The ABC’s of Radio Controlled Toys

Radio controlled toys have been around for decades and remain one of the biggest selling toy categories among children of all ages. After all, who can resist a car, truck, plane or boat that you control yourself? It puts the power and the decision-making in the user’s hands, which makes play time more exciting. But before you buy an RC toy, you need to take a few things into consideration.

Not all RC toys are created equal. There are two grades, hobby and basic toy. Hobby grade RC vehicles are usually more complex, may need to be assembled before using and can require more battery power to run. Basic RC toys are generally easier to operate, come already assembled and are offered in a variety of sizes and styles geared toward children from toddler age up.

Remote/Radio Control car (actually a Hummer)

Remote/Radio Control car (actually a Hummer) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are looking for radio controlled toys for younger children, toy grade is your best bet. Toys designed specifically for children aged 1-5 should have bright colors, simple controls and no small pieces that can break off and be swallowed. The antenna is usually larger and covered in rubber, which makes it more forgiving when it is inevitably used as a handle to carry the toy around.

Older children can handle more complex RC toys with more controls. While the toddler variety tends to have a controller with just two buttons, one for turning on and moving forward, one for turning or backing up, those for older children may have several buttons allowing for a wider range of movement.

One thing to bear in mind when buying radio controlled toys is where the toy will be used. If it will be an indoor toy, used where space is more limited, you’ll probably need to go with something smaller. If it will be used outdoors, you can go for a larger toy and will likely want something that can handle moving on grass and dirt.

Of course, any toy that works by radio control will necessarily need a radio frequency to operate on. Pay close attention to which frequency a toy uses. If you are buying more than one toy for children to use together, they need to operate on different frequencies to avoid control issues. Most RC toys will have the frequency clearly stated on the label along with other important manufacturer’s details.

Because radio controlled toys have intricate moving parts, they are frequently subject to safety recalls. Be aware of any safety related issues before you buy a toy by checking the recall list at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. You also need to be careful not to let yourself be won over by marketing hype, which can be particularly overblown when it comes to RC toys.

Nothing beats the feeling of “driving” your own radio controlled toy. By shopping wisely, you can be sure that you get not only the best deal for your money but a toy that your child will treasure for years to come. So do your homework and introduce your child to the wonderful world of RC toys today!

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By Tom Gruich


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