Toy-grade vs. hobby grade RC cars (All The Differences)


Should hobby-grade RC cars be characterized as toys? Are there even significant differences between a toy-grade RC vehicle and a hobby-grade model? These are the questions constantly in the mind of beginner RC enthusiasts. 

The hobby-grade and toy-grade models may seem the same to some hobbyists, but that isn’t the case! 

Today, we explore the true nature of RC-grade cars to determine their differences and outstanding features. 

Toy-Grade RC Cars Wouldnt Pass This Terrain

What makes an RC car hobby-grade?

Various factors like level of expertise, upgrade option, ability to withstand crashes, need for maintenance and many others distinguishes hobby-grade RCs from the toy-grade models. Some other variables that make an RC car hobby-grade includes:

  • Power train (nitro&electric)

While you can power your toy-grade and hobby-grade RCs using electric and nitro engines, what makes an RC car hob grade is in their power source. 

When it comes to batteries, compared to AA-type batteries toy-grade models use, hobby-grade models utilize a more efficient and energy saving battery called LiPo. LiPo batteries last long, offering a longer runtime and menacing thrills.

Consider the quality of motors each RC car use and while both hobby-grade and toy-grade RC’s can brushed and brushless motors, nitro engines, are specific to hobby grade models. 

  • Suspension

Hobby-grade RC car that has high-quality suspension can go over bumps and rough terrains without flying around, losing control or break. 

Toy-grade models don’t come with quality parts for this feature. So, if you plan to wheelie or speed-run over a road bump, your toy suspension will damage and break while you take your car to the edge. 

Hobby-grade models have a more durable suspension and shock absorber.
So, even if you do a wheelie or run super-fast over a road bump, your car parts will still be intact. Additionally, hobby-grade models offer you the option to upgrade to an aluminum set of suspension or absorbers to make taking sharp turns easy on track.  

  • Maintenance 

When your toy-grade models become faulty, you won’t have any maintenance to fall back on. The only option would be to get a new car. 

Hobby-grade models behave like their full-size versions when it comes to maintenance.
To keep your RC car running for long, you’ll need to carry out regular maintenance and care check-ups; else, your RC car wouldn’t run at full speed at all times. 

  • Purpose

Technically, toy-grade RCs and hobby-grade counterparts do the same thing. But, the fact remains that they are not the same. 

Hobby-grade RC vehicles will give you more performance, greater speed and power, coupled with precision handling. Plus, they come with control functions that make it easy to maneuver on track.

With toy-grade models, you’re restricted within the cheap, low-priced plastic mold since they are only great for fun.
On the other hand, a hobby-grade model offers advanced hobbyists unlimited potential to enjoy bashing at home or racing in professional competitions. 

  • Capabilities

More than how you use your RC car, hobby-grade models offer amazing thrills, unlike toy-grade ones. 

Hobby-grade electric cars use a brushless motor and high-performance LiPo batteries that offer over 90% efficiency and the ability to reach speeds over 70+mph. 

Plus, unlike toy-grade models that easily damage with slight impact, hobby-grade counterparts can do wheelies and menacing stunts easily. Add that you can replace or repair your motor, servos and ESC when they get faulty, unlike toy grades that come with an all-in-one component making it difficult to dismantle and replace them. In fact, RC enthusiasts enjoy an upgrade option on their hobby-grade electronics, especially when the models don’t meet up to your expectations. 

Hence, with a hobby-grade RC car, you get a higher energy capacity, higher speed runs, better performance, ease of replacement and upgrade options

  • Quality of the components

Toy-grade models behave like they are called, simply toys. Hence, their components are cheap, less sturdy, and offer cheap thrills. In comparison, hobby-grade counterparts offer quality and durability. 

If you were to crash your toy-grade RC, you’d have to say goodbye to them since they lack quality. In the same crash, hobby-grade RCs will absorb the impact better and still perform well. Even if something does break, finding replacement parts is easy. 

  • Durability

When it comes to electronic components, toy-grade models lack sophistication. 

The engine is made with flimsy, low-quality fabric; the transmitter easily catches interference and, when used constantly, can break quickly. 

Contrarily, hobby-grade counterparts are made with strong materials making it easy to race professionally. You won’t see plastic parts flying on impact, and the transmitters are less likely to catch any frequency interference when run. 

  • Transmitter precision (power\steering\range)

For the hobby-grade models, the technologies used are far more sophisticated. 

For example, the transmitter and receiver of an average toy-grade RC car will function in a 30-60 feet range, meaning you can only use them in a confined area. On the other hand, the hobby-grade car can easily reach a range between 600 to 1300 feet, making it possible to use them on different terrains. 

  • Complexity

Hobby-grade and toy-grade models also differ in their components and electronic functions. In fact, these differences are what make hobby-grade RCs superior and more complex than toy-grade cars. 

For instance, while they may both have components like transmitter, servo, ESC and motor, electronics of hobby-grade RCs will be by far more complicated and precise due to the advanced technologies they employ. 

Since toy-grade are simply toys, they are made with some low-quality electronics, while hobby-grade RC cars have top-quality, high-performing electronics.
Hobby-grade RC cars come with complex features and advanced technologies that demand skills and experience as well as maintenance and care. 

  • Type of users

Due to the complex nature of hobby-grade electronics, only experienced and seasoned RC enthusiasts can drive them

However, toy-grade models are mainly aimed at beginners and kids since it requires no expertise. 

  • Materials

Many toy-grade models are made with flimsy plastic materials that can easily shatter high impact. 

With a hobby-grade model, you never have to worry about the quality of materials since you can upgrade to meta components to offer more resilience. 

Hobby-grade RC meaning

A hobby-grade RC car centers on recreational activities which revolve around a hobby that helps you develop and learn new skills. 

Unlike toy-grade RC cars, hobby-grade RCs are best used by advanced RC enthusiasts since they are more expensive than the toy-grade models, are sturdy, long-lasting and have replaceable parts making them easier to upgrade. And while hobby-grade RC vehicles are a great fun hobby, they require a level of skill and experience to operate compared to toy-grade models. 

Toy-Grade RC Meaning

As the name suggests, toy-grade RCs are simply just toys you can find in regular toy and electronic specialty stores. 

The only similarity they share with hobby-grade toys is their use of radio-frequency via a transmitter to control and communicate with the controller and the car. Compared to hobby-grade RC cars, toy-grade RCs are meant to be less powerful, break easily and usually come cheap with a cost between $20 to $30. 

Likewise, toy-grade RC cars don’t have replaceable parts. So, you would have to get a new one when they break. Due to their less sturdy nature, toy-grade RCs are great for kids. This means that toy-grade RC cars are cheap thrills RC cars.   

Are RC cars considered toys?

Most people characterize RC cars like toys. Why? RC cars are built for fun, and anyone can use them as a recreational activity.

Regardless, RC cars should not be considered toys since they have more advanced technologies and are more complex than toys. 

What makes a good hobby-grade RC car? 

If you wonder what makes a good hobby-grade RC car, it boils down to the fact that they have more features than toy-grade counterparts.

A good hobby-grade RC car will be customizable, upgradable, more durable, faster, use advanced technology, have greater control and precision, have better quality parts, have high performance, and offer unlimited possibilities. 


Ultimately, hobby-grade RC cars differ from their toy-grade counterparts. They offer a hobby and leisure activity that helps RC enthusiasts sharpen their technical skills, from building their model to modifying the design and upgrading parts to enjoy thrilling race track competitions. With a hobby-grade RC, what you see is not what you get as hobby-grade models behave like full-size vehicles.