Looking for a gift for a friend or loved one who loves cars and racing? Or someone who’s already a serious RC racer? It can be tough to find the perfect gift.
So, we came up with some ideas to get you started:
For racers: tools, accessories, and other gear that racers will find useful.
For people new to RC: ready-to-run car kits that are fun, durable, and repairable - no cheap, fragile toys that break on the first run!
And since So Dialed is all about racing, we also marked cars on this list that are race-ready, so you’ll know which cars are just for fun and which are ready to hit the track (which is fun, too, but anyways...)
So Dialed may get a commission from purchases made after clicking on links in this guide. Your support is much appreciated!
Gifts for People New to RC
(scroll down for Gifts for Racers)
Gifts less than $100
Team Associated Nanosport
This is a pair of RC cars, actually - these little guys come from Team Associated, one of the top RC brands in the business, and they’re built for fun for two! The kit comes with two fully-proportional mini RC cars and pucks, so you can play hockey with them on your living room floor. A perfect gift for young siblings, or for a parent to play with a kid. Check out the videos on the product page to see how they work.
Don’t be fooled by the product descriptions - these are not just for kids! These cars are an amazing deal, and while they are not the most durable and don’t have the best build quality on our list, there are many replacement parts and upgrades available online if you break something or just want to bling out your car. You probably won’t find parts at your local hobby store, but they’re readily available online, and there are many Youtube help videos for these cars as well explaining repairs and upgrades.
Editor's Choice: 1/76 Turbo Racing Mini RC Car
Our personal favorite, the Turbo Racing 1/76 scale RC cars are a blast! They’re about the size of a Matchbox car, but they have fully proportional steering and throttle, so they’re pretty precise and easy to control. They even have adorable lit-up headlights and tail lights.
They charge over USB-C, and the newer ones charge directly on the transmitter, so they're convenient to bring to a friend's house. You’ll probably spend the first day just wondering how such a small car can do so much.
These are most fun in pairs because they’re so easy to race just about anywhere - a table, a smooth floor, wherever. They’re light, so crashes don’t damage them - just try not to drive it off the edge of the table! There are also communities (Facebook) for these cars online where people show off the scale tracks they’ve built, bodies and parts they’ve 3D printed, and more, so if you need help, you can usually find it.
Various colors available, and Drift versions:
Team Associated 1/28 Scale Trucks
These are a nice small size, like the WLToys cars, but they also have larger wheels and tires, so they can be driven in more places around the house, on the driveway, or out in the dirt. They’re from Team Associated, a top RC brand, so they handle well for their size and are pretty durable. It’s hard to go wrong here.
Like the Turbo Racing cars, these charge from the transmitter in less than an hour, so it’s easy to bring to a friend’s house for some fun and/or competition. Also nice - all batteries are included!
SC28 Short Course Truck
Less than $250
WLToys 1/14th Scale Buggy
This one didn’t quite make the $100 cutoff, but it was close. This model is larger than the WLToys models listed above, so it’s ready to take outdoors on gravel or dirt, and it has some serious speed. Like the other WLToys cars, spare parts can be found online if you break something. If you’re looking for something a little more serious than the cars we have at the under $100 price point or something that is more like a traditional buggy but is still affordable, this is it.
Editor's Choice: Losi Mini-T (truck) and Mini-B (buggy)
Race-ready: depends on local track
Now we’re getting to the world of “smaller versions of real RC race cars,” and the Mini-T and Mini-B are prime examples. These were in huge demand last year and used to be hard to find in stock, but it’s a little easier this year.
These are fun to drive just about anywhere, and some local tracks even have racing for them, so if the driver on your list might enjoy racing, this is absolutely the cheapest and easiest way to get a taste for it.
We heartily recommend either of these them as well as the “brushless” version (which is a bit faster and therefore more expensive.) All batteries are included.
The "brushless" version below is more expensive, getting you an upgrade of electronics (primarily motor). It isn't really necessary, but it's a nice plus if you don't mind the extra cost.
Team Associated Reflex 14B 1/14 4WD Buggy
Race-ready: not commonly raced
Like the Mini-T and Mini-B, the Reflex 14B is a smaller version of a serious race car, so it’ll handle well for its size, and it’s one of the cheapest ready-to-run cars you’ll find with a brushless motor which gives more speed and durability in the drivetrain. It's also four-wheel drive, so it'll be a lot of fun to drive.
