When it comes to kids’ toys, it’s always the ones that move that seem to grab little ones’ attention – and keep it. This is why a remote control car for kids is a wise investment when you’re looking for birthday or special occasion gift that grows with the child.
Banish any thoughts of unwieldy, tricky-to-control vehicles you might remember from your own childhood: in 2021, remote control cars for kids are as sleek as their full-sized counterparts.
There’s a diverse range on offer, with something for everyone. From cars you can take with you on-the-go to stunt racers and even cars and trains you control with an app or video game console. Most of these work on a 2.4GHz RC wireless receiver, which gives a range of up to 80m, speeds as fast as 20km/h and allows players to race multiple cars at once.
One thing we should mention is that most of these require more batteries than you can possibly imagine (we counted a grand total of seven for one of them), typically a combination of AA and AAAs since the car and the remote often take different battery sizes. Even the ones that come with charging cables typically need a couple of batteries for the controller.
How we tested
We have been testing these cars at home, in the park and on playdates with various children throughout the summer months. They’ve raced, done quadruple flips down stairs, navigated various terrains in dry and wet weather, been played with by humans of all genders and ages and have nearly run over many small (and larger) toes.
RC cars are a lot of fun for bringing kids and adults together, encouraging some friendly competition, and these are the best of the bunch.
The best remote control cars for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Remote control transforming stunt car: £39.99, Very.co.uk
- Best for (toy) passengers – Bladez Barbie radio control dream car: £39.99, Smythstoys.com
- Best immersive experience – Mario Kart Live: home circuit nintendo switch game: £79.99, Argos.co.uk
- Best style – Spin master monster jam official megalodon: £59.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for jumping – Spin Master air hogs jump fury: £39.99, Smythstoys.com
- Best for stunts – Spin Master monster jam official grave digger freestyle force: £65, Amazon.co.uk
- Best budget option – Remote control stunt car: £15, Freemans.com
- Best for younger kids – Disney Pixar Toy Story 4 remote control turbo buggy - Buzz Lightyear: £32, Freemans.com
- Best on all terrains – 1:12 scale remote control monster truck car adjustable: £49.99, Very.co.uk
- Best for the classic car lover – Lamborghini Aventador remote control car: £12.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for portability – Bladez Hot Wheels 1:28 race team RC car: £12.99, Bladeztoyz.co.uk
- Best for train lovers – Hape remote controlled railway: £23.92, Amazon.co.uk
Remote control transforming stunt car
We’re a bit obsessed by 2-in-1 toys so this car immediately caught our attention: press a button and it transforms from a speedy flat car to a high-level off-roader. It’s brilliant fun, climbs on everything, races along walls, scales piles of books in its way and even drives upside down – without needing a person to constantly come over and readjust it.
Plus, it’s as good indoors as it is outside. If you want the car to do the work, there’s even a button you can push so it’ll move on its own. The price point makes sense for all that it offers, and it’s less of a faff battery-wise than several others.
Bladez Barbie radio control dream car
Best: For (toy) passengers
This sleek Barbie car promises to give any doll a ride, but our testers will confirm it does a lot more than that. It squeezes a whole range of different toys into the passenger and driver’s seats, from stuffed animals to baby dolls (some of whom were rather large). This makes it a fabulous ride, considering no other RC car we tested has the capacity to accept passengers.
We also like the stylish lights at the front and back and the controller is easy to use. Our one negative? This RC car requires a lot of batteries up front. And we’d love it if it came in a colour besides pink.
Mario Kart Live: home circuit nintendo switch game
Best: Immersive experience
This future of RC cars is here and it looks like Mario Kart in the real world, complete with a racing car, gates and arrow markers to set up in your space. This works with the Switch (and can be played on your TV) and takes you from your living room to the desert and ocean as other Mario characters come alive and start racing alongside you. And just like in the video game version, mushrooms give you a boost; red shells slow you down.
For parents worried about too much screen time, this game really does have the best of both worlds as our testers were wandering around following the Kart on its journey and guiding it, too. It’s suitable for multiple players at once, but they’ll each need their own Kart.
