8 best toy excavators rated from wood to RC

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  July 16, 2021

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Excavators come in SO MANY different types. Every situation requires a different type of machine.

This applies on the real construction site, but also in toys, for example how do you choose one that suits the age of your child?

Read here the buying tips and 8 best toys, and prevent an excavator goof like this:

Oopsie!

Excavator sinks into the mud

Being able to play well with an excavator requires a lot of motor development and a well-developed hand-eye coordination is also important for many toys.

You didn't know there was so much involved, did you?

Basically, you just want to buy a toy for your child to play with, which is why I'm looking at these 8 best excavators for different stages of development so you don't have to worry about that.

The 8 best excavators together

The overall best excavator is this Bruder Cat®. Thanks to its profile tires, it is easy to use indoors, but just as easy in the garden and sandbox, and the material from Bruder is super sturdy, with plastic from the car industry.

Later more about why this is so suitable, but I have a few more, also building kits and some for the little ones among us.

These are your best choices in a nutshell! I'll discuss them in detail later in this article:

Best excavator toysImages
Overall Best Excavator: Bruder Cat® 02445/02446 Overall best excavator Bruder CAT 02445

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Best Excavator For Preschool Children: PLAYMOBIL City Action Mini 70443 Best excavator set PLAYMOBIL City Action Mini 70443

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Best Excavator for 12+: LEGO Technic R 9800 Liebherr 42100 LEGO Technic R 9800 Liebherr 42100

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Best excavator for toddler and toddler: LEGO DUPLO Construction 10931 Lego Duplo construction set with excavator

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Best RC Toy Excavator: Revell 24924 Best-RC-toy-excavator-by-Revell-24924

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Best excavator with light and sound: Cat Construction Power Haulers Best Excavator with Light and Sound Cat Power Haulers

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Best Wood Excavator: Pintoy Scoop Crane Best wooden excavator for toddlers from Pintoy

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Best Excavator Toys You Can Sit On: Rolly Toys DiggerBest toy excavator you can sit on Rolly Toys Digger
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What should you pay attention to when buying an excavator?

First of all, pay attention to whether the excavator is suitable for children in a certain age category.

Toys for older children often contain smaller parts or accessories and we don't want that for small kids of course.

With DUPLO, for example, you can be sure that it is suitable for children between the ages of 2 and a little older.

Do you prefer a manually movable excavator for your child, one on batteries or perhaps remotely controlled?

For example, the remote-controlled LEGO Technic Liebherr is a hugely complicated, but wonderful technical building puzzle that I don't find suitable for children under 12 years of age.

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Toy reviews & comparisons

Always pay close attention to the age indication, but also check where your child stands.

It is also important to pay attention to:

  1. the ease of digging: how easy the digging arm is to move and the cabin can be turned around to get the sand (or stones, also super fun!) from one place to another
  2. the ease of driving: it is a bit easy to drive back and forth, because some excavators are quite stiff!

Best excavator toys rated

Now that we know why construction toys are so much fun for kids (and not just boys!), Let me show you my favorite excavators.

What makes these items so much fun?

Overall Best Excavator: Bruder Cat® 02445/02446

Best Excavator: Bruder 02446 Cat Small Wheel Excavator

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Bruder is known for are good construction toys, and I've written about it before, because whatever I buy from it, from:

I know that they are always well made, are sturdy, can take a beating, and are really very lifelike.

The excavator's crane can rotate 360º and you can even lock the crane arm so that it stays in one position.

The Bruder Cat® (yes, like the REAL Caterpillar excavators!) Even has the two outriggers that ensure that it stands firmly on the ground when you want to steer the crane arm.

Digging in mud or sand is not an issue, this Bruder machine is specially made for that.

Your child will have a great time with it and this vehicle made of high-quality plastic can take a beating.

Bruder has been a household name in the field of excavating and construction machines for decades, this machine is suitable for children from 8 to 14 years old, according to the manufacturer, but my son loved them with 2.

If you give one to younger children I would always stick with it, it's just the safest (is your child a much bigger tomboy than mine?)

