Funtek Raid Adventure : A low-cost, Land Rover style RC car
Now reading: Buyers Guide - Best Remote Control Cars 2021
Looking to buy a remote control car as a present ? Then look no further than our buyers guide showcasing a range of RC cars suitable for all ages and budgets. This guide covers models suitable for driving indoors or out, along with some advice on scale and batteries for first-time buyers.
All the remote control cars here are tried, tested and loved by RC Geeks staff. With so many models available, our editors have set about curating a list of the best models we sell, grouped by budget. Whatever you opt to purchase, you can be sure our recommendations will result in a great gift.
These fully-licensed RC cars include models from Audi, BMW, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mclaren and more. What they lack in driving dynamics, they make up for with almost die-cast level of detail, some including LED headlights and operable doors.
Whilst they are undoubtedly toy grade, they make for fantastic stocking fillers for children or automotive enthusiasts, shipping in windowed display boxes. Read our overview article regarding the models available and also check our in-depth look at their transforming models here. Browse the cars available on our webstore.
For a proper RC experience on a budget, look no further than this Wind Speed buggy!. One of our most popular sellers during the holiday season, this small ready-to-run RC buggy offers hobby-grade performance at catalogue-shop prices. This zippy little buggy features a shaft driven 4WD system and sports a large green roll cage with plenty of detail on both the roof rack and interior.
With good ground clearance it can cut across a mown lawn or gravel carpark with ease. We love the stamina of this little buggy, thanks to the lightweight chassis and body it just keeps on going! Then thanks to the USB charger you can top the battery up from a powerbank or any USB port even when you are out and about. You can pick up the buggy on our webstore but remember you will need 3x AA batteries for the controller to get running. If the green wheels and body aren't to your liking we also stock a red storm rider model which features a lower slung body but the same tried and tested chassis for the same price.
Looking for a ‘full size’ RC car? Maverick's Phantom XT a 1/10th scale ready-to-run RC truggy measuring just under 42cm long. With a longer wheelbase and a larger motor than the Wind Speed it is more stable at the higher speeds it is capable of. You get all the benefits of hobby grade RC such as oil filled dampers, a servo saver, waterproof ESC and a high-torque motor.
Arriving ready to run with car battery and USB charger , all you need are 4x AA batteries to power the transmitter. This model has proved a huge hit in the past 6 months and with such a low price point we expect it to maintain its popularity. You can pick one up on our webstore here and it qualifies for free next-day delivery in the uk!
We sell more cars in this price range than any other and its easy to see why. Our most popular models are packed with fun and arrive ready-to-run, with model batteries and chargers, just requiring AA batteries for the transmitters. The market is currently so competitive in this price bracket, that you can even bag a buggy with brushless power!
Rear wheel drive is cool, but on a loose surface AWD can be just as fun. Our most popular 4WD Truggy sold last year was this, the FTX Carnage. The budget shaft driven (open-diff) chassis features a slipper clutch, metal turnbuckles, oil-filled dampers, off-road tyres and much more.
Including a basic car battery and charger, the model is ready to run, yet requires 8x AA batteries for the transmitter. With a relatively short run-time, purchasing additional batteries for the buggy (such as this 4400mAh overlander one) is in our opinion a must.
We also sell a brushless edition of this Truggy for £199 and recently compared the performance between it and the brushed model above. TLDR? You are getting an effective 25% performance increase for your higher initial outlay, certainly something to consider if your budget will stretch to it! Learn more from our comparison article.
Another beloved FTX model, the Outlaw is a 4WD off road buggy with a trailing rear arm and plenty of suspension travel. Its shocks and ride height make it ideal for anyone who is looking to tear around a root-filled forest floor or a stoney beach. The crazy amount of suspension articulation is reminiscent of some of our RC crawlers but the buggy is geared for speed.
We particularly like that you can remove the body panels revealing the tubular roll-cage chassis underneath. When ‘naked’, this setup has a extreme-off-roader look and feel.
Much like the Carnage (and indeed the Vantage) the Outlaw is available with a brushless power-train, as reviewed here. We feel the more powerful and more efficient brushless electronics more than warrant the £75 price hike and thoroughly recommend it. For those on a budget, the FTX Outlaw Ultra-4 buggy can be purchased on our webstore.
Our budget crawler has made many fans this year. Beyond its passing resemblance to the Land Rover Defender, FTX’s crawler has a torquey 60T brushed motor, telescopic driveshafts, metal gears and a complex multi-link suspension giving it good off-road ability.
