R/C stands for both remote-controlled and radio-controlled toys. The actual system here is different, but the principle is still the same. In both versions, one controls its toy with the help of a controller. The difference is in the fact that remote control implies that there’s a cord which connects a toy and its controller while radio control is carried over radio frequency (without a cord). Still, this division is obsolete today as most toys are radio-controlled, but they are marketed as remote-controlled toys. First toys that had this technology built in them were made in 1966 and have gradually evolved ever since. Today, there’s a lot of different versions of remote control toys and it has to be noted that not all of them are made for this purpose. During the seventies, competitions in which owners of remote-controlled cars used to race, were formed. These quickly became popular and they still exist today.
Toys themselves can be various. First ones were cars, but there are also remote-controlled trucks, boats, planes and helicopters as well. They are usually powered by nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium or lithium polymer rechargeable battery cells and a small electric motor, similar to plug-in all-electric vehicles that we have today. Remote-controlled toys are generally cheap and made out of few parts which made it hard to fix them if one of these parts fails. There are also hobby-grade remote-controlled vehicles which are rather superior toys. They are made of many more parts which can be easily replaced, but they also cost more, much more in some cases. These types of high-grade toys can even be powered by small internal combustion engines which use a special mixture of oil and methanol as their fuel. Even nitromethane can be used to power them, but these toys are more like rockets than vehicles. What makes them superior to rechargeable versions is the fact that they are ready to run at any time.
Operating remote-controlled toys is rather easy, at least for cars. They can either go left or right and they usually have a couple of speeds, forward and reverse. Boats follow the similar principle, but most of them come without the ability to go in reverse. Planes and helicopters might be harder to figure out and one should have some knowledge and experience in order to operate them. Helicopters have more controls than land vehicles and can perform all the actions that actual helicopters can and even some that real ones can’t. RC planes are also complex as they require taking-off and landing skills, but once you get a hold of it, operating them becomes fun, and it’s an understatement.
RC boats are like any other RC toy. They are mostly electric, but there are nitro and petrol options available as well. Simplest of these can be bought for less than $10 while advanced hobby-grade versions can cost a few hundreds of dollars. Most advanced versions of toys are controlled by 2.4 GHz radio system with multiple channels and they have either large battery packs or plenty of fuel storage space for a rather long drive. Simple ones, on the contrary, offer just about enough power through standard AA batteries so that even young children could enjoy them in your rubber pool in the back yard.
Remote-controlled cars are, however, still the most widespread RC toys around. Most affordable RC vehicles can be found for as low as $10, but they generally cost a little bit more. They use a remote controller with standard AA batteries and have additional batteries in themselves, used for power. You’ll also notice an antenna which usually sticks out of both car and controller, but most of the advanced versions of these toys have antennas built into their hull. There are many brands which produce RC cars, one of the most renowned being Traxxas. They mostly produce big-wheeled cars with great off-road capabilities. These are high-quality products which can cost more than $1,000, but can also come at a cheaper price, depending on power output, specs and power source. There are also real RC replicas mostly made by HPI-racing which is known by their die cast rally car replicas as well as by remote-controlled cars.
Helicopters and quadcopters (drones) are just like any other RC toys, considering the price. They are available for less than $30, but usually cost more as their body, power output and mechanics are more advanced than those of land RC vehicles. Professional hobby-grade helicopters can cost almost $2,000, and the same goes for quadcopters. These toys are able to carry something with them and are perfect options if you want to be creative. Flying a banner of some sort for both personal or professional use can be done with them for much less money than it would cost to rent a real plane. Walkera is among the manufacturers with the greatest renown and their products can even come with 5,000 or more mAh batteries.
RC planes are similar to heli and quadcopters, being RC aircrafts. They are also available in few different categories and can be utilized as both regular or hobby toys. Some simple toy planes cost as low as $20, but those of slightly better quality and with more realistic frames can usually be found for between $100 and $200. There’s no limit on actual planes here as you can browse between WWI, WWII or modern planes as well. There are even some fantasy frames which can be seen from time to time, but good old-fashioned Cessna model seems to be the most widespread of all. Even Airbus or Boeing can be operated, of course, in much lower ratio than it is the case with previously mentioned planes. Just like the helicopters, advanced RC planes can reach a much higher price and are known to have strong brushless electric motors and corresponding battery packs which power them.
All in all, remote control toys are a fun way to learn how to operate vehicles, both aircrafts and land-based ones as well. Options are limitless and there’s plenty of classes and versions in each category. This is what allows both young children and adults to indulge themselves and have fun by playing with these toys.