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My friend’s daughter’s birthday is coming up and as an aspiring almost 9 y/o engineer, she’s gotten into radio controlled toys. Since her dad is a car guy, I’m thinking about a cool RC car. I know RC cars are a complete hobby on their own, but I have no clue. Budget is probably $100-200. Apparently $50 only gets you an S13 body shell for an RC drift car.

What should I be looking for? Brands to trust or avoid? Can I get anything for that little?
 

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We are more into planes but have dabbled in cars a bit. Here's my take - serious RC car stuff is great and expensive, the cheap stuff can be fun but when you break something there is no support. We got into cars a bit with a couple of really fun cars from WLToys.... they were great but finding spare parts was a nightmare.

Horizon hobby has some good stuff. Maybe start with a crawler (more about scale speed) - less to break? Ready-To-Run RC Cars | Horizon Hobby A lot of our planes are Horizon and there are spare parts when needed - I assume the cars are the same?


WL Toys A959 is really fast and a dedicated following and lots of mods/spare parts. Might to too fast for first car and fragile - you will break something hitting a curb at high speed!

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Product Black







Also had something similar to this - more durable than the other WLToys one - but stuff did eventually break and parts are impossible to find. It was a blast though!
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Product Tread









**edit - here is more of a commitment. If they have a 3d printer - get her the stuff to build her own? Great way to inspire an engineer!
Home - 3dsets.com

Wheel Tire Vehicle Car Toy
 

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My In-Laws picked up a Bezgar RC truck a year or two ago off Amazon. Earlier version was about $100 has AWD and is pretty darn quick. We banged it up quite a bit and ordered another which had the benefit of having more metal driveline parts and other improvements, but at a slightly higher price (maybe $120-ish?).

They come with oil-filled coilovers where you can adjust the spring firmness and the lower mounting points on the control arms. So making adjustments to the suspension would have pretty notable effects with the AWD. Being able to see the actual changes to understeer / oversteer when on throttle or lifting throttle was educational on its own.

There seems to be an increasing amount of support for them as well. Spare parts, or upgraded components (I think even limited slip differentials?) are available.

We live on a cul-de-sac, so there's plenty of room to play with it in the street. Hitting patches of debris, or spraying an area with the hose makes for fun in exploring the limits of traction.
 

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I bought a couple of these to mess around with with my son. He was 4 at the time, so the ability to limit the top speed was helpful.


They've proven to be solid while being surprisingly capable.
 

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I have one of these but it's a little bit out of your range:


ARRMA has this model for $150 that includes a NiMH charger and battery. It's LiPo compatible too so if they want a faster charging battery later they can upgrade it.
 

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I have a n older Losi mini rally car that I bought years ago that is quite fun. I have no idea if they make them anymore, or if you can get something similar. I had a Traxx RC truck that I raced once and then sold it. Never got into the hobby, but Traxx and Losi are the only brands I can recall.
 

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If you stretch a bit, I'd recommend a regular brushed motor 2wd Traxxas Slash. They run about $220 for a ready to run setup.

You have to be doing something really dumb to seriously break one. My six year old son and I have a pair of them to bash around with and they're pretty much perfect. More than enough power to hoon it up, but not too much for a young driver. We put paddle tires on them and have a blast in the snow too - it's very water resistant, verging on waterproof.

It's a Traxxas product, so support is some of the best in the industry - both OEM and aftermarket. I could replace anything on ours with what our local shop stocks. And it's super easy to wrench on. They make all sorts of versions up through brushless 4WD versions, but trust me, start with the entry model. It's plenty.

Traxxas Slash 2WD | Short Course RC Truck | Traxxas
Traxxas Slash 1/10 RTR Electric 2WD Short Course Truck (Blue)  [TRA58024-BLUEX] - HobbyTown
 

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I have two RC cars that have both been gifted to me in my 40's. :ROFLMAO: I am an engineer so fun toys like RC cars and such where you get to tinker with them are a blast. While I'm not expert on these cars I have played around with them a bunch.

The first one is a Laegenary Sonic 1:16 scale. This is a fast one that can go up to 25mph and is a blast on open parking lots or beaches. You can see how all of the independent suspension works and there are spare parts you can buy if you do break something. Mine has open diffs so when going slowly it can get stuck if it loses traction. They look to run about $140 online.

Sonic 1:16 Scale Brushed RC Car | Laegendary



My second one I actually won in a raffle down in Moab. It's an Axial Deadbolt 1:24 scale rockcrawler. This one is much slower but that's because it's built to be a crawler. It has solid axles front and rear with locked diffs. I like this one because you can sit down in front of a little rock garden or obstacle course and see if you can make it through without tipping it over. A lot less to break because you are going so slow but just as interesting to see the suspension work and do it's thing. These look to run $125.

