Get to know the heavy-hitters in the world of small-scale R/C

Get to know the heavy-hitters in the world of small-scale R/C

If you’re just getting into the R/C hobby or are looking at adding a few new vehicles to your garage, it’s good to know who’s- who and who makes what.  While there numerous makes and models to choose from, I’ve highlighted a few of the “bigger” names in the small-scale radio-control universe.

With prices ranging from $35 to $250, these models are perfect as a budget-buy or an additional, use-anywhere vehicle.

ECX

Besides making a line of 1/8 and 1/10 scale R/C vehicles, ECX also makes some fun 1/18 and (soon-to-be-released) 1/36 scale machines.  Owning one of their now-discontinued models, the Smash, I can speak from experience when I say ECX makes some tough trucks.  While I have been fairly gentle with how I drive my small-scaler, my kids have put it through the paces on more than one occasion. After almost two years of use, I’ve only had to perform a motor replacement. Not bad for a budget-minded radio-controlled car.

The ECX lineup

1/18

1/36

 

Dromida

One of the newer kids on the block, Dromida hit the scene in late 2013 with a number of small-scale offerings. With a lineup that features a short course truck, a monster truck, and a buggy, they’ve done a nice job covering their bases when it comes to affordable, well-built machines.  Recent updates have added some fun, new options to select models as well.

The Dromida lineup

1/18

LaTrax

Spun off of the more well-known Traxxas brand in 2013, LaTrax has a focus on tough, affordable, 1/18 scale vehicles.  Starting things off with a rally car, they have quickly added monster truck and a newly-announced SST stadium truck to their lineup.  Using the same manufacturing techniques and materials as Traxxas, these cars and trucks are all built to take a beating.

The LaTrax lineup

1/18

Traxxas

While it may be a stretch to call the 1/16 scale vehicles from Traxxas “small-scale” they technically are smaller than the 1/10th-and-larger rigs that have become common among hobbyists.  Traxxas didn’t set out to break any new ground with their smaller line of machines, but they did take a number of their popular 1/10 trucks and cars and shrink them down a bit.

The Traxxas lineup

1/16 

Losi

Out of all of the “big-name/small-scale” brands mentioned, Losi is the only one that has a virtual fleet of mini and micro R/C vehicles.  Rally cars, trail trucks, monster trucks…you name it, they have it.

The Losi lineup
1/14
1/18
1/24
1/36
 

Redcat Racing

While they don’t have the instant brand recognition of some of the brands mentioned earlier, Redcat Racing knows how to build a good R/C car.  Along with building the “big stuff”, they offer a nice array of smaller radio-controlled vehicles that are great for any age and any occasion.

The Redcat Racing lineup 

1/16

1/24

 

Kyosho

Going from a name that’s a bit newer to a name that is instantly-associated with the R/C hobby, Kyosho blends both scale realism and precision into their micro and mini lineup.   With a large volume of body styles to choose from, I’m listing out their sub-categories rather than their individual models.  Trust me, you’d be scrolling forever if I listed everything.

The Kyosho lineup

1/27

1/24

1/30

 

XRay

I know XRay more for their 1/10 and 1/8 scale buggies more than their small-scale models, but they do produce a number of options for those looking to go fast indoors (and out).

The Xray lineup

1/18

Team Associated

Another brand that I think of more for their larger-scale models vs their smaller entries is Team Associated (hence their initial omission from this list).  After giving them a second look, I’ve found they offer many (and I mean MANY) 1/18 vehicles in a number of configurations.

The Team Associated lineup

1/18

Carisma

While mainly popular outside of the United States, Carisma is a brand or R/C car that has begun to gain speed here in the U.S.  With a well-rounded offering of both on-road and off-road vehicles in a variety of scales, you’ll find a little bit of everything with this make.

The Carisma Lineup

1/14

1/16 

 

HPI

Rounding out the list is HPI. Another one of the well-known brands, they make a variety of on and off-road vehicles in many scale classes.  Their popular Micro RS4 model has seen some nice updates over the past year and features popular, contemporary body styles.

The HPI lineup

1/18

 

Helion

Another brand that I haven’t had much experience with is Helion.  While their name may not carry the same recognition as some of the others on this list, but that doesn’t make the two smaller-scale offerings from this company any less impressive.  With two sub-$100 1/18th scale vehicles in their lineup, they are worth a look if you’re looking for an affordable, entry-level R/C vehicle.

The Helion lineup

1/18

Updates

  • 12/21/14
    1. Added Redcat Racing’s newest 1/16 rock crawler, the Everest-16.
    2. Thanks to a comment by Chris Moore, I added entries for Team XRay, HPI,  and Team Associated.
    3. Thanks to Tim Mohr and Chris Moore for the suggestion to add Carisma’s 1/14 & 1/16 models to the list.
  • 5/03/15
    1. Added an overlooked brand in Helion and their two 1/18 vehicles.

Photo credit – LaTrax