RC Cars: Toy or Hobby?

By: lakeshost
Radio controlled cars (RC cars) have been around since the 1960's, and they've held our attention ever since. This fascination with small radio controlled replica cars is not only beheld by little boys, but by male and female, young and old, too. Just what makes these miniature cars so popular? Well it could be the fact that this hobby allows you to own any car you can imagine, even if only in facsimile.

When Remote Control cars first began, they were made with 2-stroke model airplane engines and were created 1/8 scale. Today, RC cars can be found in a wide array of sizes and body styles. Chances are that any car you like will have it's counterpart in Remotely Controlled miniature.

There two grades of Remote Control cars, toy grade and hobby grade. Toy grade RC cars are those you find in the regular discount stores and electronic specialty stores. These cars have no spare parts, and once they break or stop working they are unserviceable and meant to be discarded. These Remotely Controlled cars cost $20-25 for the 'basic' models, with the most expensive units topping out around $150.

Toy grade RC cars usually give you forward and reverse and left and right steering. Some only let you go forward and reverse, with the car turning in one direction while in reverse. Some of the toy grade cars are just now beginning to have proportional steering, but this would be in the more expensive models.

Unlike the toy grade cars, hobby grade RC cars do not share the problem of not having available spare parts. These hobby grade Remote Control cars also have upgrades ready to be fitted by the owner as well. If a part breaks or fails, it's really no big deal for the hobbyist as the parts are probably sitting on the hobby store shelf.

The most popular hobby cars can have at their disposal hundreds of upgrades from many different merchants. Available upgrades may consist of scale-realistic wheels to anodized aluminum struts. Some hobby grade cars have total conversion kits available that change the vehicle radically.

Today's RC cars come in both fuel and electric powered versions. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The electric Remote Control cars run cleaner than their fuel powered counterpart, but the fuel driven Remotely Controlled cars are much faster.

Deciding on which route to go on purchasing either a toy grade or hobby grade RC car really should depend on who the car is intended for. Any child would be happy with one of the $25 low end cars, and so would some adults. If the car is intended for competition racing, the toy isn't going to cut it. Hobby level RC cars generally start out at the $350 range, and that's without accessories. If you're going to start Junior out at hobby level, you're going to have to whip out the credit card.
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