They may not be the fastest thing on wheels, but the mighty Tractor fascinates kids all around the world. So its no wonder that the farming industry hasn’t gone unnoticed by the RC world, and the experience of controlling your own remote control Tractor has now been made possible with fully functional RC scale models!
- Our Top Pick: Fistone RC Farm Tractor
- Hobby-Grade: Siku R C Claas Axion 850
- My First RC: John Deere Remote Control Johnny Tractor Toy
- Educational: Thames & Kosmos Farm Science Experiment Kit
- Buying Advice
The Top-Rated RC Tractors (2020)
|Our Top Pick||Fistone RC Farm Tractor||1:16||4+||4.3|
|Hobby-Grade||Siku R C Claas Axion 850||1:32||9+||4.1|
|Licensed John Deere||John Deere Remote Control Johnny Tractor Toy||N/A||18 months+||4.5|
Our Top Pick:Fistone RC Farm Tractor
Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5.0
RTR | 1:16 scale | Ages 4+
- The Pros: Durable build quality, Sound mute toggle, Demo functions, Expandable with Double E line of accessories
- The Cons: Small turning circle, No auto cut-off for USB charger
While most models on this list excel in one area, the Fistone RC Farm Tractor is not only a great all-rounder, but has a ton of power, plenty of features, and is available with an RRP under $50! Built with high-quality ABS plastic, the styling is modern with a glossy sheen, and the details on the shell are nice and distinct with realistic modeling in the cabin.
Construction & Features
Chunky rubber tires with great ground clearance give the Fistone RC Farm Tractor an easy time of maneuvering over all sorts of terrain from mud, grass, sand, and more. Though the front counterweight can sometimes hit the ground with steeper terrain, this is rarely much of a concern in regular use.
This model is also able to hitch up some optional extra equipment from Double E, including a Lifting Flatbed and Windrower, powering it with a barrel jack from the rear of the tractor underneath a concealed flap by the rear mounting hooks. However, availability in the US appears to be limited.
There is also support for other brands of hitched accessories, such as the Bruder line of tipping trailers, or anything that’ll fit its standard hitching jack on the rear.
Controls are handled by the dual stick style remote, along with several extra functions such as remote muting and ignition. There’s also included LED lights activated with forward and reverse, and realistic engine noises on activity. While these are nothing special, they do at least give a bit of character to the machine itself.
Battery life is a rather low 15-20 minutes of use with the included 400mAh, 4.8v battery. While the power output and capacity could be better, optional extra batteries are available to swap in and out by simply unscrewing and detaching the cable from the tractor, and connecting it to the included USB cable. Although it’s worth noting that the charger itself doesn’t have a safety cut off, so it’s best to supervise the battery while charging.
Although it’s speed and performance during movement is reasonable, it’s turning circle is unfortunately rather poor, needing a reasonably large area to make a full circle. It does leave a small sore spot in the overall package, but with a swift three-point turn, it proved to be no problem.
With a bucket load of features, expandability from Double E, and additional support for a variety of accessories, the Fistone RC Farm Tractor is a great platform to start your own little farming adventure!
Hobby-Grade:Siku R C Claas Axion 850
Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5.0
RTR | 1:32 scale | Ages 9+
- The Pros: True proportional steering & acceleration, Strong pulling power, Impressive detail, and build quality, Extremely quiet operation
- The Cons: Not the cheapest
Created for enthusiasts, Siku’s 1:32 scale R C Claas Axion 850 is more hobby-grade than a toy, and while small in size, contains all the features you’d want from an RC model at this price point.
With a die-cast metal body giving it a sturdy frame and weight, along with the 2.4GHz receiver offering true proportional steering and acceleration, control is a breeze.
While speeds are realistically scaled given its size and construction, about 2-4mph, it’s never going to win any races. However, what it does bring is it’s extremely quiet operation compared to the loud, distinct servo sounds you’d expect from a lot of other models on this list.
Its durable body gives a sturdy feel that trumps even some of the more expensive models in Siku’s John Deere licensed line and the Claas Axion branding is all present, with bright working headlights and reversing lights alongside its finely detailed cabin molding.
While expensive, the build quality is superb and makes a great range of different functions available for a fully operational farm. It’s pulling power is strong enough to really plow through loose soil or sawdust with ease, bringing authentic performance along with its great looks.
