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My 6 year old daughter loves playing with her toys cars and as we are short of floor space in the house, this toy looked ideal. Made by Mattel and part of the larger Hot Wheels range we thought this would be a fun quality toy, that my 6 year old and 2 year old could also play with together. It cost £29.99 and is available from Toys R Us and Argos etc. It has a recommended age range of 4+.
My daughter was ecstatic when it arrived and desperately wanted it put up straight away. However on reading the instructions I discovered that we didn't have one of the requirements in the house- we had the 4ft of clear painted wall (no tiles or wallpaper as it won't stick) and the 20 minutes of time, but we didn't have the masking tape, so building was postponed until the next day so that we could get some, which was a bit disappointing.
Inside the box are an awful lot of pieces, large and small and one Hot Wheels car. There is also a massive sheet of instructions that you stick with masking tape to the wall. This acts as a template for you to stick the yellow support brackets to the wall in the right places. The brackets are stuck on with Command Strips, little pieces of foam which apparently are guaranteed not to damage the wall. You get 12 Command Strips and 6 are needed to put up the wall track. They aren't reusable so once the track is up it needs to stay up. There is no room for error either, if you make a mistake too often then you will run through your spares and will have to buy more Command Strips at £3.49 for 6. I also wouldn't want to try and get all of the pieces neatly back into the box. I took them all out before we found we didn't have the masking tape and struggled to put it all away safely, lots of bits were poking out of the top of the box and I was concerned that something would get damaged.
Putting the brackets up took about ten minutes and the rest of the track took another ten as you need to slot four or five other bits together to complete the different parts of the circuit. Actually putting the pieces on the wall took less than a minute. The brackets all have two little cross shaped holes which match up to cross shapes on the bottom of the bits of track, so you just have to push it into position. There is a starting gate at the top which is activated by a big grey lever underneath, then the car slaloms down a slope, down into the wheel, which is either a loop-the-loop or a straight track depending on whether you push down the lever or not. Once through you can push the red level to divert the car onto one of the exits or send it down another slalom. At the bottom you can lift a flap to either direct the car down the big orange slide or the brown flippy flappy bits and off another exit. It takes about ten seconds for a car to complete the course, its very quick.
We haven't had anything from HotWheels before so I was surprised at just how flimsy and light the plastic pieces were and some of the bits felt like very bad quality. One of the jump off exits has little red gates which don't meet in the middle and the yellow gates on the other exit are crooked. The loop-the-loop mechanism is powered by an elastic band; a spare is included in the box but I am dubious about how long that will last in such a vulnerable position-its in the middle of the wheel. There are other little niggles too such as the fact that the first blue slalom, despite following all the instructions to the letter, detaches from the bracket as a car goes down. It either stops the progress of the car or has to be reattached before another car can go through. If the car isn't stopped there then it quite often gets thrown off course by the loop and stops there too. This is very frustrating for my children who just want the car to zoom all the way through and I have had to reinforce this joint and all the other joints with sellotape.
I was a bit surprised to see that it only comes with one car and the box says it is not compatible with some other Hot Wheels cars. Not being familiar with Hot Wheels myself, I don't know which set I should buy that would be compatible with this track. The cars aren't cheap either so I don't want to make a mistake. Some of our Matchbox cars do fit and go through successfully but I am a bit worried that the track is going to get damaged by using the wrong cars. The car supplied is also too small to activate the start gate lever as it goes past, which is a shame. I know my daughter would enjoy filling the start gate with cars and watching them set each other off. Its only a few millimetres off which is particularly irritating.
You also need more than four feet of space if you want the cars to fly off the end any distance at all, they can go quite a way so its worth bearing in mind before you buy it- we have the four feet recommended but the cars get stopped by a piece of furniture which is now getting damaged. The wall has also got damaged too. It is set up in our living room which means my 2 year old has access to it too. He pulled one of the pieces a little too hard and it came right off the wall, bringing some paint with it. It stuck back up again alright but that joint is now weakened and we will have to touch up the wall when it comes down. Command Strips probably work brilliantly if you gently peel it off as it says in the instructions, but are not good if it gets yanked or knocked from a different angle.This would have been better in a bedroom I think, if you have younger siblings about who might want to play with it.
So there are some negatives to this set but I have to say my children do enjoy playing with it. It is also a toy that they can play with together without fighting too much (when they are in the right mood to not bite each other!). However it doesn't hold their attention for longer than about ten minutes at a time, before they run off to play with something else. With it up permanently they do tend to wander over, have a go or two and then wander off again. It has also received a mixed reaction from DD's friends (mostly boys). Some of them have absolutely loved it and had to be prized off it after an hour, whereas others want to see what happens and then get bored. This isn't a toy that I would buy as a present unless I knew that the child loved Hot Wheels already, a love of Matchbox type cars doesn't seem to be the same thing (all of DD's friends love toy cars).
Overall I give this product 3 stars. Some children will love it, some will not be bothered and it's a lot of money for a toy that might not be played with. There are some niggles with the quality and playability of the toy, the slalom end coming off is very frustrating especially as we were very careful to follow the instructions. Four does seem to be about the right age range, DD is a little old and DS is a little young, but a four year old would probably get a couple of years of play out of it, if it stayed together and complete for long enough.
Hot Wheels Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Starter Set Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Starter Set Assortment: Introducing the coolest new place to play, off the floor and onto the wall. Wall Tracks brings stunts, speed, turns and tricks to new heights. Kids can experience track play from an entirely new perspective and change stunts as they change their rooms. This huge raceway plugs in for nonstop speed, lane switching action, and crashing cars. Use the enclosed 3M Command Strips to create a variety of interchangeable stunts with just one set. Can be used alone or connected to other Wall Tracks sets to increase the fun. Includes 1 die-cast Hot Wheels car, 3M Command Strips and easy instruction poster.Hot Wheels Wall Tracks brings stunts, speed, turns and tricks to new heightsWall Tracks is a wall mounted track play systemExpand your world of Wall Tracks and build more stunts and action all over your wallsThis is the ultimate Hot Wheels Wall Tracks starter setIncludes 1 die-cast Hot Wheels car, 3M Command Strips and easy instruction poster.