What's a decent remote control car a for 10 year-old?
September 19, 2004 8:09 AM   Subscribe

A friend would like assistance purchasing a remote control car for a child turning 10. Durability, longevity, and quality are paramount, but it has to be something preassembled, not a kit. Can you help her?

She's sick and tired of cheap cars that fall apart after a few crashes, but the kid won't get much help in maintaining the car or effecting repairs, so it's got to be some kind of all-in-one that doesn't need much beyond some juice. Cost isn't the primary factor here, but quality is. So far her research has turned up the HPI Dash, but I can't vouch for it. I don't know a thing about RC cars, so we turn to you for help. What should she get?
posted by majick to Shopping (12 answers total)
 
RadioShack used to have some great RC cars, but I don't know what they're like these days. She could have a look there.
posted by Evstar at 9:02 AM on September 19, 2004


Is the kid seriously into racing RC cars? Or, is he more interested in crashing them?
posted by mischief at 10:53 AM on September 19, 2004


She replies!

"The issue with non-breakability is that he spends a lot of time in "off road" areas with rough terrain. He might be into racing, but he's never had a decent rc car, so who knows?"

She adds, also, that her experience with Radio Shack RC cars has been pretty negative as far as durability goes.
posted by majick at 11:00 AM on September 19, 2004


Her best bet then is to buy the cheap stuff and let him break 'em if he is not interested in learning how to fix them himself. Routine maintenance is pretty much the rule in hobby RC, even among the flat-track racers. Once you go off-road though, all bets are, umm, off.

Although my experience is in racing slot cars, that hobby shares a lot of crossover with RC. Although I mainly raced the cheap classes, my monthly budget for tires and engines was about $100, just to give you an idea.

I recommend that she either look up "Hobby Stores" in the Yellow Pages and take the kid there, or buy him a small tool kit and a tube of model cement.
posted by mischief at 11:24 AM on September 19, 2004


The Tyco Rebound 4x4 was the only car I had as a child that never broke. You can run into anything, and due to the oversized tires, it will simply flip over (and has a different car design on either side which is also cool). It was also fast, which kids care about a lot too. Mattel apparently made an updated version called the TMH Super Rebound, but that looks kind of stupid to me.

I don't know if they make these cars anymore, on Tyco's site they had something similar called the Vertigo. In any event, if you want durability and off road terrain experience without spending a fortune on RC enthusiast cars, get something that performs similarly to the car I've described above, it was awesome.
posted by banished at 11:28 AM on September 19, 2004


Just like with "real" cars, offroading is hell on R/C cars. The usual route for R/C enthusiasts is to pick up a "ready to go" vehicle, break it, and then get a kit. The kit vehicle will still break, but you get to replace only the broken parts, and can sometimes upgrade to more robust parts.

For a really large selection of ready to run cars, take a look at Tower Hobbies.

Your friend may want to check with the local hobby shop as well. They most likely have a club of R/C Car enthusiasts. It shouldn't be hard to find someone who will agree to build the kid's car for a small fee, and repair it when it crashes.

FYI, everyone I've ever known who drove R/C cars has given me the nearly exact same story as they show off their vehicle: "yeah, it is *really* cool when it is running, but last week I had this AWESOME crash and it broke part XYZ. I've found this guy who makes XYZ out of titanium, and twice as thick, but it will be a few weeks before he can ship me the new part".

On the plus side, crashing an R/C car (usually) won't kill anyone.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:31 AM on September 19, 2004


Perhaps this will slightly modulate some of the responses so far: Friend and kid are in different states. It's a gift that'll be shipped several hundred miles away from both friend and I, far from helpful assistance. Kid, being a kid, can't just pop online and order parts. This is why durability of the toy is king.
posted by majick at 11:49 AM on September 19, 2004


Kid, being a kid, can't just pop online and order parts. This is why durability of the toy is king.

It really doesn't work that way. Cars are built out of things like plastic an aluminum to keep them light. They have fragile ball-linkages and gears in the steering and drivetrain. If they are battery powered, they've got to carry a heavy battery pack. If they are gas-powered, they have to stand up to the heat and vibration of a motor.

Crashing into things throws the linkages out of whack. Frames break. Suspension parts need all kinds of reparis. R/C cars are incredibly fragile.

If the kid is going to be so abusive to the car, why not get a GameBoy Advance SP instead?
posted by b1tr0t at 12:04 PM on September 19, 2004


Majick... the majority of the responses you are getting thus far are from RC car nerds who are talking about hundreds of dollars worth of equipment and parts that will inevitably break in the hands of a 10 year old. Let me reiterate... get the Tyco Rebound 4x4... no maintenance, won't break easily, perfect on rough terrain, and it's a fun toy.

If you think he's more interested in serious (and expensive) RC racing... get him a simple car kit that he can build himself. He will learn how to put a car together, and thus when something breaks (as it inevitably will), he will know how to fix it by himself.
posted by banished at 1:51 PM on September 19, 2004


I'd suggest something like the Tamiya Mighty Bull or Gravel Hound. They have an 'expert built' series now, so it comes assembled rather than having to put it together yourself.

I put together a Tamiya Frog at the age of 11 though, and had a great time doing it. Also when it broke I was easily able to fix it because I remembered putting it together. I really got a kick out of it.

No idea what they cost these days, though.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:21 PM on September 19, 2004


The first RC's made by Lego were not that great, but I have been recently very impressed by the Supersonic RC (which can be built as a either a track or off-road vehicle, although I'm not sure if the groudn clearance of the second is that great). They have since added the Dirt Crusher RC and the Red Beast RC. This should be a direct link - if not just look for the product name on the company's website.

(Sure, it is a kit - but a Lego kit. No glue and other tricky techniques involved. It stays together pretty well. And when a wheel or something else pops out, it's just a matter of seconds before it is ready to go again).
posted by magullo at 7:17 AM on September 20, 2004


Thanks, folks. The Tyco or the Lego sound like they might be good options. The RC Car Nerd stuff might be great for him under other circumstances, but for this particular gift it'll be toys, not models.
posted by majick at 11:24 AM on September 23, 2004


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