Radio-controlled car: choosing your first model

In 2020, a radio-controlled car is a toy that everyone can afford to buy. Today, there is a huge selection of radio-controlled cars that drive off-road, special roads, mud and water. These models have the opportunity of buying additional batteries and spare parts. In order to choose the right machine model, we wrote this article to ease this task. It will help to understand what kind of cars exist, what characteristics the models have and what impact they have on the maneuverability, speed and strength of the models.

Types of RC cars

There are three main groups of radio-controlled models of machines, which in turn are divided into classes and types of engines that are installed in the model (electric engine, gasoline engine, glow-engine). Let’s consider these groups and classes individually.

Off-Road Radio Control Cars

This group of models includes monsters, buggies, truggies, short-course trucks, crawlers and trophies. Each class has its own characteristics and is designed for different racing conditions.


Monsters differ from other models in increased cross-country ability and a spectacular appearance. The wheels of such models are always larger than of the cars of other classes on the same scale. Large ground clearance allows them to drive where others may not be able to. The maximum speed of monsters is about 100 km / h.

If you choose cars for radio control for children, then it is worth considering their age. If your child is still small, we recommend that you pay attention to the monster Remo Hobby SMAX RH1631 UPGRADE. This small SUV is considered one of the best options. The availability of spare parts and reliability make it a great off-road jeep. Considering low-cost models, it is worth paying attention to SUVs on a scale of 10 from the company HSP, Remo Hobby. Some of the most reliable representatives from these brands are the following monsters – HSP Brontosaurus, Monster MONSTER REMO HOBBY MMAX, Monster HSP Savagery 4WD, Monster Remo Hobby Dinosaurs Master 5. These radio-controlled cars are powerful, fast and have four-wheel drive, which has a good effect on handling. We recommend riding them only outdoors. Managing models on a scale of 10 at home is quite difficult and not safe.

If you want to buy a big car on a radio control or a car of American brands, then you should pay attention to the brands TRAXXAS, HPI, ARRMA, LOSI. The main difference between American models from Chinese models is more reliable moisture protection and high-quality assembly. Among American monsters, the first is the largest SUV on the Traxxas X-MAXX 8S electric engine. This legendary monster is considered one of the best in its class. Among the monsters from the HPI brand we can distinguish HPI SAVAGE XL FLUX. Excellent assembly, high-quality materials and characteristics of the model make it a cult SUV with a cool moisture protection.


Buggy – this class of radio-controlled cars was created specifically for high-speed racing on dirt roads. Buggy patency is much less than that of monsters, but they win in speed and controllability at high speeds. You can ride a buggy both on special tracks and on asphalt, and in off-road conditions. The fastest buggies reach speeds of up to 120 km / h.

Choosing a budget model, we recommend looking at the HSP buggy. For the smallest children, you can choose REMO HOBBY DINGO UPGRADE. Among the Chinese-made four-wheel drive buggies, REMO HOBBY SCORPION 4WD is pretty good, which is equipped with a brushless system and speeds up to 60 km / h.

Among American models, Thunder Tiger, HPI and ARRMA are considered the fastest and most powerful cars. If we consider cars that can reach speeds of about 100 km / h, then it will be HPI Trophy Buggy Flux, HPI Vorza Flux HP, Thunder Tiger Bushmaster 8E, ARRMA Typhon BLX 6S. All of these models are among the best in their class. Each has excellent moisture protection.


This is a class between monsters and buggies. They have all the benefits of both classes. The first is cross. In this regard, they are not much different from monsters and can drive in the most difficult conditions. The ground clearance of such models is large enough for off-road racing. In terms of handling, they are as good as buggies. At high speeds, they can easily turn and keep the track well in a straight line. If you choose traggies for a child, you can find interesting models such as the HSP Tribeshead 4WD, Iron Track Katana 4WD, Maverick iON XT, Remo Hobby Truggy EVO-R Brushless 4WD. These cars are suitable for both children and adults. Cars work on collector and brushless motors.
More powerful American-made models will cost a little more.

Short Course Truck

These SUVs have their own special design for sports trucks. Patency for these types of cars is very good. Suitable for driving in all conditions. Highways, asphalt, sand, dirt are not an obstacle for them. Championships are often held among short course trucks. The speed of cars of this class is good enough to enjoy racing along the tracks.

