Silverlit's new programmable R/C cars arrived the other week, so I called up G-Daddy, The Toad and Tuxxer to help me put it together and race it around a bit.
We've all seen other micro r/c cars. According to five of this morning's spam-mail messages, its the hottest toy right now. I love how you can take them anywhere, particularly work, and have a quick race break when you should be filing TPS reports. Then I was introduced to the X-Trek micro-r/c cars. They have a full sized controller, and are fully programmable.
First off the box has a carrying-handle, because it weighs 14 pounds. When I got the order from UPS, I couldn't imagine two micro-r/c cars and two controllers weighing that much, but to my surprise, I was also given 500 pieces of track, roughly adding up to 75 feet of raceway.
The cars and controllers Pull the trigger to accelerate, push against the trigger to reverse. Between that and the steering wheel, you have some of the tightest control I've seen in a micro-racer. But you can also program in tricks for it to perform. There are eighteen TV-remote-control-esque buttons on the front of the controller, each one activating a quick move such as a hard turn right, spin, vibrate, or wiggle. You can program in a long sequence of commands then hit the GO button and it performs the tricks (Quicktime video clip 937K). Between that and racing it around my office-mates' cubicles, I was having a blast. The AA battery charger slides right onto the base of the controller making it very portable. I also really enjoy having something to grip onto. It is better than the other diminutive controllers for other micro-r/c cars. The cars themselves have two settings, ON and TURBO. ON gives you the control and tricks, TURBO gives you the speed when racing around the track. My favorite part about the track is the small switch on the back, flip it over and the controller provides race-car engine noises when it's zooming around. Kudos for allowing us to turn that off too.
The Track These cars work just like other R/C cars, they just need a smooth/hard surface to run on. However, if you have space, you can set up it's massive 500 piece track. It has ramps, curves, tower things, and a cool suspension bridge among the building pieces. The combinations are limitless, but since I was in a borrowed space, we decided to set up the track included with the plans. It took about an hour with four adults tinkering away. Here's the big thing about the track you're looking at. The first area consists of walls that the cars run between, they're free to zoom anywhere they want in there... then there's a funnel type thing that leads one car at a time onto the elevated track. So there's two types of racing with this particular layout. Another great feature of this set is that it includes two drive-up pit stops. You can drive your car right onto a specially shaped battery charger, get some quick juice and then head out again. This is great so you don't have to go climbing around the track to pick up your car and plug it into your hand-held charger. The cars have runners on them so that once you're on the elevated track you just gun it and it will zoom around without needing to steer.
So the track definitely requires a good bit of space, and adult assembly. However the track is not necessary to enjoy the toy, because it can race on your kitchen floor anyway. We did find that the car was a little hard to control around the tight curves (in the open sections) when in TURBO mode, however we had a hard time getting up the hills (on the elevated areas) in ON mode. We ended up using the extra track pieces to close off the junctions and have two complete raceways. The elevated section, where you just leave your car in TURBO and let it fly for some slot-car type fun, and the open track in ON mode for steering and racing with the other player. The versatility really makes this a great car for different types of enjoyment.
The Bottom Line Overall I was greatly impressed. G-Daddy, The toad, Tuxxer and myself loved setting it up, and hated breaking it down. I would recommend checking out the stand-alone car/controller sets when they come out this August , just to throw in your backpack or briefcase. The control and programming abilities put it above and beyond your friends' micro r/c cars. If you have the space, pick up the track set too, they will be available in different sizes to fit your space/budget. And they can be added onto and re-arranged plenty of times. The first set will be available at Toys R Us in late August. It will feature 36 feet of track, two cars and two controllers.
We say get it for the versatility, get it for the portability, get it to show the ladies you have no reason to over-compensate.
The box, with carrying handle.
Tuxxer, G-Daddy, and The Toad look at all 500 pieces.