RC cars are a fun, active toy which improves hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills. When parents choose build your own RC car kits for their kids rather than prefabricated cars, kids have a chance to get a hands-on experience with building and learn some basic engineering skills that can foster interest in the STEM fields. There’s a lot of kits on the market, and some are more kid-focused and simple than others. We’ve taken a look at ten of the best build your own RC car kits to help you choose the right one for your aspiring engineer.

Our Top Picks

LEGO Technic Tracked Racer

Best Overall

LEGO Technic RC Tracked Racer

Bo-Toys 2-in-1 Pick Up Truck Roadster

Best Budget Buy

Bo-Toys 2 in 1 Truck & Roadster

How to Pick the Best "Build Your Own" RC Car Kit

Choosing the right DIY remote control car requires you to consider the age of the person building it and also the type of construction experience you are looking for. Eg, do you want a hobbyist style build? Or are you simply looking for a LEGO-style build-and-go project? Let’s dive in and get you clued up.

1. Recommended Age

RC cars are popular among both kids and adults, which means there’s kits available that are very kid friendly and others that might be way too complex for a first timer. Kits for adults are also often a lot pricier, so you certainly want to avoid spending extra money on something that your child would find frustrating because of its difficulty.

2. Type

There are two basic kinds of RC cars covered here, block and traditional, or “real”, as well as a few “hybrids”. Block RC cars are typically constructed with building blocks and do not require tools. They’re on the less complex side, and they’re designed for kids. Traditional RC cars can be for kids or adults. They have more complex parts and generally require tools. The few “hybrid” types we’ve identified on this list do use tools but have a very straightforward, kid-friendly construction and operation.

3. Batteries

All RC cars require power to go, usually in the form of a battery that you provide. Sometimes kits include them – this is usually the case for USB rechargeable cars – but remotes often still need a few. We all know what happens when we’re caught woefully unprepared without batteries just as an exciting new toy has been received, so being prepared is key.

4. Difficulty Level

As with intended age, difficulty level is an important metric in your decision because you want your child to enjoy the purchase. Age and difficulty levels don’t sync up with every kit, as some are acceptable for younger ages but still fairly complex. In order to give your child the best RC car building experience, choose a kit that’s appropriate for their skill level.

5. Style

Just as there are many types of real vehicles, there are many types of RC replicas. Sports cars , race cars, trucks and military vehicles are some of the most common options. Some block kits even allow the user to construct two different vehicles with the same set, generally an aesthetically similar sports car and race car. What your child likes may inform your pick here – some kids prefer trucks over cars, and some prefer tanks over fire trucks.

6. Size

RC cars, though rarely huge, come in a variety of sizes. You’ll want to be aware of the size of a finished car to make sure your child has room to use it safely and it’s an appropriate size for them, neither too big nor too small. Most block kits are specifically designed to be friendly to smaller hands.

The Winners

After dozens of hours scouring Amazon customer reviews, specialist subreddits, hobbyist blogs, and ranking sites such as Heavy and Wirecutter, we are confident that these are among the very best ‘build your own’ RC cars that you can buy.

#1

LEGO Technic RC Tracked Racer

Best overall

The LEGO TECHNIC RC Tracked Racer is a uniquely cool RC car that features both race car and military vehicle stylings. The body has a sleek and streamlined race car form in a fun bright green with a racing stripe, and black tank track “wheels” allow front, back, left and right motion as well as easy 360 degree turns even over big obstacles. The 370 piece kit is good for both beginning and intermediate users and can also be built or rebuilt as an RC off-road truck or other motorized creation, giving your child lots of opportunities for hand eye coordination development and fun.

  • You'll love: It has a unique design and can be built in multiple styles, encouraging creative thinking

Recommended Age: 9 – 16 years
Type: Block
Batteries: 6 AA, 3 AAA not included
Difficulty Level: Beginner – Intermediate
Size: 3 x 8 x 6 inches
Style: Race car and military

#2

Tamiya Super Hotshot

UPgrade Choice

Tamiya has been loved for decades by RC car enthusiasts for their offerings of high end, durable scale RC model kits. These kits are not generally for first timers or small kids and not everything is included, but for an intermediate or experienced user, they’re lots of fun. The assembly of the vehicle demands skill, but provides a satisfying result in the form of a zippy and beautifully detailed model buggy. This Tamiya Super Hotshot comes with a shocks upgrade and a full body skid plate. RC enthusiast parents may themselves remember racing this one.

  • You'll love: It's a beautifully detailed real RC model kit by a trusted manufacturer
  • Watch for: Most traditional kits don't include everything, and Tamiya kits require you to buy a speed controller, servo, battery, and ESC

Recommended Age: 4 years up
Type: Real
Batteries: 7.2 volt not included
Difficulty Level: Beginner 
Size: 12 x 12 x 5 inches
Style: Race car

#3

Bo-Toys 2 in 1 TRuck & Roadster

Best budget buy

This Bo-Toys 2 in 1 Truck & Roadster combo kit in a cool bright yellow design is great for beginners but still complex enough to stimulate critical thinking. Putting together the kit’s 426 pieces is great for improving small motor control and hand-eye coordination, and like most block kits, they can be used to build other creations as well. The truck and roadster builds are both durable, easy to assemble and easy to control, so kids at the recommended minimum age of 6 feel confident building and using it.

