Don’t Call Them Toys!!!

Oct 05, 2011 18 Comments by

I’ll apologize right now for upsetting you. I know some of you will be close to foaming at the mouth when I say it, but regardless of how much they cost or how sophisticated they get, RC cars are–brace yourself–just toys. Even though I’m as committed and passionate about this hobby as you can get, I know a toy when I see one. You can call them big boy toys or some other clever spin on the concept, but a toy is a toy is a toy. It doesn’t make them less cool. It just means if your real car breaks down, you can’t turn to your 1/8-scale buggy as a viable way to get to work. Why? Because it’s a toy and not a real car.

I know why calling them toys gets under some people’s skin. It’s because calling them toys puts them on the same level as the toy store stuff that is, well, total garbage compared to the vehicles we know as RC. The word toy implies simplicity. Calling them toys implies real RC cars are for little kids. This is also a hobby and not just playing. I agree with all of that, but…well, you know how I feel.

So, if you feel differently let’s hear it. I want someone to convince me that our beloved RC masterpieces of engineering should never be called toys.

Featured News, Matthew Higgins

About the author

About Matt:I think it’s safe to say I’ve done a little bit of everything in RC. That said, I predominately race off-road and my current passion is short course. One of my all-time favorite classes is oval carpet racing. Besides racing, I can often be found working on one of my many never-complete projects, and it seems I have an ever growing collection of rock crawlers—specifically scale crawlers. Matt’s 5 Hot Topics: Short course, Racing, Scale Builds, Crawling and the General RC Hobby

18 Responses to “Don’t Call Them Toys!!!”

  1. Chase (wolf16731) says:

    I don’t want to make a long list of things out of this, but I do agree with you on this one partly. Basically, anything that isn’t required to live and/or survive could be considered a toy if it is only kept for the entertainment factor. However, I do feel that there are exceptions with RC as a hobby being one of them.. This example are all out of my list of personal hobbies.

    I happen to love firearms in all shapes and forms. It is actually a natural part of my job due to the military life. As such, I enjoy anything associated with them. I grew up learning and enjoying the simplicity of a typical BB gun. From there I started to hunt deer with a 30-06 that belonged to my father and then my very own .270 caliber rifle. I also have a 12 guage shotgun, AR-15, and a Glock. I even have a longbow for archery amusement and hunting. I don’t necessarily need all of these weapons to survive as most of all my shooting has been target practice in my spare time. However, I am sure everyone will agree that they are NOT toys. This goes for the obvious high powered rifles and pistols all the way down to a simple BB gun.

    Another aspect of this that can be easily overlooked are paintball markers (guns). They purposefully fire non-lethal rounds (..the paintball..) just for the sport of shooting somebody in “battle.” However, in the wrong hands of an irresponsible person, these markers could very easily become a weapon or even just endanger someone’s life because the shooter thought that it would be funny to shoot an unsuspecting person on the street. These are definitely not toys either, but they are purposefully built ONLY for our entertainment in a competition to see who is better (Sounds familiar to our RC racing and competition doesn’t it?).

    So as far as I am concerned, I would consider RC as NOT a toy. Think about it. You just built up a RC car or truck to either race in competition or just be the #1 rig in the neighborhood compared to all of your friends who also participate in this hobby. Are you really going to let a child of any age just ‘play’ with it or let some reckless individual take it for a spin because he wants to see how fast he can make it go because he has never seen something of this caliber before? I would hope the answer is a no. Any RC vehicle of this hobby’s caliber could easily damage someones personal property (smacking someones actual vehicle or maybe even construction equipment at your favorite bashing area), or someone may wind up with some personal injury (losing control and hitting a child from across the street who wanted to watch the RC go around). Lets face it, a 1/10 or maybe even something as small as 1/18 could really hurt someone with the speeds we like to push from these things. And I hope I don’t have to explain what could happen if the RC were anything larger than an 1/8 scale!!

    While in the bigger picture all we are doing is playing around or just having a good time with friends, as members of the hobby we do have to ensure that anyone around us including ourselves and any spectators must remember that it is still important to use common sense and practice safety every single time we plug in a battery or add the fuel for the engine. After all, if we don’t do this safely then we are probably no better than the people who think its cool to do drive-by shootings with nothing more than paintball guns..

    Verdict: NOT A TOY!!!

  2. Ultimaxx says:

    I used to say they were not toys. You can call anything that you play, use, interact with a toy. I have a full size vehicle that is “just a toy”. I work on, drive in, play with it. Sure it is a form of transportation but, in my life with a family of four kids, I hardly call my 89 trans-am practical. Accept for going fast, cornering hard, doughnuts and smoke shows! Now that is practical (insert laugh here) and an awesome toy! Heck everthing I own is a toy! Even my wife! But I don’t let anyone play with her. She is MY toy. I do not share with others ;p

  3. Doug B says:

    I don’t like the ‘toy’ designation for RC race vehicles, mostly because it is an oversimplification, like calling a sculpture just rock, or the sistine chapels ceiling just a doodle.. yes, you have a very valid point that I can’t take the buggy to work if the cars acting up, but Tonka makes toys.. toys are something children play with.. every RC model I have ever seen has a warning label stating its not suitable for children under 14 and should be used with parental supervision.. clearly not for the kids then..

