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RC Cars for Dads (recommended list for 2019/2020)

Old 04-17-2020, 09:16 PM
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funcentric
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Default RC Cars for Dads (recommended list for 2019/2020)

My first post. Hope someone finds it useful.

With the Covid-19 shelter-in-place happening, I figure it's good timing to release my recommended list of RC Cars for Dads. For the list, you can scroll to the red stuff below.

What does "RC for Dads" mean exactly? It means you're not necessarily into RC cars already, but want to introduce it to your child or reunite yourself with the hobby. Getting something up and running quickly w/o a lot of hassle and cost. To minimize or eliminate disappointment, read the details below.

Picking an RC car comes down to use. The prices these days are so competitive that the differences in the budget ones are only about $15-20 apart so it's not generally going to make or break the deal. It's really about what matches your intent. I do own all of the ones I'm recommending here. At some point, I'll have reviews of these on my Funcentric YouTube channel. In the meantime,

INDOOR OR OUTDOOR:
Indoor ones have their limitations for speed due to most people's limited access to a large indoor play area. We're therefore going to focus on outdoor RC cars. My only indoor recommendation at this time is limited to just this one. This doesn't mean there aren't other good indoor ones; this just happens to be the one I own for a particular purpose.

1/43 scale
9mph (rated but probably slower)
Pistol grip transmitter
4WD
Working LED headlights
$17 (version that runs on AAA batteries on Aliexpress when I got it, but it looks like only the Ni-Cd battery version is available these days for $20-22 which I think is way too high compared to the performance and quality of the $35-50 one coming up next on the list.

This is called the Blomiky on Amazon (goes by a ton of other names), but it comes with a Ni-Cd battery. For this scale and this toy grade RC, I would recommend the version that runs on AAA batteries for convenience and to eliminate the need to plan for charging the batteries before playing. Replacement batteries are about $8 which is half the price of the car, so another reason you don't want a dedicated battery for this vehicle. Much better to use rechargable AAA sized batteries that can be applied to other non RC devies in your home. This is the first introduction to RC. Expect a $17 RC. It's good for if you want to let your kids play with it on their own and as the parent, you don't intend on participating (much).

It's faster than you'd expect out of the box. It does have steering trim on the car itself (not on the transmitter). But after zipping around under the dining table and hitting mom/dad's feet, they may get bored and will want to move onto something faster that can do jumps which leads us to the next section.

NOTE:
If you came across this thread, you're probably already well read on some basics of RC cars, but I wanted to mention some important points here so you can save yourself the time if this comes as a surprise to you. The batteries that outdoor RC's operate on are Lithium-Ion or Li-Ion and will take over an hour to charge so it's something you need to plan in your day before playing. Run time for me is important, but a reasonable target for me is 15 minutes ish. Some vehicles with the the respecive included battery will be as low as 7 minutes and some as high as 20 minutes or more.

RUN TIME:
If you don't think 7 minutes of runtime is worth over an hour of time the battery has to sit on the charger, then you want to avoid anything rated below 15 minutes of run time. You can extend run time by having a larger Mah rating on the battery. It won't hurt the RC one bit. But the size is generally larger so it needs to physically fit in the battery tray.

Run time will differ drastically depending on how you operate the RC. Full throttle the whole time isn't normal practice. The HBX 18858 has a rating of 15-20 minutes and is legitimate from my experience. With stop time to grab an upside down RC truggy, taking a moment to grab your kid's sippy cup, pose to snap some photos, a single 2S 1100mah Li-Po battery on the HBX lasted me 45 minutes with time left over. Even the stock 2S 800mah battery (some will come with 650mah for some reason), it can last 20 minutes easily. So if you're not racing hardcore which I imagine you're not, you can definitely extend play time significantly by not running hard on the throttle and integrating other activities with RC'ing with your child (e.g. photography, snacks, laughing, flipping the RC car back over, taking turns with a sibling or other parent, etc).

In this budget RC article, we're not going to talk about C ratings and efficiencies and modding. I may cover that in a future article. This is mostly for parents wanting an RC to start playing with their kids right away.