I think there is something magical about being able to drive a lifelike excavator, especially because they literally drove down the street in our (new-build) neighborhood.

The concept of the control lever on top of the digging arm also really gives you the feeling that you are operating a powerful machine.

A child of 2 cannot control it as it is intended with that lever, of course, but that does not stop them from just grabbing the shovel at the end and plodding in the sand.

They are also made tough enough (with plastics from the German automotive industry) to take the bumps of a younger child, and there are no small parts to come off easily.

My son was not able to destroy it, although the rod that holds the slide in place and can lower it has broken:

Photo of two Bruder Cat excavators with a broken bar

But, in all fairness ...

I broke it myself when I wanted to lower the slide. And the second Cat in the picture I had second-hand from someone who had happened to the same thing, so it's really a thing :)

Bruder toys, if you're reading this, fix that bar and you really have THE WORLD'S BEST lifelike excavator toys!

Hey, wonder if that rod also goes first with the real CATs ...

Fortunately, the slide can still go down so I forgive them for this small detail, do you?

For this price?

Check the latest prices here

Best excavator for toddlers: PLAYMOBIL City Action Mini 70443

PLAYMOBIL City Action Mini 70443

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Playmobil always provides fun action sets!

The PLAYMOBIL City Action Mini excavator is a great construction site set, complete with construction fences, sewer pipes, an angle measuring device and other construction accessories.

That is also what makes this set unique. Playmobil always takes children into a situation in order to stimulate creativity and fantasy play.

That's why it's more fun from pre-schoolers to school kids, because then they start with real fantasy play (plus there are quite a few small parts and tools included so I wouldn't recommend it for smaller kids).

It's less about building something here, although the house is fun to set up, than with, for example LEGO, which is more about building than pretend play.

The house is quite extensive because you can put down the base plate and erect the walls. Then the sewer pipes are laid in the foundation and only then the bottom plates. Every step of the construction process is monitored by the construction workers.

This cool set comes with two PLAYMOBIL figures and a whole lot of accessories, something you won't find on the other excavators on this list.

Check prices and availability here

Bruder vs Playmobil excavators

The choice is very clear here, unlike with many other toys we have compared here from Bruder and Playmobil.

The Playmobil excavator is very small compared to Bruder's realistic CAT, but that's also more because there was no good large Playmobil excavator at the time of writing.

The model I have reviewed here looks more like this red Schaeff HR16 Mini Excavator (2432), although it's still a lot bigger:

Nicest little excavator: Bruder Schaeff Mini Excavator HR 16

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Best excavator for 12+: LEGO Technic R 9800 Liebherr 42100

LEGO Liebherr R 9800 on the construction site with app

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Discover this special LEGO Technic Liebherr packed with advanced features: a true replica of the Liebherr R 9800… one of the most impressive hydraulic excavators ever.

It will take a lot of patience and dedication to assemble the Liebherr before you can get started.

Know what you're getting into because it took me 3 days to set it up, although filming in the meantime, but that didn't take much extra time.

This will really be a father son (or mother daughter, father daughter or mother son) project of two weekends, you can count on that!

But once he is standing he is SUPER FAT!

It is controlled by the LEGO Technic control app. You can choose from 4 different screens in this app.

Your child makes his playing experience even more realistic. Real sound effects from the Liebherr R 9800 are also available!

Je controls the machine completely from the app (just like with this toy). When your child is ready, they can put all their skills to the test in the Challenges and Achievements section in the app.

With its almost 4200 building pieces, it is suitable for children from 12 years old. But it is certainly loved by adults too!

Actually, you will probably buy it for yourself, or if your child likes it very much and you actually secretly like it very much, for example from your own childhood.

In any case, I really enjoyed putting it together and digging is really fun to do.

It is also almost one educational robot, just like the one from LEGO Mindstorms because you can also program or record your own sequences and let the excavator perform the correct actions.

It's an expensive one, and it takes a lot of time, but oh what a lot of things you can do with it!

Check the latest prices here

Best excavator for toddler and toddler: LEGO DUPLO Construction 10931

LEGO DUPLO Construction 10931 set on a kinetic sand construction site

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Fun for the little ones, this LEGO DUPLO Construction Truck & Excavator. Toddlers or toddlers can have many adventures on the construction site with this set.

