus considering that many of the toys here have longer transmission range. You will still find it a plus, nonetheless, since your child can get his physical exercise by running after it (i.e., running equals exercise).

What's Great About It: Car collectors will immediately recognize the toy car as the LaFerrari, thanks to its faithful reproduction. This is an educational toy, too, since kids learn to exercise greater control over the toy car with regular use.

3. 1/12 Scale Foxx S911 Monster Truck Electric RC Car Offroad 2WD by Hosim

Suitable for: 14 years old and up

Older kids will like RC cars with more sophisticated features so the Foxx Monster Truck toy car is a perfect fit. The 35 mph top speed demands excellent reflexes to avoid frequent collisions and crashes. The power comes from its GP Brush 390 motor, which has a relatively simple control mechanism for easier maneuvering even in more extreme environments.

Of course, a powerful motor will be of little use when other aspects are deficient. The toy monster truck also have a steering servos, rear wheel drive, S-truck suspension system, and ball bearings, which are features designed to give the user superior control over it. With better control also comes better handling, performance and speed.

What's Great About It: The 100-meter transmission radius makes it ideal for racing purposes while its powerful motor allows for fast speeds. Even its rubber tires and high profile are designed for racing so older kids will like playing with it on rougher terrain. The monster truck design also distinguishes it from the other RC cars for younger kids, such as toddlers.

​4. Newer 2.4 Hz Rock Crawler Radio Control Racing Cars by Babrit

Suitable for: 8 years old and up

The off-roader enthusiast will love the Newer Rock Crawler because it can actually handle well certain off-road conditions. This is possible because it has the right features – full rubber tires designed with deep treads, independent suspension system on each wheel, and shock-proof technology. These features ensure that the toy car maintains excellent traction on virtually all types of ground from smooth pavements to sandy beaches for superior handling by the user.

The powerful electric motor can even make a 90-degree climb, which most RC cars for kids can’t do as well. There are obviously limitations to its performance as it’s still an RC car so proper use is still a must.

What We Like about Its Product: The toy car lives up to its name since it can navigate rocky terrains like a real off-roader, even a monster truck in competitions. Plus, your kids can enjoy it for an hour or so while developing their social skills (e.g., taking turns) as well as physical and mental skills (e.g., hand-eye coordination and running).

​5. X9 Flying Quadcopter Remote Control Car and Quadcopter Drone

Suitable for: 12 years old and up

The X9 Flying Quadcopter is exactly as it sounds – it can actually fly like a drone! Your kids can use it over areas where the other RC cars on our list cannot navigate. The four rotor blades on each side of the Quapcopter lifts the entire toy up into the air while the four extension rods support the wheels, thus, maintaining stability in flight. The toy can even perform 360-degree flips while in the air so there’s always the vicarious thrill of the flight.

But the Quadcopter isn’t just for flying because it can also be used in land mode so beginners can get the hang of it first before operating in fly mode. The toy car-and-drone also has beginner and expert modes so even older kids (i.e., teens) and adults can enjoy flying it through the air.

What's Great About It: We like that it’s a 2-in-1 toy car so it’s double the fun. The different types of mode also expands the range of movements and types of terrains that it can be used on, thus, providing kids with more opportunities to expand their capabilities.

​6. My Easy RC Vehicle by Fisher-Price

Suitable for: 3 to 6 years old

Even toddlers and pre-schoolers can learn to control the My Easy RC Vehicle with a few practice sessions. The F1-styled miniature cars are specifically designed for the safe use of younger kids, thanks to the absence of sharp edges, small components, and toxic materials. Even the radio controllers are designed for ease of use since there are only four directional arrows – right and left, forwards and backwards – that can be learned well in 10 minutes or so.

The overall design is just as eye-catching. When you see it, your first thought will be about its adorable shape that kids will like to play with even without the remote controller, such as a in pull-along toy.

What's Great About It: The bright colors immediately attract the eyes, said colors of which can also be used in color recognition lessons. The relatively slow speed is appropriate for kids’ shorter legs, too, while the remote controller has large buttons for kids’ hands.

