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What's the Best Hobby-Grade RC Car or Truck for a Beginner?

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Question: What's the Best Hobby-Grade RC Car or Truck for a Beginner?
RC toys are suitable for almost anyone. But when you step up to a hobby-grade RC it can require more time and patience to develop the skills to successfully operate and care for the vehicle. An entry level RC car or truck has features suitable for those new to radio controlled vehicles.
Answer: I recommend two specific features to look for in an entry-level RC car or truck: RTR and electric.

Ready-to-Run RC for Beginners

An RTR or Ready-to-Run RC car or truck usually comes with everything you need to get started right in the box. The vehicle is mostly put together -- you might have to attach the body and glue the tires but that's usually about it. You can be up and running in as long as it takes to charge up a battery pack. Whether or not you choose a vehicle specifically designated as an entry-level RC, look for a RTR over a kit.

Electric RC for Beginners

An electric RC has a motor that runs off a battery pack. For the beginner, the electric RC is generally safer and easier to maintain than a nitro-fueled RC. And even in the Ready-to-Run category, an electric RC requires less assembly and prep time than a nitro RC.

Other RC Features for Beginners

Beyond an electric RTR, the other features suitable in an entry-level RC for beginners depend on how much you're willing to spend, how and where you plan to use the RC, and what you like: sedan, sports car, drifting car, monster truck, buggy, truggy, stadium truck, etc.

Here is a sampling of some RC cars and trucks with a brief description of features that tend to make them beginner-friendly.

  • Traxxas 4-TEC. This is a 4WD 1:10 scale sedan for racing. For younger and new drivers, it allows you to run it at a reduced power (up to 50%) to allow time for the driver's skills to improve. This feature makes it suitable as both an entry-level beginner RC and one that you can continue to enjoy as you become more proficient.

  • Compare PricesLosi Micro-T Stadium Truck. One thing that beginners often want is low cost. Who wants to spend hundreds of dollars only to find out that maybe they aren't all that into hobby-grade RCs after all? At under $100, the tiny, 1:36 scale Micro-T is one way to find out without spending a lot. But it's still tons of great driving fun. Plus, its small size means it can operate in places most other hobby-grade RCs can't including your living room. Read Micro-T Review

  • Compare PricesTraxxas Bandit XL-5 and Compare PricesTraxxas Stampede XL-5 and Compare PricesTraxxas Rustler XL-5. One of the cool features of these 1:10 scale, 2WD RCs (buggy, monster truck, stadium truck) is that they have waterproof electronics. For anyone, beginner or not, this means no hassle racing in water, mud, or snow. For beginners this means that with the watertight, sealed electronics there is less risk of damage and less maintenance required. (When purchasing, make sure you are getting the waterproof version and not an earlier model)

  • Compare PricesHPI E10 Car. Billed as an entry-level 1:10 scale RC car, it is built with the beginner in mind from its cost (under $200US) to its sturdy construction to its operation. There's a drift and a touring version and in addition to the RTR version, there is an assembled version for those who already have their own radio system and don't mind a little bit of assembly -- namely just adding the electronics.

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