Some people may think of moving up from RC toys to hobby-grade RCs as a chance to step up to the speed and power of nitro
. But there's plenty of speed and power in a hobby-grade electric. They may run on batteries just like toy RCs, but most of the similarities end there.
Hobby-Grade Electric RCs are More Expensive Than Toys
Electric hobby-grade RCs cost substantially more than their toy counterparts. The more durable parts and the complexity of the construction increase the manufacturing costs so hobby-grade RCs cost more to buy. Yet, they do break. Fortunately there are plenty of replacement parts. However, you'll need to purchase and install those parts to keep your RC in top condition. You'll also need to include the cost of batteries or battery packs over the life of the vehicle.
Hobby-Grade Electric RCs Require More Driving Skill
While nitro RCs are the fastest overall of the hobby-grade RCs, the RC "hall of fame" speed records are held by electric RCs. If you clocked a hobby-grade RC vehicle at top speed using a police radar gun, you'd probably get a speed anywhere between 10 to 70 mph. Driving tiny cars at that speed requires practice and better motor skills than with the slower electric toy RCs. And with the increased cost, you'll want to minimize the expensive crashes.
Hobby-Grade Electric RCs Require a Greater Investment of Time
With most toy-grade RCs, replacing the batteries and an occasional wipedown after a day in the mud are the extent of the maintenance requirements. With hobby-grade electric RCs you'll probably be tuning your motor, loosening or tightening the suspension, oiling the gears, realigning the chassis, and doing body work to repair cracks, dents, and scraped paint. You'll want to spend as much time as possible keeping it in good working order. And if you want to race professionally, you'll need to spend even more time tweaking and upgrading for top performance.
Hobby-Grade Electric RCs Have More Safety Issues
Even though they are smaller, many electric RCs can travel as fast as a full-size car making it necessary to choose a safe area of operation. Highly-tuned electric RCs are fast-moving and can pose a risk on the ground or in the air when operated in a crowd. Fast-spinning tires, moving parts, and hot battery packs are also potential dangers so children should always be supervised when operating hobby-grade electric RCs.
Buying Your First Hobby-Grade Electric RC
If you feel that you are ready to move from RC toys to hobby-grade electric RCs, I recommend starting with a Ready-to-Run car or truck. An RTR vehicle lets you get up and running quickly and is good if you aren't intimately familiar with radio controlled vehicles and model construction in general. An in-between type of electric RC, such as the RadioShack XMODS, is a good way to ease into the fun of hobby RCs with a few less of the worries. XMODS are less expensive initially and you can purchase easy-to-assemble upgrade kits.