I like radio controlled cars. I liked the idea of them as a 10 year old, and a long time later I like them in the metal and plastic. It's quite nice getting involved with a new hobby and new culture (with people like the madly cackling RCSparks providing regular inspiration), cruising them, breaking them, upgrading them, posting on forums and going from being a complete noob to someone who gets gratitude for helping other people online.
So I thought I'd write a beginner's post about it, in the context of the completely separate climbing community which is of course where my heart and life's purpose still lies.
Should you get involved in the RC Hobby?? Hell yeah. It's not that expensive if you choose right, it doesn't take up that much time to go out and cruise with an RC car, choose the right car and you can do it when the weather is shit, choose the right driving style and you shouldn't need to do much repairing or maintenance, and there's a wide choice of approach from a £40 micro you mess around with inside to an £800 1/5 scale monster that's infinitely upgradeable and can mince all over the roughest terrain. Pick what suits YOU.
(In terms of the climbing lifestyle it has no benefits as an additional hobby apart from possibly night time / wet weather driving with the right set-up. And major repair work is a good warm-up for the fingers pre-training. OTOH go to an empty crag with an off road RC shoved into your sack and it might be fun while resting between attempts on your SICK PROJ RIG, who knows ;)).
Start by considering the size you want and the style of driving that appeals because there's a lot of choice. I wanted to do some bashing and jumping and happened to choose the HPI Savage XS, it's not cheap at all but is an absolute beast, very fast, jumps well, cruises over all terrain. Then I wanted something smaller to try in the flat and maybe out at local carparks (the Savage is waaaay too powerful) so I got a Carisma GT24TR which is really nice for speed cruising and small jumps, and a WLToys P929 which is cheap, tiny but solid and fast, although things do break easy at smaller scales. It's a different choice for everyone. But there's one essential pre-purchase step: Check the model you're choosing has spares readily available. Trust me on this.
Have some information:
Types of RC car usage:
Racing: Proper RC for people who can actually control them well ;). Needs a proper track (on-road for race cars, off-road for buggies) but not necessarily hugely competitive.
Speed runs: Tinkering and testing to go as stupidly, pointlessly fast as possible in a straight line. Usually needs a GPS logger like SkyRC and a dweebish attitude towards endless upgrading (so one for road cyclists then).
Drifting: Pimped up cars, low bodies, slick wheels, smooth surfaces, and all your Fast And Furious fantasies. Quite niche but good for small areas and indoor fun.
Cruising: General generic driving, on or off-road, just getting out and having fun.
Bashing: "Drive it like you stole it", "If you didn't break it you ain't doing it right". Jumps, bumps, humps, drops, skate parks, and a lot of time ordering spares online. Great fun.
Trail driving: Taking your car out for a walk. Generally on rougher terrain with a slower car than you'd have for cruising, one for the explorers.
Crawling: Extreme trail driving with extremely slow but agile cars, basically climbing over rocks, chasms, stream beds, the more awkward the better.
Large scale: 1/8 - 1/6 - 1/5 , often nitro/petrol powered rather than electric, very expensive and big.
Normal scale: 1/10 - 1/12-ish , nitro/petrol or electric, expensive-ish but lots of choice.
Mini scale: 1/14 - 1/16 - 1/18, mostly electric, still lots of hobby-grade choice.
Micro scale: 1/24 - 1/36 and below, electric, still a good choice but not so many high end models.
Toy grade - cheap, can be fast and agile, but not upgradeable, not repairable, and might not have a good transmitter. Skip an evening in the pub and get hobby grade.
Hobby grade - "proper" RC, from budget to luxury. Cheaper ones are not necessarily much fancier than toy grade but will likely be better materials and components, and likely to be upgradeable and repairable - the former aspect is fun, the latter aspect is very useful.
Ready To Run (RTR) - most RC cars come like this these days. Just add batteries. You can often still dismantle them to the base components though!
Kit form - much rarer than it used to be, although Tamiya still do plenty. You get less choice but if you really want to build something, go for it.
Steve Webb - my cousin's shop so I have to give him a shout out. The website is a bit hopeless but they have loads of other stock in store and a lot of expertise. If you live near Chester pop in to the shop in Frodsham in person.
There are many more but I've used those regularly.
These are invariably American so it can be a bit frustrating when you see a really cool looking car with a big thread discussing all the options, then find out 98% of the stock goes to China and America and it's only available in the UK from one Hong Kong exporter who charges £45 postage and it will take 8 weeks to get here by which time the manufacturer has discontinued it and you can't get any spares.
It really depends what you're after but some good names are: Kyosho, Tamiya, HPI (& Maverick), Traxxas (& La Trax), Dromida, Associated, Losi, Carisma, WLToys and FTX.
If any of this is slightly useful, then in the words in RCSparks "get out there any enjoy the RC hobby" :)