Take RC Indoors with Mini Scale RC!
There’s a good reason why many hobby shop owners use demos and Try Me stations to help sell their remote control cars and trucks. When you see those models in action, and especially when you get to hold and operate the controller, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll want to have an RC car or RC truck of your very own.
What stops some interested customers from taking a radio control car home is that they just don’t have a large enough area available where they can run it. And there may not be a hobby shop or park nearby that has a track for public use.
If you’re one of them, don’t give up yet. You can still enjoy the thrill of driving a hobby-quality RC car even if you don’t have room to run the common 1/10 scale RC cars or larger sizes. Just try mini scale RC instead!
What is mini scale RC?
The standard size for a hobby-quality RC vehicle — “hobby-quality” meaning those that aren’t cheaply made department store toys — is 1/10 scale. On average, 1/10 scale RC cars measure around 20 inches long. Anything bigger than 1/10 scale is considered a large scale RC car. Anything smaller is called mini or micro.
Micro RC cars, like the name suggests, are indeed very little. Some are as tiny as 1/76 scale or even 1/150 scale. They’ll fit into a pocket, which is very handy but also not very realistic.
In case you’re not familiar with how scale measurements work, here’s a quick definition. The ratios in descriptions such as 1/10 scale, or in popular “mini” RC sizes such as 1/16 scale, 1/18 scale, and 1/24 scale, compare the model vehicle to its full-size counterpart. A scale of 1/24 means that the RC car is one-twenty-fourth the size of the real thing.
So like those pocket-sized micro RC cars, mini scale RC cars and trucks are pretty small — just not THAT small. Nearly all are under a foot in length, and most measure somewhere between 8 and 11 inches long. They’re large enough to be well-engineered and realistically detailed, but compact enough to run safely indoors.
Advantages of 1/24 scale, 1/18 scale, and 1/16 scale mini RC cars
While you don’t need access to large, open spaces to run 1/24 scale, 1/18 scale, and 1/16 scale mini RC cars, that’s only one of the advantages to the mini RC size. Another benefit is the low price. You can own mini RC cars and trucks for a fraction of the cost of standard, 1/10 scale or larger RC cars.
Let’s compare the pricing on two different scale platforms from Axial®, a manufacturer of popular, high-quality RC rock crawlers. To buy an Axial SCX10 1/10 scale RC vehicle, you may spend up to about $500 for a complete, ready-to-run package. But if you choose a 1/24 scale RC Axial SCX24 vehicle, also ready-to-run, the cost will be closer to $125. Both deliver exciting performance, authentic looks, and lasting durability.
Granted, the dimensions of mini RC cars aren’t quite as impactful as the larger sizes. But given their lower cost, 1/24 scale, 1/18 scale, and 1/16 scale RC cars serve as a great introduction to the hobby — suitable for kids, ideal for beginners, perfect for tight budgets, and great options for anyone who just wants to give the RC hobby a try before buying something larger.
How to get the most fun from mini scale RC cars
Although 1/24 scale RC, 1/18 scale RC, and 1/16 scale RC cars can be enjoyed outdoors on smooth surfaces, any rough patches or minor obstacles in the terrain will make driving them difficult. On the other hand, if you brought a 1/10 scale or larger RC car indoors, you’d never be able to unleash its full performance potential. You’d constantly be crashing into walls and furniture.
So if you want to experience RC racing fun inside your home, without having to watch the weather or pack up your RC cars and gear for travel, mini scale RC cars are the best choice.
Even small rooms can be turned into terrific settings for bashing, drifting, racing, or rock crawling. An unfinished basement makes an ideal location to set up a mini scale RC course. Nearly any household object can double as an obstacle for a mini RC crawler to overcome.
There are many videos on YouTube that offer tips for creating indoor mini scale RC car tracks. It’s easy to find instructions online for building everything from a simple, temporary track setup to competition-style carpet tracks.
One common material that’s often used to make indoor tracks is gray Ozite carpet. Ozite is smooth enough to drive your 1/24 scale, 1/18 scale, and 1/16 scale mini RC cars on, but it also offers excellent traction. When you’re finished racing, you can just roll up the carpet and store it out of the way in a closet. You can purchase eighty feet of Ozite carpet for about twenty dollars at your local home improvement store.
Rubber flooring has many of the same advantages as Ozite carpet for creating a mini scale RC car indoor track. It’s fairly durable, provides an excellent grip, and can be cut to whatever size you need. Then, when you’re done racing, you can just roll it up for convenient storage. You can also piece together inexpensive foam mats to make a racing surface for 1/24 scale, 1/18 scale, and 1/16 scale mini RC cars. The mats can be taken apart easily and stacked away when you’re done.
RC drifting is becoming very popular, and you can practice your drifting control skills at home with mini scale RC cars and a large, unfinished basement or garage. The cement floor allows smooth tires to slide around corners — just the ticket for exciting mini RC drift car action.
What manufacturers make the best mini scale RC cars?
Maybe you’re concerned that the lower cost of mini scale RC cars means they’re inferior in construction to the larger ones that attracted you to the hobby. If so, don’t worry. Many of the manufacturers who produce 1/24 scale RC, 1/18 scale RC, and 1/16 scale RC cars are the same ones whose quality and innovation put their larger RC vehicles on the podiums at international RC racing competitions. They incorporate that same winning engineering into their mini scale RC cars.
TLR® (Team Losi Racing) is among the most highly respected names in RC racing. The brand’s reputation for success began with the powerful 1/10 scale JRX2 2WD buggy. You’ll find much of the same innovation inside a 1/16 scale version available from Losi®, the Mini JRX2.
The popularity of mini scale RC has not been lost on RC’s top manufacturers, and they’re busy creating small RC cars and trucks whose performance will satisfy all levels of RC hobbyists. If you’re interested in trying RC cars but have to watch your budget, think small — and get ready for big fun!