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
- BeatBox Monster Truck – $34.99
- KickFlip Buggy (Discontinued) – $34.99
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
- Micro-T – $79.99
- Micro Desert Truck – $89.99
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
- Tremor Monster Truck – $99.99
- Tremor Truggy – $99.99
- Everest-16 Rock Crawler – $139.99
- Sumo Monster Truck – $69.99
- Sumo Truggy – $69.99
- Sumo Crawler – $115.99
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 On-road – Various prices
- 4WD On-road – Various prices
- 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
- Micro RS4 Rally – $164.99
- Micro RS4 Drift – $164.99
- Q32 Baja Buggy – $54.99
- Q32 Trophy Truggy – $54.99
- Q32 Formula Racer – $54.99
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
- Yeti Jr. Rock Racer – $159.99
- Yeti Jr. SCORE Trophy Truck – $159.99
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