The DUPLO set comes with 2 figures, a cool dump truck, a spinning excavator with tracks, a shovel and also a boulder that splits in two when it falls. The figures - construction workers - fit in the vehicles.

In this video you can compare the set with those of Playmobil, because they are fairly the same size, but Duplo is for slightly younger children than Playmobil:

Your child can play with it and scoop sand with the excavator and then fill the truck with it, the truck can dump the sand out of the truck again.

There is also a brick to make it even more real, but with toys like Duplo it actually only becomes really fun when you buy several Duplo sets so that you can combine and stack blocks yourself.

This set is not very much to change or combine, it is just two construction machines that are fun to play with, but combine with something like this Duplo construction site which I had previously reviewed might be a bit more fun.

Or with a good Duplo basic set with a lot of blocks.

Still an inspiring set, great for small hands and suitable for children from 2 years old.

Check it out on Amazon

Best RC Toy Excavator: Revell 24924

Best RC Toy Excavator: Revell 24924

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The RC excavator can drive backwards and forwards, turn right and left and the arm can be moved up and down, so that you can move sand and stones to another place.

Not only does it have a digging shovel, but you can also set up a tree grab, something you usually have to buy a separate machine for, and which is also a lot of fun to play with!

Revell RC excavator with grab attachment

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It is chain-driven and can go anywhere, also suitable for outdoor play!

Controlling is very easy but you have to take some time to get used to the controls. That is why it is more suitable for children from the age of 7, it takes quite a bit of patience.

But fun to do once you get the hang of it.

The sound is really HORRIBLE, and something Revell already understood, I believe.

They have made a MUTE button on the controller.

PFFFF… ..

That saves a lot of noise, because it is not to be heard.

Furthermore, one of the best RC excavators I have seen, easier to drive than the LEGO Liebherr app for example and the undefeated winner in this category due to its price.

Check the latest prices here

Best excavator with light and sound: Cat Construction Power Haulers

Cat Construction Power Haulers digs in kinetic sand

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The official caterpillar Power Hauler can scoop up sand, mud and pebbles with its movable shovel arm.

The manually rotatable cabin not only has various buttons, but also light and sound!

This excavator is suitable for children from 3 years old. The machine and shovel arm make a noise when you move them, and when you move the cart forwards or backwards it also makes the noise of driving away and reversing.

It is made a lot firmer than, for example, the Cat from Bruder, and therefore a lot more suitable for younger children.

It's just grabbing and digging with the levers.

This one gives the best sounds when digging, he knows with its smart system

  1. whether you drive forwards or backwards for motor or reverse beep sounds,
  2. and if you are digging for digging sounds.

To be honest, an on / off button at the bottom would have been useful because the button on the side is inactive and inappropriately.

The only other way to get some rest while they are playing with it is to take out the batteries.

But for the kids it is great with nice sound effects!

Great gift for imaginative children who love to build and move.

Check the latest prices here

Best Wood Excavator: Pintoy Scoop Crane

Best wooden excavator for toddlers from Pintoy

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After all that light and sound, it is time for something completely different, an excavator made entirely of wood.

Many hours of fun for your kids with this handmade real wood Pintoy excavator.

It has real rubber tracks and many beautiful details. You can secure and operate the digging arm with a lever.

Not even plastic in the controls because the digging arm works with strings to move it up and down.

This may make it a little more difficult to control than all the other plastic toys today, but it's a really nice find and takes you back to when toys were made of wood and quality.

It is certainly a different choice than the others, and an environmentally conscious one!

Check prices and availability here

Best toy excavator you can sit on: Rolly Toys Digger

Best toy excavator you can sit on Rolly Toys Digger

Rolly Toys Digger

Rolly Toys is a brand that I have written about before and every time I look at one I am positively surprised again.

I have to say I always find them looking a bit rude, the Wreck it Ralph of toys :)

Big thick plastic rods and MEGA thick plastic wheels, little detail because everything is so wide, that also gives little room for frills.

