Forza Horizon 4

The best car toys for car people in 2018

Forza Horizon 4All car people are tired of the Christmas gifts that non-car people give us, like racing flag coffee cups or SUV-scented cologne. We peel back the paper, fake a warm smile, and think to ourselves, “It’s the thought that counts.”

Enough is enough, non-car people. We have been good all year. We have only politely encouraged car maintenance when you forgot it. We did not inform you of the correct way to turn left no matter how many times you did it wrong, nor did we regale you with the complete history of tail lights more than once. We deserve better presents.

What we deserve is one of the completely awesome car toys on this list. Most are for older children or adults. Some are downright dangerous. All of them, though, will get the automotive heart racing.

More from Motoring Research:

Scalextric Arc Pro Platinum GT

Scalextric Arc Pro Platinum GT

There is nothing more traditional than ripping the paper off a new slot car set and setting up the Christmas Day 500 around the tree.

The latest from slot masters Scalextric features racing for four players right out of the box (and up to six!). There is over 30 feet of track in the 1:32 scale set, four wireless controllers, and four spectacularly detailed cars: a Mercedes AMG GT3, a BMW Z4 GT3, a Aston Martin Vantage GT3, and a Porsche 911 RS.

Using an app, racers can manage brake and tire wear, fuel usage, lane changes, starts, pit stops, and even weather conditions.

Traxxas Rustler 4×4 VXL

Traxxas Rustler 4x4 VXL

The Traxxas Rustler is what every child knows a radio-controlled car is supposed to be. It has a crazy fast top speed of over 65 mph, does endless wheelies, leaps yards in the air off jumps, and is seemingly indestructible.

The 18-inch stadium truck has various gearing and battery combinations available that allow drivers to find the perfect blends of tire-shredding acceleration and top speed. It has a self-righting function that pops it back on the wheels in case freestyling ends upside down. Because of its insane speeds, the Rustler is designed to take serious abuse, with extra-rugged internals and a body designed to brush off rollovers and crashes.

Lego Bugatti Chiron

Bugatti Chiron Lego

When it’s too cold outside to fiddle with your real car, the Lego Bugatti Chiron is the next best thing. There are over 3,500 pieces in six individual boxes, and in our testing took more than 15 hours to build.

The finished model has LED lights at the front and an engine with working pistons. A key, modelled on an actual Bugatti key, is used to work the rear wing. 

Coleman CT200U Mini Bike

Coleman Minibike

There is nothing better than waking up on Christmas morning to find a puppy under the tree, and even better if the puppy is sitting on a minibike.

Coleman Powersports makes the world’s favorite pit vehicle easy and affordable, and the CT200U is the best of a good lot. An easy pull start lights up the 6.5-horsepower 196cc engine. Riding is easy thanks to a centrifugal clutch and wide, low-pressure tire. This thing is an absolute hoot for adults and kids alike (13 years and older, please), and even better when there are two under the tree.

Carrera Digital 124 Youngtimer Showdown

Carrera Digital 124

The first thing you notice when unpacking the Carrera Digital 124 set is how big it is. At 1/24 scale, the cars are about seven inches long. There’s 26 feet of track in the box, and the footprint needed to set it up is about 12 x 6 feet.

The detail on the cars at this size is astounding, and the the set goes together with Germanic solidity. Going digital allows wireless controllers, up to four cars on the track at once, and realistic racing with necessary pit and fuel stops. The tracks are fully expandable, also work with 1/32 scale cars, and other vehicles are available from nearly every marque in the world.

Hot Wheels Rocket League RC Rivals Set

Hot Wheels Rocket League RC Rivals Set

Tabletop car soccer? Sign us up!

Using a free app, drivers control vehicles Dominus and Octane through the arena and attempt to score goals. Or just senselessly wreck each other.

The app provides a deeper gaming experience as well as turbo control for the cars. The arena keeps things tidy and there’s a massive mat under it for a clean, lint-free surface to drive on.

The perfect gift for any office. Or the kids, of course. They might like this, too.

Tamiya RC Toyota Land Cruiser 40

Tamiya RC Toyota Land Cruiser 40

Tamiya’s RC Toyota is an incredibly realistic scale rock crawler. About 18 inches long, the model features a ladder frame just like the real thing, but with aluminum side channels and resin crossmembers.

There’s a rigid four-link suspension with aluminum rods front and rear, four-wheel drive with lockable differentials, and massive beadlock tires. Final gearing is 1:40.5 for ultimate control.

Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4

The latest installment of Forza Horizon takes place in Britain. Players can experience over 450 cars, breathtaking landscapes, dynamic weather, and the change of seasons. We spent ample time with the game and came away duly impressed.

There are muscle cars to be raced on empty beaches, legendary German overlanders to crash through the brush, and even Bond cars featuring the gadgets they had in the movies.

Drivers can take a break from roaring through the English countryside to buy a house or search for elusive barn finds. This is truly delightful automotive escapism.

Amalgam Porsche 917 Salzburg

Amalgam Porsche 917 Salzburg

  • MSRP (pre-order): $685

Amalgam crafts some of the finest and most detailed model cars on planet Earth. Larger scale sizes can cost thousands of dollars, but ones like this incredible 1:18 Porsche 917 Salzburg are reasonably priced as special gifts to the collector.

The handcrafted model is approximately 10 inches in length and was created with the assistance of Porsche. Archived images and drawings were used to ensure the accuracy of materials and finishes. High-resolution digital scanning of the original car allowed the recreation of every detail. Both engineering and design teams scrutinize the final product to ensure perfection.

Amalgam’s Porsche 917 Salzburg will be available January 2019.

2018 Margay Brava 100 Kart

2018 Margay Brava 100 Kart

Racing is the apex of the automotive experience, and a fantastic way to join in at any age is karting. Senna, Schumacher, and Vettel all started out in karts, so there’s definitely something to it. There’s also the undeniable thrill of passing the competition at over 100 mph with your butt two inches off the ground.

Karts can be had brand new and ready to race like this Margay Brava, which comes complete with a IAME KA100 engine and is good for Junior (12-15) and Senior (15+) 2-Cycle classes.

There are many other karts and racing classes to suit different age groups and budget requirements, from kids as young as five to the Masters series for drivers 30 and over.

Margay and many other companies also have used karts available to slash the budget even further. An entire season of racing can be done—tires, spares, safety, and all—for less than the price of a used Kia.

There are tracks all over the country and many different sanctioning bodies that organize events.

This is more than a gift; this is the beginning of a lifetime of experiences.

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