RC models: What´s hot in 2023!
Remote control is a fun hobby for all ages
By Peter Pernsteiner
At the Spielwarenmesse 2023, manufacturers of remote-control models presented a range of new products for very different target groups - from pre-school children to adults. For anyone interested in the fine details, some models were almost indistinguishable from the prototype - both visually and acoustically.
Playmobil has once again updated its remote control starter products for pre-school kids. The RC retrofit set for a wide range of cars and trucks that was launched some years ago has already been updated once and has now been fitted out with radio technology for the current standard remote control frequency range of 2.4 GHz. A Bluetooth version of the RC module set is coming out in autumn 2023. Visually, it is hardly distinguishable from its predecessor. It also consists of a battery box, a receiver module, an engine block and a steering module for the attachable front wheels. They can be retrofitted very easily in over 60 Playmobil vehicles and playsets via connecting cables. The compact handheld transmitter has two child-friendly control sticks for steering and direction of travel. The Bluetooth RC module set is due to be launched in October 2023 at the same time as a new towing service set and a rally pickup set.
(Playmobil – Horst Brandstätter Group)
Bluetooth brings sound to RC models
Since 2019, all new 1:32 scale Sieper SIKUCONTROL vehiclescan be controlled remotely either with a Bluetooth hand-held transmitter or via a free smartphone app. The operating concept has now been taken one step further. In Nuremberg, the first models were demonstrated in action where authentic sounds can be generated in sync with the driving speed using a smartphone. The off-road Fendt 1167 MT Vario tracked tractor which was announced last year is scheduled for launch in the second half of the year. The first on the market is the giant Liebherr R980 SME crawler excavator, which is already available with a conventional 2.4 GHz remote control but without sounds. These new models make authentic hydraulic sounds when they are excavating and the warning beeper beeps when reversing.
To Youtube: Video interview about the two new Siku vehicles with an app to control sounds
A wide range of remote controlled construction vehicles were also on display at other exhibition stands. Revell presented its three-axle MAN TGS dumper truck in 1:14 scale. It has 4-wheel drive, is 44 cm long and has a large remote-controlled tipping body. This makes it a great team mate in the sand-pit for the Digger 2.0 excavator with chain drive which is already on the market. This item also comes with LED headlights and a sound function that can be switched off. A much sportier model from Revell is the prototype of a racing car with newly developed drive technology. The conventional wheels of the Rolling Thunder RC racing car have been replaced by rolling balls with a special tyre profile. This enables the car not only to turn around on its own axis at lightning speed when stationary, but also perform driving movements similar to a car windscreen wiper, for example. Revell presented its 2023 Christmas Calendar with remote control models. This time, one of them contains a Claas tractor, approx. 7 cm long, as well as various farm parts. Revell’s Ramadan calendar is a completely new idea and contains an off-road RC racing car kit. It is already available and of course has 30 doors as opposed to the Christmas Calendar with only 24 doors.
To Youtube: Video interview showing the Rolling Thunder vehicle in action among other things
Let’s go off-road
Kyosho’s Mini-Z vehicles are great off-road performers. Visitors to Nuremberg had the opportunity to try them out on a track where they proved themselves capable of overcoming extreme gradients of up to approx. 100 percent, i.e. drive up an embankment at an angle of 45 degrees. Kyosho presented another smart new toy, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, just under 20 cm long and 8.7 cm wide, in 1:24 scale. It has four-wheel drive, weighs 223 grams and requires four AAA batteries or rechargeable batteries as power supply. The Chevrolet Coupé Bel Air in 1:10 scale A, also equipped with four-wheel drive, was a nostalgic eye-catcher at the Kyosho stand. The prototype of the model, which is also suitable for outdoor use, was built between 1953 and 1957. The Fazer MK2 chassis underneath is pre-assembled and all you need to operate it is a battery and charger.
Carrera Toys has also come up with some all-wheel drive innovations. The 43 cm long crawler in the Profi RC series may only travel at 8 km/h, but its all-wheel drive makes it very good off-road. If you’re looking for high-speed driving thrills, then the new Expert RC buggy is the perfect choice. The 37 cm long model with a brushless engine can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h. To ensure that RC fans can still control their vehicles reliably at such speeds, it also comes with a remote control regulator that was launched in autumn 2022. This has an adjustable steering angle limiter for driving at high speeds. The Expert RC controller has a slide switch to reduce the maximum speed of the model from 100 to 60 or only 30 percent which is ideal for the first runs or if it is being operated by children.