The R C Claas Axion 850 is compatible with a wide range of rear pulled accessories, with its rear hitch proving easy to attach and detach. Although, the real party piece is expandability with the “SikuControl” series of accessories, able to interface with the tractor by connecting to the rear power and control port. Accessories range from Plows, Twin Rotor Hay rakes, and a range of trailers.
While several Siku’s lines have a Bluetooth, larger style gamepad. We prefer the smaller, more ergonomic and comfortable gun style on offer with the 850. It’s 2.4GHz radio also means you’re always going to get the best signal quality and range without worrying about the issues that can plague Bluetooth connections. Such as indirect lines of sight and the varied Bluetooth performance that the app-controlled models can provide between different cell phone models. Not to mention the cheaper barrier to entry!
The control itself also has support for the operation of the SikuControl expansion kits, as well as a comfortable steering dial. The quality of the plastics on the trigger and handle are the only things to score against the controller itself.
Battery life can be varied, given its use of 3xAAA batteries required to operate. We would again recommend either a quality branded battery or rechargeable sets to increase run-time. But this also means that swapping out for a fresh pair is quick and simple with its rear-sliding battery tray.
The Siku, with its optional accessories, certainly requires more of an investment than other models on the list. However, the build and operational quality of Siku’s tractors are way up there with some of the best, and the Siku R C Claas Axion 850 firmly sits in the hobby-grade category.
If you want something that not only looks the part but has the performance to match, this will be a great addition to any RC collection!
Compatible Siku Accessories
My First RC: John Deere Remote Control Johnny Tractor Toy
Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5.0
RTR | 6.29″ x 4.72″ x 11.02″ | Ages 18 Months +
Radio System: Gamepad style, MHz 2-channel (forwards, backwards)
Scale: 6.29″ x 4.72″ x 11.02″
Running Time: N/A
Charging Time: N/A
Batteries: 3xAA’s & 1x9v
Control Range: Up to 20ft
Recommended Age: 18 months+
- The Pros: Durable build, Easy intuitive controls for young children.
- The Cons: No rechargeable battery, Indoor use only, Auto shut off feature is unreliable
With a feel reminiscent of a certain Pixar franchise, the John Deere licensed, Tomy produced Remote Control Johnny may be a cheap little RC tractor, but don’t let the price fool you! With a surprisingly heavy and durable build thanks to its thick plastic shell, Johnny can stand up to all sorts of punishment from even the most unruly of little farmers. The Johnny Tractor isn’t afraid to admit it’s for kids and is the perfect gift to help introduce them to the world of remote control toys.
As expected, the controller features a rather limited, 2-channel receiver that only sports a forward and anti-clockwise turning function. There’s no way to hitch anything to it, and it’s neither the fastest or the most functional. However, it’s turning circle is tight enough to make up for the fact that there is no reverse function, to at least prevent having to physically move the tractor whenever it hits a wall going straight. Turning does require you to stop moving the truck forward first. But for a toddler whose main interest is watching it zip along while controlling it with a button, it’s easy to amuse.
Battery life is varied based on what you use for its 3xAA batteries. We’d recommend a heavy-duty brand rather than cheap zinc batteries as signal and turning performance really suffers from lower levels of battery charge.
A good set of rechargeable batteries would be a great pairing with this model, as well as remembering to turn off the tractor from the base itself after use. Unfortunately, its receiver is prone to interference, especially from mobile phones within a few feet, and it has a habit of picking up the occasional random signals when not in use.
Design-wise, this is obviously a homage to the “Cars” series, with playful cartoon eyes covering the windshield and a mouth for the front radiator.
The shiny plastic wheels are best suited for hardwood or thin carpet, as the motors inside, while effective, sometimes struggle with larger obstacles or finding traction in grass or mud. Johnny is mostly suited for the indoors.
Remembering to turn the tractor off after use is a must, or you may find it draining power a lot faster than expected. Despite its auto-shutoff feature, these bouts of interference are enough to wake it up. Consequently, as some customers have found, the tractor may end up moving off on its own, leading to the odd midnight fright! It’s best then to just remove the batteries to charge when not in use.