7. HAK101 Invincible Tornado Twister Multifunctional Rechargeable RC Acrobatic Stunt Car by Haktoys

Suitable for: 3 years old and up

The HAK101 is yet another toddler-friendly RC car with fun features. Just as its name implies, it acts like a tornado twister in that even when it’s upside down, it can still be operated like a RC car. But it doesn’t stay upside down for too long as it can also correct itself – turn right side up – even when it has already overturned.

The LED lights effects add to the appeal of the toy car, especially for younger kids who are easily stimulated by its sights and sounds. But the 15-minute runtime on a full charge can rain on your kids’ parade. The batteries have to be recharged for 2-3 hours before the 15-minute runtime can be enjoyed again.

What's Great About It: We like the LED lights, zooming sounds, and stunt actions that make the HAK101 give good value for the money. The multiple stimulation, both sights and sounds, enhances your kids’ cognitive skills and imagination capability. You may even find them imagining it as a polic car or an ambulance.

​8. 1/14 Scale 2962A Lamborghini Veneno Gravity Sensor Radio Control Vehicle by Holy Stone

Suitable for: 14 years old and up

Yet another outstanding scale model of the famed Lamborghini Veneno is the 1/14 Scale 2962A by Holy Stone. Such is the faithful representation of the ultra-luxurious, ultra-expensive car that it even has the small details down pat! Even teenagers like to imagine that they are behind the wheel of the toy car.

The remote controller has more buttons than the toddler-friendly controllers on our list so more advanced skills are a must. The 20 mph top speed, so slow in comparison with the real Veneno, feels so real nonetheless that parents can even run alongside it as exercise. In fact, this is among the fastest in our list of the best remote control cars for kids.

What's Great About It: The toy car brings the high-end gaming experience to the outdoors, so to speak, thanks to its responsive joystick. Your teen can control the car with just one-hand akin to being on a flight simulator in a game arcade. You will soon find that your teen has greater hand dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

​9. R/C Rock Crawler Extreme Radio Control Vehicle by Maisto

Suitable for: 8 to 15 years old

The term “extreme” has been overused for most consumer products but the Rock Crawler Extreme lives up to the name. The powerful performance comes from the combined power of two motors, which allow users to navigate it over smooth and rough areas. The large tires with wide and deep treads provide excellent traction on sandy, rocky and sometime even muddy areas, as well as lessen skidding on slippery areas.

The tri-channel transmitter is a great feature, too, since as many as three children can play with the Rock Crawler Extreme! This can set them up for a challenging play that develops their sense of cooperation or competitiveness depending on their mood.

What's Great About It: The sporty design attracts the eyes at first while the sporty performance reinforces the idea that, indeed, it’s a four-wheel drive miniature vehicle. Older kids learn to use its various controls in maneuvering it over several types of terrain resulting in improved cognitive functioning especially in problem solving.

​10. RC Bump ‘n Chuck Bumper Cars by Kid Galaxy

Suitable for: 6 to 12 years old

The Bump ‘n Chuck Bumper Cars allows kids to relive the experience of riding in bump cars at the local fair and the theme park. There are two cars in the set with each car having its own remote controller. The cars are also designed like a hovercraft with a large fan motor at its rear, and each car actually has a name – Bump and Chuck.

Unlike many of the toy cars on our list, there’s an objective – to bump the colourful cars against each other so that the other car’s driver is ejected from the seat. Whenever a driver is ejected, the affected car will emit a popping sound that adds another dimension to the game. This is a competitive game although the toy cars can also be used for other play scenarios, such as racing.

What's Great About It: We like that the two-car set encourages healthy competition, including the art of sportsmanship, as well as strategic thinking, effective hand-eye coordination, and fast muscle reflexes. Even bored pre-teens will find plenty of fun playing them!

​11. Stunt Car Double Sided Remote Control Car by KidiRace

Suitable for: 4 years old and up

The best thing about the KidiRace Double Sided toy car is that it can be operated whether it’s upside down or right side up. The secret: Both sides have wheels so there’s no right and wrong side to it! Your kids can flip it any which way and it will still look like a sleek toy car with the relatively sophisticated features to match.

Aside from the double-sided feature, it also has a 360-degree spinning action so it can zoom in a straight line, spin around on its axis, and then zoom again. The LED lights complement the zooming and spinning actions for a stimulating show.

