The magic of a remote control toy never wears off, even when you grow up.
There’s just something really cool about controlling something from across the room.
The RC industry has come a long way from the clunky old RC cars of our youth.
And maybe kids are harder to impress now that they learn to build robots at school.
Toy expert Mookie Toys says: “We understand that RC toys are a much-requested toy on letters to Santa. When choosing an RC toy, our top tip is to check that the toy is suitable for indoors and outdoors, this extends the opportunities for play”
We have tried and tested the best RC toys (we even let our little testers have a go too) to give you the top toys that won’t fail to fascinate the techiest of kids.
We tested them based on their ease to set up and use, the look of the toy, the durability, value for money and of course, those crucial whoops of excitement.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Megalodon STORM RC
Is it a truck? Is it a shark? We can’t tell. This RC vehicle works on land, rocks, snow and even powers across water. We had to see it to believe it and it really does. It floats on the surface and the wheels power it along. All the electrical parts stay miraculously dry. The huge wheels and powerful motor tackle all terrains with ease.
It is also nifty enough to do tricks with. Our little testers were obsessed. So was our husband – he was setting up ramps and doing tricks such as wheelies and backflips. As well as being engaging enough to hook big kids, it is suitable for anyone over three years old.
This really is the monster of all remote control toys – it functions more like military equipment than a toy and we think it would probably withstand a hurricane. It is worth the price point for the quality and durability (and the way it keeps husbands entertained).
Launch & defend RC
It’s pretty cool to have an RC Batmobile in your toy box, but this one goes even further with an ejector seat and a Batman figure that you can launch right out of the cockpit. The car itself is nifty and fun to use and the launch feature adds an extra level of fun.
We like that you can launch any 10cm figure from the Batmobile, so all the toys can have a turn at being flung across the room. We also love the USB charging cable – no more annoying batteries.
It’s a must have for any Batman fans. Ours were fighting crime with this all day – the ejector seat was a huge hit. We think it is worth every penny to see the huge smiles it evoked.
It is equally impressive and scary to us that children as young as five can learn to code now. When we were five we could just about tie our own shoelaces. Putting our outrage that small children are clearly smarter than us to one side, this toy is super cool. And so cute!
It is easy to set up once you add strong batteries. It can be programmed to complete a sequence of up to 150 steps in six directions, put on a light show and dance, among lots of other fun stuff. It’s eyes light up in the dark and there are hidden features that super programmers can unlock which are really fun.
We love that the gaming style remote has big, colour-coded buttons for little hands to use. The endless possibilities of how you can play with it help it to span a wide age range, and it feels durable enough to last from sibling to sibling. If you have the sort of children who share nicely, it is also fun to play with a group.
R/C race car
This car looks classic and cool, so we don’t mind it whizzing about the house (and tidying it away every evening). It is a hit with toddlers because it is designed for two year olds to use, with a simple and intuitive remote control. Our 18 month old tester loved it and got the hang of it with ease.
We love it because it builds dexterity and control in a fun and engaging way. We wish we could buy it in another colour so we could have a racing pair. Good quality and value.
Laser battle hunters
Kids can put their remote control skills to the test in combat for up to seven players with these Laser Battle Hunters. We like the fact that one of the cars can be set as a moving target for a single player game, too. Super-fast and agile, the four-wheel-drive vehicles shoot lasers and if they hit an opponent it makes a noise and shudders. Hit your opponent three times and you win.
Our little testers were hooked and battles went on all night, mostly because the adults hijacked it once they had gone to bed! We love that it can be a gift for siblings and that you get two toys for the price of one.
Motordrift radio control bike
This powerful stunt bike is lots of fun for children aged five and over. It has a rotating back wheel that drives, drifts and does 360 spins. It was an instant hit with our little testers, they got it working straight out of the box and there was much whooping and excitement as it went gliding about the house.
We liked that it works well on carpet and grass so we could send them outside when they got too loud. It is a sleek looking toy and the controller looks super cool. It’s great value for a robust, exciting toy.
Children will adore being able to train their very own dragon. Choose from red, black or green and bring your new household pet to life with the simple addition of batteries.
The remote control makes the dragon slither along any surface, flap its wings, wave its tail and even breathe LED flames.
We like that it leaps out of the box with batteries included. It’s for older children as very little ones might find it scary. It was a big hit with our testers; they obsessed over it for two hours and refused to come in for lunch!
Be warned, it is speedy – our lampshades took a beating on its trial run, so we suggest that it is an outdoor toy when the weather is good. It is terrific value (unless you factor in the cost of the lampshades).
Remote control turbo trick ricky
Whether you are a fan of TV’s Ricky zoom or not, this is a great standalone toy. Our little testers aged three and up all got the hang of it quickly and could do tricks such as wheelies and 360 turns. They thought this was great fun and the big wheels means it can go over thick carpet easily.
We liked the fact that the controller was simple enough for little ones to use, but the tricks are cool enough to keep older kids interested. It’s durable and not bad value.
City RC scooter
This is the ultimate BABY Born accessory – now she has her own scooter! Designed to fit the doll perfectly and drive her around in style, this was a hit with our little testers aged three and over.
A nice touch is that it comes with stickers to decorate the scooter before the RC fun even begins. Once off the blocks it goes forwards, left and right and even indicates with flashing lights. Subtle stabilisers keep it upright.
It’s not as speedy as some RC toys, but it quickly became a staple of hours of games with the BABY born doll, who fits perfectly. It is super sturdy and will last the distance.
This toy made us feel like a super powerful wizard, because you control it with just your hands. Its inbuilt sensors avoid bumping into things, so you simply throw it up in the air and command it like Dumbledore.
It’s rechargeable, safe to use and comes in pink and blue. It flies for eight minutes before needing a 40 minute charge, but luckily it gave out little testers a lot of fun and amazement in those eight minutes before it “went for a nap”.
The verdict: Remote control toys
Kids these days are hard to please, so for a remote control toy to be a hit it needs to do a bit more than just be controlled remotely. The amphibious nature of the monster jam truck made it the winner, as well as its versatility and durability.
The opportunity for skills to be built on, such as doing tricks will help a toy stay in favour for longer. Toys that fit into a child’s world and bring their favourite characters to life are always popular, so giving Batman his own wheels and launch seat is a genius idea.
If you’re looking to keep the children entertained further, check out the best kids’ playhouses or the best eco-friendly toys.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.