Top Car Toys
Someone’s birthday is coming up and you need the perfect gift. If you have a gearhead that needs a great gift, you have come to the right place. Whether you need a car-related toy for the child you birthed, or the child you married, here are some of the best automotive toys out there.
Hot Wheels & Matchbox
Little 1:64 scale vehicles were everyone’s first cars. Some of our readers may be surprised to learn that these little toy cars are quite collectible, and in the past couple decades, adults have picked up what used to fill bedroom toy boxes. Hot Wheels says kids average 41 cars per collection, while adults take it a little overboard and average 1,500. The great thing about starting a tiny car collection is the tiny price, as these cars average $2 each. If you love details, check out the Elite series.
After a kid became bored of their rolling vehicles, it was time to move on to ones with power. Radio-controlled vehicles have enthusiasts of all ages, and can start at just $5. Of course, that little bit buys you a cheap and slow toy-grade electric car with a terrible range, but it is a great starter and learning vehicle for a child. Speedier versions go for under $50, and still make great learning cars. Gas R/C cars are more complex, but start out faster than electrics. Expect to pay no less than $100 for a low end nitro car. While hobby-grade cars can get super expensive, the sheer speed and plethora of custom parts make it worth it. Like real car modding, only tiny.
If you live in Canada, odds are you don’t have R/C cars for your 5 week summers up there. In that case, stick to the R/C car’s predecessor, the slot car. Running only indoors, these cars run on an electrified track. Sure, you don’t get to control the steering, but the scale speeds are extremely high, and the trick is to beat the other racers, while not losing control in the corners. 1:32 and smaller slot cars are affordable, but require a track in order to operate. For kids, or someone testing the waters, look into 1:43 scale for its lower price and smaller space requirements.
Go karts are the ultimate expression of the child that never truly outgrew that Power Wheel. A small gas or electric engine drives the wheels allowing kids to scoot around, sometimes with a top speed under 5 mph. Karts can go insanely fast, as the racing league proves, but each step in speed and capability rapidly increases the price. Stick with under $200 for kids under 10. Fortunately for us “adults,” China has jumped in to save the day, and now even reasonably fast karts run just a few hundred dollars at places like Pep Boys.
Many kids spent countless hours assembling scale models of their favorite vehicles, often with too many hours of fumes from strong plastic glue. If your sense of smell is like mine, burned out from too many models and not enough ventilation, start your car buddy off with snap-together models. They are super easy for the youngin’s, and usually don’t require paint. Some of the classic cars have metal bodies, and look like a pro assembled them. It is possible to go high-end on models costing a few hundred dollars and receiving immaculate airbrushed paintjobs, but for the most part, plastic models are an affordable and fun hobby for kids of any age.
Popular Playthings Magnetic Build-a-Car
This is a cool piece for the younger ones. This toy is a puzzle, and magnetically connected kit. It comes in several pieces, and you your kid can connect the parts they want to use. There’s no glue needed, as the magnets keep the vehicle together (probably not NHTSA approved). They can use whatever parts they want, while skipping others. Now’s their chance to build that Ute with the face of a minivan that they’ve always wanted!
Metal Earth 3D
These cool models come in a flat sheet, so you can hide most of them inside a birthday card. Open the thin package, and you are greeted with a sheet of laser-etched metal. Punch out and assemble, like the plastic models above. Unlike the plastic, these highly polished models look great the moment you finish assembly. For the gearhead, there is everything from a 1965 Mustang, to an old Checker Can, and even tanks and Mars rovers. At $10, it’s hard to go wrong, although this one is probably for ages 10 and up.
Solar Car Kit
These are sweet, in a nerdy way. Amazon sells lots of solar car kits, some in a lot of pieces, while others are completely assembled. Some are slow, and only there to demonstrate the principles of solar power, while others are legit racers that can cover 10 ft/sec on a bright day. Prices start about $5, and well-reviewed kits seem to go for about $20. This could be a fun bonding moment, while sneaking in a science lesson for your favorite gearhead.
The beautiful thing about Lego cars, or any Legos for that matter, is that they can be modified. You can use your creativity to deviate from Lego’s plan and create your own interpretation of that car model, or perhaps better yet a futuristic car of some sort. Legos provide you the freedom to make the cars you want to make. Of course this depends on your personality. Many kids love to build Legos straight from the instructions, while others wouldn’t even crack open the instructions and just started building whatever they wanted. Either way, Legos is a great way to build cool toy cars.
Now let’s hear from you. What car-related toys do you want? Or, if you have any of these, let us know and give us some feedback.