By Joe Rich
When looking for your first RC car you will come across Toy grade RC cars and Hobby grade RC cars. So what is the difference? Well there is a great deal of difference as we shall explain.
What is the Difference between Toy grade or Hobby grade RC car
Table of Contents
Toy grade RC cars are made with a focus on minimising costs and as the title implies aimed at the toy market.
The electronic parts are usually vastly inferior than those found on hobby grade RC cars.
If the parts were to fail then because usually spares are unavailable the model is scrap but because the cost was low to begin with this is something the hobbyist was willing to accept.
On the plus side maintenance is virtually zero.
Price dictates performance
Price dictates performance because stock toy grade RC cars are fitted with low performance motors and are powered by heavy NiCad batteries.
This limits top speed to around 5 – 10 mph which is good news for the beginner because there is usually no suspension of any type and the throttle and steering are either on or off or left or right.
This means low maintenance and easy to control.
Toy grade RC cars are great for youngsters who want to get into this great hobby but even for the older beginner they are great for learning the basic car controls and because of the low cost you can crash as many times as you like without it damaging your wallet.
Hobby grade RC cars are not recommended for the beginner RC car driver until the basic skills are learnt but when you are ready to upgrade the best way would be an electric RC car.
I started with a Tamiya kits these are electric powered these are great because I had to build the car I learnt so much about how the car went together how it worked and when it came to maintain and repair I know how to dismantle and reassemble.
So if you have the skill set then this is the way I would recommend to get going.
If do not want to assemble it yourself you can get RTR or ready to run cars as the name suggests the car comes already built even the body is painted and detailed all you need to do is put a battery in get a transmitter and away you go.
Another option is to go nitro or Nitromethane these RC cars have a small internal combustion engine and can have amazing speed so some skill is needed to control this type of car.
Nitro cars are very much like full sized cars when it comes to acceleration, they take time to spin up the clutch where a electric motor has lots of torque and has almost instant acceleration.
Running time is another plus for Nitro. Nitro cars can be refuelled in seconds so the run time can be a lot longer than battery powered cars.
These can suffer from overheating through over use and unless you have a good supply of batteries run time can be cut short, and then those batteries will have to be recharged for next time for up to 8 hours for each.
Where electric will score high over Nitro is maintenance for the engine and mixing the fuel though this can be bought ready mixed.
Going back a few years hobby grade RC cars only came as kits. These were good for learning how the car was put together and that also taught you how to repair the car at a later date.
Now days most hobby grade RC cars are RTR or ready to run these are pre assembled with the chassis, running gear, electronics all made up and the body trimmed and painted.
Were toy grade parts were cheap and non replaceable hobby grade are better quality and have fully customizable components, Tamiya are possibly the only major manufacturer still making kits on a large scale.
Toy grade RC cars are usually all electric powered but hobby grade can be either electric or nitromethane another choice is gasoline powered these tend to be larger scale.
Toy grade electric powered RC cars come with brushed motors and ESC electronic speed controller, hobby grade can have brushed equipment or brushless but are easy to upgrade to the latter.
Cost wise the only expense is spare batteries and a good quality peak detection charger.
Nitromethane powered RC cars have a internal combustion engine fitted of small capacity of between 0.15 and 0.35 cubic inches.
They are similar to 2 stroke engines in that most of the cooling comes from oil that mixed with the fuel.
The electronics are different than electric with a servo for the throttle and another for the steering.
One thing to consider is sometime a engine rebuild or replacement will be necessary this can be a nuisance cost.
Other costs you will have are starting equipment you will need a system of cranking the engine a pull start, battery operated starter or a electric drill. Glow plugs and ready mixed fuel.
Gasoline powered RC cars are top end of this hobby they run on a mix of gas and oil like the nitros.
Gassers or fuelies as they are sometimes referred to have a engine that can be the same 2 stoke that is fitted to your garden trimmer or chain saw.
These engines last longer and require less tuning than nitro powered also less equipment to start.
Scale wise they are much bigger coming in at 1:8 or 1:5 scale so require loads more room to run.
These cars are used a lot by professional racers but that does not mean that somebody who starts out in this great hobby today cannot work their way up to this level of racing.