1/24 SCX24 Deadbolt 4WD Rock Crawler Brushed RTR, Red | Axial Adventure





Here you can see mine hanging behind my messy desk and 3D printer (also a super fun thing to play with for a budding engineer).

Automotive design Engineering Machine Art Room
 

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I'd second the recommendation to the RWD Traxxas.

Years ago, I spent $180 on a Duratrax Evader ST. Maybe $200 after adding an extra battery. They were a cheaper alternative to the Traxxas, but Duratrax is out of business now, so that's a thing to consider.
RWD stadium trucks are simple, fun and easy to repair. On any open wheel RC car, the steering servo is going to take abuse from new (or old) users. Make sure you've got a good servo and a good servo saver. We destroyed the Duratrax servo in less than 15 minutes. I replaced it with a 35 year old Futaba servo with the servo saver that came with the Tamiya Grasshopper I had with I was 12. The amazing thing is that it plugged right in.
 

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I'd suggest looking at Tamiya. Lots of great inexpensive models from ready to run (RTR) to kits she can build herself. The instructions are top notch and there's tons of aftermarket support for just about every chassis.
 

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You say she's into radio control Toys.... so take her to a hobby shop and see what she really likes. See if they have any vehicles to look at on display or even better to demo and drive around.

My two cents as someone who built their first hobby grade kit at around that age: get them a couple of inexpensive toy grade cars/boats/drones whatever and see what gets the most use. If you want to drop two bills on a "hobby grade" (please don't get wl toys or any of those cheap Chinese ones) buy whatever the girl likes and has good parts support at a local shop.

There's probably nothing worse than buying this big expensive present and then a part breaks and you can't get one the same day in town. Or in a week or so from Amazon or amain..
If going hobby grade stick with traxxas/arrma or other reputable and major brands.
 

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DON'T DO IT!!! :) I said to myself about 6 months ago that I was going to get back into the RC hobby after 20+ years. I started off "small" with a Tamiya TT02 chassis Porsche 911. Then I got CC02 Defender (which I built and then promptly sold). I love building them myself and painting them all up. Then I built:

1/14 Tamiya Mercedes Actros 3363 Gigaspace complete with MFC-03 sound control

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Vehicle Motor vehicle


Traxxas TRX-4 Sport

Automotive parking light Tire Vehicle Car Wheel


Now I'm about halfway through a 1/14 Tamiya Grand Hauler (with MFC-01)...

Hood Motor vehicle Automotive design Bumper Automotive exterior


And then I have to put together the 1/14 Tamiya Maersk trailer to go with the Grand Hauler and Acros.

Black Font Rectangle Automotive exterior Wood


And then I couldn't help myself and bought a Sand Scorcher and a Lancia Delta Integrale (XV-01)

Tire Car Automotive tire Hood Vehicle

Automotive tire Automotive design Bumper Electronic instrument Automotive exterior


Needless to say, my interest in tip-toeing back into RC has now cost me a couple thousand dollars :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:
 

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If you stretch a bit, I'd recommend a regular brushed motor 2wd Traxxas Slash. They run about $220 for a ready to run setup.

You have to be doing something really dumb to seriously break one. My six year old son and I have a pair of them to bash around with and they're pretty much perfect. More than enough power to hoon it up, but not too much for a young driver. We put paddle tires on them and have a blast in the snow too - it's very water resistant, verging on waterproof.

It's a Traxxas product, so support is some of the best in the industry - both OEM and aftermarket. I could replace anything on ours with what our local shop stocks. And it's super easy to wrench on. They make all sorts of versions up through brushless 4WD versions, but trust me, start with the entry model. It's plenty.

Traxxas Slash 2WD | Short Course RC Truck | Traxxas
Traxxas Slash 1/10 RTR Electric 2WD Short Course Truck (Blue)  [TRA58024-BLUEX] - HobbyTown
Came to mention this. I have a gen 1 4Tec and it's a blast.

I also bought one of these and it's fun too. However, the battery only lasts 10 minutes of constant use.



Vehicle Tire Car Motor vehicle Automotive tire
 
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DON'T DO IT!!! :) I said to myself about 6 months ago that I was going to get back into the RC hobby after 20+ years. I started off "small" with a Tamiya TT02 chassis Porsche 911. Then I got CC02 Defender (which I built and then promptly sold). I love building them myself and painting them all up. Then I built:

1/14 Tamiya Mercedes Actros 3363 Gigaspace complete with MFC-03 sound control

View attachment 238525
Oh God stop. I'm still into model railways but I keep eyeing scale RC trucks and crawlers....
 
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