The mid-1960s was the first time that commercially available remote-controlled cars were on the market, and they’ve certainly come a long way since then.
Today, there’s far more than just cars for the RC hobbyist or casual user, and you might be surprised to learn how many different variations you can own.
So, what types of RC vehicles are there and what can you do with them?
Remote controlled vehicles include ones that drive on road, off road, fly in the air, and swim through the water. There are countless models of cars and trucks, air vehicles like helicopters and planes, and even remote-controlled aquatic crafts like boats and submarines.
RC vehicles truly come in all shapes and sizes and each one is as fun as the next to try and master.
This definitive list will show you exactly what’s possible in a remote-controlled vehicle and what they’re all about, giving you some inspiration for the next addition to your collection.
- 1 Remote Controlled Cars
- 2 Remote Controlled Trucks and Monster Trucks
- 3 Remote Controlled Buggies
- 4 Remote Controlled Rock Crawlers
- 5 Remote Controlled Planes
- 6 Remote Controlled Helicopters
- 7 Remote Controlled Boats and Submarines
- 8 Remote Controlled Tanks and Military Vehicles
- 9 Related Questions
Remote Controlled Cars
Remote controlled cars are perhaps the largest category of RC vehicles and also the most popular.
An RC car is usually built for swiftness and the average speed they reach is around 40 – 80mph with some capable of going over 100mph.
The fastest recorded RC car clocked in at just over 200mph, although this is far beyond what most commercial or hobbyist vehicles are capable of.
There are a few different types of cars including on-road, rally, and drift, and it’s up to you to decide where you want to drive and race it.
They’re better suited to paved or flat surfaces and indoor use, and not generally recommended for off-road driving unless they have modifications available that allow you to change their suspension and tires.
There are countless types of cars available with some modeled to be exact replicas of famous makes and models, and others the original design of the brand.
They’re powered mainly by batteries but the faster models that reach speeds over 80mph might be powered by nitro gas.
These are usually more expensive and harder to maintain, but a popular choice among serious hobbyists who use their RC vehicles for racing.
RC cars are pretty affordable compared to some of the other vehicles and depending on the features they have you could spend anywhere from $20 to over $1,000 for one.
There are customizations available that make them more expensive and you can buy them ready to race (RTR) or as a kit that lets you build the vehicle yourself from scratch.
Remote Controlled Trucks and Monster Trucks
For something a little more serious made for off-road adventures, remote-controlled trucks are a good option.
These are modeled similarly on trucks in real life but usually capable of taking on more extreme conditions like off-road racing, thanks to modifications in their suspension.
Thanks to the invention of brushless motors and lithium batteries, there are now fewer gas-powered trucks around and more electric ones.
This enables them to reach higher speeds for their weight and build without the downsides of using gas, and also reduces their cost and maintenance significantly.
RC monster trucks are a specialty category that has grown a lot in popularity and they’re modeled after the real-life monster trucks that share their name.
Typically, their wheels are larger and they have durable suspension systems so they can handle on-road and off-road terrain with ease.
Both standard RC trucks and monster trucks have benefits over other vehicles thanks to their size and they’re capable of holding cameras and other accessories.
They’re also able to reach terrain that others can’t, so a good idea for the hobbyist looking to do more than just drive their RC vehicle on a paved and flat surface.
Remote Controlled Buggies
Buggies and truggies are two commonly used RC vehicles that are found in racing.
Designed to be a hybrid between trucks and cars, and they usually come with a built-in roll cage and other features that help them with off-road racing and rough terrain.
There are a few key differences between buggies and truggies including the size of their tires, how the car’s body covers the chassis, and whether they’re a two or four-wheel drive.
Generally, a truggie is a larger version of the buggie and this includes everything from tires to chassis, but overall they’re designed to offer the best of both worlds between a car and a truck.
RC buggies are high-performance vehicles that look a lot like standard RC cars but they usually have a low center of gravity and better handling at high speeds.
They’re suitable for on and off-road racing but might struggle with some harsher terrains and potholes.
An RC truggy is more suited to rough tracks compared to a buggy, and can usually withstand crashes and damage a lot better.
Remote Controlled Rock Crawlers
Just as the name suggests, an RC rock crawler is a vehicle capable of crawling over rocks and another rough terrain.
These RC vehicles include models like rock racers, trail rigs, and technical rock crawlers, with some made for racing sport and others just for fun.
They’re commonly built to a 1:10 scale and can be perfect replicas of existing vehicles, or completely original designs.
The first instances of rock crawlers were mainly used for crawling over rock piles but they’re now more versatile in what they can do.
They’re purpose-built vehicles capable of going where most cars and trucks can’t, adding a new challenge to racing or just giving you unchartered territory to explore.
