When you’re thinking about buying your first RC car, all the choices can be intimidating. The pros talk about “scales,” but you just want to know how big the car is. What’s the difference between a 1:18, a 1:14, and a 1:10 scale car anyway?
RC car scales are relative to the full-size model, so a 1:16 tank will be larger than a 1:16 car. The smallest RC cars are 1:76 scale and around 2 inches (5.08 cm) long. The biggest RC cars weigh over 175 lbs (79.38 kg) and run on gasoline. 1:10 is the most popular scale among RC car hobbyists.
This article will discuss the various RC car scales available today, and we’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages of tiny and large RC cars. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to decide which RC car scale works best for you.
What Does RC Car Scale Mean?
RC car scale means the ratio between the RC car’s size and the full-size model. If a full-size off-road vehicle is 16 ft (4.88 m) long, a 1:12 (or 1/12) RC model of that ORV will be 16 inches (40.64 cm) long. A 1:12 model of an 8-ft (2.44 m) long dune buggy would be half that size.
What are The Smallest RC Cars Available?
In 2002, SONY designer Michihiro Hino of Tokyo, Japan, set the Guinness world record for the smallest radio car. His 1:90 perfect scale model of a Mercedes SMART car was 1 inch (25.4 mm) long.
Unfortunately, SONY never put Hino’s tiniest of tiny RC cars on the mass market.
At 2 inches (50.8 mm) long, the PriceBubby RC Cars Radio Control 2.4GHZ VT System is a lot of fun in a tiny package.
You might not be able to take it off-road, but you can drive these little RC cars all-around your room or race them on a basement track, and they need just 30 minutes to be fully charged.
Watch this YouTube video about RC racers taking their 1:76 cars out on the track:
If you’re looking for something bigger, the 7.6 inches (193.04 mm) Kyosho Mini-Z 4X4 Suzuki Jimny Ready Set will do better outside than the 1:76 tiny RCs without taking up too much shelf space.
Amazon also offers this Rastar RC Car 1:24 Bugatti Veyron that will let you pull up at the yacht club and say, “How do you do, fellow Bugatti owners?”
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Small RC Cars
Many serious RC car hobbyists prefer larger RC scale cars.
Large scale RC cars can ride on more surfaces and go faster, but there are some advantages to smaller RC vehicles:
Advantages of Tiny RC Cars
- Tiny RC cars cost less. You can easily spend $1,000 or more on a big off-road RC car, where you can purchase the cheapest small RC cars for $20 or less.
- Tiny RC cars are easier to store. You can keep a dozen 1:76 scale cars in a dresser drawer. A dozen 1:10 scale cars will fill your closet.
- You can drive tiny RC cars in your home. Driving a 1:8 truck in your living room is asking for damage, and driving a 1:10 car that can hit 65 mph (104.61 kph) in your bedroom is a recipe for injury. In contrast, a tiny RC car can go for a spin on your desk.
Disadvantages of Tiny RC Cars
- Tiny RC cars have less sophisticated controllers. The controllers for tiny RC cars are more like gaming controls than the controls available for bigger RC cars. This is not surprising since the ESC receiver for a Traxxas 1:10 car is slightly larger than an entire 1:76 car and over four times heavier.
- You can only drive tiny RC cars on smooth surfaces. To a micro RC, that pebble might as well be a boulder and your lawn an impenetrable jungle. But you can run your tiny RC on an indoor track that no big RC car could navigate.
Despite their limitations, tiny RC cars can bring you and your friends and family hours of enjoyment. Little RC cars may inspire you to purchase a big RC car, or you may find your 1:76 cars give you all the entertainment you need.
What Are The Biggest RC Cars Available?
At 42 inches (1.07 m) long and weighing 80 lbs (36.29 kg), Primal RC’s 1:5 Raminator Monster Truck is undoubtedly an impressive beast.
Watch the YouTube video below to see it in action:
If that’s not enough for you, check the used RC vehicle markets for a Mammoth Wurks 1:3 Mammoth Rewarron. Now out of production, this monster RC truck is over 6 1/2 ft (1.98 m) long, weighs over 175 lbs (79.38 kg), and has a top speed of around 40 mph (64.38 kph).
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Big RC Cars?
There’s nothing quite like driving a big RC car on rough terrain or racing 1:10 scale RC cars with your friends.
Big RC cars are popular with avid hobbyists for many reasons. But larger cars have some drawbacks as well:
Advantages of Big RC Cars
- Big RC cars can handle rough terrain. While you can get off-road RC cars in sizes as small as 1:18, the greater clearance and larger wheels of 1:8 or 1:10 vehicles mean they’ll keep rolling on surfaces that’ll leave smaller RC vehicles stalled.
- Big RC cars can use different transmitters. Want to use a new transmitter? Swap out your big RC car’s receiver for a new one, bind your transmitter, and you’re ready to go. With tiny RCs, the controller you get is the only one you can use.
- Big RC cars are easier to repair. Most tiny RC car manufacturers see their vehicles as disposable. If something goes wrong, you buy a new one. You can replace engines, upgrade shocks and customize larger RC cars.
Disadvantages of Big RC Cars
- Big RC cars are more expensive. The more impressive the RC car, the loftier the price. The Raminator costs $2,999 – enough to buy a case or two of 1:76 RC cars. And when it was in production, a Mammoth Rewarron with all the options cost over $15,000!
- Big RC cars are harder to store. To protect an RC car’s electrical systems, you should keep it in dry, climate-controlled conditions. That means your shed or damp basement is out, and if you’re like most of us, your living area has limited storage space.
Most RC car hobbyists buy the biggest cars their space and funds will permit. But don’t beat yourself up over your smaller RC car. Bigger isn’t always better.
If your RC car makes you happy and runs well on your favorite surfaces, it’s the right size for you.
What Is the Most Popular RC Car Scale?
The most popular RC car scale is 1:10 among serious RC car hobbyists and beginners alike. A 1:10 RC car is big enough for serious off-roading and racing but small and light enough for easy transportation.
A 1:10 off-road RC vehicle like the Altair 1:10 Scale RC 4×4 Monster Truck will handle most rough terrain and reach speeds of over 30 mph (48.28 kph).
1:10 is an excellent all-purpose scale for RC hobbyists and will allow you to race with friends, navigate some rocky terrain, and enjoy time circling in your driveway or backyard.
You have a choice between the battery and nitro-powered engines and can choose from a wide range of cars in all price ranges.
1:8 RC Cars
Some serious off-roaders prefer 1:8 RC cars or larger for the extra clearance. A Redcat Racing Kaiju 1:8 Scale Monster Truck will go places most 1:10s fear to tread.
Watch this YouTube video of the Redcat Racing Kaiju in action:
1:6 RC Cars
If that’s not big enough, Amazon also offers the Losi RC Truck 4WD Brushless Rock Racer. The Super Rock Rey is not only enormous – at top speeds over 50 mph (80.47 kph), it’s also fast!
But don’t count out smaller RC cars just yet!
The Losi Stadium RC Truck may not be as huge as the Super Rock Rey, but it’s also considerably less expensive.
And though it may not navigate the roughest terrain, the Mini-T’s waterproof electronics ensure it’ll be able to handle muddy puddles.