  • You'll love: It's an in depth project which requires critical thinking, but even younger kids can do it safely and successfully

Recommended Age: 6+
Type: Block
Batteries: USB rechargeable battery included
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Size: 16.5 x 3.5 x 11 inches
Style: Truck or roadster

#4

Meccano Erector

This buildable remote-controlled Speedster’s authentic design makes for some pretty dynamic speedway challenges. The 218-piece kit is an appropriate challenge or older children and teens. While it meets all the qualifications of an educational S.T.E.M. experience, it also paves the way for hours of entertainment, fun, and games. The Meccano Erector has an impressive 2.4 GHz communication range and multi-directional steering. So feel free to take this car for a test drive in your driveway.

  • You'll love: This is a challenging building project with a thrilling reward at the end.

Recommended Age: 10 years and up
Type: Eerector set
Batteries: 4 AA, 3 AAA not included
Difficulty Level: Beginner – Intermediate
Size: 2.3 x 13.8 x 9.8 inches
Style: Race car

#5

Tamiya Petronas TT-02 Kit

The Petronas TT-02 is a super-realistic race car kit by Tamiya and is an awesome 1/10 representation of a stock car including the fun decals and images reminiscent of a day at the track. This is a fun intermediate-level building kit that’s an ideal pick for teens who have been working with models for a little while. The realism on this model is great – Tamiya products have stellar detail, and this model is no exception.

  • You'll love: The details are awesome and it's a fun real kit for older kids that can encourage continued STEM interest
  • Watch for: Most traditional kits don't include everything, and Tamiya kits require you to buy a motor, servo, ESC, paint, battery and charger

Recommended Age: 14+
Type: Real
Batteries: 7.2 volt not included
Difficulty Level: Intermediate 
Size: 6 x 9.1 x 19.2 inches 
Style: Race car

#6

Meccano Erector RC Roadster

One thing to love about the Meccano Erector Roadster is that it can be built as a race car OR a sports car, giving kids two projects to work toward right out of the box. Like other Meccano products, the parts can also be repurposed into mechanical inventions of your child’s creation. Everything is included in this 154 piece set, and the resulting car is a little bit smaller than some of the others listed here, making it a bit easier to handle for younger users.

  • You'll love: It's a versatile building set that's friendly for small hands and will keep kids thinking creatively
  • Watch for: Older, more experienced kids might be put off by the small size of the project

Recommended Age: 10 – 12 years
Type: Hybrid
Batteries: 3 AA, 1 9 volt, not included
Difficulty Level: Beginner – Intermediate
Size: 7.4 x 4.4 x 2.5 inches
Style: Race car/sports car

#7

STEM Learning RC Racer

Best DIY RC Kit for Younger Kids

Buildable as a car or a truck, the STEM Learning Kits RC Racer boasts hours of possible entertainment. An ebook that accompanies the product helps kids understand the construction of the 326 piece set. The kit’s pieces are slightly larger than some others on the list, making it a great pick for cooperative play. The sleek and cool finished product is big, sturdy and lots of fun.

  • You'll love: The guide makes completing two possible builds super simple

Recommended Age: 6 – 14 years
Type: Block
Batteries: USB rechargeable battery included, 3 AAA not included
Difficulty Level: Beginner – Intermediate
Size: 16.5 x 11.4 x 3.5 inches
Style: Sports car/race car/truck

#8

Bo-Toys RC SUV Aircraft Carrier

Awesome for kids who love military toys, the Bo-Toys SUV Aircraft Carrier is a unique construction kit that has a bold, eye catching green design. The kit contains 506 pieces, used to build the durable model, and the turret rotates 360 degrees which increases enjoyment during imaginative play. Despite the high piece count, it’s great for beginners who will reap major hand-eye coordination benefits from assembly.

  • You'll love: It's an aircraft carrier, which is unique, and the rotating turret adds an extra element of fun

Recommended Age: 8+
Type: Block
Batteries: 3 AAA not included, USB rechargeable battery included
Difficulty Level: Beginning – intermediate
Size: 9.5 x 5 x 4.7
Style: Military aircraft carrier

#9

The Perseids DIY Car Building Kit

Younger kids who want to join in on RC fun can sometimes feel intimidated by complex kits, but the Perseids DIY Building Kit Car is ideal for 6+. It’s great for small hands, and the 421 piece kit fits together easily without external tools to make a sleek finished product that will delight kids while improving their motor skills. The sharp bright orange sports car design is very fun, reminiscent of some European car models.

  • You'll love: Younger kids can join in the fun without feeling intimidated

Recommended Age: 6+
Type: Block
Batteries: 400 mAh 3.6 v, 2 AA not included
Difficulty Level: Beginner – Intermediate
Size: 11.4 x 10.2 x 2.9 inches
Style: Sports car

#10

Tamiya GTO TT Ferrari Kit

Another Tamiya model, it’s hard to imagine this classic GTO TT Ferrari in any color but bright cherry red. The details on this unit are exquisite, from the front bumper to the shiny rims – no skimping on the scale model here. Like other Tamiyas, it requires some additional purchases and is perfect for intermediate users. The classic 1980s body style makes it a great pick for a teen RC fan who is a gearhead/auto enthusiast.