But as soon as I look past that, this digger is just right for what it is meant for, a sturdy toy that children can sit safely on.

The plastic wheels are not made for driving down the street and offer good suspension on all bumps, they are made to ride easily over sand or grass, without breaking or your child getting stuck and your wine AGAIN to help them.

There are no small parts to get caught in and no extras to fly off.

This Rolly Toys digger is made to be suitable for young children to old as a small child cannot fall or become trapped unhappily and it is sturdy enough to carry a large child.

The manufacturer himself says suitable from 2 to 12 years, and that is technically true because he can carry up to 50 kg and a healthy child of 12 is under that weight.

But kids of that age won't like it anymore, I guess, and kids of 2 can't control it properly at all.

Way too old boy on a toddler swing

"I'm a bit too old for this"

- boy with his leg stuck in a toddler swing

I would say from 3 to about 7, but I would not buy it for a child of 7, I think they will still play on it if they already had it because it can grow in a number of ages.

Check the latest prices here

What makes excavators such a fun toy?

Children love it for a variety of reasons, but mostly because

Heavy objects such as bulldozers make compelling sounds, which sometimes sound almost human: they growl and roar nicely.

Boys sometimes seem to enjoy these things more than girls, but their interest is often related to outside influences.

Even if parents are gender neutral, the media does ensure that children are exposed to gender-specific toys, for example by having boys play with cars and swords in commercials, while girls always play with dolls and watch fairytale films.

Girls also often wish for the excavator toys that are normally given to boys, especially when parents provide a gender neutral environment.

Whoever plays with it, it is great fun for all children to be able to build or demolish it.

Different models are available; from nice and handy for your toddler, to somewhat larger ones for your toddler and toddler and even a number that they can actually ride.

By the way, did you know that there is an amusement park in the US, with only excavators?

Why is playing with an excavator good for a child?

It doesn't matter what gender your child is, I've found that all kids are in love with bulldozers, dump trucks, construction machines and excavators.

My son was only 11 months old when he was already crying out with pleasure during our daily walks, when we passed the garbage truck or the excavators at the construction site of our new houses in Wilnis.

Children love digging machines

There is a good reason your child may be obsessed with diggers and bulldozers and big construction equipment, and it is by no means gender specific.

As mentioned before, moving excavators and construction machines are great for developing fine motor skills, but also for your child's spatial reasoning.

Children love realistic DIY games that capture their imagination. How much fun do they also enjoy playing with sand, water, mud or snow?

In addition, they develop their problem-solving skills when they are play with construction vehicles.

Frequently asked questions about toy excavators

Does building and digging help children communicate and express themselves?

Yes, by communicating about the entire play process, children learn to express themselves well.

In fact, some construction toys have been specially designed with children's language development in mind!

Are construction and excavators good for a child's self-confidence and social development?

Yes, because children are discovering that they can bring their ideas to life by creating, transforming or demolishing something.

A child who takes pride in the work done builds self-esteem.

Working together helps children to share materials, stand up for themselves, and collaborate with others.

Conclusion

Toddlers and preschoolers love to romp and love to play with sand. Your little one will also love the robust children's excavators that can drive, turn and dig.

Before building, or before roads are built, the preliminary work must of course be done with an excavator; there are large and small excavators, some are on a truck to be transported.

There are also shovels and bulldozers, to just play with and sometimes to operate yourself. There are even excavators that work on a remote control.

All beautiful, which one is your little one's favorite?

Building is an educational activity and construction and excavating machines are a great help!

Children simply love to act out real experiences and what they see happening around them. They can recreate a real construction site and have fun with an excavator.

Often the technical aspect of an excavator also attracts the child. They want to understand exactly how the mechanism works, in order to be able to play with it to their heart's content.

You may be able to take it one step further as your child gets older. If your child has a keen interest in engineering, you might be able to purchase a remote-controlled machine.

For even more great construction toys, read: 16 best toy trucks rated for indoor & outdoor use

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Speelkeuze.nl is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child, he came into contact with everything around games when his mother started the Tin Soldier in Ede. Since 2016, he and his team have been creating helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.