If any of your children are boys, chances are at least once in your life you’ve almost broken your neck by stepping on a Matchbox or Hot Wheel car. You’ve probably found them between sofa cushions, under appliances, in clothes drawers, and all kinds of places you can’t imagine. It’s a given for a young boy to get dozens of these things and mutilate them in ways you wouldn’t think possible.
My husband actually saved all his cars for over 30 years just to pass down to our sons. After a good look at them in various states of decomposition with wheels missing, dents, scratches, and big chunks of the lead based paint they were no doubt at one time properly covered in, we realized that all those years worth of sitting in the attic were for naught since we had to ditch them before the kids could enjoy them.
These cars are a toy that have been around for decades. My husband still talks about the excitement of getting a few new cars in his stocking every year at Christmas when he was a little boy. Of course, the tradition carries on. Our house is now filled with well over a hundred of these things - again, in various states of destruction.
While crashing them together or into other things always seems to be unending fun for them, my boys also do like to race them. If you’ve ever seen the old pieces of tracks, you know that they are pretty much like the ones today: cheap pieces of long plastic, with a small lip on either side which is supposed to keep the car from sailing off the track. After getting bent, twisted, shoved into closets, stepped on, etc… they rarely lay flat or straight. Then you have the connectors that you have to push in the bottom of each piece to connect the pieces of track together. If you don’t get the track lined up properly, the cars get stuck on the joint, or they fly off. Oh and it’s always such great fun trying to push the connector in and snapping it in half instead- NOT! Removing them is often just as bad. Obviously, the designer of these things didn’t consider the removal process! Focus group…anyone???
We went through several different tracks that were gifts or bought because they looked cool. There are ones with jumps, ones with loops, some that glow in the dark, some with monsters and dinosaurs, and one that has a little car elevator that you pull with a string up to the top of a door frame. It rockets down the track from 7 feet high for maximum eye gouging velocity. It’s called the Hot Wheels V Drop SUPER VELOCITY Track. Any toy that actually has the words Super and Velocity in the name (much less next to each other), probably should have raised a flag. My son did love it because it sends the car flying super fast at anything, anyone, or any animal (i.e. our less than brilliant dog) that is dumb enough to sit at the other end of it. Although it can fold up on the door, you still have to contend with all the track.
This brings me to the Hot Wheels 4 Lane Raceway. What’s so great about it? Well…kids love to race cars and this gives them a chance to race up to 4 of them at one time. This race track is a favorite of mine to pull out when the boys have their friends over to play. It’s something everyone can play with at the same time and there is no arguing about taking turns with it which as you well know, happens with a lot of toys. Even better, toddlers love it too which is nice when you have a variety of ages in the group. My boys are 6 and 3 and they’ve had this track since they were 1 and 4 and they still play with it. It’s also a great birthday gift especially for families with more than one child.
The track is fairly compact. When folded up, it’s just over 18 inches long and 4 inches thick. When it unfolds, it is 6 feet long. It’s plenty long enough to have a good race and if you place it on a flat hard surface, the cars will keep going for quite a while after the finish line which always evokes more cheers from the “fans”.
I love the fact that this track is mobile. Since it is fairly small, light, and has a handle, it’s meant to travel. My boys have brought theirs all over the place…friends’ houses, grandparents’ house, hotel rooms, etc. You might think moving it around a lot would mean a good chance of it getting broken. Well actually, it’s designed to “break apart”. The are four pieces of track that are hinged together. If you lean on it, step on it, drop it, or just about anything else, it comes apart. Then all you do is snap the hinges back together and you are back to racing in a matter of seconds. Ours has taken a lot of abuse, but it still snaps back together.
It’s relatively inexpensive as it can be bought for under $20. Although there are a lot more elaborate and crazier race track kits available, they cost more, will take up more room, and won’t travel well.
Another neat feature is the finish line which has four spring loaded tabs that go over each lane of the track. Whichever car crosses the finish line first, hits the tab and flips it up to display which lane was the winner (which somewhat dampens the yelling and screaming over who actually won). OK who am I kidding they still yell and scream. The downside to this is that the springs can get worn and over time the flap may not stay engaged. This happened to the first one we had, but the one that replaced it didn’t have this problem. Even if it did, you’d still get plenty of mileage out of the track itself.
In short, if you’ve got kids who love Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars and you need a good race track, the Hot Wheels 4 Lane Racewayis a no brainer.
- Compact size and weight
- Travels well
- Easy to set up/put away
- Great for one kid or lots of kids
- No batteries (isn’t that always a Pro?)
- Potential spring problem