Which toy excavators are best?

An underrated choice in toy vehicles is the toy excavator. Most children are fascinated by the flashing lights of emergency vehicles or the flying ability of airplanes. However, a toy excavator has a lot to offer. 

Excavator ride-on toys help develop gross motor and eye-hand coordination skills. Remote control excavators can also develop motor skills. Additionally, manual toy excavators can be used with other construction vehicles to help children learn how they work together. The Bruder: CAT Mini Excavator is an excellent choice. It is a sizeable manual toy that will drive imagination. 

What to know before you buy a toy excavator

Toy excavators can be used together with dump trucks, cranes, bulldozers and mixer trucks. Tonka trucks go great with excavator toys. They have been in production for decades and are a leader in the field. 

Additional things to consider when buying a toy excavator are its safety and skill-building abilities, plus whether it needs batteries.


When purchasing a ride-on excavator, check the weight limit. Age-range recommendations are based on this, so it’s important to adhere to the restrictions. Other toys may have small parts considered choking hazards, while your kid’s hair or fingers can be caught in some toys. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s recommendations and supervise your child at play.


Toys are essential to a child’s development. Consider any accessories that can aid growth, such as a city playmat. Toy excavators work great in a sandpit, especially ride-on toys that develop large muscle movements. Along with RC excavators, ride-on toys with a working digging arm are excellent for getting hands and vision to function simultaneously.


Batteries are not always included, and failing to buy them along with the toy could lead to Christmas or birthday disappointment. Always check what is included with your purchase, remembering that RC excavators will need batteries for both the toy and the controller. These batteries are often different sizes, and sometimes one set is included but not the other.

What to look for in a quality toy excavator


A well-detailed and realistic excavator will always excite a child more. A child that sees an excavator in real life will be much more excited to know that they have a miniature version exactly the same at home. High-end toys should be like a replica. However, even budget-friendly excavators should have a satisfying level of detail.


Excavators are extremely tough machines, and a toy one should be no different. Plastic excavators should be made with good quality, durable plastic. Toy excavators should also feature a shovel so that the toy can actually excavate.


A workable digging arm is always going to be the most important feature of a toy excavator. Children should be able to dig manually or by remote control in soft dirt, snow, sand or maybe even gravel. Other features to consider are articulated figures that can sit in the cab or work by the excavator. Realistic chain links also add authenticity.

How much you can expect to spend on a toy excavator

A good toy excavator can be bought for any budget. Handheld plastic or wooden toy excavators may be less than $10. Meanwhile, simple RC excavators start at around $20 and go up from there.

Toy excavator FAQ

Is it possible to use different brands together?

A. When buying an RC excavator, pricier models should operate at a frequency of 2.4 gigahertz, enabling them to operate without interference from other RC vehicles. This allows for interaction between children and their different RC cars. More budget-friendly ones may not be able to do this, so always check with the retailer. Other accessories from different brands, such as action figures, may not be compatible in size.

What are the best places to play with a toy excavator?

A. A sandpit in the yard is great for toy excavators. As sand is excellent for excavating, the beach is also a great place. However, toy excavators with steel shovels can be used in soft dirt in the yard or gravel. Children can also help with clearing snow in the driveway with a ride-on or RC excavator. 

What are the best toy excavators to buy?

Top toy excavator

Rolly Toys: John Deere 360-degrees Excavator Ride-On

Rolly Toys: John Deere 360-degrees Excavator Ride-On

What you need to know: The plastic seat is designed to withstand 75 pounds in weight, so this cool ride-on toy is aimed at children from 3 to 6 years of age.

What you’ll love: Hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills can be developed by operating this sturdy ride-on. The shovel can be rotated 360 degrees, allowing your child to dig and dump in different areas of the sandpit or snow. Traction is improved with the use of durable rubber treads.

What you should consider: It needs to be assembled, and a few reviewers have complained that the instructions are frustrating.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top toy excavator for the money

Bruder: CAT Mini Excavator

Bruder: CAT Mini Excavator

What you need to know: This well-crafted excavator toy is aimed towards older children because of small parts and intolerance to roughhouse play.

What you’ll love: Made from sturdy fade-resistant plastic, this toy contains no screws or glue. It’s a realistically-detailed CAT vehicle that comes with a construction worker featuring enough points of articulation to make realistic poses and be able to sit in the cab.

What you should consider: It is an imagination toy; it requires no batteries, makes no noise and is manually controlled.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Top Race: 15 Channel RC Excavator

Top Race: 15 Channel RC Excavator

What you need to know: This 15 channel excavator is not a small toy and is therefore aimed at older children.

What you’ll love: This RC construction vehicle can be used with other Top Race RC toys without any frequency interference problems. Also, the 2.4 gigahertz frequency enables remote control from 100 feet away. The digging arm has three separate motors and a steel shovel, making sand, snow and soft dirt easily diggable.

What you should consider: It isn’t waterproof, so get it inside when the rain comes and don’t drive it through puddles.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Barry Peacock writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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