First popularized by children, remote-control toys have gotten so technologically advanced that, these days, they are no longer just for kids. RC cars are still fun to use at any age, and drones can now do just about everything, whether you want to capture picturesque aerial shots for your Instagram or simply explore the skies from the ground below.
Cars and drones are just the beginning, however; there’s an absolutely massive range of toys and gadgets on the market that can be controlled remotely. To help you navigate this highly saturated category, we’ve put together (in no particular order) a roundup of the best remote-control toys known to man. Enjoy!
Don’t let the name mislead you — Parrot’s Jumping Sumo is a zippy two-wheeler that can do big things with its little body. The RC device is quite agile, as it can cruise along at 4.5 miles per hour. The Sumo is also capable of performing 180-degree spins and, like the name implies, jumping more than two feet in a single bound. The Sumo also has an on-board camera and a USB port, which allow you to record and upload videos of your death-defying stunts via an accompanying mobile app.
($60 – $100)
The Orbotix Ollie may seem rather limited, but the remote-controlled tube is capable of pulling off a variety of tricks at the push of a button. The Bluetooth-connected Ollie can go as fast as 14 mph, and run for an hour before needing to charge. It also features built-in LEDs, which allow it to race, spin, and flip at night.
WowWee MiP ($50)
Standing 8-inches tall, the emotive MiP features LED eyes and two Segway-like wheels that allow it to zoom around while maintaining perfect balance. Perhaps the coolest aspect of MiP, though, is its IR sensors, which let you control robot the robot with hand motions. If that that’s too futuristic for you, however, you can also control MiP via a mobile app. The robot even features six programmed modes (Tricks, Track, Roam, Cave, Dance, and Stack), granting you access to more than 50 commands and a selection of ’70s-style disco tracks.
iRobot Create 2 ($200)
Based on the Roomba robot vacuum, iRobot’s Create 2 is a must-have for robot enthusiasts. Why’s that? Well, the device features the same sensors and behaviors found on most Roomba models — minus the vacuum component — along with a handful of programmable elements that give you the means to customize the robot’s LED display, movements, and sounds. And since there are drill holes and mount brackets affixed to the shell, you can easily outfit the circular bot with accessories and hardware from iRobot’s store. It’s perfect for entry-level coders, or anyone involved with STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and math) in or outside of school.
Boosted 2 Dual+ ($1,500)
The Boosted 2 Dual+ isn’t exactly a toy; it’s an electric skateboard that can be controlled via a handheld remote. Thanks to dual, brushless motors and a set of lithium batteries, Boosted’s premium offering can go as fast as 22 mph and can travel for up to 14 miles on just a single charge. All of these features — plus the outstanding controls and superb build quality of the deck — render the Boosted 2 Dual+ ideal for commuting purposes. Just don’t expect to make it far once the battery dies.
Traxxas R/C Funny Car ($120)
The Traxxas R/C Funny Car allows you to recreate the speed and fury of today’s modern drag races right in your driveway. All four iterations of the Funny Car are equipped with ET-3s brushless power systems, and because they were developed from full-size CAD drawings, the cars have tilt-up bodies and tube-style chassis. The advanced TQi 2.4 GHz remote features a variety of controls, too, so you can quickly adjust brake strength, steering, throttle sensitivity, and toggles for Burnout, Staging, and Race modes. There’s even a Launch Control switch, which makes it easier for you to hold the throttle down.
The N-Strike Elite Terrascout Drone Blaster is built for stealth, as as such, it allows you to sneak up on people and fire covert shots from the next room over. It’s armed with a turret-style gun and a built-in camera, the latter of which lets you navigate and shoot from afar. The camera also records videos in 720p, so you can share your opponents’ priceless reactions on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
The GMAXT S913 truck can go up to 25 mph and maintain a smooth ride across sand, grass, and mud; thanks largely to its four-rod suspension system. The waterproof truck is also outfitted with a robust 380 RC motor, and can be used for up to 20 minutes on a single charge. The onboard, 2.4 GHz radio transmitter allows you to use the truck from up to 400 feet away, while the aptly-titled crawling feature gives you a quick means for conquering inclines and rough terrain. The truck’s ability to drift is just a plus.
Sphero BB-9E ($130)
With The Last Jedi just on the horizon, now is a good time to consider getting a BB-9E of your own. And while the retail version isn’t as industrious as the full-size model, this miniature robot still mimics the real BB-9E. Sphero’s iconic device can roll in any direction with ease, and features a magnetically-attached dome and the same blue-and-red LEDs from the film. The companion app allows you to run the First Order droid through several different custom animations, too, or move it via a digital trackpad. Best of all, you can use Sphero’s gesture-sensing Force Band to control BB-9E with a simple tilt of your wrist. Talk about being Force-sensitive…
Drones come in all shapes and sizes, but what makes the Breeze stand out is its ultra-portable frame (among other things). You can literally throw the drone in a regular-sized backpack and go about your day, without it weighing you down or taking up a ton of space. The Breeze also touts an impressive camera: one that can capture 13-megapixel stills and 4k videos at 30 frames per second. It even lets you stream video from above using the drone’s smartphone-based piloting app. And with its low price point and suite of autonomous flight modes, the Breeze may be the best drone you can buy for less than $400.
Kamigami Lina Robot($50)
If you believe lady bugs are good luck, then the Kamigami Lina Robot is probably up your alley. It will resemble a small lady bug once constructed — or a rhinoceros beetle or scorpion, if you choose another model — and execute an assortment of tricks at the push of a button. The Kamigami can even learn how to dance and battle with other Kamigamis, or perform a variety of simple movements with a bit of coding. It’s biomimicry at its finest.
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