The final shame is that all tractors are tuned to the same channel frequency, with multiple models affected by a single remote, meaning it’s not one to buy if you intend to use more than one at the same time.
With its limited functionality and toy-like construction, we wouldn’t recommend this for anyone over the age of 5. But as an introduction to RC products with a farmyard flair, the Remote Control Johnny will be sure to provide hours of fun for the little ones!
Educational:Thames & Kosmos Farm Science Experiment Kit
Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5.0
KIT | 16.8″ x 3.2″ x 11.5” | Ages 6-10
- The Pros: Great STEM learning tool, Customizable DIY design, Pieces compatible with other Thames & Kosmos products, A great bonding experience for young children
- The Cons: Models must be deconstructed before changing functions, Limited remote control functionality, Subpar instructions
Thames & Kosmos bring something a little different to the table with its Remote Control Machines: Farm Science Experiment Kit. A 355 piece kit in a similar style to that of LEGO’s Technic line. Though those that think this might be an inexpensive way of adding to their Technic set will, unfortunately, find it incompatible. However, as an introduction to this style of construction toy, or for someone looking for something that can serve more than one purpose, this set offers you a bundle of fun in a single package.
With the Thames & Kosmos Remote Control Machines: Farm Science Experiment Kit, you can construct four models ranging from Combine Harvester, Farming Truck, Tractor, and Windrower. With a Seeder, Hay Rake, Cultivator, and Disc Harrow attachments able to be added to the main tractor setup.
There are tons of options for creativity and armed with an understanding of how the machines come together, you can go forth and expand to your own builds and ideas.
Actual performance out of the finished builds is varied, depending on your expectations. Realistically, you’re not going to be taking this out to play in the dirt. But, as a way to understand more about the mechanics of making these machines work, it’s a great learning tool. All of the parts are also compatible with Thames & Kosmos’s other RC lines, such as their RC Construction bulldozer set, which we reviewed here. We did find the tractor to have a slightly better feel when it came to finished build rigidity. However, it’s motors are more limited with this set, and the gamepad style radio controller is much more ergonomic and easy to control, especially for younger kids.
Construction & Build
The kit is rated ages 6+ but with the instructions included, we would recommend ages 9+, especially with some of the later builds being rather more difficult. The instructions in the 64-page manual, while detailed, are somewhat poor in places discerning between parts. While they try to be educational as well as instructional, incorporating some physics lessons alongside, the build itself is one most will find unengaging.
Ranking up there alongside the most finicky of IKEA builds, this is definitely a kit that might require some adult assistance. An average full build for the tractor will take several hours depending on skill level and how much luck you have with understanding some of the more obscure instructions.
Disassembly is where problems may occur when it comes to identifying parts that look very similar. One trick we did come up with is to buy a UV marker pen and write the part numbers on the pieces themselves. Invisible to the naked eye, but under a blacklight will reveal the part number when it comes to organizing for a new build, without spoiling the look of the kit itself.
For those kids who love to experiment, the Thames & Kosmos Remote Control Machines: Farm Science Experiment Kit will provide endless hours of fun while providing an early introduction to engineering design, physics, and other scientific concepts.
RC Tractor Buying Advice
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For some tractors, models will include an expansion port on the rear of the cabin for connecting servo-controlled trailers and farming equipment accessories. This could range from simply providing power to drive motorized wheels on a trailer, to servo arms for lifting things such as plow arms or motorized equipment such as a plow or rake.
While most will use a 3.5mm headphone style jack allowing for interoperability between different sets, some may use proprietary connections. It’s best to take a moment to research the specific connections for the accessories you plan to add to your tractor.
There are also a number of extra props and accessories you can add to expand your farm and your fun. Bruder Toys offer a fantastic range of farming props to add or expand any sets you have and create your very own miniature farm!
Depending on if your kids will be playing in your vicinity, and how much noise you can tolerate, one thing to consider is the option of a mute button to allow your kids to play while also keeping yourself sane. While this might not be a problem if your child plays with their toys in their own room. If they are instead frequently playing in areas with other people, having a mute switch can be a lifesaver!
An easily-missed thing to think about is just how large the model itself is. With some models being pocket-sized 1/43 scale little nippers, that may pose a choking hazard for younger children, to obnoxiously large 1/8 scale models, where finding a place to store it may be an issue.
