Hassled parents all know that sometimes there’s a lot to be said for the respite offered by giving a child a tablet to play with, or plonking them down in front of the TV. However, there’s only so many episodes of Dora the Explorer or Paw Patrol you can take before you lose your grip on reality. When you need to keep the kids engaged and entertained while having a few moments to yourself, then remote control toys fit the bill.

Toyologist Peter Jenkinson explains, ‘Far from stopping children developing imaginative play, remote control toys help develop hand-eye co-ordination skills and motor skills. They also help foster an early interest in science and engineering and kids get a lot of pleasure from emulating something their mum or dad does, like driving.

‘They are also a good choice for shared, competitive, imaginative play. It’s like controlling a live-action animation. Kids make up elaborate stories to go with the action.

‘Choosing the right remote control toy is important. Sometimes dads, in particular, end up buying a big boys toy instead of something to suit their toddler. If you buy a fast remote control car or drone for a child under the age of 11 or 12, it’ll end up repeatedly crashing into walls or furniture, or nose-diving leaving you with expensive repairs or
a pile of wreckage.

Remote control toys also offer an insight into the future, when many jobs will be performed by robots, meaning an early introduction to mechanised toys and computer-controlled toys may be the start of a lifelong interest and career path. There are toys suitable for all ages from toddlers to teens, often featuring popular cartoon or movie characters. There’s a misconception that these toys are designed to appeal to boys. Girls enjoy playing with remote control toys every bit as much.

Here’s our pick of some of the best remote control toys on the market:

Teksta have introduced adorable mini versions of their much-loved robopets. This kitty zooms around, makes realistic cat noises and responds to touch. £9.99 each and also available as a puppy, racoon and dinosaur.

One for older kids, the new GeoSmart™ is a range of magnetic construction sets that combines bright colours with outstanding safety. Try the remote controlled Mars Explorer kit, which contains 51 pieces, 2 motors, a transmitter and receiver. £59.99 from Amazon.

Chicco, the pre-school toy specialists, have RoboChicco, which is the first ever transformable remote controlled car designed for kids aged from two to six. It converts from a car into a futuristic designed robot in three simple steps, giving little ones hours of fast and furious fun. £29.99.

My First Flyer from Little Tikes is the only drone for preschool kids that flies, turns and lands with one-touch control. It’s robust, easy to fly and maintains a height of three feet, though it’ll go higher if you place your hand under the sensor. It’s probably wrong to tell them it’s because you can do magic. £34.99.

Another drone, but definitely designed for older kids, the Aura Glove Control Drone dispenses with fiddly controllers, knobs and joysticks in favour of a control glove that lets you tilt and rotate your hand to fly it. Tons of fun for around £80.

Last up, how about a remotely controlled inflatable Teletubby? Sure to be a big hit with small children and more than a few adults. Bladz Toys does a whole range of character based inflatables, so there’s bound to be a superhero to suit.

Peter Jenkinson provides information on the latest remote control toys, tweeting at  @toyologist

Image:goodluz – Fotolia,stock.adobe.com

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