Spin master monster jam official megalodon
The Megalodon is a car that makes you do a double-take: every single child who saw this thing wanted it, regardless of age. Among Megalodon’s virtues is the impressive ability to take a battering – this guy went spinning and bashing its way down staircases too many times to count – as well as its wheels, which power over any terrain including tile, wood, stone, fake grass and water. Megalodon is also adept at spinning in circles and was one of the fastest of the bunch, so will be suitable for older kids (including the 10+ set).
Spin Master air hogs jump fury
Best: For jumping
This RC car is great for a lot of reasons: it’s super-lightweight, so you can take it places, with foam wheels that won’t trash your floors. Plus, it has an amazing capacity to jump – it’ll fly down stairs and spring up to 55cm in the air. While we couldn’t quite get it to leap over objects as advertised, it’s impressive enough even when it’s not doing that, with a 200ft range.
Spin Master monster jam official grave digger freestyle force
Best: For stunts
If you want a car with the power to do nose and tail wheelies – while in motion – 360 spins and all kinds of jumps, then Spin Master’s grave digger is your ideal stunt car. You don’t need to be a pro as even a novice can manage push-button stunts with this truck. The skull print graphics, metallic accents and BKT tyres ensure this monster truck makes a bold visual statement the kids will find impressive.
Remote control stunt car
Best: Budget option
One of the smaller ones we tested, this is your value-for-money RC car. It can move in multiple directions and both the body and wheels turn. It worked for us on a variety of surfaces and is easily portable, so it’s one you can pack in a bag and take anywhere.
Disney Pixar ‘Toy Story 4' remote control turbo buggy, Buzz Lightyear
Best: For younger kids
One of the smaller remote control cars we tested, this Buzz Lightyear buggy packs a lot into its petite package – it can even ride along on just the back wheels. We like the remote, which includes a turbo speed function and goes forwards, backwards and turns easily. The Buzz Lightyear figure is a hit with the kids too; the only thing that would improve this car would be to have the option of removing him for play inside and out of the car. This is a great first RC car option for your four or five-year-old.
1:12 scale remote control monster truck car adjustable – Orange
Best: For all terrains
This monster truck has an adjustable chassis so it can be lowered or raised, whether you’re looking for speed or the ability to get through all sorts of terrain (those sturdy tyres in rock crawler mode can manage just about anything). We really like how the remote switches between left and right-handed options, so many of these toys are designed for the right-handed among us, and it has a driving range of 25m. This is a bigger-sized truck with massive wheels, designed with older kids in mind.
Lamborghini Aventador remote control car
Best: For the classic car lover
This mini Lamborghini is built 1:18 to the scale of the real deal, and is a stylish addition to any mantlepiece when it’s not being used as a racing car. The officially licensed design comes with a trigger-style remote that takes the car in all directions. It appealed to every adult who saw it as much as to the kids.
Bladez Hot Wheels 1:28 race team RC car
Best: For portability
This Hot Wheels racing car is ultra-petite – and therefore perfect for throwing in your bag or packing in the suitcase – but it can still race at speed, going up to 8km an hour. There are six different, brightly hued styles to collect, it goes in any and every direction and the controller is easy enough for a four-year-old to work on their own.
Hape remote controlled railway
Best: For train lovers
This train is controlled via a (free) app that works with Bluetooth and plays different sounds. It’s suitable for kids as young as three, who can make it go forwards, backwards or bring it to a stop. It includes a charging cable and will work on most wooden train tracks you have. Our testers, aged three and five, spent hours with this train – and weren’t even bothered about the app.
The verdict: Remote-control cars
The RC Transforming Car from Very does a lot, including changing its appearance, to keep kids entertained for hours with its tricks and ability to go off-road. For older kids, the shark-themed Spin Master Megalodon – which goes through water – can’t be beaten. And if you have a Switch and need a new game that gets the kids moving around a bit, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is endless fun for every family member.
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