PRICE AND DURABILITY:
Generally, the cheaper it is, the less we care about durability b/c we can "always just buy a new one." The pricier it gets, the more durable we will want and the more need for parts availability to repair. This is important b/c it means that a $50 toy grade RC is not a cheap RC. It's an expensive one when compared to one of equal price that does have spare parts availability and isn't just a throwaway if something goes wrong. We should look a pricing in terms of what alternative things you can get and not just an arbitrary number that sounds nice like, "under $50" or "under $100".

TOY GRADE VS HOBBY GRADE:
From here on out, the list will consist of hobby grade or near hobby grade vehicles. For anything over $20, I don't recommend toy grade unless it's a stunt vehicle that has proprietary features like climbing on the wall or operating upside down, etc (not featured in this list but looks fun too).

TOP PICKS FOR DAD'S AND KIDS:
When returning back to the hobby, I wanted something that was priced well and gauged for my kids. I wanted something small enough for them to handle and store on the shelf when not in use, for us to throw in the car and bring to a park easily, for them to hold with one hand. I also wanted something durable as this would be their first RC and would more than likely bump into more than a few things. On top of that I wanted something that was also fun for me (maybe even more fun for me).

With that in mind, I got the:

HBX (Haiboxing) 18858 (Hailstorm)
This truggy (buggy+truck) body style is pricier than the monster truck version which is called the 18859E Rampage which can be had for $55-60 on Aliexpress.
The feature that sold me was the slow mode on the transmitter. (Those that are already thinking of using your own transmitter, know that the ESC and Receiver are a 2-in-1 device so the replacement cost would probably not be worth the work or dollars). I clocked slow mode at 10mph and Normal mode at 1/16 scale
17mph on the stock Li-Ion battery pack.
Comes generally with a 2S 650mah Li-Ion battery but has been known to ship with an 800mah size.
Comes with LED headlights.
4WD
Upgradable shocks
Upgradable tie rods
Upgradable to run on 2S Li-Po batteries for quicker acceleration. I clocked this in at 21mph.

HS (HoSpeed) 18302
Specifically the 18301/18302 and not the 18311/18312 which has a different body style. The 18301/18302 will be much easier to clean but if you think it's worth it and like the 18311/18312, go for it. It's the same truck.
Sale price was really $35 but it's typically $45-50. Don't pay more than $50 b/c you've already seen above, there's a much better one for similar price.
Claimed as hobby grade, but it's borderline toy grade.
This is a clone of the LaTrax (Traxxas) Teton. Components and suspension entirely different but we're talking $35 vs $140 so you get the idea.
This was my first choice before discovering the HBX 18858. This 18302 is the only RC of this list that I bought specifically for reviewing. If you're choosing between this and the HBX 18859E, get the 18859E if you want the slow mode feature and/or plan to modify it. It's got better build quality, better access to parts on the chassis, more replaceable parts, features, the slow mode, upgradable, etc. However, if you're looking for a RTR out of the box and have no intention of tweaking anything, the HS 18302 is a very good buy for the price. It's so cheap that you can have fun NOT being as careful as you would normally with something more expensive.

Definitely get the 18302 over the HBX 18859E if this is a gift and you're trying to save a few dollars or aren't sure the recipient will like it, or are comparing Amazon prices of a 18859E ($70) to this 18302 at Aliexpress prices of $35-50.

HBX 16889
My kids quickly got the hang of it so they didn't need the slow mode feature for long. As such, there's another one I'd recommend which is brushless and not much more expensive.
$65 sale price recently on Aliexpress but $70-80 is actually still good.
Also 1/16 scale.
Has a wheelie bar for a reason.

With some research, you may be tempted to get the WL Toys A979b but don't do it. Yes, it's faster, but it's hard to control b/c it's overpowered. Yes, there's such a thing. The truck itself needs to be geared properly, sized properly, quality parts and good suspension to handle the power. Also people have reported reliability issues with binding of the stock transmitter with the stock receiver. It costs up to $10 more. Don't do it, especially if this is for your kid and you just want a RTR vehicle w/o messing much with it.

