This summer, Pierre turns three. He'll be starting school in September. He's now more or less potty trained (during the day at least) and I think it's time to move him from his cot to a big boy's bed and transform his bedroom from nursery to a more "grown up" boy's room. When the opportunity came up to review a Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Mid Air Madness playset, I thought that this would be a great way to start the transformation. Just one look at his face shows that Pierre thought that this was a very good idea too !
First of all we tipped out the contents of the box. Hmm looks a bit complicated !
Luckily the instructions are relatively easy to follow and help you work out which bit is which and what needs to go where, even if you haven't really got a clue what the finished item is supposed to look like !
While I sorted out the 3D parts, I sent Pierre and Juliette off to clear a space on the wall and hang up the poster which serves as a background for the car track. Pierre was already saying wow at this stage !
The track brackets stick on the wall with easy-to-remove-with-no-damage (but don't use them on wallpaper, if you read the smallprint !) sticky pads, which I never thought would work but do in fact do the job very well. They even put some extra sticky pads in, in case you need to restick any. I did have to wait until I could find a shop selling D-sized batteries to get the launcher up and running - it's a shame they're not included in the box, as many toy manufacturers now do include them, which makes things easier.
It's hard to show this as a 3D track because it just looks like part of the flat poster so hopefully this angle gives you a better idea. The idea is, you put the car in the chute, it goes down and around the first corner, into the launcher, gets thrown up across the gap onto the next part of the track, is propulsed up and around the track until it gets back to the starting point and jumps across the gap to start all over again.
The box contains one lovely shiny silver Hot Wheels car but Pierre went rummaging in his toy box and tried it with several of his other toy cars too. Some work better than others, mainly because they need to be just the right weight to make it across the gaps. A lot of the time - even using the enclosed silver car - it doesn't make it across the gap and falls on the floor or, more dangerously, crashes into the head of whichever child happens to have their head under the gap selecting the next car to use. You have been warned ! According to the Madhouse Mini Testers, this actually made it more fun though because they could have competitions, seeing who could complete the most circuits before their car went crashing off the track.
As a parent, I have a couple of improvements to suggest. However many times I told him and showed him where to put the car to start off the circuit, Pierre kept trying to shove it in the back end of the launcher (just behind the correct place). I was worried that this would jam up the motor of the launcher and also worried that he would get his little fingers caught in the motor when trying to pull it out. (I almost pushed my finger into the back of the launcher to see if it hurt but wimped out because I could feel wind and imagined rotors or something ready to chop my fingers off on the inside ! That could just be me being paranoid though !). I quickly solved this problem by placing a sticker at the point where you need to put the car on the track - maybe Hot Wheels could add an arrow or something to serve this purpose. I also think the on-off button could be in a more accessible place and it's quite noisy - although I eventually decided that's a good thing because it saves it being left on and wearing out the batteries by mistake.
All three of the Madhouse Mini-Testers, plus assorted friends of both sexes, have been playing with it every time they walk past and Pierre proudly grabbed Madhouse Daddy Mike's hand and dragged him off to the bedroom to show him his new toy as soon as he got in from work ! They'd give it 5/5 but as a parent, I'm going to dock a point for the issues outlined above. I almost gave it a bonus point for helping keep the bedroom floor tidier though. If only all toys, especially the ones you walk on in the dark and hurt your feet (why is Lego so pointy ?!), could be kept on the wall rather than the floor !
Just a quick word of warning - the launcher won't work until it's attached to the wall so don't take it back to the shop thinking it's not working until you've tried it in situ !
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £29.99
Disclaimer : We received a Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Mid Air Madness set in order to write the review.
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