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Do kids of today still play with R/C?

It's an interesting question... how much are today's kids into R/C? Do you have kids (or know others who have them) and do they show much interest in R/C models?

And if they do, a second question - how many of them are interested in the ones that require assembly?

As you all can tell, I am a fan of both vintage ready-to-run R/C models (some might say "toy grade" models), and kit models (commonly known as "hobby grade"). But a lot has changed since my childhood days, and most kids these days seem to prefer to play on screen devices than mess about with model vehicles.

A few months ago at Christmas, a good friend visited with his son (about 9years old). The boy ended up playing on his iPad for most of the visit. And I was amazed to hear his grandparents had actually bought him a Tamiya Grasshopper kit that Christmas. Sadly he seemed to not have much interest in it, and seemed very addicted to playing Minecraft instead.

More recently though, his Dad encouraged him to build the Grasshopper. So the good news is, they are now doing that. And I have encouraged them to take it to a local R/C track (they live a mere 10mins from it).

What are your experiences, and do the kids you know, show much interest in either R/C generally or the idea of putting models together? What about plastic models - do kids build those anymore? Ironically we all have access now to a lot of great instruction videos on Youtube (I wish those had been around when I was a kid!)

One more thing - I have a theory these days that the "hobby grade" R/C market has now effectively become what the "toy grade" market used to be. Many hobby style R/C cars come ready-to-run, some even at smaller scales.

While the "toy grade" market (which was once high quality - but just smaller scale, and sold in more consumer friendly places like department stores) has effectively collapsed into consisting of only poorly made Chinese products with weak motors and flimsy designs. Since many kids in the 80s/90s got their start in R/C from decent quality toy-grade R/C cars by Nikko, Taiyo, Shinsei and others.... today any introduction you are going to get to R/C at that level, from a mainstream store, is likely to be far more mediocre than it used to be.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts - what are yours?

I don't have any kids in my household so I cant provide input from that perspective.

I do however take my RC vehicle (Team Associated Trophy Rat) to my local park every now and then. The children playing on the playground sets will notice it and sometimes exclaim "Whoa, that thing is fast!" when I am doing speed runs with a 3s lipo battery. Sometimes the toddlers will chase the vehicle and I make sure they dont catch it for concern it may be stomped on or picked up. Other than that, not so much interest as far as talking to me about it. Just a glance and an "OoOo and an ah" then back to business as usual.

I have had some teenagers and adults chat me up about the vehicle asking me did I build it? Where did I buy it? How fast does it go? etc.

Nowadays living in the digital age...I dont feel many kids are all that interested in RC vehicles. They all seem to want to be on their phones/playing video games/using the computer, etc. There is a kid on a youtube channel called rcsparks studio and he drives RC vehicles with his father. Its a pretty good channel with entertaining and informative content with 2.5 million subscribers.

I think if a kid is around rc cars at a young age in this day and age, that can be the spark to ignite the fire. I am a child of the 90s and back then it just seemed RC was one of funnest things to be into. We had the commercials on TV for the exciting offerings from Tyco and RadioShack. And trips to the local Toys R Us had the expensive Nikko/Tyco models in the glass case in the rc car section. It was a different time and demographic then. We were less connected to devices then.

Nowadays, one can walk into a hobby shop and get a very decent RTR thats hobby grade. My Associated Trophy Rat being a good example of that. The current line up from Arrma is RTR and killing it in the basher segment. They have the Typhon, Kraton, Outcast, Infraction, Limitless, etc. There are still kits, primarily the race grade stuff from Associated/Team Losi Racing/Serpent/Mugen/Kyosho/Xray/etc. But now the barrier to entry into the hobby is much easier now with all the decent RTRs available. I would consider the chinese knock off brands to be the toy grade of today though. The RTRs from the reputable/established manufacturers have parts support (both OEM and aftermarket) and can be upgraded to competition spec if desired. Although I would say all RC cars are toys...but not all are hobby grade.

But in my opinion the RTR form is more than sufficient for just bashing around. Couple that with the fact that we have brushless motors and lipo batteries, maintenance is significantly reduced.

But to get back on topic, I think the kids of today "nerd" out more on phones/computers/social media than hobbies like radio control cars/planes/boats.

I could count drones but that seems to be more of a trend...perhaps race drones could be in its own separate category since that requires more dedication and has a steeper learning curve than the department store bought drones.

P.S. The kids of today will never know of the coolest RTRs of my day....but would they even care? 😛

- Tyco Fast Traxx, Scorcher, Rebound, Bandit, Nikko Predator, Thor, etc.

*Included photos of my current and only RC car. 🙂

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