The RC world has come a long way since the lumbering vehicles I used to pilot when I was a kid. They couldn’t go very fast, but if need be, they could flex their D battery-powered muscles to get unstuck once mired in the carpet.
In recent years, however, the RC vehicles across sea, land and air have gotten so realistic you have to zoom out to realize you’re watching a miniature, and not the real thing. Here’s a small selection of YouTube videos that, if you haven’t seen them before, will bring you up to speed.
RC planes are simply incredible. They’re so fast, so big and so realistic. Digital Reviews compared 21 different RC electric planes and rated them on build quality, aesthetics and readiness for flight. The winner of the 2010 contest was a copy of the Stinson Reliant, a plane flown by the US in the 1930s. Made by Top Flite, the first thing that’s impressive about the Reliant is its size. Over five and a half feet long and with a wingspan of 8.3 feet, it’s Top Flite’s largest kit yet. Its flying skills are pretty sick too.
But if you have the need for speed, the SR isn’t going to do it for you. The Jetcat P160 SE, however, will. With a max of 125,000 RPM, this sleek beast of a kit plane can break 300 mph (482 km/h) and is one of the fastest in the world. The Guinness Book of World Records has the fastest speed ever attained by a jet-powered RC at 337.18 mph (542.64 km/h). Not for the casual hobbyist, the Jetcat is powered by a P180 RX Turbine Complete, which costs $3995. It’s pretty amazing, just try not to blink.
RC cars are also starting to fly. Last year Digital Reviews named the Traxxas Funny Car the RC car of the year. It is a 1/8th drag car replica. At a top speed of 70 mph, it’s a lot of power in a small package.
And now that cars are looking and handling more like the real thing, some are showcasing them in pretty entertaining ways. It’s a high-speed car chase, of course.
As for RC helicopters, we’ve covered the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 before because it’s simply that awesome. Controlling it with your smartphone or tablet, this quadrocopter does some serious aerial acrobatics. Better yet, you get to record the fun through two separate 720p HD cameras. Watching the video, it’s no mystery why this RC is continually voted the best quadrocopter around. And at $299, you can still have lots of fun while saving for your supersonic RC.
Lastly, here’s an example of what RC boats look like these days. Named Miss Geico Catamaran 29, this little boat has a 1500 kv, or RPMs per volt. I don’t really know what that means, all I know is this sucker is fast.