It sounds like you would want a HL tank to start with or a used Tamyia. The HL is cheaper all the way around and is not compatible OTB with Tamyia IR battle system. Most groups use the Tamyia system as standard. You can convert the HL to be Tamyia compatible with the addition of a DBC3 board and an after market radio. Phil at http://www.rctankwars.com/imagine.asp
has the best deals on HL tanks and is trustworthy and stands behind his sales.
There is a battle this weekend in Danville at the AAF Tank Museum. Short notice, but you can follow the link posted by Panther F in the Texas battle day post if you want to see pictures. You could come up for the battles also, plus you get to see the museum. Google AAF Tank Museum in Danville Va. for directions. We get guys from all over to come and battle with us. Some from Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, and California as well as Canada.