Children love construction vehicles. There’s something about those massive moving parts, loud noises, and fun colors that creates total glee. You can recreate that joy at home with toys mimicking construction vehicles. Many of them have the same moving, working parts as the real thing, and should give children plenty to satisfy their curiosity.
We’ve compiled a list of our top picks for the best toy cranes. There’s something for every child! Let’s take a look.
Our first toy crane is an enormous, brightly colored crane with electronic functions. The yellow is bright, and the design has enough detail to help children feel like they’re playing with the real thing.
The crane arm raises and lowers with a manual crank. Plus, children can position it to the left or the right of the vehicle. As children play, lights and sounds go off for realism. This feedback helps engage children and keep them from getting bored too quickly. It also helps them develop a sense of cause and effect as they play.
The truck comes with small cones and gas tanks that store directly in the truck so that kids don’t lose them (as quickly, at least). The crank function and the smaller accessories help children build up fine motor skills and help with dramatic, imaginative play.
One downside is that the crane can snap off easily if your child is particularly energetic. If that’s the case, you may want to consider a different type of toy material for better durability.
We recommend this toy for children who might be a little less enthusiastic when playing with toys, or as a toy for grandma’s house where it won’t get the full brunt of play.
- -24 x 6.5 x 10 inches
- -requires 2 AA batteries
- -suitable for ages 36 months to 15 years.
Another realistic and brightly colored toy crane, the Toy State Caterpillar is a ten wheel crane with realistic movements, fun sounds, and music.
The crane is hand operated and extends to a length of 28 inches. It moves both up and down and from side to side as well as extending the crane hook. The crane itself is operated manually, but children have the option of operating the movement of the wheels with a single push-button, or with a tethered remote.
The crane plays real construction sounds, but also includes fun music to keep children engaged. You can play with the truck manually with just the crane operations, or add batteries for the full truck functions. The cab opens to accommodate small figures.
Like the Dickie Crane above, the all-plastic design is lightweight, but it makes the crane hook fragile. If your child is particularly exuberant, it might not last very long.
We recommend this toy for a significant impact (and it is big!) but maybe not for outside play or for smaller children who might not care so much about all the sounds and won’t be able to manipulate the crane.
- -24 x 8 x 11 inches
- -suitable for ages 5 to 15 years
- -includes the required 4 C batteries
Best RC Cranes
The standalone crane from Dickie Toys is a fun RC powered crane that comes with a truck. The crane is elaborate and stands at 48 inches tall. It rotates a full 360 degrees with the remote control, plus raises and lowers. Both the trolley and winch move like a real crane and the package includes other accessories for more imaginative play.
The crane itself sits on a broad base so that children can manipulate the gears. The interchangeable hook feature is manual because it can’t connect to the electric components safely, but all the other functions, raising, lowering, and swiveling are motorized.
The truck is a small construction vehicle that children can load things into or take out. The bed is big enough for a few little pieces. It comes with a few attachments. The crane cabin is open so a tiny character can fit inside.
One downside is that it takes a bit of assembly when it first arrives. If you aren’t handy, you may want help, but it’s mostly a simple snap-in style. Also, if your child is very young, it may not be entirely suitable. We recommend it for older toddlers and young children.
- -crane: 35 x 14 x 48 inches
- -truck: 9×3 inches
- -suitable for ages 36 months to 15 years
- -requires 4 AA batteries
Top Race’s crane is a 1:14 scale crane on threaded anti-slip tire tracks. It’s fully automated with an included remote control. Children can move forward or backward on the treads, raise and lower the crane, and move the cabin 360 degrees.
It includes realistic lights and sounds, which keep children engaged. The movements require hand-eye coordination and are perfect for kids who are refining more complex fine motor skills. The bright yellow is eye-catching, but the entire build includes realistic designs, so kids feel like they’re playing with the real thing. It can lift a load of up to one pound.
Crane batteries are rechargeable and need about 90 minutes to charge fully. Your child should get about 25 minutes of continuous play on a single charge. The remote requires four AAA batteries. It comes with a steel beam accessory and is made of heavy, durable plastic and metal parts.
Playing time can be disappointing if your child wants to play exclusively with this toy. 25 minutes isn’t very long considering the hour and a half charge time. However, if it’s part of a series of toys, your child might get slightly longer play time.
- -10 x 7 x 14 inches
- -requires 4 AAA batteries
- -suitable for ages 8+
Bruder’s crane is an excellent start for younger kids who need something simple but durable. It’s bright yellow and has realistic details but uses no screws. It’s made of high grade, ABS plastic and is suitable for outside use.
The crane raises and lowers manually plus swivels 360 degrees. It comes with stabilizing outriggers just like a real truck and includes a patented mechanism to make adjusting the crane arm noiseless. It’s the same type of part included on a wide range of toys in the Man line.
Children can tip the main cab up to see the engine block. The mirror in the driver’s cab can fold out. Plus, treaded tires and an enclosed toolbox complete the package, so children have plenty to keep them interested.
All the pieces fold up for when kids want to move the truck. The crane arm folds over and snaps to the front of the cab. The outriggers fold up and snap back into their place as well. It makes the truck easy to move or store when playing is over.
You may need to tie the metal hook to the line more securely when you receive the truck, or it could fall off and get lost. The truck itself is a heavy, durable plastic and should be able to withstand heavy use.
- -6.9 x 9.5 x 16.7 inches
- -requires 2 AAA batteries for sounds
- -suitable for ages 36 months to 8 years
A more elaborate Bruder model, the R-Series has an extra long extendable crane arm and includes highly realistic detail. It’s made of durable ABS plastic and is suitable for outside use as well as indoor.
It’s a 1:16 scale model and includes details like outriggers to stabilize the crane so children can lift heavier objects. The boom extends over four feet tall and is engineered to be stable even when fully extended. The truck includes realistic sounds to keep kids engaged, and the manipulation of the crane helps teach cause and effect as well as early engineering thinking.
You can fill the counterweight with sand for extra stability. The cab has realistic detail and really opens. The included toolbox is a nice touch. When you want to move the crane or store it, everything folds compactly onto the truck.
It may be a little much for younger players, so we recommend this one for young pre-k or elementary age children.
- -24.4 x 7.3 x 10.6 inches
- -requires 2 AA batteries for sound and lights
- -suitable for ages 4 years to 10 years
Another complex crane that stands at an impressive height, the Mack crane is a brightly colored crane with realistic detail. It uses high-quality ABS plastic, so it’s ok to use it both indoors and outdoors.
When fully extended, the crane stands over four feet tall. It includes support legs for stability, and the counterweight can be filled with sand for extra stability. The cable winch includes a locking device and overload protection. The cab has a pane protection frame and a sliding, opening door. The tool compartment integrates into the platform.
It may be a little cumbersome for the smallest players, but if you’ve got a pre-k or slightly older child, they’ll probably like the considerable size and simple operations. They can even take a look at the engine block with the opening bonnet. It doesn’t include sounds, but that’s just batteries that you don’t have to buy and more time for imagination.
- -26 x 7.3 x 10.6 inches
- -suitable for ages 4 years to 10 years
Cranes give children their very first experience with engineering thinking while allowing them to use the full range of their imaginations. Cranes are excellent toys for learning, but kids never feel like they’re sitting in school to do so. Plus, it satisfies every child’s fascination with construction vehicles and brings that magic right to your living room.
Is your child obsessed with construction vehicles or some other kind of toy? Let us know how it all got started in the comments below.