Shipped with a slightly weedy 1800mAh NiMH you need only supply the 8x AA batteries for the transmitter to get crawling. Check out the Kanyon on our webstore here.
As our cheapest brushless RC cars, the Quantum XT Flux has been flying off of the shelves. The stadium truck comes with an incredible 45A ESC hooked up to a 3300Kv motor which will power those oversize 2.8inch tyres across pretty much any surface with ease. It features independent double wishbone suspension, oil filled adjustable coil over shocks and metal gear differentials front and rear.
Maverick's 'Flux' brushless drivetrain is available in the stadium truck chassis pictured alongside a monster truck in either blue or green. Unsurprisingly for a model of this power, at this price point, the Flux variants of the Quantum cars do not include a battery or a charger. For beginners we recommend ordering a 2S LiPo battery from a reliable manufacturer such as this 3250mAh pack from Overlander. The sky is the limit when it comes to LiPo chargers but a simple balancing unit such as this and accompanying 'safe bag' also from Overlander, is probably safest for amateurs. You will also need the requisite 4xAA batteries for the transmitter.
At this price point you are typically purchasing a high quality, expertly designed model from an established RC manufacturer. Note that all of these models will require batteries and chargers.
Investing in the areas that matter most (to maintain a low purchase price) Axial have managed to make the Cherokee outstanding in every way. Hi-pinion differentials, geared-down metal transmissions, complex metal link suspension and steering system all combine with seriously grippy BF Goodridge tyres to allow the SCX10ii to conquer any challenge. When we tested the Cherokee we were blown away by its capability, read our review to see how we got on.
Axial’s SCX10 chassis is also available under Deadbolt, Jeep Wrangler, UMG10, Chevy Blazer, Honcho or the Jeep Cherokee body here. Note that you will need a battery and charger for this model but both can be picked up relatively inexpensively. This model has recently been superseded by the Mk3 with advanced portal axles and more, which we hope to review soon.
The revised Traxxas Rustler returns with 4WD, a low centre of gravity chassis and heavy duty driveshafts. Its modular composite frame is markedly stronger and more rugged than the budget models above. This brushless powered VXL edition packs an incredible punch and can clear 60mph+ with the correct gearing and a 3S LiPo!
At this price point things start getting fast, we are talking a genuine 60mph fast! Arrma’s 6S powered buggy is most definitely not for children. Its 150A ESC feeds that 2050Kv brushless motor pushing the 4WD buggy across grass/dirt/gravel with incredible pace. Built tough with oversize adjustable oil-filled dampers the truck can take the abuse a high speed rollover brings, something we found out first hand!
We were stunned by the power output of these electronics when we tested the manufacturers top speed claims in this article in the sister short course truck layout. You can pickup the Typhon from our webstore where combo deals are available to guide you through the battery and charger requirements for it.
From here on up you can expect the highest quality RC models on the market, highly capable or monstrously powerful cars and trucks from the best brands. Note again, all of these models will require batteries and chargers.
Traxxas’ TRX-4 Land Rover Defender was our car-of-the-year in 2017 and it is still rare to find such a detailed yet robust body on a complete and highly capable chassis, ready-to-run right out of the box. Its the sort of model that you are happy to keep on a shelf for display when you aren’t scaling roots in a muddy forest or rocky defences at the seaside. To give you a small insight into the feature set, it includes remotely lockable differentials, huge ground clearance thanks to portal axles, metal-gear servos and waterproof electronics. There is now even an optional tank track set if you find yourself regularly driving on loose sand or snow!
While it is listed as a crawler, its twin-speed remotely switchable transmission means you can kick it up a gear when in open terrain and the transmitter even includes a cruise control feature! Our original review is one of our most read articles and the subsequent brushless conversion coverage and light bar install have proved just as popular. You can pickup the Defender in grey, red or limited edition yellow over on our webstore, and don’t forget the battery and charger!
Potentially the biggest release for Christmas 2019, this scaled down X-Maxx promises to bring the mad monster-truck performance of its big brother in a more manageable, less expensive package. Capable of 55mph when fitted with a new 4S battery, the Maxx features a heavy duty drivetrain with torque-biasing centre drive, large GT-Maxx shocks at each corner and the same self-righting and stability management programs of the halo X-Maxx model.
Thanks in part to its scale looks, but mostly due to its fantastic capability, Traxxas’ UDR was our car-of-the-year in 2018. This trophy-truck style desert pickup stole our heart at the beach and the pump-track with its power, precision steering and incredible body control. Out of the box the remote-damper suspension is setup perfectly, allowing you to float it over big jumps and slide that rear-biased AWD chassis through turns in total control.
