Choosing The Best RC Helicopter For Kids & Beginners

by John Salt - Updated January 2024

"What's the best RC helicopter for kids or beginners" is a common question I frequently get asked; especially around Christmas time since RC helicopters are very popular gifts for kids and adults alike.

I'm going to give you some kid / beginner recommendations along with the reasons why I feel these are good helicopters for both children & first time newbies getting into the hobby.

Toy vs. Hobby Grade - What?

You may want to take a peek at my Toy RC Helicopter page since it talks about toy helicopters which is a good place to start most children off with - especially younger children (under 8 years of age). 

That said, there are limitations to toy type RC helicopters and for not much more money (sometimes even less), you can actually get your youngster/s a better quality hobby grade RC helicopter that they will not only have more overall fun with; but it will also last longer.


Unlike toy/mall kiosk/big box store RC helicopters; hobby grade RC helicopters are almost always better in quality and fly much better. The very best feature they have going for them is you can easily get replacement parts for them when something breaks or wears out.

This is something that you usually can't do with a toy heli. Once a toy heli breaks (and they all will break eventually), chances are it's headed for the landfill and I've seen first hand how upset a child gets when this happens.

No question, they will still get upset when they break a part on their hobby grade helicopter, but at least you can explain to them, "we'll get it fixed and it will be good as new". To me, that is worth a few extra bucks over throwing money down the drain on a disposable toy.

Back To Black Flights = More Flying Fun

Extra LiPo Batteries Allow Back to Back FlightsExtra LiPo Batteries Allow Back to Back Flights

Hobby grade RC helicopter for kids & beginners also allow you to purchase extra LiPo flight batteries for back to back flights.

Many toy grade helicopters on the other hand only have a single built in LiPo battery that you can't easily change. This means you'll have to wait 1 to 2 hours after each 5-7 minute flight to recharge them.

This is the single biggest complaint you see on most toy heli reviews; the short flight times and the long re-charge times in-between.

I'm sorry folks, but 4 to 8 minutes is the norm for most electric RC helicopters - toy and hobby grade alike!

Current LiPo battery technology is just not capable of cramming more capacity into a light weight rechargeable package. Small capacity LiPo's also can't be "fast charged" so forget about a less than 1 hour recharge time. At a 1C charge rate (the maximum recommended for small LiPo battery packs), it takes at least an hour to recharge them.

Thing is, at least hobby grade heli's allow easy battery replacement for back to back flights; so although flight times won't be longer, you won't have to wait for an hour + to go flying again; just pop another charged battery into your bird. 

There is a real reason however why many toy helicopters have only built in LiPo flight batteries and that is to prevent a possible choking hazard that a small replaceable part could cause. Toy's are for children after all, so no question that safety aspect has to be taken into account in your decision when deciding between a toy and a hobby grade RC helicopter. 

Help When You Need It

The other big benefit with a hobby grade RC helicopter for kids & beginners is you can get knowledgeable help from the hobby shop or the manufacturer should you need it for problem's, repairs, or even recommendations.

You rarely if ever get service like that with the toy/mall/box store stuff.

In fact, it's rare the person selling them at such places even knows the difference between a coaxial helicopter or multi rotor never mind how they actually work and which one is the best match for your particular child or beginner RC helicopter pilot. 

In short, before making that impulsive toy/mall kiosk/box store RC helicopter for kids purchase, do a little research or pay a visit to your local or on-line hobby shop to see what they have for not all that much more money.

No longer are all hobby grade RC helicopters super expensive, hard to fly, and meant for seasoned RC enthusiasts only.

You can get easy to fly quality hobby grade RC helicopters & quad copters now for under $100 dollars. In fact, some are under $50 so they are not much more expensive than much of the toy stuff at all, yet offer better value & fun. 

How Much Will A Hobby Grade Helicopter For Kids & Beginners Cost?

I'm trying to adhere to an under one hundred dollar budget since most people who contact me with this best RC helicopter for kids or beginners question want to keep the price under $100 bucks or less.

Regardless of cost, the one thing to be aware of is although you may be purchasing this RC helicopter for your or someone else's child, chances are you or other adults are also going to be having fun with it too. 

RC Helicopter For Kids & Beginners Recommendations

As you have likely guessed, all the RC Helicopter for kids recommendations I'm going to be giving you are for economical hobby grade helis. Again, if you want to go the toy helicopter route, check out my toy helicopter page for more info on them.

The helicopters specifically I'm recommending are sold at most good hobby shops & online so it should be easy to find them and to then get parts for them when required. To be kid & beginner friendly, all these RC helicopters & quadcopters are ready to fly out of the box (no building required), robust, and naturally fairly easy to fly.

Small Beginner RC Helicopter Fits In Palm Of HandSmall Beginner RC Helicopter Fits In Palm Of Hand

My recommendations are also small in size and will fit in the palm of your hand.

Why so small?

Small micro sizes are good in that they have very little mass, and less mass = less energy dissipated when they crash or hit something.

In other words the smaller and lighter they are, the less likely they are to break a part/s when they crash.

This makes them not only more crash resistant, but also less dangerous to the child and less damaging to items in your home as it's pretty much inevitable that your young student pilot will have a few less then perfect first flights.

That said, all these little RC helicopters for kids & beginners are still flying aircraft with spinning propellers or rotors on them. The micro size ones don't have enough power/energy to cut through skin, but they can sting when the blades contact bare skin and they are certainly capable of damaging soft eye tissue.

Don't fly them around pets either for that very reason! 

Using common sense and caution go a long way.

