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Remote-controlled vehicles are great fun at any age. You can get impressive models with complex features for teens and adults. There are fun racing cars and other models that appeal to pre-teens and older children. There are also some clever models that introduce the concept to toddlers.
RC toys bring together a videogame element with a fun toy and this level of engagement can increase when you buy them something a little different.
Remote control cranes could prove to be a big hit. However, you need to be sure that you have the right toy for your child. You don’t want something too complicated and boring for young children.
Nor do you want something too childish for older children. That is where this guide can help. By the end, hopefully, you have a better idea of which RC crane to choose for your child.
Why choose a remote-controlled crane?
There is a lot of love for remote-controlled cars because these vehicles are familiar, accessible, and often the best starting point for a DIY build. They come in lots of styles and you can learn how to build and drive them with relative ease.
However, some kids may feel as though they need more of an engineering challenge. A crane is perfect because you get the challenge of creating the vehicle in its complex form, as well as the moving elements of the crane.
This brings in great STEM lessons with intricate designs and instructions. At the same time, you should also be able to get some fun creative gameplay out of the motions via lessons in cause and effect.
What should you consider when choosing a top RC crane for your children?
1) Is this a mobile crane or a static one?
This is an important starting point. All the models listed below are separated into categories. There are static models that only offer movement in the crane arm. These tend to be STEM toys that are complex towers.
Then there are the mobile cranes on the back of vehicles, which have their own controls. Finally, we have some DIY RC cranes from companies such as LEGO and Meccano.
2) How many functions are there to add to the learning and creative play?
The complexity of the functions makes a big difference to the lessons learned and the enjoyment of children. Cranes that can use different apparatus to handle various objects are more engaging and beneficial.
Mobile cranes also need to have good handling and steering too. It also helps to look at additional features, such as toy trucks, figures, and other fun accessories.
3) Is it too difficult for your child?
You will find that different toys have different age recommendations. Some complex scale models will be too much for younger children to handle, especially if there are buildable elements to them.
But, there are often alternatives out there that are more age-appropriate with fewer features, fewer parts, and a more engaging design.
4) Does it come with batteries and, if so, what type?
Some of these models will have rechargeable batteries for the remote control. But, others will use old-fashioned AAA or AA batteries instead. Make sure you know which you need so you can be prepared whenever the controller runs out of power.
5) Does the crane look good when it is finished.
Looks can help with the appeal of this sort of toy. Some toys for younger children have a really nice age-appropriate design with brighter colors while toys for older kids tend to be more authentic as though they were scale models.
The best static RC models.
The first group of RC cranes in this guide are those that fit into the static category. These are the models that are tall and don’t sit on a moving vehicle. Instead, you have a toy that focuses on the lessons of loading and unloading the crane.
This first option from Dickie Toys is pretty big at 48 inches tall. I like how it towers above any toy trucks that kids have and provides that wow factor, while also teaching them some valuable lessons.
The motion is great, with the 350-degree rotation on the cabin, the trolley, and a winch like a real crane. Kids can spend ages loading up the trolley, lifting it up, and then transporting items onto the little truck that is also part of the set. It is great for younger players with no building required.
A potential downside here is the fact that the controller on this toy is connected to the crane by a wire. This could make it more reliable, and provide an easy connection for the simple functions. But, it doesn’t allow for the same freedom of movement as other options.
Because Dickie is such a popular choice for cranes and similar engineering toys, I want to take a look at another option in their range. This is another Mega Crane that is incredibly tall, making it a brilliant choice for kids that want a more extensive operation.
It is the same height as the one above and this time it has a series of attachments for the crane in order to handle different objects. This opens up new opportunities for learning and problem solving as kids choose between the cage and the claw.
The problem here is that this crane doesn’t have the same truck in the box as the one above. This is a shame because it means that kids can’t finish the story of transporting the goods unless they already have a suitable toy in their collection.
What stands out to me about this model is that while this is another tall static model, it is also height adjustable. At its tallest, it is 50.4 inches tall. But, you can bring it down to lower heights for younger children. Another benefit here is that this one comes with a separate controller.
Also, it can hold a 500g weight on the hook, with a good motion to raise the hook and move it along the arm. It is a great problem-solving toy for kids with an inter in STEM science, rather than those playing at being on a construction site.
One thing that I did notice, however, is a warning that this is to be used under the direct supervision of an adult. This could well be an overprotective disclaimer to keep the company safe in case of any accidents. But, you also have to question if there are issues with stability.
What I like most about this final model is that there are two different functions in the crane arm and winch. There is a bucket, much like the one used in other models, to raise and lower items for transportation.
Then there is the little ball, that looks more like a piece of demolition equipment. This should open the doors for more creative storylines for kids.
Like many other models in this guide, the RC controls are connected to the crane for a better connection. The shape of the controller is more grown-up than some other options.
The downside here is that this 100cm tall model is made from cheaper plastic with a small base. It doesn’t look that sturdy compared to some other options. This could make it more frustrating to play with.
The best moving RC cranes.
