Having children is a life-enriching experience. It’s a way to hopefully help create and raise someone who will grow up and make the world a better place.

Child rearing is hard work and even if your kid ends up being a dud, there is still a solid benefit to keeping junior around: the toys.

For most automotive enthusiasts, assembling an actual collection of desirable cars, trucks or motorcycles is a prohibitively costly undertaking. Toys – for the most part – are considerably more attainable, and many of them can provide a much more enjoyable ownership experience than the real thing, causing fewer spousal disputes, fewer oily puddles in the garage and fewer dents in the bank account.

Here are some of our favourite toys for all the good little automotive-loving boys and girls out there:

Die cast models

Easily the most affordable way to become a car collector is to start with the 1:64 scale cars such as those from Hot Wheels or Matchbox. With decades’ worth of models and paint schemes, building an epic collection is certainly possible. Plus, rare models can actually go up in value over time. Best of all, these little replicas are durable enough that even the most abusive little tykes can still have fun without causing too much damage.

Of course it’s easy to go well beyond the little cars and collect much larger and more detailed models like the masterpieces from the likes of AUTOart and Automodello.

Slot cars

Whether the cheap beginner sets from the big box store toy department or a sophisticated racing model set like those offered by Carrera or Scalextric, a competitive spirit and the fundamentals of car control are evident. Racing an analogue set or digital, you and your little one will learn what happens when you don’t slow down for those hairpin curves without anyone getting seriously hurt.

Anki Drive

If the thrill of slot-car competition is not quite thrilling enough for your ADHD-addled child, perhaps Anki Drive – the next evolution of model car racing – is more to his or her liking. With a rollout mat that serves as the track, setup is nearly immediate. Better still, the tiny robotic racecars are controlled by a smart phone app and in addition to various performance capabilities of the cars, they also have virtual weapons to help destroy fellow competitors’ rides. What wholesome family fun!

Ride-in electric cars

Small, hand-held vehicles can only teach a young one so much before your future F1 star needs to actually get behind the wheel and feel the real need for speed. A great starting point before competitive go-karts is with a ride-in electric car such as the ones offered by Peg Perego and Power Wheels. If you’re going to do it, go all the way and get the Power Wheels Corvette Stingray that tops out at a class-leading 6 mph.

And to help foster future hot-rodding tendencies, YouTube is rife with videos of overzealous and irresponsible dads who have swapped out the 12V batteries for significantly more powerful units, turning their kids’ toys into little drift machines.

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