To Youtube: Carrera report including a section on the Expert RC hand controller.
Really big and really small
It goes without saying that virtually every manufacturer of RC models has off-road vehicles. Carson, for example, who have some really small vehicles with special appeal. The Nano Racer on a scale of 1:60 has a list price of under 20 euros and was previously only available with remote controls in the 27 or 40 MHz frequency range. Now it comes with a 2.4 GHz remote control for the same recommended retail price. This means that up to 50 vehicles can now be used simultaneously in one room. H0 gauge model railway fans can look forward to the company's 1:87 novelties. The VW bus, just 5 cm long, now comes in a colourful Flower Power version and for the first time in a two-part combo set. It contains two VW buses with switchable flashing blue lights and a switchable remote control with 15 model memories for a quick and easy vehicle change. The new police bus in 1:87 scale also has a proportional remote control for sensitive steering and driving. It also makes engine sounds dependent on the speed.
At the other end of the size scale, Tamiya has launched a new heavy-duty truck that is more than 1.3 metres long including the semi-trailer. The kit for the Scania S 770 8x4/4 consists of an aluminium chassis and a plastic body. The 61 cm long truck in 1:14 scale has two steered axles and two drive axles. The second steering axle can be lifted, just like the prototype. A multi-function control unit can be purchased for the RC truck which has over 30 different sounds, speed controller, a powerful loudspeaker and even a vibration module for an even more authentic reproduction of the truck operation. Including the rechargeable battery, the truck itself weighs around 7.5 kilograms. A new matching 98 cm long 3-axle box trailer from Carson weighs almost as much.
To Youtube: The Scania S 770 from Tamiya including sounds
Up to 500 metres flying distance
In addition to cars, trucks and tractors, visitors could also admire remote-controlled model aircraft at the Spielwarenmesse. Carrera Toys, for example, presenteda model of the classic BO 105 C helicopter, just 23.5 cm long, and with a user-friendly automatic start-stop system. Thanks to an integrated gyroscope unit, the helicopter with its four-blade rotor takes off fully automatically at the touch of the RC button and stabilises its position at a flying height of about 1.2 metres. Carson has launched two modern "Easy Tyrann" helicopters of a similar size, but with a two-bladed rotor, as well as some less expensive models with two two-bladed rotors arranged one above the other.
The helicopter highlight at the Revell stand was thecamera drone Navigator NTX, which is already on the market. Although it weighs just under 250 grams when fully equipped, it has a high-resolution video camera (2704 x 1520 pixels) with WLAN transmission to a smartphone and 2-axis gimbal stabilisation on board. It is said to be able to fly up to 120 metres high and up to a distance of 500 metres for up to 25 minutes. Revell’s new Pocket Drone is intended for indoor use. This quadrocopter with HD camera (1280x720 pixels) weighs only 54 grams and is foldable so that it can be stowed in the remote control housing.
Among the new conventional models, Kyosho presented colourful versions of the two 1:6 aircraft Calmato Alpha 40 Sports with a wingspan of 1.4 metres and Calmato Alpha 40 Trainer with raised wings and a wingspan of 1.3 metres. Both can be equipped with either an electric motor or a combustion engine.
To Youtube: In this video interview made at the Revell trade fair stand, Revell’s camera drones are presented and explained
Interested in hearing more about RC models?
At Spielwarenmesse Digital you can find more information about the participating manufacturers in the Model Railways and Model Construction product group. Find out more about the new products.
About the author:
Peter Pernsteiner, Engineering graduate and freelance journalist, discovered his love of technical journalism when studying electrical engineering and joined the editorial staff of a large ICT trade magazine soon after. Since 1994, he has worked as a freelance journalist, focusing on tech topics – including for model railway magazines. In 2016, he also started a YouTube channel for technology reports which has since attracted global attention. He also publishes video of novelties or interviews with exhibitors on this channel under the search command “Spielwarenmesse 2023”.