What's Great About It: The double-sided operation is a novelty for younger kids that can keep them entertained for as long the battery lasts. The combo of lights, zooming sounds, and spinning action develop their senses, as well as their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

12. 1/72 Scale German Tiger I Panzer Tank with Remote Control by BlueFit

Suitable for: 1 year old and up

Parents who are military history buffs will likely buy the scale model of the German Tiger I Panzer Tank initially as a gift for their toddlers. The major exterior details of the legendary tank have been re-created in the palm-sized model so it can also be displayed as part of a collection. But since it’s a toy car for toddlers, it also has features designed to keep the kids’ attention and encourage their imagination.

These include a 360-degree rotating turret that features a noticeable recoil action as if an actual cannon was shot. The fast speed can be made even faster by flicking on a switch while the monster engine’s rumbling sound mimics the real deal. Just think about it: A toy car that looks like a war tank that even adults will want to play with.

What's Great About It: Kids can use the toy tank as part of their history lesson, as well as imagine themselves operating it in the field. Even war veterans will find the realistic action a great opportunity to remember the lessons of war.

​13. 1/12 Scale F11 High-Speed Off-Road RC Car by Babrit

Suitable for: 12 years old and up

The F11 is known for its lightning-fast speed especially on the racetrack. Such reputation is the basis for the design of the 1/12 scale F11 toy car, which can reach speeds of up to 35 mph! This isn’t a suitable toy for younger kids as the degree of control needed over it demands more advanced skills, especially in judging distances, maneuvering around obstacles, and adjusting speeds.

Unlike many of the sports toy cars in our list, the F11 has a high ground clearance that allows it to navigate both smooth and rough surfaces albeit only to a certain extent. For example, your teen can drive it over rocky terrain for as long as the rocks will not damage the toy car’s undercarriage. The wide wheelbase and fully independent suspension system contribute to its optimum maneuverability while its 390 motor ensures its powerful performance.

What's Great About It: The waterproof features makes it such a practical all-terrain toy car that can be used even in rainy or snowy conditions. The sporty design looks great, too, on and off the ground (i.e., when displayed).

​14. My First RC Go Go Baja Buggy by Kid Galaxy

Suitable for: 2 to 15 years old

The beauty of the Baja Buggy lies in its easy-to-control movements. Even your toddler can learn to drive it over smooth surfaces after a few tries on his own while the older kids will have fun using its steering wheel-shaped radio controller. The toy car itself has a durable body without sharp edges and small components, thus, making it a safe toy to play with.

The movements may be simple – forwards and reverse – but it’s exactly what kids need. Your children, for example, can master these basic motions first before progressing to the toy cars with more advanced controls.

What's Great About It: The simplicity of its design contributes to its suitability for toddlers. When they are properly taught in its controls, they will soon learn the cause-and-effect relationship between moving the controls and seeing the effects on the toy car.

​15. RC Cartoon Race Car with Action Figure by Holy Stone

Suitable for: 18 months old and up

For optimum visual and mental stimulation, the Cartoon Race Car is a great choice. The honking sounds and catchy music, flashing headlights, and adorable colors all provide the stimulation that younger children need in their toys. The forward and reverse movements are easy to learn, too, while the left and right motions can only be done when it’s going in reverse, a unique feature.

What's Great About It: The combination of its features not only fosters imagination but also develops their visual, auditory and tactile skills.

How We Picked these Top RC Cars

We had a challenging time picking our top 15 best RC cars for kids mainly because of the sheer number of available designs in the market. Even a simple online search will yield thousands of choices from dozens of well-known toy manufacturers! We then had to narrow down the list by using the following criteria:

  • Reviews made by the buyers, such as the parents, on the online sites. We considered the pros and cons of the products to ensure that, indeed, we only included the best in the category. We obviously included only the RC cars with the highest ratings or the best reviews from the buyers.
  • Reputation of the manufacturer since it has an impact on the quality of the materials, design and features of the toy cars. We also looked at their track record in the industry, such as their awards and recognitions, as well as the possibility of recalls of their products, whether these are toy cars or not.
  • Suitability for the age level since there’s no one-size-fits-all category for these products. Each age group will have specific needs and wants in RC cars, particularly in terms of movements (e.g., forward, reverse and spin), speed (i.e., slow to fast), and responsiveness to controls. For example, we chose the products with more advanced features for the older kids including teens while the toddlers enjoy the ones with LED flashing lights, honking horns and zooming sounds.