  • You'll love: The design is amazing and the product is made by a trustworthy manufacturer
  • Watch for: Most traditional kits don't include everything, and Tamiya kits require you to buy a motor, servo, ESC, paint, battery and charger

Recommended Age: 14+
Type: Real
Batteries: 7.2 volt not included
Difficulty Level: Intermediate 
Size: 12 x 12 x 5 inches 
Style: Sports car

RC car

FAQs: All you need to know

Q What’s the difference between a traditional and a block building RC car construction kit?

A While we examined this a little bit in the buying guide, taking a closer look at the difference between the two can help solidify your choice. Block building sets are typically geared toward a younger audience, not requiring tools, while traditional sets require them. The pieces in block kits are usually friendly for small hands, though there are usually more of them than in a traditional kit. Block kits often offer more room for creative building, while traditional kits tend to follow a singular streamlined model. Traditional kits do not generally have everything included, while block kits usually do. Traditional kits are generally more detailed, more expensive and geared toward an older, more experienced audience.

Q Can I increase the range of my RC car? 

A In most models, the answer is yes. The range of your car, which for most RC cars is about 100 feet, is determined by the receiver in the device. By replacing the receiver and transmitter with ones with matching power and frequency that allow greater range(a detailed guide is available here), you can allow your car to travel a further distance from the transmitter. 

Q What accessories might I need to buy to complete my RC car?  

A It depends on the kit you buy. Most block building RC car kits come with everything you need to complete the car, while some traditional kits require purchase of additional items to complete the car. We’ve noted every kit on our list where that’s the case. At minimum, traditional kits generally require a charger and batteries, but you may also need to purchase a motor, paint, electronic speed controller and servo(the device that converts electrical signal into linear movement). 

Q How can I make my RC car faster?  

A Aside from the clear answer of choosing the lightest possible parts, there are a few ways to ensure you’re maxing on speed. Making sure you’re using the right tires for your driving conditions is important. Mini spikes are a good well rounded option, but slicks are better for road and full spikes for muddy areas and wet grass. Brushless motors lose less energy through friction which enables cars to move forward more quickly and powerfully. 

Q What kind of household items can I use to build an RC car from scratch?  

A So many! We’ve covered a few detailed projects in our DIY section, but to summarize, you can repurpose nearly anything as long as it’s done correctly. Some of the more popular options have included plastic containers, PVC piping and cardboard, all inexpensive and plentiful.

Q How do I change the frequency of my RC car?  

A A common complaint from hobbyists who want to enjoy their cars with friends is that two cars which run on the same frequency can’t be driven at the same time. You can change the frequency of a traditional RC car fairly easily. The frequency is determined by crystals that reside inside the transmitter and receiver. Hobby shops sell replacements, so once you’ve identified the frequency of your device, you’ll simply need to buy and install new crystals in both the transmitter and receiver. It’s a straightforward process – they slide in and out like fuses.

DIY, Craft and Décor: Ideas for RC Car lovers

Simple DIY RC car

Would you believe you can build an RC car at home with just 7 items and 4 tools? Milan at CreativityBuzz shows us how to make a super cool and sporty mini PVC based RC car that will inspire engineering confidence in kids.

DIY RC Car

RC Pencil Case

If you need something to do with last year’s pencil case, why not turn it into an RC car? Jordan from Sciencing shows us how to turn a plastic index card box into a fun little RC with a short ingredient list.

RC Car party ideas

Throwing an RC car themed birthday bash for your little one? These 10 monster truck birthday party ideas from Christine at The Spruce will spark your imagination (we love the remote control monster truck races)!

Back to Basics RC build

Getting WAY back to basics, Techgenie at Instructables teaches us how to make an RC car out of the basic cardboard most of us have taking up space somewhere.

Cardboard RC Car

DIY Rugged RC car

Looking for a rugged, made from scratch RC car project? Three Guys over at Make built this fierce-looking PVC pipe and pegboard based car and showed us how we can do it too. This is a great project for more experienced users.

Rugged Little RC Car

Quick Decision

LEGO Technic Tracked Racer – Best Overall
It’s unique, sturdy, appealing to a wide age range and made by LEGO

Tamiya Egress RC Kit – Upgrade Choice
It’s a traditional kit that’s durable, demands skill and has a satisfying finished product

Bo-Toys 2 in 1 Truck & RoadsterBest Budget Buy
It’s inexpensive, great for younger kids and you can build two models complete right out of the box

RC Car for toddlers
RC cars for toddlers are great for engaging the senses and providing an important boost to hand-eye coordination, but there are so many out there differentiating between their features can be difficult
Gary B.

Gary B.

Gary is a father of two, self-identified RC fanboy, and part-time guitar plucker. When he's not racing his collection of remote-controlled vehicles or strumming away, we bend his arm and get him to write with precision and expertise on a range of mechanical and electrical toys.

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