Are your children are fans of Cars 3? If so, the latest remote control vehicles featuring Lightning McQueen, Cruz Ramirez and Jackson Storm might just be the ideal Christmas present.
I was provided with a Jackson Storm remote control car for review purposes.
Toby, who turns eight shortly after Christmas, is something of a remote control car aficionado. Every year since he was old enough to say “I want to be Jeremy Clarkson when I grow up”, he has received a new one for Christmas. He’ll play with it non-stop until we have exhausted our supply of batteries (normally around 1pm on Christmas Day). So it’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about them. Which made him the ideal choice to test out an ‘Ultimate Jackson Storm’.
The first thing you notice is how big and solid the car is. Most remote control cars are either 1:24 or 1:32 scale. However, the ‘Ultimate’ version is a whopping 1:16 – or about 26cm from bumper to bumper.
It is also unmistakably Jackson Storm. The character is accurately reproduced and comes ready to go out of the box. There are no fiddly decals to stick on first – so often the bane of a parent’s life on Christmas morning.
The second thing you notice is how big and complex the steering wheel is. Unlike the cheaper, simpler 1:24 and 1:32 versions, this comes with a chunky Formula 1-style controller. This features twin forward-back and left-right joysticks, and a combination of console-style shoulder buttons and fascia-mounted buttons. It’s an impressive and sturdy multi-functional unit that wouldn’t look out of place at a Piston Cup race.
What really makes this car stand out from the crowd is its extensive functionality. This isn’t a vehicle whose only trick is to zip about your house crashing into unsuspecting people’s ankles and furniture. You can fire up impressive sound effects and perform preset manoeuvres such as racing starts, 360-degree spins, drifts and parking. We were particularly impressed with the doughnut preset, which sent the car pirouetting smartly across the floor.
These fancy stunt moves are enabled by the fact that the rear wheels rather than the front ones are used for steering.
There is also a small water reservoir that slots into the underside of the car. This allows you to simulate tyre smoke by generating steam out of the rear wheels, which also glow red. Pretty cool.
The car itself packs plenty of power too. As befits a champion race car, it’s quick off the mark. Thankfully it’s also sturdy enough to not crumple like a soft drink can at the first impact. I wouldn’t recommend driving it into a wall at top speed repeatedly, but ours survived plenty of collisions with skirting boards and table legs without noticeable damage.
Good? Yes. Perfect? No
So far, so good. There are many positives to this upgraded model that put it in pole position and justify the additional cost. However, there are a few niggles.
The most obvious downside is the flip-side of one of the car’s most obvious benefits: its large size. A bigger car is more powerful and impressive but also requires more room. It will tear across even a fairly large room in no time and it has a large turning circle too. This could be frustrating if you are short on floor space, unless you’re a fan of regular three-point turns. (Lewis Hamilton never has this problem …)
A couple of other things worth noting. The reservoir isn’t well sealed, so if you turn over the vehicle, water may leak out. And the car requires five AAs, while the steering wheel needs a further three. We found the car batteries died faster than a misfiring gas-guzzler with a hole in its petrol tank. Have plenty of spare batteries standing by.
Overall though, despite our quibbles both Toby and I were impressed with the model’s extensive features. If you’re looking to take a step up from the standard remote control cars and are happy to invest a little more for that extra “ka-chow!”, you can buy one at Amazon, Toys R Us and other retailers. I’ve included the Toys R Us links here: Jackson Storm, Lightning McQueen, Cruz Ramirez.
Gentlemen (and ladies), start your engines …