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 $350, these models are perfect as a budget-buy or an additional, use-anywhere vehicle.
Besides making a line of 1/8 and 1/10 scale R/C vehicles, ECX also makes some fun 1/18, 1/24, and 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
- Ruckus Monster Truck – $99.99
- Torment Short Course Truck – $99.99
- Temper Rock Crawler – $129.99
- Roost Desert Buggy – $119.99
- Ruckus Monster Truck – $79.99
- Torment Short Course Truck – $79.99
- Temper Rock Crawler – $79.99
- Roost Desert Buggy – $79.99
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
- SC4.18 Short Course Truck – $99.99
- SC4.18BL Brushless Short Course Truck – $149.99
- MT4.18 Monster Truck – $99.99
- 4WD Brushless Monster Truck – $149.99
- 4WD FPV Monster Truck – $229.99
- DT4.18 Desert Truck – $119.99
- DT4.18 Brushless Desert Truck – $169.99
- BX4.18 Buggy – $99.99
- BX4.18 Brushless Buggy – $149.99
- DB4.18 Desert Buggy – $119.99
- DB4.18 Brushless Desert Buggy – $169.99
- 4WD Touring Car – $79.99
- 4WD Brushless Touring Car – $109.99
- 4WD Rally Car – $79.99
- 4WD Brushless Rally Car – $109.99
- 4WD FPV Rally Car – $229.99
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
- LaTrax Rally 4WD Rally Car – $109.95
- LaTrax Teton 4WD Monster Truck – $149.95
- LaTrax SST 4WD Stadium Truck (Discontinued) – $159.95
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
- E-Revo Brushed – $224.95
- E-Revo VXL (brushless) – $319.95
- Slash 4×4 Brushed – $319.95
- Summit VXL – $349.95
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
- Losi Mini Desert Truck – $129.99
- Brushed Micro Short Course Truck – $111.59
- Brushless Micro Short Course Truck – $149.99
- Micro Truggy – $109.99
- Trail Trekker – $150.99
- Brushed Micro Rally – $109.99
- Brushless Micro Rally – $155.99
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
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
- 2WD Formula – Various prices
- 2WD Truck – Various prices
Another well-known brand in the world of R/C is HPI. Over the years, they’ve created 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
In the past year, I’ve gotten to experience a few of the smaller-scale vehicles from Carisma and have been blown away by their performance. Not only are they fast, powered by a brushless motor and 1S/2S LiPo battery, but they’ve survived some crazy tumbles and jumps.
This combination of durability and performance puts the GT24 lineup toward the top of my list of small-scale, radio-controlled vehicles.
The Carisma lineup
- GT24T Truggy – $109.99
- GT24MT Monster Truck – $109.99
- GT24B Buggy – $109.99
- GT24R Rally Car – $109.99
If you enjoy fine details and “scale” radio-controlled rigs, you’ll love the Gelande II from RC4WD. This higher-end model features details and features that you’d typically find on 1:1 vehicles and is a perfect “take anywhere” option when you want to enjoy R/C action on the go.
The RC4WD lineup
- Gelande II Scale Trail Rig – $199.99
When you think of Axial, you probably think about their 1/10 scale trail lineup, rock racers, and monster trucks. In late 2016, they released two new smaller-scale models, bringing their brand of fun and off-road durability to another level.
The Axial lineup
Following the path of RC4WD, Pro-Line introduced a small-scale trail vehicle in 2016. Their 1/25-scale machine is one of the smallest R/C “scalers” on the market, making it a fun indoor and outdoor machine.
The Pro-Line lineup
- Ambush 4×4 Scale Trail Rig – $195.46
Known for both competition and general R/C fun, Team Associated introduced a number of smaller-scale vehicles to the market in 2016. Fun fact; fans of their previous 1/18-scale models might be happy to hear that the hop-ups for those older models will work with this new line of cars and trucks.
The Team Associated lineup
- Reflex RTR Buggy – $129.99
- Rival RTR Monster Truck – $129.99
- Apex RTR Touring Car – $129.99
- RC18B2 Buggy – $159.99
- SC28 Short Course Truck – $49.99