    Scale racing vehicles.. models.. clockwork cars.. walter mitty racecars.. but not toys, not to me.. sportimg goods maybe? after all, for the small percentage of us that race them on a regular basis on controlled courses its a hobby-sport.

    Ultimately RC as a hobby is different things to different people.. to some, they are just toys, a way to spend an afternoon playing in the yard with the kids.. some are on the other extreme, as serious about their racing as someone making millions a year driving a real car to the victory circle.. most of us fall somewhere in between.. I guess if you are enjoying yourself and having fun, thats all that matters..

    Call it a toy if you must, but I think its alot like saying Ken Block is just some guy driving a focus.. it’s an accurate statement, factual anyway, but doesn’t give you the whole picture, and is in fact slightly misleading.

  4. Stephen Bess says:

    +1 Agreed Matt; I’ve been saying this for years and years. Nothing to be ashamed of, in fact I take pride in having a job and hobby in the toy car world.

  5. legal eagle says:

    Toys indeed – we have fun with them, we get excited when we get the chance to get a new one, and sometimes we only play with it once before moving onto the next one!

  6. David Bowman/ Turtle Dave says:

    I have a FULL SIZE, Blown V8 SAND RAIL with 22″ of suspension, 8 king shocks, guess what? IT’S A TOY!! No matter how you slice it, no matter how offensive, TOY.

    • Bob S. says:

      Precisely, & there are others too, like the full scale Ariel Atom(look it up on BBC’s Top Gear show if you don’t know what it is). It’s a full scale car, but it’s for the track ONLY, not driving to work, & even the rich people who buy them call them what they are, track TOYS. And we even have factory sponsored racers who say the same thing, Barry Baker always said that’s what we do, race toy cars for bowling trophies, & if he’s ok looking at it that way, then so am I…:)

  7. Don't Call Them Toys!!! | RC Aircraft World says:

    [...] Don't Call Them Toys!!! I know some of you will be close to foaming at the mouth when I say it, but regardless of how much they cost or how sophisticated they get, RC cars are–brace yourself–just toys. Even though I'm as committed and passionate about this hobby as you can … Read more on Radio control Car Action (blog) [...]

  8. Michael J. says:

    I tend to eschew the term ‘toy’ when talking about hobby-grade RC stuff if only to differentiate them from the RC vehicles you can get at Wal-Mart or Target. Sure, they’re toys in the sense that we more or less just play with them, but when people ask about them I avoid calling them ‘toys’ as much as possible.

  9. Ultimaxx says:

    I like Michael J. reply. I avoid calling it a toy too. I say it is a hobby grade RC not a toy RC.

    P.S. I like how we all brag about what we have calling a toy. [G]uns, vehicles and other what not’s.

    Well I got the new ACME 1,000,00.1 version 2 with HD surround acoustical low range enhanced with optional high fidelity input and add-on usb processor with extra capacity and limited edition color and controller all for 99.95 and free shipping it is the latest in bragging rights ( ha ha ha) just wait till my new OptimO 3000 SE LE with optional do anything button gets here. It will make the black box look like a TOY and mine came in the Limited edition style and there is only one in the world. Man with the most (and best) toys wins.

  10. Ultimaxx says:

    that uns was supposed to say GUNS and I forgot to mention sandrails too.

  11. Mick says:

    Toy /toi/ Noun:

    1. An object for a child to play with, typically a model or miniature replica of something.
    2. An object, esp. a gadget or machine, regarded as providing amusement for an adult: “in 1914 the car was still a rich man’s toy”.

    Verdict: Indisputably a toy. Albeit the darn coolest, very expensive, sometimes dangerous, very technical toys around!

  12. Henry says:

    Most people own a ‘toy’,big or small. Thing is some people don’t get the enjoyment we have from rc, then i tell them it is fishing without the rod and reel…

  13. Tony R says:

    I’d have to agree with Mick here. To my way of thinking, anything that’s sole purpose is to bring relaxation to it’s user, and serves no other practical purpose, could be classed as a “toy”. This could include Boats, the Trans Am mentioned above, Golf Clubs, probably most sporting equipment, push bikes etc. All could really be classed as “toys”, as life could go on with out them, but it just wouldn’t be as much fun.
    As we get older, we still like our toys, they just get more and more expensive …. :-) :-)

  14. cheapest quote for car insurance says:

    Those are definitely not to be called ‘toys’, those who call it like that are way too ignorant . RC cars were the new man’s bestfriend, that’s what it should be called.

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