The details on this model are exquisite, minature race markers, fire extinguishers, engine fans ad more all finished with intricate markings, plus those deck-mounted wheels are fully functional spares! We could drone on about how great this car is for hours, so read our original review to learn more. Whilst the UDR will run on one battery, we would recommend buying this battery and charger combo at time of purchase.
This monstrous 8S powered beast has firmly held onto the crown as ‘King of RC Trucks’ for a couple of years now and its not hard to see why. At 78cm long, 54cm wide it weighs 8.6kg before you even put any batteries into it! Yet with two 4S batteries onboard and the optional pinion fitted it will wheelie its way to 50mph. Its all-metal shaft driven 4WD transmission is the very definition of bulletproof and shod with a square set of huge 14.5cm diameter tyres it is ready to take on anything you can throw at it.
We became slightly obsessed with hydroplaning the truck earlier this year and upgraded the already over-the-top X-Maxx till it could reliably drive on water. If you are planning on investing, we recommend reading our review first to understand what you are getting yourself into. Traxxas’ X-Maxx is available with a red, green or bright orange body. You will also need a charger and two 4S batteries to make it sing, and the most cost effective way to purchase them is currently this twin 6700mAh pack.
Finally it is worth mentioning for any ‘serious’ RC gift recipients, we do sell chassis kits. These builds are pretty niche these days and require a whole host of supporting components, thus are only suitable for seasoned hobbyists. We offer a limited selection of what we consider to be the best kits and can also supply the electronics needed to get them running.
If you are unfamiliar with RC toys it can be difficult to visualise how large they are. For guidance most of our models are ‘scale‘ models, labelled with a fraction such as 1/8, 1/10, 1/18, 1/32, but what does this mean? In simple terms it is the size ratio compared to the ‘real-life’ full size vehicle.
For example the HPI Racing Ford Mustang classified as a 1/10th scale model (although it is on the long side) and measures 431mm, 127mm tall and 200mm wide. This is approximately 10% of the size of the actual production car which (according to Wikipedia) measures 4784mm long, 1381mm tall and 1916mm wide.
As you can see from our example, in practice there is some variation. This is a product of manufacturers taking artistic license to adjust the design due to limitations of their chassis, or pre-existing elements such as wheels and tyres, to produce a design that just ‘looks right‘. To avoid confusion, wherever possible we include the dimensions of the model in our listing.
Its important to note that all of the models you see on this page are electric, powered by batteries. Whilst some include a battery for the model (and indeed some for the transmitter too) many do not. Further to this, some of the high-end models do not include a charger for the model battery either. Please take note of the ‘in the box’ section on our product listings to avoid disappointment on Christmas morning!
For the majority of the cars that include a battery, it will arrive at a ‘storage‘ level of charge, requiring a full charge before first use. Consider charging the model up a few days before wrapping and handing over the present to cover this off.
The batteries and chargers section of our webstore will have all the supporting products you need to get your RC car running. If you need assistance in selecting the correct parts to match your model, feel free to drop us a message.
Note that many model batteries are user removable (often without tools) allowing them to be ejected for charging, or replaced for batteries with larger capacity/higher burst rate for increased performance. Power systems can appear full of jargon and proprietary standards, so to address this we’ve put together this article to help beginners understand the basics, plus this article on to guide you through the more difficult elements of charging.
Finally, here at RC Geeks, we’re often asked how fast a specific car will go. We’ve written this short article to help you understand the variables which will contribute to an RC cars top speed, and hopefully give you some idea how fast your RC car can go.
Accidents can occur, so its good to know that we have your back. Should the worst occur and you damage your model, we can provide the parts you need to get back on the track; Simply use our simple spares finder to find them.
Our higher end models are ripe for modification and we have a wide range of wheels, tyres, bodies, electronics and more to hop-up your car. Check the ‘hop ups’ section for items that are suitable and feel free to contact our engineers to confirm compatibility.
The majority of the products here qualify for free next day delivery. Gifting something so specialised can be complicated so feel free to drop us a message if you require buying guidance
We are proud of our car selection and are happy to stand behind it. Whilst there are many cheaper models available on the high-street and in catalogue shops, we prefer to provide cars of a quality that we are confident to support.
Do you fancy buying something that flies instead? Then check out our Christmas Quadcopter Buyers Guide!