Some models might also prove unwieldy for younger children and might be a bit more painful when someone accidentally drives it into your ankle!
Run time & Batteries
Batteries. Nobody likes to run on empty, which is why knowing what powers your vehicle is important if you like long uninterrupted play sessions.
Many cheaper remote control models will use simple AA batteries that can be replaced easily. However, some may include rechargeable batteries, either being able to charge by USB or by using a proprietary charger.
Some smaller micro models may also include a charging function from the remote itself. Whereas many larger models can also include removable battery packs that can be inserted into an external charger for faster, more reliable charging times.
There may also be times where the battery is of a much more obscure, even unique type, which may require sourcing replacements directly from the manufacturer.
The main three forms of rechargeable batteries:
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) offering powerful output and capacity but can be more volatile and the most expensive.
Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) is the middle of the road and most common in mid-range price points, offering a good balance between price and performance.
Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) is an older form of battery that still sees some use in lower-end models but has the lowest capacity.
When comparing capacity, look for the rated milliampere-hour (mAh) of the battery. A higher mAh will give longer run times with a greater charge capacity.
Remote Control Types
The most common remotes you will find come in 2 distinct styles. One is the more traditional “Dual stick” type transmitter, using a more familiar gamepad style layout, with steering and acceleration placed on individual sticks, with any extra functions placed around these.
The alternative is the more recent “Gun” style transmitter. With a trigger for acceleration and braking, and a steering wheel style dial for turning left and right.
Most camera-enabled RC Cars can be controlled using an included remote. However, you may find some include extra options when paired with a companion smartphone app.
Some may allow for things like Gyroscopic or Touch controlled steering via the app, which may or may not be more responsive than using the included remote.
Connectivity is an important factor to consider depending on your ideal use scenario.
Most radio-controlled models today tend to use 2.4GHz connections, which are much more user-friendly, enable more devices to be used simultaneously and are less prone to interference.
Another connection type that is becoming more common is Bluetooth remote control models, which can be controlled using a smartphone via an app often included with the car itself.
However, for camera-enabled cars, most will use an Ad-Hoc Connection to your device using WiFi. In some cases (See the SunFounder Pi enabled car) models can also be controlled via web servers for even greater range limited only by the connection to the car itself.
On limited occasions, you may find Infrared (IR) remotes being used, which can be limited by factors such as distance and line of sight.
In rare instances, controls may also be tethered to the device physically with a cable.
The control range is dependent on a lot of factors, ranging from the connection type, distance, obstructing objects or walls, and the strength of the antenna in your device or smartphone.
In most cases when talking about RC remote channels, most are referring to the number of channels you can assign each car and remote to. This is to prevent signals from one remote affecting an unintended car.
However within the context of RC products such as Forklifts, and other such vehicles that are doing more than just turning and steering, the term “Channels” is referring to the individual signals, and therefore the individual commands that the transmitter can send and receive.
For example, an RC Car that only turns and accelerates, will typically only have 2-channels. One for each function. With a Forklift that has many functions that require additional motors, such as adjusting the mast, these will all be assigned a different radio frequency channel. This allows it to control that function independently without affecting other parts of the excavator.
With this in mind, the number of “Channels”, is referring to the number of individual controls available to the user.
The second thing to consider is the frequency numbers. If devices all use the same frequency, multiple vehicles will all receive the same signal from a single remote. This makes it impossible for multiple children to use different models at the same time.
Some models may have their radios linked to a specific vehicle itself, while others will have selectable channels on both the remote control and the model itself to allow users to pick and choose who controls which vehicle.
MHz Crystal radios Vs 2.4GHz
A much more obsolete and now rarely seen with the advent of 2.4GHz transmitters are FM Crystal synced transmitters, which work by using the oscillating signal from a tiny quartz crystal.
These work by sending specific frequencies to a receiver set to listen for a signal from the same frequency. They are however prone to all sorts of interference, are limited in the number of available channels due to a set range within government-regulated standards, and require physically modifying the hardware to change signals between devices.
2.4GHz based devices are not limited by these setbacks as they are encoded to listen specifically for it’s set receiver and transmitter when paired together, Thus have widely overtaken the market for modern devices.