Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Vehicles

 


2013 Award
Hot Wheels Carcade
(Mattel $99 Score:)

Hands down one of the most fun toys we tested this year. If you like Hot Wheels cars and pinball - it doesn't get much better than this new arcade game that loads your Hot Wheels cars (it only comes with one) into the launcher that moves from side to side so that you can shoot the car into the slots above.  If you get the car into the slot when the light above it is on, you score points. It has an electronic scoreboard that keeps track of your score. It has a neat lockdown dome (think Mad Max thunderdome) that captures a car and provides added drama of doubling your points while that one car is trapped inside. This feature, while fun, did not always work well but no one seemed to mind. In order to get into the dome you have to get the car up a special ramp - our testers found this hard to do - but willing to keep on trying. Requires 3AA and 4 D batteries. Will not work with all Hot Wheels vehicles but it worked with the ones we had on hand.  This is what we call a big memorable novelty toy. The kind that gets played with a lot when friends come over! 5 & up.

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Neat-Oh Hot Wheels Crash Racer Backpack
(Neat-Oh $20 Score:)

A small backpack that is shaped like a racing car and unzips to become a race track. This is not a backpack for carrying lots of school books and such. It is more like a fun carry along to a play date. It comes in several color choices and with one hot wheels racing car to use on the small ramp. 3 & up

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Hot Wheels TCR Total Control Racing Stunt Park
(Mattel $52.99 Score:)

Pure racing fun! The large track set comes with one yellow car and charger (of course, you can buy additional cars/chargers). The track has a  big loop and two pleasing ramps - providing plenty of satisfying motion. The cars are remote-controlled. We recommending buying an additional white car (and controller), so that another person can control that car separately (they use different radio frequencies).  We had a little trouble getting the clear plastic on the the larger ramp - but we got it to work. The racing action here is great fun and the fact that you can have more than one car and controller to the mix adds to the possibilities for races and collisions!  Each charger uses 4 AA batteries (not included).

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Power Tower Trackset
(Mattel $44.99 Score:)

Wall Tracks were a dream come true when they came out last year. If you're a Hot Wheels fan, then you've always dreamed of putting tracks everywhere--including your walls.  Most of last year's sets did not require batteries-- they were elegantly designed to take your speeding car down a maze of tracks. Mattel partnered with 3M to find a use for heir 3M Command Strips that would excite an 5 year old!  This new POWER TRACK is just that-- almost the muscle machine of the line with batteries that propel your car up a corkscrew elevator and watch out for the jaws that try to eat your car for lunch.  While we prefer the non-battery operated concept, our testers enjoyed the added bells and whistles of this set. Requires 2 D batteries.  One of our parent testers noted that the 3M Command Strips did not hold up on her textured dry wall. Take a look at last year's review and video before you buy.

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Micro Charger Jump Track
(Moose Toys $29.99 Score:)

This little racing set comes with two micro charger vehicles and two handheld chargers. Rev them up and put them on the track and watch them go. The little track set has a gap that the little racers can jump--except when they don't. Check out some of the other sets from the same company.  They  are compatable and allow you to combine elements to make larger race tracks. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Awards
Imaginetics Race Day
(International Playthings $7.99 Score:)

A magnetic board with a race track graphic and lots of colorful cars to move around the track. A 16-piece set that invites imaginative play, story telling, and quiet time. Take it along on your next trip to a waiting room or for making time fly as you travel.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Hot Wheels RC Nitro Speeders
(Mattel $27.99 Score:)

"Amazingly fast" for such a small rc car was the uniform reaction the RC Nitro Speeders. Comes with it's own carrying case that also serves as the charger and remote control. We tested the Mustang, but there are other vehicles in this micro line of racers including a Chevy Camero and a Ford Fiesta.  We would be careful with these cars around pets that may mistake them for a snack!

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Starter Set
(Mattel $49.99 Score:)

If you grew up playing with Hot Wheels, then you probably dreamed about putting your tracks on the wall. Having spent a good part of my childhood with running tracks down the staircase...I was really excited to see this set at toy fair.  Having just tested this set, I am happy to report that the news is good. Hot Wheels has joined forces with 3M to come up with brackets that can be put up on your wall without damaging your paint (they warn not to do this on wallpaper...makes sense).  It comes with clear instructions that tell you where to place the brackets at each level. All of this will require adult supervision--and you may have to adjust some of your tracks--but it works.  It rarely works perfectly--something that didn't bother us or our testers since we think that's part of the fun.

The Starter Set comes with one car and has a big loop-de-loop that's fun and works well with the lighter car it comes with. We found that the heavier car packed with one of our favorite add-on sets did not handle the loop very well, but did very well on the track packed in the add-on set.

Of the add-on sets, we'd highly recommend the Daredevil curve that has a wonderful mechanism of turning the car as it makes a 180 degree turn on the track. Very cool. The Downhill Flip Drop also has fun action and worked well with the starter set. Our testers also liked the bridge and cityscape featured with this set.

We'd pass on the Drift Rally Spinoff that had a bumpy green road section that stopped our cars almost every time. It just didn't work as well as the other sets.

One disappointment. We have so many Cars 2 fans (not made by Hot Wheels, but made by Mattel that now makes both Hot Wheels and Matchbox). Sadly these cars were all too wide for the Hot Wheels tracks.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Chuggington Wooden Railway Chug Wash
(Learning Curve International $39.99 Score:)

A train wash...a first in train land!  Push the lever to disperse the imaginary water and then send them through the buffers and dryers. Having written about many accessories over the years, this one certainly wins for being unique. Other interesting accessories in this line: Chuggington Wooden Railway Crossing Fuel Depot ($39.99) Pull either of the two levers and you can watch the "fuel" go down as you refuel your train. There is also a water tank that works the same way. The dial that shows how much fuel you have left makes a clicking sound--but no other lights or sounds here; and Chuggington Wooden Railway Crossing Platform with Vee ($39.99) The crossingplatform features the character Vee and has some lights and sounds when youpush the roof or push through the gates. You can mix this add-on with other sets--often a way to renew interest!

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Chuggington Wooden Railway Trainee Roundhouse Set
(Learning Curve International $119.99 Score:)

The middle sized set in this new series of trains from the folks that brought you Thomas the Tank. The set comes with 32 pieces of wooden track with plastic/wooden accessories. The set comes with two trains (Koko & Brewster) and a roundhouse that can hold three engines. One of the nice features of this series is that the accessories come apart so that they can be used in more than one way. For example in this set, the clock tower can stack on top of the roundhouse or be removed and used as a small tunnel elsewhere. Our testers have generally loved these sets but have noted that the tracks do not stay connected as well as the Thomas sets (which is odd since they're made by the same company!).

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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