The cost of such machines depends on the brand, size and technical characteristics. Among the budget models, the following can be distinguished – Iron Track Spatha 4WD, Remo Hobby RH1621 4WD, Remo Hobby Truck 9emu 4WD, Traxxas Slash. When choosing a model, pay attention to size. At home, you can ride on cars on a scale of 16. Scale 10 models are more suitable for the outdoor use.

If you want to buy a large and fast short-corset model, then the following models are suitable for you – Traxxas Slash VXL OBA, HPI Blitz Flux 2WD, ARRMA Senton BLX 6S 4WD, Traxxas Slash 4X4 Platinum Edition 4WD. These models come without batteries in the kit, so you can choose either an inexpensive battery or a powerful one that will reveal the full potential of the car.

Trophies and Crawlers

Trophy cars and crawlers are a special class. The technical characteristics of such machines allow you to climb steep slopes at a slow speed, ride on water and dirt. Trophy and crawlers have a very large suspension stroke, which gives an additional advantage over other classes. As a rule, the bodies of trophy models are replicas of real cars, and they look very realistic. An excellent example of such a machine is the new product from the Traxxas TRX-4 (you can read reviews here). This is one of the best representatives of trophy cars. Excellent moisture protection allows it to safely ride on water and dirt.

If you want to buy a budget model, then we advise you to pay attention to the Remo Hobby Trial Rigs Truck. Outwardly, it recalls the famous radio-controlled AXIAL SCX10.

Among crawlers, Remo Hobby Mountain Lion Xtreme 4WD is especially popular. It is large in size, has good moisture protection and excellent cross-country ability. Suspension travel for crawlers is greater than for trophies, so if this indicator matters to you, then it is worth paying attention to this particular class of cars. If outward resemblance to real machines is more important for you, then it is worth choosing a Trophy.

Racing cars

Radio-controlled race cars include rallies and highway cars. These models have a small ground clearance, so it makes no sense to ride them in severe off-road conditions. A good dirt road or asphalt is perfect for a rally. For highway models, only asphalt or any flat surface is suitable.

The speed that highway radio-controlled cars can develop reaches 100 km / h or more. Rally cars are designed more for dirt tracks. But a speed of 80 km / h on such a car will be more than enough!

Among the highway models on the radio, there is a very large selection of both Chinese and American brands. Cars for beginners usually come with Ni-Mh batteries and commutator motors. Among these models we can distinguish Maverick STRADA TC 4WD RTR. Among the more expensive road cars, models from Traxxas, HPI, MST, Kyosho have proven themselves well. All models come with good build quality and a powerful brushless motor. If you prefer the classic bodies of the last century, we recommend considering, for example, the HPI Sprint 2 Sport 1969 Ford Mustang RTR.

Cars for drifting

This class is designed exclusively for drifting. Thanks to the hard tires, the model can easily drift, showing all the wonders of piloting. You can use them on any flat surface. It can be asphalt, parking under the shopping center, etc. The best place for drifting is special tracks, which nowadays can be found in any big city. Drift championships are also held there, in which you can take part and even win.

Just like in any class of cars, here you can also find something budgetary and inexpensive. For example, the HSP Flying Fish 2 is a great option for an inexpensive drift car. You can even use it at home.

If drift is your calling, then you should pay attention to the models from the MST company. These models are the benchmark of quality among drift fans! In addition to MST, one can also highlight drift models from HPI, Team Magic, Yokomo, Maverick.

How to choose a radio-controlled car?

Now you know what classes and types of cars there are. It is time to choose a radio-controlled car! In order to correctly choose the first model for yourself, you need to know the main characteristics by which cars differ from each other. There are few of them. Let’s consider the important characteristics.

Model scale

Conventionally, the models are divided by size as follows. The largest radio-controlled cars are of a scale of 1:5. Among them there are cars on electric and gasoline engines. Scale 5 is about 80 to 100 cm long! The smallest scale is 1:32. These models are designed for home racing and can fit in the palm of your hand. Intermediate scales – 1:7, 1:8, 1:10, 1:12, 1:16, 1:18, 1:24. The most important thing is cross-country ability. The larger the car, the better the cross. The second point is the batteries. In large models of the scale from 5 to 10, you can install high-capacity batteries which will make it possible to ride longer. High capacity batteries cannot be installed in small cars. This is the only minus of such cars. Well, the most important property is the price. As a rule, the larger the car, the greater its price.