We considered each of the toy car’s specific features including the materials and design. The materials should be strong enough and the construction sturdy enough to withstand the demands of zipping, zooming and spinning over several types of ground. This is especially true for the four-wheel, all-terrain RC cars that older kids are likely to play with on rougher ground.

We must emphasize that your choices from among these products are yours and yours to make. You, the parents, have to make the decision based on your kids’ unique needs in an educational toy – and that’s exactly what RC toys cars are!

How Remote Control Cars Work

Let’s take a look at the ways that these toys work. Regardless of their overall design, remote controlled cars have two components:

  • The toy car itself is the part that kids get to control. It can come in several shapes, styles and sizes aside from vehicles, such as the Quadcopter. It also contains the receiver for receiving signals from the controller and the motor for its power (i.e., motorized movement).
  • The controller is the part that contains the directional arrows, joysticks and buttons that make the toy car perform its movements. It can be something as simple as a handheld panel or as complicated as a grip with several buttons, a joystick, and indicator lights. Basically, the more complex the controller, the more varied the movements of the toy car.

Inside the controller is a radio device that sends radio transmissions to the toy car. The latter picks up the signals on its tuned receiver, which is connected to the control circuitry. In turn, the control circuitry decodes the signals and moves the toy car according to the desired movement.

The time elapsed from the signal transmission to the movement performance happens in nanoseconds. The result: The player thinks that the toy car responds instantaneously to the controller’s commands.

Reasons for Choosing Battery-operated Toy Cars

As previously mentioned, these toy cars come in two types, namely, the electric-powered and the nitro-fuelled ones. Between the two, the electric-powered or battery-powered option is the safest for kids’ use for the following reasons:

  • The batteries only require recharging for use so kids don’t have to deal with potentially dangerous chemicals used in nitro-powered RC cars. As soon as the fully charged batteries are inserted into the proper slot, the RC car can be immediately used even by younger kids without their parents worrying about chemical spills and the like.
  • The battery-powered RC cars are quieter and cleaner in the sense that these don’t require exhaust systems, unlike the nitro-fuelled counterparts. The exhaustless system means the toys can be operated inside closed spaces, such as in the home.
  • The powerful motors can rival the power and performance of the nitro-powered RC cars. This is because of the development of both brush and brushless motors in recent years.

In short, battery-operated RC cars are kid-friendly to use! Plus, parents will love that these toys are more affordable and easier to maintain than the nitro-fuelled RC cars. Their disadvantages, such as the lack of constant and steady power to the engine resulting in lower performance than their nitro-powered counterparts, can be overlooked in favor of optimum safety.

Benefits of Playing with Remote Control Cars

Kids of all ages usually enjoy playing with RC cars because of their entertainment value. But parents know better – their kids are also acquiring physical, mental and social skills that are crucial in their overall development.

First, playing with RC cars can become a family bonding activity when parents and kids play together. Both can take turns playing with the RC cars, compete with each other in races, and bump against each other to dislodge the other driver. Even as the kids and parents pit their skills, they are also forming deeper emotional bonds by encouraging each other.

Second, children learn the value of personal responsibility, especially when they have to maintain and operate their RC cars. Think of these toys are pets albeit ones that don’t need to be fed and sheltered. The sense of responsibility for maintaining its optimum performance, nonetheless, is similar.

Third, kids are also encouraged to play outdoors since RC cars are best operated in wide open areas, even in the back or front yard. In turn, the benefits of breathing in fresh air and engaging in physical exercise can be theirs to enjoy, especially when they have to run with their playmates in a race to the finish line for their toys.

Fourth, children also develop their physical skills including the following:

  • Hand-eye coordination since controlling the RC cars over several types of terrain, including maneuvering it around obstacles, require said skill. Kids have to develop their reaction speed – the speed with which their eyes see the RC car’s movements and their hands perform the right actions on the controller – in order to become better “drivers”.
  • Fine motor skills including the replacement of the batteries, if necessary. Even the action of pushing on the controller’s buttons require fine motor skills aside from the hand-eye coordination.
  • Gross motor skills since the use of RC cars also demand walking and running. For example, kids can race their RC cars over a smooth driveway (i.e., as a runway) so they have to run after them.

