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Toy Grade vs Hobby Grade RC Cars – What’s the difference?

Parents and new hobbyists, you’re here because you have a pressing question that needs answering and you will not stop until it is answered! Is there really that big of a difference between a toy grade RC car and a hobby grade RC car? To some it might seem like they’re one and the same, but that simply isn’t the case!

What is the difference between a toy grade vs a hobby grade RC Car? A Toy grade RC car is less powerful, less sturdy, and is not meant to be taken apart. If they break, then you have to replace the whole car. In comparison, hobby grade does have the option to replace the parts to keep them for longer periods of time.

Ok, that answered my question, why should I keep reading? If you’re a parent, it will be useful to know the difference in prices. For all you new hobbyists, you’ll get to know your new hobby a little more in depth and have a much better understand of what to look for in a RC Car.

What is a Toy Grade Radio Controlled Car?

Typically toy grade RC Cars are found in toy stores, department stores, or electronic shops. They are similar to hobby grade solely on the fact that they are both controlled with radio frequencies via transmitters to communicate between the controller and car.

The similarities end there. Toy grade cars tend to be the cheaper of the two, around $50 depending on the car you get. Typically the cars are not as durable as hobby grade, typically do not have replaceable parts, and aren’t as powerful.

Wait! So why do they still make them if they’re not as good? Glad you asked! Toy grade toys are great for kids and new hobbyist. Because they are the least expensive of the two options, when they break, it’s not as big of a loss. The controls tend to be easier for beginners without taking away from the fun of the toy itself.

What is a Hobby Grade Radio Controlled Car?

Hobby grade Radio Controlled Cars are the more expensive of the two. You’d buy this RC Car in a hobby store. It does have replaceable parts, the transmitter is less likely to be interfered with by other toys (one draw back of the Toy Grade) and the car overall is more durable.

The transmitter might have more channels. A channel is a very fancy way to describe what the frequencies control- the steering, the throttle, the lights, the music, etc. The car is also easier to replace the parts on. With the replaceable parts, it’s also easier to upgrade it if necessary. Or if you just want to.

What is the difference in durability?

Imagine a bike going up against a minivan, which is gonna win? A toy grade RC car is a very flimsy fabric that covers the small engine. Its transmitter is more likely to catch interference from other toys if they have the same frequency.

When the frequencies are crossed, the cars act up. In comparison, Hobby grade are made of stronger material. Hobby Grade RC cars can be used for various activities. Most commonly they are used for racing.

They’re more durable because they are being knocked into by other cars. Can’t have plastic shards flying into people’s eyes! The transmitters for Hobby grade RC Cars are not as temperamental as the toy grade. You can have multiple Hobby grade cars without risking ruining them or crossing frequencies.

What is the difference in price?

There is a very big price difference when it comes to a toy grade and a hobby grade RC car. A decent toy grade RC car might be about $50, compared to a decent hobby grade which might be upwards of $120.

Part of the price gap comes from the fact that hobby grade is far more durable than the toy grade. Hobby grade has replaceable parts, absorbs the impact of the turns easier, and has more power. They’re far more likely to last longer. If the battery dies, no worries! You can easily order the part and replaces it with little hassle. You’re paying for convenience.

Are parts replaceable on the hobby grade?

The short answer is YES! That’s why you pay a more for a hobby grade RC Car. Hobby grade cars are typically used for racing, so it makes sense that you should be able to replace the parts. If you want to replace parts of your car, you have to understand what might be causing the problem.

For example, if you trying to steer the car around corner, is it sliding towards the outside of the corner or is it turning inside the corner? If it turns out, it is understeering. If it turns in, it is oversteering.

This problem is linked to the damper/ the shocks. The shocks are what absorbs the impact of turns and what keeps your car from playing bumper cars.

Can you upgrade the shocks on a hobby grade?

First question really should be: what are shocks? Shocks are also called dampeners. What they do is they absorb the energy that occurs from a sudden impulse. They keep your RC car from flying all around the track or road or wherever you’re driving it.

You can upgrade it or manipulate them a number of ways. Damper there are some standard parts: the piston, o-ring seals, shock Shaft, and oil. For less resistance you can use larger piston holes or less viscous oil. For more resistance, smaller holes and thicker oil.

If you’re planning on racing, you really want to make sure that you won’t be flying all around the track and that you can take those sharp turns. Is it over turning or under turning? Well don’t worry, there are plenty of DIY Upgrading shock videos online to help you figure it out. They’re easy to understand and make your life much easier.

Can you easily upgrade the parts of a hobby grade?

With this question it really depends on which part you’re planning on upgrading. Much like a normal car, there are some parts that are much easier to find/replace/upgrade than others. Unlike a normal car, you can replace the engine and motor much, much cheaper than your normal car.

You can find the parts on places like Amazon or from local hobby shops. Also, don’t be afraid to look at chat rooms for some help! They’ll be able to help you out and might even have advice on which are the best parts to buy. If only all car upgrades were this easy!

Is there more support for hobby grade RC cars?

There is more support when it comes to support for this grade of car. Because hobby grade cars are more expensive and are used for different purposes, and typically they are used by teens and adults rather than children, more care is put into them.

There are articles on how to upgrade different parts of the car, such as the engine and battery.  There is some support for Toy Grade cars, but it is not as easy to fix those. They aren’t meant to be fixed, they’re meant to be replaced. Fixing your RC car might seem hard, but a few easy searches will put all your troubles at ease.

What is the best Hobby Grade RC Car?

If you’re looking here, then you’re looking for a real deal RC car. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place! Here are some of the best RC Cars for beginners:

  • Traxxas 4-TEC- 4wd 1:10 scale sedan, made for racing, allows you to run at a reduced power.
  • Losi Micro-T Stadium Truck- best for beginners on a budget.
  • Traxxas Bandit XL-5- 2WD RC buggy (Click for the difference between a Buggy & Truggy).
  • Traxxas Stampede XL-5- 2WD RC monster truck.
  • Traxxas Rustler XL-5- 2WD RC stadium truck.
  • HPI E10 Car- Entry level 1:10 scale RC car, built with beginners in mind.

These are only six of the options for a hobby grade RC car for beginners. There are more cars to be discovered for beginners, with all types of budgets in mind! If you continue to grow your collection. There are even more options available for you to choose as your skills grow!

What is the best Toy Grade RC Car?

It depends on who the car is for. In terms of Toy Grade cars, if you’re a hobbyist just trying out the RC circuit, consider getting a Tamiya to start out at first. NitroRCX’s are also a community favorite and is described as ‘barely hobby-grade.’ Tyco’s were a super popular choice in the 90’s.  One car suggestion is a Maisto RC Rock Crawler Extreme. It’s a $40 car, so even if the car doesn’t last as along as you’d like, or you figure out that RC cars aren’t for you, it’s not a big monetary loss. Start small and build your way up.