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Choosing remote control toys

RC, which stands for radio controlled or remote controlled devices, use radio signals emitted from a hand-held transmitter to control the miniature automobile or truck. Drones are similar but a bit more complicated because they can use apps to control flying. If you're looking for some great RC toys for yourself or your children, here are some important things to consider as you begin shopping.

You can find RC automobiles and trucks that are attached by wire to the control and some that aren't attached by wire to the control. There are some important differences to think about.

  • Radio controlled: A true radio controlled vehicle is wireless, and it won't have a wire attaching the devices because it uses invisible radio waves that reach an antenna to do the job. However, the transmitter needs batteries to run.
  • Remote controlled: Devices that are attached to each other by wire are simply called remote controlled vehicles. Power from the batteries flows through the wires to control the automobile. This is ideal for younger children so they can play easily by keeping both parts connected to one another.

Remote control drones

Now that drones are more affordable and accessible than ever, how do you choose one? Here are a few questions to ask before jumping into the world of RC drones:

  • Have you or your gift recipient ever flown a drone before? This is important because drones aren't all alike. Some are easier to fly and control than others. Beginners may not have the skill level needed for a more advanced drone. But advanced fliers may find basic drones boring and not challenging.
  • Is there a smartphone available to control the drone? Most recreational units are controlled by an app on your smartphone. Higher-end drones typically come with dedicated remote controls that allow you to fly them.
  • What's the difference between a drone and a quadcopter? A drone is a broad term used to describe an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and a quadcopter is a type of drone with four rotors that each have a motor and a propeller. They're more commonly used for recreational activities.
  • Are there Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) drone rules and regulations for amateurs? Whether you fly a drone for entertainment or for commercial reasons, there are guidelines that apply to everyone. Those guidelines include the following. Do not fly near other aircraft, near airports, groups of people, stadiums, sporting events or emergency efforts. Fly at or below 400 feet.
  • Does the drone need to be registered? If you're a hobbyist flying a drone, you shouldn't be using it for a commercial purpose, so you most likely aren't required to register a drone with the FAA. Always check with your town hall to make sure you know about registration issues regarding drones.
  • Can anyone purchase a professional drone? Yes, there are high-end drones, and quadcopters, that have starter bundles to offer everything you need to use for commercial purposes. Higher-end drones can accelerate to top speeds of over 60 mph in order to capture the best images.

Remote control cars and race cars

Perhaps you've always wanted a sports car. Now it's possible with a fully functional RC version. Or opt for stunt cars that climb walls and turn upside down. To get the younger set started on RC toys, consider new RC bumper cars that perform 360 spins when they hit each other. Drive down memory lane with RC slot car sets with tracks for hours of racing fun.

Remote control trucks, SUVs and buses

  • For monster truck fans seeking extreme fantasy play, try RC monster trucks that look like the real thing, only in mini-size.
  • SUVs, down a notch from RC monster trucks, can still take the roughest, toughest play. A four-wheel drive truck will have kids wanting to study for their licenses years before they need to crack open the manual.
  • RC tourist and school buses are great ways to help kids feel more comfortable with travel when they can control their toy version. If you're hoping to help your young child feel happy about getting on a school bus, help him or her along with a fun RC version that looks just like the real thing, only quieter.