Fifth, kids also improve on their cognitive skills when playing with RC cars. This is because they have to visually gauge the distance and depth of the running surface and, thus, decide on the toy car’s direction. But that’s not all – they must also ascertain the placement of objects, such as rocks and other RC cars, to decide on the appropriate movement like forward or reverse and left or right.

The boost in strategic thinking can be translated to everyday life. For example, your pre-teen can decide whether to proceed with climbing over an incline or not partly based on his experience with RC car operation. You will appreciate that he is able to analyze situations in a better manner and, thus, make better decisions.

When RC cars are used for educational purposes, such as in a school setting, the benefits are even more wide-ranging in nature. Children who use RC cars in an ICT setting are able to:

  • Use everyday words in describing movement, direction and position
  • Control the toy car according to instructions (i.e., listening and following instructions is an important life skill)
  • Work as a group, thus, promoting teamwork, cooperation and coordination
  • Compete against each other in a fair manner
  • Take turns playing and sharing the toy
  • Establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the controller and the toy car (i.e., push the joystick, make the toy car move)
  • Differentiate between directions, a great skill for toddlers
  • Gain confidence in trying out new things

The bottom line: Buying RC cars and letting kids play with them, either on their own or with others, will result in great value for the money!

Safety Guidelines When Playing with RC Cars

The best remote control cars for kids are designed with safety in operation as the topmost priority for a good reason. Younger kids can be injured by small parts, combustible chemicals, and sharp edges, among others. Older kids can also be in harm’s way when they are less informed about the safety measures of using RC cars.

Here then are our top tips in the safe operation of RC cars for kids of all ages.

  • Check that the RC car is, indeed, suitable for the kids who will be using it (i.e., age-appropriate). We provided the “suitable for” section for this purpose since many of the toys can only be used by older kids because of complex controls, among other reasons.
  • Never play with RC cars on roads, paths and driveways with actual vehicle traffic. The risks of injury for many people are too high to even think about doing otherwise. Emphasis must be made, too, that drivers of full-sized cars may swerve in order to avoid an incoming RC car or its operator. Such is the risk that in many jurisdictions, it’s illegal to operate RC cars in certain high-traffic areas.

The best places to operate RC cars are inside homes, within the back and front yard, and in designated public areas in parks and the like. If necessary, be sure to ask permission from the property owners first since too many kids playing – running and shouting, for that matter – can become noisy.

  • Avoid using RC cars in wet environments, especially when these aren’t designed for water resistance. An unsealed toy may deliver an electric shock when it’s handled when wet.
  • Always read the instructions manual before assembling, operating and recharging RC cars. This may not be a stimulating activity but it’s a must to ensure that, indeed, you are using the toy as recommended by the manufacturer. You should double-check about the toy car’s power capabilities, range of movements, and radio transmission range, as well as battery recharging and replacement.

Parents must also check that the RC cars are properly maintained. In battery-powered toys, the maintenance measures usually include cleaning the toy cars on a regular basis, recharging the batteries, and perhaps even oiling the moving parts in more complex models.

When kids already have advanced “driving” skills, parents can also allow the inclusion of challenges to the track. You can, for example, use rocks as obstacles, hula-hoops for jumping tricks, and sand pits in the racing tracks. You may even buy new RC cars to match the advanced skills levels of your kids!

Conclusion

The best remote control cars for kids will only be beneficial for kids if and when they actually play with them. Parents may want to encourage their children to play with these toys instead of playing their videogames on their mobile devices. Children can be motivated to do so when they see their parents also enjoying the toys.

We hope that our guide was helpful in your own search for the best RC cars for your children from toddlers to teens!

    Sandra Cobain
     

    Mum of two. Child psychologist. Ardent admirer of art, crafts and cooking. She is the head of content for BestForTheKids. When she's not busy crafting posts & researching about compelling content ideas, she can be spotted playing outdoors with her two adorable children.

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