Two kids, two dogs and a husband that loves toys. If I’m not stepping over living things, I’m stepping on any combination of Squinkies, Zhu Zhu Pets or virtual skateboards! At least the toys are standing still (mostly) and I can easily maneuver my way around them. Not with remote-controlled cars though – especially with a husband that enjoys chasing the two dogs, two kids, etc. with it…
I recently had the opportunity to try out a new RC car from the Road Rippers line by Toy State. Let me state, I have nothing against RC cars. In fact, our family has quite a few RC items for all three kids (the two little ones and the semi-grownup one). I feel from using them and watching DH play with others, I have a good grasp of what can make or break a particular toy vehicle.
The absolute first thing I noticed? No antennae on the car! Because of the time of the year, testing outside for range was not an option, but the lack of an external antennae did not affect the usability of the car indoors at all! In fact, it made the experience that much better – there is nothing worse than having to fish a car out from under a table when the metal wire is bent and helping to wedge the car underneath it. Without extra care, you risk forever damaging the antennae, thus affecting the performance of the car (not to mention the ugly look of driving while dragging it behind).
The remote is very unique – not a joystick type remote which I am used to, but a push-button ‘gamepad’ type interface. It has an up arrow for forward, a right arrow to turn the wheels to the right, etc. To actually turn right, you have to press the right arrow AND the forward arrow at the same time. A little awkward at first, but it really didn’t take long to get the hang of it (and the girls had no problem with it at all).
For the price point, there are some great features you won’t find on other brands. The headlights light up when moving forward, and a red light shines from under the hood to simulate the engine heat. There are a couple buttons on the remote for playing a simulated radio, special sound effects and racing instructions. That brings me to one of the drawbacks – when you push the forward arrow, a great engine sound is heard as the car moves (coming from the remote). However, there is no way to disable this sound, and after a while it does grate on you. I would have liked to see a way to disable it, if only to save battery life. Oh yeah, seven AA batteries are required (four for the car, three for the remote). We played with it for over 30 minutes non-stop and the batteries held up well, even with the sound. But, as with any battery-powered toy, be sure to factor that into your purchase decision.
One last note – the turning radius is not that great for a car of this size. It turned in a circle of about 4-5 feet in diameter. Because of the controls, it is not as easy to maneuver as a joystick model, but still way more advanced that some of the Fisher Price type of RC toys. It seems to be perfectly designed for the 5-8 year old crowd – DH loved the styling of the Dodge Challenger model we tested (and would have adored the other model – a Dodge Viper!), but when he pulled out one of his RC monster trucks, we couldn’t keep it from being run over! Guess that’s what they’re for – to have fun and simulate what you can’t (or shouldn’t) do on the real road! No matter how much you may want to sometimes…
Readily available at Walmart or online, if you do decide to get one for a child in your family, just remember to watch where you’re stepping when they’re playing with it. And lift your feet when sitting.