Kids these days only seem to care about one thing -- toys that are battery-operated and that can sing and dance, talk, walk, and everything in between. It's no wonder. Have you tried playing any video games lately? They're quite impressive as are most of the electronic toys geared towards kids today. Radio and remote control cars, boats and airplanes, otherwise known as RC toys, are getting more and more advanced with every passing season. These toys can do more than just trudge across pavement, but they can tear through grass, rip it up in the water and glide gracefully through the air. Some models are able to conquer all surface types including snow. As for robots, surely you've seen the wave of consumer robots that have hit the market lately. They are getting smarted and smarter and they come in all shapes, sizes and styles, not to mention a wide variety of prices.
How to Choose
* The first thing you will want to consider is your price range. There are lots of inexpensive RC toys and a few small robots that are very reasonably priced. Should you have the money or want to spend the money on a high-end robot or RC toy, there are plenty of options. The average cost for most commercial RC toys is about $30 to $60, but hobbyist cars can run from $175 to $300 or more. The average cost for most robots is over $100.
* Be aware of the types of conditions that the toy can handle. Some RC cars are built tough to tackle grass, rocks, dirt, snow and other conditions while others are really only meant for racing on flat pavement. Often you can tell what kind of conditions a toy can handle based on the tires it has; the large, knubby ones are best for rougher conditions (off-road cars) and the small, smooth ones are meant for street use (on-road).
* Consider the size of the vehicle. This might seem obvious, but the bigger the vehicle, the more powerful it is. In other words, don't get something huge for indoor use and vice versa.
* Decide whether you want a nitro car or an electric one. Nitro RC cars run on 10-20 nitromethane fuel and are probably best reserved for serious hobbyists since they are harder to maintain and operate. On the other hand, they can reach much faster speeds than an electric vehicle.
RC toy or robot?
Both are fun, sometimes educational, and either can turn into a personal hobby.
* For those with a need for speed and simplicity an electric RC toy would be the best option. There are two options to choose from: toy cars or hobby cars. A toy car is what usually comes to a person's mind when shopping for children. They want something with a cool look, user-friendly interface and enough power to amuse a child for awhile. These cars don't have to be incredibly fast or have any special features, although many of the best-selling models do have a unique twist to make them stand out from the rest.
* Hobby cars and planes are meant for adults or older children with an affinity for collecting and/or model-making and can cost significantly more than a basic consumer car. They are custom built to the specifications the user chooses and often, these are what serious RC lovers will want. Note the differences between a "ready-to-run car" or RTR and a kit car.
** RTRs, such as the Sig Kadet Seniorita Trainer Kit .15-.25,63" , DuraTrax Evader EP BX w/ESC Prebuilt Purple, or Dumas Chris-Craft 1940 Barrel Back Kit 28.5", are a fun and easy way to build your own model airplane or car and they often come with a choice of engine, radio receiver, battery, servos and charger.
** Kits usually include the most of basic things needed to build an RC car, such as a chassis. They require assembly and possibly the purchase of additional parts, such as a motor, transmission, etc.
* Robots, despite the stigma that has followed them around since their inception, are not as scary as they might seem. None of the robots made to date are able to pull an ''I, Robot'' move just yet. Thanks to the increasing popularity of robots and modern science, there are a variety of humanoid and mechanical robot toys on the market. They are great gifts for kids and often, even adults will be impressed by them.
You might notice that all the items shown below are manufactured by WowWee Toys. That's because they have made the biggest steps in the consumer robotics scene. Nonetheless, there are some other companies working at developing robots too, which are shown in the second row of robots below.
Below are some popular RC toys in a variety of price ranges. All are commercial RC toys.