I remember playing with Matchbox cars and generic plastic tracks back in the 80s (everything was universal back in those days) and felt somewhat nostalgic when I had the opportunity to review the latest entry from the Disney Merchandising Empire, namely the Cars Speedway. Course I, a 6'5 29 year old male with graying hair, would have looked REALLY silly to my roommates trying to test this product by myself so I, as I had done with previous reviews on toys, enlisted the help of my neighbors, who have two children between the ages of 7-10 (I didn't ask, silly me) to test it out while I took notes nearby. It didn't take long for problems to occur starting with assembly.
The instructions were... well... crappy and exceedingly vague for anyone that doesn't assemble anything on a daily basis. The mother, who is about as normal as blueberry pie (hehe, South Pacific reference!), called me over within five minutes expressing frustration at what the instructions meant. The pictures were somewhat confusing even to me, and I used to install home theaters and home appliances at Best Buy. I had to violate my own prime directive of reviewing non-interference to assist the mother in construction and I quickly quipped that I certainly hope the writers of the manuals do not moonlight as 911 Operators ("Perform CPR by using your hands!")
Even with my help, it took approximately 30 minutes to assembly what should've have been a 10-minute job and we came to an even worse realization after that.
Now, I'm not a parent but I've moved around enough and spent enough time at other friend's houses as a child to know that most children's rooms are carpeted. It's a safety and comfort issue. Now, where does this fit into my review? Well, the product is basically a two-level track that starts on the bottom floor, that sits on the ground, and the cars are shot by a launcher up a ramp to the upper level or around a loop on the ground level. Problem is that the ground floor is little more than a plastic perimeter/guardrail that guides the cars and NOT an actual track. Also, there's a few inches of space between the launcher and the ramp to the upper level, meaning the car has to traverse across whatever surface it's sitting on (hardwood, carpet, your Dad's back, etc.) before using the remaining momentum to ascend.
In short, this thing does NOT work on carpet, ergo use in the vast majority of children's rooms.
Now, I was always under the impression that Disney had one of the best marketing divisions in the world, and yet, they overlooked THIS little problem that even I, a non-parent, figured out almost immediately (Hey, Disney Toy Execs! Did I mention that I am available to hire as a full-time bonafide toy tester? *waggles eyebrows sarcastically*).
The mother and I quickly relocated the speedway, which almost fell apart in our hands as it is very flimsy, to the kitchen table after promptly evicting the father, who was trying to enjoy a quiet game of Angry Birds on his laptop. After explaining the importance of testing the product to the angry father ("It's for science!") we reassembled the tracks and were about to test it on the hard surface of the table with the kids when we ran into another problem.
I handed the Steve- er... Lightning McQueen car to the youngest and reached into grab another one for the other-... what the? Where's the other car? The Speedway only comes with one car and replacement cars cost... well... you can get a few Matchbox cars for the same price. This wasn't good as you can't have a race without two cars otherwise it's a time trial and this is hardly Mario Kart. After a few seconds of thinking I asked the kids if they had any Matchbox cars to see if they could be used as substitutes. It was here that I found out WHY the Cars Stunt Racers were so expensive; they're proprietary and have pull-back motors! This means they are specifically designed for the track and vice versa so nothing else will work on the track as we learned VERY quickly.
I see your tricks Disney Toy Execs! You clever fatherless people you! THIS is how they tie you in to buy more stuff that is way overpriced and as flimsy as a bridge on the I-5!
Seeing how this was not going to work with two children and I was NOT going to travel to the nearest department store to spend money on more cars, we let the children take turns and they got bored within minutes as there was nothing more to do than turn an annoying crank and watch a single car do the same thing every time. It became very repetitive and I can just imagine how long the flimsy power crank would last as it sounded like something from Frankenstein with every passing turn.
Realizing that this toy would not last without a larger investment in more Disney Cars toys, I turned to the mother and asked a single question.
Me: "Do you guys have a Nintendo Wii?"
Me: "Mario Kart?"
Mother: "Of course!"
Me: "I challenge all of you!"
Kids: "Challenge accepted!"
I lost... darn kids...
All in all, this product is little more than an attempt by what I can only imagine as a bunch of pudgy, balding Disney Toy Execs to suck you in and buy more stuff. This toy is annoying to assemble, flimsy at best, and requires a larger investment to even begin to enjoy. Avoid.