The term toy or toy-grade in regards to radio control is used to describe radio controlled vehicles, vessels and aircraft of the pre-assembled type generally found in discount stores and consumer electronics stores. Some toy-grade R/C models may also be found in hobby shops in an attempt to appeal to young users.
Generally speaking, a toy R/C is meant as a child's or adolescent's plaything. Though sometimes derided by users of more expensive and sophisticated hobby-grade equipment, toy R/C is an excellent way to teach a youngster basic vehicle control and to hopefully spark his/her interest in the hobby at a very reasonable price. Modern toy R/C vehicles are fast, fun and even rather flashy in comparison to hobby-grade vehicles. A toy R/C Lincoln Navigator brought to market for the 2005 holiday season features scale detail, full interior, chrome spinner rims, working show car lights and even a fully programmable, built-in mp3 player used to emulate a high-powered stereo system. One of the largest R/C car models of any type is the 1/4-scale Cadillac Escalade from Columbia Telecommunications Group with its working FM broadcast radio receiver. A 1/4-scale Humvee less the FM broadcast receiver is built on the same chassis. Both models are near hobby-grade and are powered by a large, heavy 12-volt gel-cell similar to the ones found on electric riding toys. Another model of a Chrysler 300 SR/T from Planet Toys is a full 1/5 scale, twice the size of many hobby-grade R/C vehicles. Jada Toys has introduced 1/6-scale R/C cars influenced by full-scale vehicles featured in DUB City magazine.
There are disadvantages to toy R/C's as well. First is a lack of available repair parts. Toy R/C's are meant to be played with until they finally fail. Parts for such vehicles are not carried in the stores that sell them, unlike a hobby shop. Some basic parts may be available from the manufacturer - both Tyco and New Bright have a basic parts list enclosed with their models - but they can be prohibitively expensive and parts may take several weeks to arrive from their Asian factories. Radio equipment, unlike hobby-grade, is non-standardized and non-repairable. Except for RadioShack's line of ZipZaps toy R/C cars and their XMODS line which falls between toy- and hobby grade, no aftermarket parts are available for toy R/C, although an enterprising modeler may be able to retrofit discrete, hobby-grade radio gear to a toy. Control response on some toy models comparable in size to hobby-grade vehicles is often slower (or perhaps even faster in the case of non-proportional controls) than hobby-grade, which actually makes those toys difficult to operate with smoothness and precision. Examples are the aforementioned 1/4-scale Escalade and Humvee; despite their size and level of sophistication, they are promoted as having "semi-proportional" steering. In case of battery failure or leakage on most toy R/C aircraft, the entire model must be discarded as the battery is irreplaceable.
Among the brands of toy R/C's available in North America are: