Rechargeable Short-Lived NiCads or Expensive Fuel?
Look at the picture on the left. both are 1/10th scale touring cars, 4wd, independent suspension, but one (The Clarion Skyline) is electric, the other (the Dodge Viper) is Nitro (like petrol) powered. So which is best?
Its not as simple as that. The first thing to think about if you're going to be buying one of these toys is safety. The Nitro-Powered cars are not for Children under 15 - they are just too fast and dangerous. The above model can go over 45 mph, if it hits anyone it could cause serious damage, plus it runs off a flammable fuel. Keep these for the older kids. (Or yourself!)
Saying that, even the Tamiya Clarion Skyline above is very fast, so it's really only suitable for kids over 9 or 10 who already have good radio control skills, otherwise they'll just smash it up against the nearest curb, and you'll be left with an upset child and a hefty repair bill!
Next is price. Nitro powered Radio Control cars are expensive to buy and run - fuel isn't cheap, and the cars themselves cost from £200 upwards (including Radio Gear). Sure, second-hand ones look a bargain, but how do you know it has been run-in and set up properly? This is hard enough on new cars, but having to buy a new engine for what seemed like a bargain purchase could make the price difference small.
Electrics are cheaper, but still take into account the cost of a few NiCad Battery packs - but overall a good 1/10th scale Electric car will be loads cheaper to buy and run than the equivalent Nitro powered vehicle.
Where can you use it? Nitro cars need a lot of room. They travel well over 30mph, and they are VERY LOUD! A quiet, smooth car-park is great, or industrial estate when all the units are closed, but they are too noisy for residential areas or most public parks. The best option is dedicated tracks, but there are not many around, and often you'll have to join a club to use it. Even if you get an off-road version, it still isn't suitable for public parks if they're busy, and the noise will attract plenty of complaints.
Electric cars give you much better options. Quiet, you can run them almost anywhere that is smooth enough, and the off-road versions can be used in public places without attracting the attention of their louder nitro counterparts.
The big difference is Speed and Run-Time. Properly tuned Nitro cars will out perform (in a straight line) electric cars every time, and are only limited by the amount of fuel you have with you. Electrics are slower (but still fast), but expect only about 10 - 15 minutes out of each battery, so you'll need a lot of NiCads!
In conclusion, if you want the ultimate in RC performance, Nitro is the way to go, but you will not be able to use it as much because of the restrictions on where you can run them.
Or maybe buy both!!!!!!!