The Reflex 14B is a great little car, but if the driver on your list might consider racing, the Mini-B or Mini-T above will be a better bet because they’re more popular.
Kyosho MR-03 Mini-Z with Audi R8 body
Race-ready: yes, but tracks are rare.
If the driver on your list is more into on-road cars, Kyosho’s Mini-Z 1/28 scale series is a great place to start. These are well-known for their realistic bodyshells that are interchangeable.
These are faster than the WLToys cars listed above, so they’re hard to race in the house unless you have a very large, smooth, wide-open living room. A garage floor is ideal, and even large enough for a small track, but otherwise expect to take these out to the driveway, a parking lot, or basketball court.
Mini-Zs are raced competitively, but tracks can be hard to come by. If competition is important to you, check out the track situation in your area first (check with your local hobby store.)
Mini-Z is probably the cheapest way to get into serious on-road racing, and Facebook has many communities where you can find support and advice. Both 2WD and 4WD versions are available. 8 AAA batteries are required.
Team Associated DR10 Drag Car
Is the driver on your list a drag race fan? The DR10 is a real RC drag race car, so you can play with it in parking lots or even find local drag races and go compete. Hard to beat for $200! Not to mention, parts, upgrades, and advice are easy to find. Avaialble in a selection of colors.
HOT DEAL: The DR10 Pro Reakt Brushless is on sale for the same price - it's an excellent upgraded version of the kit with brushless motor, making it faster and easier to maintain.
Losi 22S SCT
Requires: battery & charger
The 22S SCT is a great car for either bashing around your backyard in the dirt or getting into competitive racing. Most off-road tracks have classes for short-course trucks, or you can race it in novice class, so it’s a great way to get started. Replacement parts are easy to find, and you can upgrade it to brushless if you get more serious about competition.
$251 to $500
MST & Yokomo Drift Cars
Is your driver more of a drift fan? Have they watched Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift a few too many times? I know I have. But anyways, MST and Yokomo (below) make excellent ready-to-run drift cars that are a blast to drive on any smooth floor. Drift competitions are also getting more popular, so you might be able to find them in your area!
Editor's Choice: Team Associated 1/10 Scale Family
The next few cars here from Team Associated are race-ready cars for a reasonable price, it just depends on the type of racing your driver might be into. If they’re truly new to RC, I’d recommend the RB10 buggy or the SC10 short-course truck as they’ll be easily to find competition for at a local track. Oval and stadium truck racing are less popular, so I’d only go that way if your driver has expressed interest.
All three kits come with battery and charger.
Kyosho FW06 GP Mercedes AMG GT3 Nitro Touring Car
Race-ready: yes, but competition is hard to come by
Needs: Fuel, bottle, glow igniter, 8xAA
If your driver loves the smell of nitro and is an on-road fanatic, this might be the way to go. It’s one of the cheapest ways to get into nitro on-road racing, but that said, 1/10-scale on-road is not a popular class, so you’ll probably be running this with your buddies in the street or a parking lot.
ARRMA Vendetta 3S BLX Speed Bash
Recently there have been more RC cars coming out designed to do one thing: go fast in a straight line, and the Vendetta fits the mold. Charge up its batteries, go find a quiet, wide open road, and let it fly. Most parking lots are just not big enough for this to hit top speed, and don’t even bother running it in the driveway. If this sounds like what your driver is looking for, the Vendetta is a nicely-priced option. It doesn’t come with batteries or a charger unfortunately, but you can add them to your cart easily on the site for not too much extra cash. And, as a bonus kicker, it looks like the Batmobile.
1/8 Scale Competition-ready Buggies & Trucks
Race-ready: Yes. Yes. Yes. More yes.
Now we’re getting into the large-scale cars and trucks - you’re looking at something around 20 inches (50cm) long and 12 inches (30cm) wide. However, 1/8 scale off-road has some of the most competitive racing worldwide, and these ready-to-run cars are race ready as well - any one of them is more than enough for a new driver to be competitive in classes meant for new drivers. Or, if your driver doesn’t want to compete, they can bash these all over the neighborhood and TALK about how they could compete.
Any of these are excellent vehicles. The SRX8 and SRX8-E are the newest models, but you may need to order parts online, while parts for the Losi and Kyosho may be easier to find at a hobby store, but this completely depends on your hobby store and the models they support. Rest assured, you can find parts and support for all of them online easily.