Type of equipment

Previously, radio-controlled cars were supplied with equipment that worked at a frequency of 27, 40, 44 MHz. This created certain difficulties. If there were 2 cars nearby at 1 frequency, it was practically impossible to control them. In 2017, this issue almost disappeared. Almost all radio-controlled cars use a frequency of 2.4 GHz. At this frequency, there is no interference and you can safely control the car within direct line of sight.

Battery type

The main types of batteries used in RC cars are LI-PO, NI-MH, Li-ON, NI-CD. Let’s consider these 4 types of batteries in more detail.

Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)

A very old type of battery. Currently, it is practically not used for cars. You can find it only in radio-controlled tanks, but that’s also rare. Their only plus is the ability to be stored in a discharged state. And the main minus is the memory effect. If you started to charge it in a semi-discharged state, it will remember this capacity, and in the future it will charge up to it.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)

These batteries are somewhat similar in properties to NiCd, but there is no such pronounced memory effect. They are currently used in many types of RC models, not only cars, but also boats, planes, tanks and so on. Most models that use such a battery are equipped with a collector motor. NiMH are also used in gasoline engines.

Lithium Polymer (LiPo)

The most modern type of battery, which has found wide application among RC models. These batteries are much lighter and more efficient than others. The capacity to mass ratio is three times greater than that of Nickel-metal hydride batteries. Used in cars with brushless motors. This type of battery has no memory effect. The only drawback is that they do not like to be overdischarged. They can not be discharged “to zero”. OTHERWISE the battery may malfunction. To solve this problem, some models have cutoffs for Li-Po. In other words, at a certain voltage of the battery, your car stops. There are also special Li-Po testers that are installed in the car during races. As soon as the tester starts to make noise, it’s time to turn off the machine.

Type of engine

There are two types of engines. Collector and brushless. We will talk about gasoline and glow engines in another article. This is a separate topic which will be more interesting for fans of models with internal combustion engines (ICE).

Collector motor – used mainly in entry-level models and in all models from the trophy class and crawlers. It is believed that these engines are not durable. Our experience suggests though that collector motors can easily work for a long time. It all depends on the operation of the model. It all depends, so you should not focus on this. If you want to buy the first RC car and at the same time not overpay, your choice is an inexpensive model on a collector engine. The speed of cars on such engines is usually not more than 40 km / h.

Brushless motor – it is considered more durable. The main advantage is its power. Cars that are equipped with a brushless system are capable of speeds up to 160 km / h! Brushless motors will always be more expensive due to their more modern electronics.

Moisture protection

There are radio-controlled cars with moisture protection and without it. Moisture protection is useful primarily for off-road vehicles – monsters, truggies, trophies, crawlers, short-course trucks and so on. It is rare to see it in drift models, because they ride on a flat surface and on special tracks. First of all, moisture protection is installed on the speed controller and the receiver, as well as a servo drive. They are responsible for the movement of the model and the transfer of information from the control panel to the nodes of the car which are responsible for the movement.

Which nodes are affected by water?

  • Commutator motor: not afraid of water
  • Brushless motor: not afraid of water. An exception is the brushless touch motor. If water gets into it, it may break down.
  • Servo: afraid of water, as it has electronic components.
  • Speed ​​controller and receiver: these components are some of the most expensive and they are especially sensitive to water. Therefore, if the car does not have moisture protection, moisture can cause them to break.
  • Battery: not afraid of moisture. The exception is salty water.

Drive unit

The machine’s radio-controlled drive can be rear, front and full. Front-wheel drive is now almost never found. The most common options are rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.

Cars with all-wheel drive are more powerful and better controlled on the highway. This is especially noticeable in the winter, when it is slippery on the tracks. All-wheel drive cars are more expensive than their counterparts with rear-wheel drive.

Kit type

Radio-controlled cars have 2 types of equipment: RTR and KIT. RTR models come fully assembled. For their operation, it is enough to buy a set of batteries for the remote control, and that’s it. Some cars already come with batteries. KIT models come unassembled and require additional investment. You would have to buy an engine, speed controller, receiver, battery, servos, etc. It may differ though. In some cars the engines are included, in others servos are included. You can see the exact configuration in the description of each model.


Currently, the following brands can be distinguished as best among manufacturers of radio-controlled cars: HSP, TRAXXAS, HPI-Racing, Maverick, Himoto, ECX, Team Magic, BSD Racing, VRX Racing, ARRMA, Losi, Thunder Tiger, Remo Hobby, Iron Track, MST.