Dear Crabby, Are Remote Controlled Toys Safe?

Dear Crabby,

My eight-year-old son wants a remote controlled car for his birthday, but I am not very familiar with them. Do you think they are safe? Did you ever deal with these kinds of toys?

Sincerely,  Nancy Nervous

Dear Ms. Nervous,

Yes, I do remember the days when my kids were into these remote controlled items. They had the cars and the boats and the airplanes. I can’t remember any safety issues with the kids, per say, but I certainly remember concerns for other things.  When my son was still young, about 9 or 10 years old, I remember him getting this little remote controlled truck for Christmas at my mother-in-law’s house. He began driving it all over and ended up smashing it into her newly painted walls. That was not as well received as you might think! But, to make matters worse, (or from my point of view, better), when she got up to go talk to him about it, he ran it full-speed into her shin. That was received even less favorably.  Needless to say, she never did buy him another remote controlled vehicle.  As he got older, I remember getting him his first airplane. We spent several hours a day for weeks on end glueing all the wooden parts together, applying the plastic to its wings, and then decorating this little flying wonder. It was a unique design where you started the little gasoline engine and then switched on the electronic controls before launching the plane.  Well the first time we flew it, we forgot to turn on the controls inside the plane. I launched her as high as I could and then told him to start turning it around, back towards us. He moved the controls back and forth to no avail.  We sat there in silence for about 5 minutes while this thing flew straight as an arrow right towards China! I’m sure somebody got a pleasant surprise in their backyard when that thing finally ran out of gas!  After I recovered from that catastrophe, I purchased our last remote controlled toy – a glider with a six foot wingspan. I figured at least this way we had no motor to worry about.  I remember pulling this long rubberband back that I would hook onto the glider. I would walk about 50 yards away before releasing it.  The glider would go way up in the air and soar with the eagles.  One time I was so excited I grabbed my Super 8 movie camera and started filming this thing in all its glory. My son was a great pilot; he made it do flips and steep banks left and right. Then as it came in for a landing he brought it right over my head for the shear effect on the movie. As I was filming this whole show, I watched this humongous glider slam right into the side of my van! Man, did that hurt. So as I said before, I’m not sure if any of these toys are a safety hazard to your kid, but the rest of the family had better watch out!  Good luck and let me know how it turns out.

Sincerely, Dear Crabby

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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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