Losi 8IGHT Nitro 4WD Buggy
Requires: fuel, fuel bottle, battery charger, glow igniter
Editor's Choice: Serpent SRX8-E Electric
Requires: battery, charger, 4xAA
Editor's Choice: Serpent SRX8 Nitro
Requires: receiver battery, glow igniter, fuel, 4xAA
Kyosho Inferno MP9 TKI4 RTR
Required: fuel, fuel bottle, glow igniter, transmitter batteries
ARRMA Big Rock - 1/10 4WD 3S
ARRMA is known for its bashers - cars that are just meant for all-out fun, and the Big Rock is a great way to jump in. It’s 1/10 scale, so not too huge, but it has a 3S battery meaning it’ll be faster than most cars which only have 2S batteries. It’s got big wheels and plenty of ground clearance, so jumping curbs is child’s play - take this out to the park or the desert to have some real fun. These are not meant for racing on a track, but they’ll be a blast anywhere else.
Editor's Choice: ARRMA Typhon TLR-Tuned
Race-ready: Super yes.
Requires: battery, charger
So, remember how we said ARRMA makes bashers? Well, they recently teamed up with TLR to make this extremely capable race buggy, too. If your driver wants to jump into competition right away and has already done some RC driving, this Typhon will have them ready to compete at a high level right out of the gate. Most 1/8 scale car kits (without motor or radio) cost this much, so to get this car with a radio and motor for this price is a steal.
ARRMA 1/7 Felony 6S
Requires: battery & charger
One more speed car in here: at 1/7 scale, the Felony is a large vehicle, about 38” (96cm) long and 16” (41cm) wide, and with it can handle 6S batteries, meaning it will go very, very, very fast. It isn’t built for racing, just for flat-out speed.
If your racer needs to have the biggest and the fastest toys on the block, these last two trucks are perfect. They’ll handle up to an 8S battery giving them incredible power and speed. They’re pricey, and they aren’t for racing, but they’re fast (50+mph / 80+kph ) and fun and can handle absolutely any terrain you throw at them.
Losi Super Baja Rey 2.0 4WD Desert Truck 8S
Requires: Battery & charger
ARRMA 1/5 Kraton 8S 4WD RTR
Requires: Battery & charger
Gifts for RC Racers
The safest gift you can give - the RC fan on your list can definitely find something fun or useful from these sites:
Hobbypark Hex Driver Set
These standard metric sizes are useful for most types of racing, and are much better than the little wrenches you get with a car kit.
Body scissors & Reamer
Every racer has to trim their car bodies, but few have the right tools to do it. Now’s the time to fix that!
Pit Tech Deluxe Car Stands
If you don't have a pit stand for your car yet, what are you even doing?
If you’re into racing, you’ll need to measure stuff all the time, so digital calipers are a must, particularly for on-road racing.
Team Associated Factory Team Shock Shaft Pliers
Most racers know they SHOULD use they, but they don’t bother and just use a regular wrench, so they end up scratching their shock shafts. Racers will appreciate finally having the right tool for the job.
MIP Thorp Hex Driver Wrench Set
MIP wrenches are widely respected as the best you can get - they may be the last wrenches you ever buy, they’re that good. Try to find out if your driver uses metric or standard wrenches, and they’ll always be thankful for receiving these.
$51 - $100
All racers need a good soldering iron, but most just get by with whatever crummy iron they have. This soldering iron with station will make soldering work a breeze.
Wingtote Pit Bag
Pit Bag, for RC cars and trucks, 1/10 or 1/8th scale,
$100 and up
Hakko FX888D Soldering Iron Station
For serious racers who are soldering frequently and appreciate having high-quality tools.
For drivers who race regularly, this is the ultimate pit bench setup: saves space, keeps tools organized and handy, provides light and shelter, and folds down for easy transportation to the track.
Walliebuilds Build Service
Want to race but don't have the time to really prep your car the right way? Or maybe you're new to the hobby and need some help getting your first car in tip-top shape?
Let WallieBuilds build your car, so you know everything is set up properly, the wiring is tidy and neat like the pros, and he'll even set up the car for the type of track you'll be running on.
Once Wallie and his team build your car, it'll be easier to maintain, too.