Then there are the options that have two types of moving parts – the motion in the crane element and then the controls for the vehicle. Typically, these are smaller cranes that sit on the back of trucks and are more like traditional RC vehicles. But, they still vary in looks and features.
This RC crane toy looks great with an authentic design and 1.14 scale of a professional vehicle. This means that kids can get more involved with the gameplay and learning on this works because they have seen the real thing in action.
I like that there is that instant connection between the toy and the real crane as this can spark the imagination of younger kids and also provide a more professional look for older players.
This approach, along with some of the great features onboard, could ensure that this is a great upgrade on models for younger kids, such as the Playmobil one below.
One issue to be aware of here is that the string on the crane isn’t as strong as some parents had expected. There is the risk that it will snap with rougher play or heavier loads. This could have been better for the price paid.
Playmobil has always come to the aid of parents looking for fun toys that are safe and educational for young children. This is an interesting way to bring engineering and RC toys to a younger audience before kids can progress to something a bit more complex or authentic in its appearance.
This RC model has a 360-degree rotation and a functional crane. It also looks pretty good. Then there is the added bonus of the two figures for creative play, along with safety helmets and other accessories.
On the other side of all this, you have to consider the fact that this is less of a STEM toy than just a fun RC toy. Kids may learn some basics of cause and effect in the movement of the crane, and the controls are age-appropriate. But, there isn’t the same authenticity as an engineering toy as in models for older kids.
I think this little toy is quite cute, and perhaps more appropriate in size for some younger kids. This is another mobile crane as there is movement in the vehicle and the crane. The vehicle runs on its treads with good steering and you can also control the winch on the hook.
From there, you can lift the pieces included with the hook, swing the cabin around, and unload them elsewhere. On the plus side, this simplicity in the design and function is great for younger players that don’t want the same STEM lessons as the static cranes. This can just be a fun toy car too.
The downside, however, is that you have to question whether this has enough motion compared to other cranes. Some of the other options out there are more complex, with more motions and more interactive elements to enhance a storyline.
You do get some lights and sounds here, but nothing special for the higher cost of this toy.
Next, we have an impressive 60cm tall 15 channel crane that can move in different directions on the wide treads. There is also a secure hook on the arm that goes up and down to lift an object and a 680-degree rotation on the cabin.
There are lots of features here, including the different lights and sound effects. There is also a 100Ft range on the controller, which again looks like the sort of thing you would get with a video game console rather than a child’s toy.
Also, there is a rechargeable battery this time which makes a big difference.
It is worth noting that this is the more expensive option, but perhaps this means better quality and longevity? This certainly appears to be the case with the use of the steel beam and the quality that is seen across the machine. There are also more features here than on some cheaper models, so there may be value.
The best DIY RC crane sets.
Finally, we have a series of crane models that kids can build themselves. This adds a whole new element to STEM learning and provides a greater sense of achievement for kids. These kits can also become fun projects for siblings to share, or for parents to help out with.
This next model comes from LEGO. If you saw my guide on the best DIY RC cars, you will know that there was a brilliant sporty off-roader in there that parents and kids loved.
This model is no exception. It retains a lot of the benefits of LEGO Technic models, with the simple instructions and all the right parts for an interactive build. This crane is complex with lots of bricks and parts that lead to a mobile crane.
This means 8-wheel steering to move the truck and the chance to move the “super-high” telescopic arm. This complexity combined with the fun colors and creative play makes this great for younger builders.
There are some comments about missing pieces in some boxes, which could be a problem for creating a perfectly working model. There is also the risk that some kids will find all the moving elements too difficult to put together and requires some help. Still, this does allow for a fun bonding session.
This Meccano set is an impressive piece of engineering that makes great use of the various moving part, gears, and other elements to create a working crane. What I personally love about this one is that there is such a focus on those working parts and that cause and effect response between the pieces, rather than on a cool design for a toy.
Younger children may not find this as visually appealing, but young teens with an interest in the subject should learn a lot. Those with the imagination and skill to do so can then take these parts and use them to make other machines.
I want to end this list with something a bit different. The majority of these toys are high-end models that can teach our children a lot about STEM and building.
Typically, these appeal to older kids and provide valuable lessons in impressive toys at a higher price. But, where do you get started? The Playmobil model before is great for younger kids, but there isn’t any building involved.
This product is different. They can build the truck, learn how to tighten the bolts, learn about the function of the winch, and then use the use RC controller.
The only real downside here is that kids aren’t going to learn as much here about the mechanics of the crane or be able to use it in the same way as more realistic models. There is also the chance that they will become bored and outgrow it quickly.
Choosing the best RC crane for your kids.
As you can see, there are plenty of options out there in each category of remote control cranes. It is up to you which style is best for your child. Do you want to go for the more authentic static crane with the different motions and operations in the winch?
Would they prefer a mobile vehicle with a crane on the back? Or, could they appreciate the STEM lessons in building their own model. Compare your options and see what catches your child’s eye the most.
The right choice could prove to be an educational and fun interactive toy for a long time to come.