Big boys' toys rule


LAST week we looked at remote control toys for toddlers and young kids discussing choice, price and durability.

In part two of our feature we source remote control toys for older kids and adults who are more serious about them and for whom they often tend to be a hobby rather than just an afternoon of fun.

Of course there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself before you set out to make an expensive purchase like:

  • What is your budget?
  • Would you like a car or plane or truck that needs to be built or one that comes ready-made?
  • Would you like an on-road or off-road vehicle?
  • What size are you looking for and what speeds would you like it to attain?
  • Would you like electric, nitro or petrol?

From the outset remember that radio-controlled vehicles, especially hobby grade, are quite expensive. So if you are willing to part with that sort of money make sure you do your research.

Pick toys that are appropriate for age and experience and be sceptical of manufacturers' promises as they may overstate the features available on the vehicle in question.

It's better to choose a toy that comes with a choice of frequencies or has selectable bands, as this is important if two people intend to operate their radio-controlled devices together.

Also consider the area you have available to run these toys - a boat will need a pond while indoor helicopters will need medium to large rooms. Bigger cars and trucks and aeroplanes are for outdoor use.

It is generally wiser to stick with a reputable brand name when you are buying an expensive vehicle especially online as they not only come with better warranties but parts are easier to find should they need repair.

>>More Smarter Shopping

Electric, nitroor petrol?

Electric is a good choice for older kids (Eztec Full Function Radio Controlled Ford Harley Davidson Ute, $119.20) and adults who are just acquainting themselves with remote control vehicles.

Electric vehicles usually work with a rechargeable battery pack that allows it to run for a certain amount of time.

They are the easiest to get up and running as they usually come pre-built and ready to go. All you need to do is charge the battery.

They can be easier to handle and require minimal maintenance.

Electric cars are quieter too, which means they are less likely to disturb the neighbours.

There are drawbacks, though, like speed (unless it's a brushless motor), the actual feel of the vehicle and the fact the battery usually lasts for 15 minutes and takes an hour to charge before you can play again.

You will have to invest in a number of batteries if you want continuous play.

Nitro vehicles like the RTR RS4 3 Evo+ Porche 911 ($479), which uses a methane-based fuel, and petrol (RTR 1/5 Baja 5SC short course truck, $1649) remote-control vehicles are the choice for die-hard hobby enthusiasts and those who race their cars and trucks.

They use miniature fuel-burning engines (not the motors found in electric cars) and require a metal chassis and drive-train and they take a bit longer to get from the box to the start line.

They often need tinkering to get the best performance out of them so you will need some basic tools.

Nitro and petrol vehicles require more skill to operate as their centre of gravity is affected by how much fuel there is on board.

They are, however, extremely realistic right down to the sound and smell, are built to scale, and will give you an excellent driving experience if handled skilfully.

They are more difficult to operate but much more rewarding.

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