The Global Toy and RC Model Industry and its Impact on the Environment

Radio, or remote, controlled vehicles are at their peak of popularity. You can find everyone from the smallest wide-eyed child to full grown adult enthusiasts taking these models for a spin. There are so many different types: RC cars, trucks, boats, helicopters and airplanes. If there’s something that’s using the road, water or sky, there’s an equivalent in the RC world.

These self-powered models use remote controls that transmit a unique frequency to that vehicle. They can all be remarkably detailed like their larger counterparts with frightening scaling. The cars come in off- and on-road categories. The off road versions are impressively built with complete and fully functional suspensions and wide tire selection for use on different terrains. On road, limited to smooth and paved surfaces, are equally impressive. They can match the detail of their full scale versions, making a race car a race car or making you the owner of a Porsche you just can’t sit in.

This level of detail and care applies to the airplanes, helicopters and boats as well. They can be specifically meticulous to the point where repairs could require anything from propellers to mounts. You can purchase a model for speed or relaxation. There are sailboats and Mustang airplanes or gyroscopes.

A lot of these RC cars and hobby products are designed for indoor or outdoor use, though many can do both. If you’re planning to hit some serious water with your boat, make sure it’s designed for the lake or the pool in your backyard.

Electric Models

These models are powered by electric motors. Like Hybrids, these have less impact on the environment as they generate no fumes. They use rechargeable batteries like nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium and lithium polymer cells. The lithium polymer works best with air vehicles as they’re lighter.

Electronic models were once exclusive to cars because they sat on land. But with the newer, lighter and more powerful battery, these environment conscious alternatives can be utilized in pretty much any available RC vehicle motor. They’re less expensive to replace and promise a longer life. They provide reliability, low noise and vibration, and clean operation.

These models are recommended for beginners and children, considered a ‘toy’ grade. They’re easier to maneuver and most can be utilized in the home or a small yard.

Fuel Models

These use small internal combustion engines, referred to as ‘glow plug engines.’ The models themselves are often called ‘nitro’ cars. The engines are powered by a combined mix of methanol, nitromethane and oil. In some cases that oil could be a blending of synthetic and castor oil. Larger RC models can have gasoline engines, requiring a mix of gas and oil.

These are ‘hobby’ grade models, as opposed to toy. They’re used by professional and hobbyists.

While their impact on the environment might be considered significantly minuscule compared to their real versions, there’s still the release of fumes into the air. How much depends on the size of the model and its engine.

Nitro Models

These are the larger, more robust models which will definitely be used for rough terrains and racing. These engines can range in .12–.35 cubic inches and are powered by nitromethane. This is the least environmentally friendly RC model. Continued exposure to nitromethane fumes can lead to a number of ill effects. Yet the argument would be that this is negligible considering the size of these models.

You would definitely want to avoid using Nitro and Fuel models in the home.

Last Words

If one is interested in being environmentally responsible, electric remote controlled models are definitely the best option. If looking at RC models, review electric models first. With the advancement in technology, these models can be as powerful and as much fun as any other.