When raced, rock crawlers compete against other RC vehicles to make their way over rock piles and other obstacles with the first one crossing the finish line declared the winner.
These RC vehicles are usually 4WD and powered by batteries, and feature tires with an aggressive tread that allows them to grip onto and roll over rocks and other terrains.
Their body is built more solidly to prevent too much damage if they tip over and they’re definitely better suited to off-road driving.
Remote Controlled Planes
A remote control airplane is a plane that can be controlled by a handheld transmitter, but within this description, there are many different makes and models to try.
RC planes come in many different categories including trainers, acrobatics, warbirds, vintage RC plans, and more, with trainers being ideal for beginners and acrobatic planes for those with some skill who want to start learning tricks and stunts in the air.
RC planes come in many formats from fully assembled and ready to fly all the way to plane kits that require you to complete their assembly.
They come in a wide range of prices with the cheapest ones costing around $30 for a very basic model to well into the thousands for serious acrobatic planes.
Other features that can determine the quality and price of an RC airplane is their transmitter range, wing stability, materials, size, engine, steering, and landing gear.
A good trainer plane is the best place to begin if you’re learning to fly a radio-controlled airplane, and as your skills progress, you’ll lean towards a plane with features that better suit how and where you want to fly.
Remote Controlled Helicopters
RC helicopters are one of the most common types of RC vehicles you might see being enjoyed and they range from basic models you can fly in your house to large scale helis that can be flown at local flying fields and parks.
An RTF or ready to fly helicopter comes fully assembled with everything you need straight out of the box, or you might opt to build your own with a kit.
Remote controlled helis used to be more of a luxury item due to the damage they took when they crashed, but thanks to advancements in stabilization technology, gyros, and the materials and craftsmanship used to make them they’re a lot more durable today.
The larger the helicopter, the tougher it will be, but there can still be mini and micro helis that are just as powerful.
Learning to fly an RC copter can be a challenge due to the many controls including pitch, roll, and yaw.
These copters can be categorized by their rotor systems with types like coaxial and multirotor available.
There is a wide range of variations that can change the quality and price of an RC helicopter, but most modern types use an electric motor to power up.
Remote Controlled Boats and Submarines
RC boats and submarines can be enjoyed at local ponds, lakes, and swimming pools, so they’re a bit more limited than other vehicles.
They usually come with an electric motor powered by batteries but there are gas powered boats available as well.
An RC boat can be made to scale as a replica of just about any watercraft and they’re categorized by the shape of their hull.
Hydroplanes, monoplanes, catamarans, and tunnel hulls are the four main types, with some faster than others and some better at handling.
Within each of these categories, boats can be made for either racing, sailing, or as scale models for casual users and collectors.
RC submarines can be controlled via radio underwater and might also come with other features, like an attached camera.
They’re able to go underwater but may be susceptible to loss of signal, so they usually come with some failsafe methods to help users retrieve them.
They range from hobby submarines for diving to military controlled RC submarines used for operations.
Remote Controlled Tanks and Military Vehicles
Tanks and military vehicles make up a special part of the RC vehicle list, being used for fun and other recreational activities like scale model wars and battles.
There are two main types made from either plastic or metal, both in varying ranges of quality and durability.
RC tanks are generally modeled from genuine military designs and these scale replicas include parts like tracks and wheels, as well as functions like recoil, turret rotation, sounds, and smoke.
Some RC tanks and vehicles are used in the game of airsoft and can shoot pellets as part of their capabilities, all being controlled remotely by the user.
Military-based RC vehicles include rock crawlers, trucks, and other armored vehicles, made for either casual use or to take part in reenactments and scale model battles with other users.
Both the vehicles and tanks come as completely ready to race models or in kits that you can build for yourself, depending on what your interests are.
There are hundreds of different types of RC vehicles available and so many makes and models to choose from.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or serious hobbyist it can be hard to navigate through them all, so we’ve answered some common questions that people have about RC vehicles to make it a little easier to understand.
What is an RC Vehicle Kit?
RC vehicle kits build your own kits that give you everything you need to make your own car, truck, plane, or another type of vehicle.
They all for some customization and personalization and add a further challenge for those interested in RC vehicles, giving them a chance to make it for themselves.
What is the Difference Between Brushed and Brushless RC motors?
Brushless motors are the preferred choice for RV vehicles because they tend to last longer, won’t deteriorate as fast, and run more efficiently.
They tend to run longer when it comes to battery life as well which makes them ideal for RC vehicles.
How Does an RC Transmitter Work?
An RC toy is built with a receiver somewhere inside an this is controlled with a remote device that has a radio transmitter.
The transmitter sends it signals over the radio frequency to the receiver in the toy that allows the user to give it different commands.