WL Toys 144001
For the modder but excellent out of the box. This is more for the dad than for the kid. I'd say 85% dad and 15% kid. Huge community of people modifying this so there's a great deal of literature and resources surrounding this. You'll be tempted to run it on 3S Li-Po stock but don't. If you do, don't say I didn't warn you.
Mostly metal parts including the chassis.
Huge parts support from various vendors for replacement parts.
$76-85
Handles better than its predecessor which is the WL Toys A959B, but the A959B's price of under $60 is attractive. With the price difference, you can budget an additional battery and dollars for repair parts.

ZD Racing Thunder 9106, AKA 10427, AKA ZMT10
I'm hesitant to add this to the list b/c of the issues people have been having with the differential but as a $5-8 replacement part and the cost of this brushless 1/10 scale truck being substantially lower than anything with those specs, it's a deal considered by some. The Arrma Granite 3S BLX is more than 2x the price at $300, but it's also much better built, much better quality components and well worth it. This list is more for the budget ones though. Just need to forewarn you. It's also equally important to know what you're NOT getting as to know what you ARE getting - for context.

The S version was released called the 9106S which dropped the regular one in price by a substantial amount.
9106 is $125-140 compared to 9106S at $170-185. S version has en enclosed chassis which makes assess a bit more challenging but provides more resistance to water and dirt. The recommendation here is the 9106. I don't have both so I haven't done speed tests, but from what I've seen, there's minimal difference if any. I would judge a decision based more on the access to the chassis which is better on the earlier model, the 9106.
There are of 30 pages on this forum alone on the poorly made differentials. So only get this if you're prepared to take this thing apart and replace it. It's the work that will scare you, not the price. The replacement differential is a $5-8 part. You may need to do the replacement more than once.
2S-Lipo battery is included (yes, Li-Po. Not Li-Ion).

CHARGING BATTERIES:
If you end up buying more than 1 RC and see yourself collecting maybe even 3 or more for you and your family, you'll want to get a hobby grade charger which will balance the cells in your batteries for longevity. The charger will also allow you to charge your batteries more quickly than the USB stick that comes with your budget RC.

A hobby grade charger won't charge more than one battery on its own. You'll need something called a "parallel board" which will let you do that but hookup and setup is critical as you don't want to do it wrong. I'll have an instruction video on my Funcentric YouTube channel to detail that out.

The charger I recommend for us Dads is by Tenergy, the Tenergy TB6B, $58 and includes the charging brick.

NOTE ON THE SKYRC IMAX B6:
You'll be tempted to get the SkyRC Imax B6 charger b/c $35 is plastered everywhere online. Be aware that NOT all come with the charging brick which you need to buy separately so read the description clearly on any charger labeled as a SkyRC product). There are indeed knockoffs out there (labeled LiPro Balance Charger at the top as opposed to the logo). I know there's plenty of people including those on this forum that swear by the $35 knockoffs (which I'm not arguing against ) vs the $60 real deal (be warned that some vendors are selling generic SkyRC Imax B6 for the chargers for the price of the genuine.) I've seen enough videos on the glitches and quality control issues on the generics and I'm not here to convince you to toss one you already have. If it works, go for it. If you don't have a balance charger yet and plan to, I do recommend the Tenergy TB6B. There's just less to think about. It comes with the charging brick and you don't need to worry about identifying a knockoff and the associated cost cutting measures it may or may not have.

The interface for all these chargers are the same, even on the higher end $100+ ones so it'll be easy to find instructions for it but setting up the LiPo vs Li-Ion isn't that obvious. From what I've seen, current videos are not all clear for casual first time users and Dads so I created one to help out anyone who had the same problem as I did trying to make sense of the interface. I can't post the video until I post 10x on this forum, so I'll go around answering some questions first and will update this later when I'm permitted to.
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Bobbize (04-29-2020)
Old 04-24-2020, 12:01 PM
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Thank you for such a great post. The timing is impeccable, I agree!
Three questions for you if I may:
1. Is there a slow mode on the HBX 16889? That's a key feature that I'm looking for.
2. Is there a slow mode on the WL Toys 144001?
3. If for the same price I can have the HBX 18858, HBX 16889 or WL Toys 144001, is there one that's the better choice? (They all seem to come up to the same price on Aliexpress for shipping to Canada.) My top criteria are suitability for kids and durability.
Thanks!

