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Should You Buy Your Child a Hobby-Grade RC?

By February 13, 2009

Here's the scenario: Your 11 year old went to the RC races with a buddy and his dad who are really into radio controlled vehicles. Now your child is clamoring for a new RC. And he doesn't want some little truck that you pick up at Walmart for $30 or so that can maybe make it over the curb at the edge of your yard. No, no, no. He wants one of those $500 monster trucks that can jump huge mounds of dirt in your backyard, run faster than all your cats and dogs (and maybe even keep up with your family vehicle on the highway), and that makes a lot more noise than your lawnmower. You know nothing about RC vehicles so he'd be the one putting it together, operating it, and taking care of it. Is he old enough?

How young is too young to own, operate, and care for a hobby-grade RC?

It goes without saying -- but I'm saying it anyway -- that a lot depends on the individual child. Some 8 year olds may be a lot more mature and responsible than some 17 year olds. But, if the interest is there then the child will tend to be more inclined to be a capable RC owner. And if there's already an RC owner in the family and very strong interest then the age could be much, much younger. However, in general, how young is too young to own, operate, and care for a hobby-grade RC all on their own?

View RC Age Poll Results

You'll notice that in one answer I suggested different ageas for electric and nitro. The care and maintenance of an electric RC is much less complicated than for a nitro. If the child has some experience with electric RC toys, buying a hobby-grade electric RC is a good next step if they have shown a strong interest in radio controlled vehicles. Owning a nitro RC really should be for older teens and adults (although I'll admit to knowing some adults that should stick with toy electrics).

Share your own thoughts on RC ownership.


February 15, 2009 at 3:43 pm
(1) Radio Controlled Boats says:

I definitely agreee that there some kids can be too immature to run a hobby grade RC but there are so many more factors that go into it. If you live in the country or have a massive yard then I would say that a much younger kid can be just as safe as others. Also, my town has an RC race track with bumpers around it so they only damage that can be done is to the car itself. I’d say that’s pretty safe for most young kids.

February 22, 2009 at 2:27 pm
(2) Racer21 says:

I have to agree with you that each child is different, and it would be hard to set an age requirement that is ‘one-size-fits-all’. In my opinion, as long as the child is closely supervised by a responsible adult, there should be no problem. By supervised, I mean hands on, side by side working with the child…not sitting on the sidelines watching.
Once a child has repeatedly demonstrated that they can handle the rc vehicle safely and stay in control, you can start taking a step back, but should always be nearby.

December 13, 2009 at 12:32 pm
(3) Gills says:

I totally agree with the younger kids and the Hobby Grade RC cars. Many kids don’t know the difference between a toy and a hobby grade car. They see it as a complicated toy. They press the throttle all the way and it smashes into a stone curb or anything else and kills it. They go crying to their dad to get them a new one. Like the ones at wall mart that cost 10$ Now if the kid is mature and 10 or over I would start by getting him an electric car for starts. possibly a Team Losi Micro t or Mini t. Those are great. I have one myself. Only if he is serious about getting into the hobby though.


October 16, 2010 at 10:54 pm
(4) John says:

Not always the case. My son is 3 1/2 and races me around a rather complicated track i built on our property. I bought and built him a Tamiya DF03Ra electric and a couple of bodies, everything else is stock. I installed an older Tx/Rx that is more durable than the newer radios., but is still a 2.4 system. He rips and it only took him about 5 weeks to really get it and only 2-3 days 1hr per day each week.
He did destroy my Savage Xl and is not getting his hands anywhere near my Baja’s. However the Tamiya electrics are durable (Lg body shell and foam bumber help), relatively cheap for Hobby-grade and easily upgradeable as kids progress. Would recommend them for any young wanna be racer

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