Question: What is the best place to buy RC cars? I’m referring to new and used hobby-grade vehicles, not the department store quality stuff.
Before the Internet and online shopping were the norm, radio controlled car fanatics almost always shopped at their local hobby shop for RCs, bought from their friends or fellow racers, or bought from mail-order catalogs.
With e-retailers offering low prices, purchases through the web are common nowadays and most local shops can’t compete. Hence, a lot of local stores have went out of business.
I thought I would list some of the best places to buy a radio controlled car, including a list of the good online hobby stores and places I’ve used.
Back in the day: Local hobby shops
When I got involved in the hobby, the local hobby store use to be one of the best places to buy RCs. They were operated by local hobby-goers and racers.
But then shops dried up in my town due to competition from Internet retailers.
My local stores are not local to me. I have to drive 45 minutes one way. Also, I end up realizing they don’t stock the part I need and they have to order it. They don’t keep less popular vehicles in their showroom, either. All of this requires me to go out of my way when shopping there.
That said, one of the benefits of supporting the small shop is the service. They often can answer questions and solve issues. To get those questions answered nowadays, people search Google and ask questions on forums.
As much as I’d like to buy in my area and support the local economy, it can be tough. So, let’s list some of the best online hobby stores and places to buy RCs.
Tower Hobbies has been around for as long as I can remember. They use to send me these big, 300-plus page catalogs.
Those catalogs were a source I used for parts and information for a long, long time. Nowadays, their online presence and vast amount part info is just as good as those old mail-order catalogs.
Their prices are good, and they often offer free shipping for expensive purchases. Besides, they are practically my neighbor and rank as one of the best online hobby stores, in my opinion.
Amazon is massive, has just about anything in production, and out-of-production.
They have a program that allows vendors to sell their products through the retail giant, which means very-hard-to-find items can be located.
If you have their store card and Prime, you get 5 percent back on purchases and 2-day shipping. That’s really good when you are buying an expensive RC car.
From a financial, selection, and shipping standpoint, Amazon is tough to beat and is one of the best places to buy RCs, as well.
HobbyTown has franchises in most metro areas. Of course, there are exceptions.
I’ve used their local stores to buy parts and trucks. Each is independently owned, so your local HobbyTown may not have the same level of service or staffing as mine.
I’ve had good luck with them, especially for parts.
But, I will say that the last truck I bought had to be ordered and that turned me off.
Here’s why: The closest HobbyTown is a 90-minute round trip for me and it took two days for the truck to arrive.
During the time I spent driving, I could have done something more productive. I, also, could have had the truck shipped to my door if I choose a different route. It was my fault for going that route, which is why I use other methods nowadays.
Craigslist is a local marketplace for just about anything. I’ve bought and sold items on here and had good luck.
It seems that RC cars don’t sell to frequently, so you may find a deal even if you don’t check daily.
You probably won’t find new vehicles here, but you will find deals on others.
How can I not list eBay?
There’s so much RC stuff on eBay it will make your head spin. But, it’s not always affordable and may be over-priced.
Always check other marketplaces and retailers for pricing before making a bid.
That said, I know my brother purchased a truck eBay recently. He got a decent deal on the truck, but shipping increased the total cost.
I hope this list of the best places to buy RC cars has been helpful.