Last edited by Bobbize; 04-24-2020 at 10:35 PM.
Old 04-28-2020, 06:22 PM
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You're very welcome and certainly. Sorry for the late reply. I hadn't realized someone had responded.

1. Unfortunately there is no slow mode for the HBX 16889, however I suspect that the transmitter for the HBX Hailstorm / Rampage can be bound to the 16889, so it's a matter of purchasing both rigs or buying the HBX Hailstorm / Ramage transmitter separately. Part #16805 as a spare part. It's also available on Amazon, but it's $19.80 which is a bit steep considering you can get a Rampage ready to run shipped for about $55 from Aliexpress or $47 from Fasttech.

2. Definitely no slow mode for the WL Toys 144001. There may be a WL Toys transmitter that has throttle trimming which is essentially what you're looking for. Again, you'll have to buy it separately and I haven't tested this myself so I'm unsure. The receiver that comes in this rig is a 2-in-1 with the ESC so swapping out to your own transmitter means changing out the receiver and therefore the ESC also.

3. The challenge with these budget RC's is the price. They're all usually within $15 price difference of each other more or less and so it's not really a matter of price but about what suits your need. The HBX 18858 is for the modder and the slow mode feature. If you don't plan to use any other these, then the other two or even the HS 18301/18302 would be more than suitable for kids. It's just so dirt cheap and is ready out of the box. Alignment is better than the HBX 18858.

The HBX 16889 is brushless and has better top speed. It has a wheelie bar for a reason. The WL Toys 14401 is a truggy style, brushed, but there's a huge following for modding. It really depends on what you're looking for. I got the HS 18302 purely for review and was surprised to find that it was amazing for the price and would get it for anyone in a heartbeat. The WL Toys 144001 is more for older kids or adults. Not really a toddler. If you can share a bit more about your situation, I can probably better recommend one of the others.

Old 04-29-2020, 09:58 AM
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Wow, as of right this moment, Aliexpress has the HBX 18859E Rampage for $44.13 USD with shipping! Tax extra. Last night, I saw the HS 18302 for $39 and some change. Also shipped. Again tax is extra but both these are amazing deals. I haven't seen the Rampage for this cheap ever! It's a steal. If you are even considering, just order it. You won't regret it. Wow, I can't believe I paid $70 for my Hailstorm b/c I wanted the truggy style that desperately. If I was buying today, I'd snatch the Rampage right away. We're so lucky to be in this day and age where RC's of this quality and the fun factor is so high for such low prices. I'm still a bit in awe.
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Bobbize (04-29-2020)
Old 04-29-2020, 10:17 AM
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Hi funcentric,
Thank you for your replies. Your last email convinced me to pull the trigger on the Rampage. It is so cheap that I can't go wrong with it. I'm just hoping that the "18859" is the same as the "18859E" (or close enough). And that I can find extra batteries for it at my local hobby store.
Even if I end up buying a more expensive hobby grade RC vehicle, this little guy will allow more people to play together.
Thanks again!
Old 04-30-2020, 11:35 PM
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Awesome! Glad to share the fun.

Yes, I think they just wrote the number wrong. The 18859E and 18859 is the same. The latter is missing the E. When you get the extra batteries, make sure it has the red JST connector. If you're buying extras, you may as well get a Li-Po on vs the Li-Ion it comes with. The Li-Po will give you a bigger punch and slightly faster. Uses a different charger though so make sure you get that too if you don't have a hobby grade one. Yes, this is a good for letting others play too who can join you who may not have their own.
Old 05-17-2020, 11:24 PM
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I was wrong! It does wheelie with a Li-Po and some minor suspension tweaking:

Old 01-10-2021, 07:48 PM
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Finally did a full review on the HS 18302:

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