Most of these kid friendly hobby grade RC helicopters are recommend for ages 12 and up, but depending on the child and the level of help offered by an adult at first, that age limit is of course a recommendation only. I know a few eight & nine year-olds who can fly any of these kid friendly helicopters & quadcopters better than their parents can, so it all depends on the natural ability of the child.

Hobby Grade Single Rotor Fixed Pitch Helicopter For Kids & Beginners

C129 FireFox (Heli 101) - My Top Pick in 2024 - $70USD

The C129 / Heli 101 Ready To Fly package is currently my #1 recommendation when it comes to the best hobby grade fixed pitch RC helicopter for kids & beginners.

This heli is not complicated at all and is 100% geared toward folks who have never flown anything by radio control before.

The C129 / 101 is an easy to pilot RC helicopter and is available from several different brands including First Step RC, Rotorscale, FireFox and Eachine E129. It's the exact same helicopter and RC controller between all brands, the only difference is the canopy colors offered. 

C129 Blade Flex

Regardless of name plate, it's a well built and tough little 120 size RC helicopter that can handle beginner abuse.

The blades are quite flexible as are the landing struts (the two items on an RC helicopter that usually experience the most impact energy).

It also has impressive flight times per battery charge (upwards of 8 minutes).

Easy To See C129 Beginner RC HelicopterBright & Easy To See C129 Beginner Heli

The C129 / 101 comes in several bright colors making it easy to see while flying which is so important with small little RC helicopters like this. 

With the push button take off & land feature, pretty much anyone with no prior RC heli experience can pick this neat little heli up and be hovering it in no time. 

The C129 / 101 is very popular and is therefore carried at many hobby shops around the world. Because it's also sold under several brand names, parts are easy to find. If one brand is out of a specific part, you can always get the part from another.  

The video below shows TJ and his kids having fun with it. This is what introducing youngsters to our hobby is all about - thumbs up TJ; well done mate!

Hobby Grade Quad-Rotor (quadcopters) For Kids & Beginners

Next up are the quad-rotors - also easy & fun to fly RC right now. Quadcopters/quadrotors (quads or drones for short) are perfect RC helicopters for kids (big & small alike).

Unlike a traditional helicopter shape however, many quads are very "symmetrical" looking front to back & side to side which can be problematic for some. When they are so small with all orientations looking so similar, it can be difficult knowing which way they are facing when flown further away which can make control difficult.

Some come with different colored bight LED's on the corners to help with orientation so you know which way they are facing, but a little colored tape on the front, back, or sides can help with directional orientation too.

All offer 4 channels of flight control (lift, pitch, roll, & yaw). Most also have selectable flight modes for easier flight while first learning and then select the more aggressive flight mode for aerobatics.

Most quadcopters are also very crash proof as there are very few moving parts on them which also makes them easier to fix when something does break. Usually just one or two of the very inexpensive propellers get damaged. Pop the busted one off, and slide a new one one - done! 

DEERC D10 - Low Cost Hobby Grade FPV/Camera Quadcoper 80.00 USD

DEERC D10 FPV camera drone for kids & beginners

For kids & beginners looking to get into the world of camera & FPV drone flight, yet don't want to shell out many hundreds of dollars quite yet on a DJI Mavic, the DEERC D10 Camera/FPV quadcopter offers excellent value and good quality. 

This is one of the best entry level camera drones on the market in 2023, and is a solid choice if this is the type of quadcopter your youngster or beginner RC flyer is interested in. The technology crammed into this little quadcopter is indeed impressive.

Flight time per battery charge is where this little quad copter is in a league of it's own in this price range. 20 minutes is easy and up to 30 minutes if you don't fly hard and don't mind over discharging the LiPo pack (not recommended) is possible.

Be advised the DEERC D10 quad does require more understanding than any other beginner recommendation on this page due to the streaming video feature which requires both a phone and the free APP for it. You can certainly fly it without streaming video like any conventional quadcopter, but then you may be better off just getting a non-camera/FPV quad in the first place which brings us to the final recommendation. 

ATOYX / Holly Stone - Great Looking Ducted Fan Quad & Extra Battery $50.00 USD 

The Holly Stone / ATOYX Mini quadcopter is one of nicest looking little micro quads currently on the market in my opinion. 

The ATOYX / Holly Stone also uses a ducted fan propeller design which has three advantages over exposed propellers. 

1. Ducted fans are slightly more efficient (more thrust for power used) but this is offset by the slight weight increase. However, the ducted design runs a little quieter given the same size propeller/speed.  

2. Ducted fans protect the propellers well so broken props are much less likely during a crash. 

3. Perhaps most important for younger fliers, ducted fans are safer!

The ATOYX / Holly Stone has auto hover mode, flip mode, and headless mode (automatically switches movement orientation for control consistency). 

They also come with 2 LiPo batteries for up to 2 back to back flights, and given the price of around $50 USD, the value is excellent! 

As you can see, a true hobby grade RC helicopters & quadrotors for kids or beginners doesn't have to cost much more than the toy type. They give you more helicopter & quad value in most cases, way better control, overall better quality, the ability to fix them when something breaks, and with extra battery packs - way more back to back flying fun! 

Toy Helipad Adds Fun, Skill, & Interest

No matter what small micro beginner heli or quad you end up getting, these little 8.5" Helipads really add to the overall fun & enjoyment while building landing skills at the same time.

I've always dismissed these things as a total waste of money, but a buddy of mine got one for his son. After seeing how good he was getting landing his little micro RC heli on it with a big grin on his face, I quickly realized what a great little accessory it was.

It was pretty entertaining watching him, and I now realize these little landing pads do have merit by adding more engagement. 

They also come with an assortment of sticker sets allowing one to customize the pad to their liking. My buddy's son also uses his little Helipad as a display platform for his RC helicopter.

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