Monday, September 15, 2008
Like any kid, 3Po and Jammy love remote controlled (RC) cars. The problem is that they're really too young for the sleek, hi-tech racecars that tweens and teens send whizzing around obstacles on the street. They don't have the reaction time or fine motor skills to control these sensitive instruments properly, and they are careless with handling and storing it. So fenders break off, wire antennas get snapped off, wheels get torn off. And so another $50 toy bites the dust even before my husband (who has been waiting so patiently, poor dear) gets to play with it.
But they consider themselves too old for the babyish-looking "My First RC Car" -type vehicles out there. Hasbro toys has come up with a great balance of durable and cool in their new RC car, the Tonka Bounce Back Racer.
(Before we get to the racecar, a word about Tonka. I was already predisposed to like this product because of Tonka's great reputation. I have great childhood memories of playing with Tonka trucks. I think of holidays on the beach, playing in the sand with the Tonka dump truck, crane and front loader that my brothers owned. My twins received their own Tonka trucks when they were 2 and have spent many a happy hour in the backyard with them. So when we got the opportunity to try out the Bounce Back Racer, it was a no-brainer)
Unlike other RC vehicles for younger kids, this one looks cool, not cutesy. Its rugged, racecar looks appeal to older toddlers, preschoolers and even kindergarteners. Yet it's incredibly easy for little ones to operate; the remote has just two buttons, forward and reverse. The lack of steering controls (it has free-swiveling front wheels, which make for some pretty unpredictable -- i.e. fun -- turns) haven't stopped the boys from getting the car to pull wheelies, flip over, jump ramps and spin 180 degrees.
One thing that I'm optimistic about with this toy -- thanks to Tonka's great reputation -- is its durability. 3Po and Jammy really subject their RC cars to the third degree, racing them down the stairs and steering them into walls. The Bounce Back Racer has survived so far. The sturdy body doesn't have any delicate parts to snap off. The soft, big wheels not only protect walls and furniture, they also protect the car from the effects of the spectacular crashes the boys like to engineer.
With all that internal wiring just waiting to be bashed around, I'm not expecting this toy to last as long as our Tonka construction vehicles (those I'm keeping for my grandchildren, so that they'll have Tonkas to play with when they visit, just like my kids play with my brothers' Tonka trucks when they visit my parents). But at two weeks, the Bounce Back Racer has already outlasted half of the other RC cars that 3Po and Jammy have owned (one particularly flimsy one only lasted through Christmas Day). It's a great addition to the Tonka line because it's everything I associate with Tonka -- sturdy, tough, the stuff little boys' dreams are made of.