The geekson absolutely loves cars of any kind. And he adores the movie Cars. At the age of almost 4 years he is just getting to the stage where he is capable of playing with car track sets, and so when I was offered the chance to review a Mattel Cars play set I was keen to see what he’d make of it. We were sent the Disney Cars Action Shifters Flo’s V8 Cafe Dragstrip set, which is quite a mouthful of a name! As soon as he saw it the geekson recognised the Cars theming, and he wanted to play with it as soon as possible. The set comes with some assembly required, and I found the instructions clear and managed to follow them to put together the “launch pad” with grandstand. It was then easy to add the track and finish line despite the over-excited pre-schooler “helping” me! I didn’t time the exercise, but I can say that it didn’t take long between unpacking the set and being ready to play.
The premise of the set is pretty simple – it’s a dragstrip race. There are two tracks, and your child can load two cars into the starting area and then press the handle to launch them both down their respective tracks. At the end of the track the checkered flag falls to indicate the winning car, and at the same time a cactus comes in front of the losing car to stop it in its tracks. This makes it easy to see which car won, and has prevented all sorts of arguments in our family I can tell you!
As soon as the track was built the geekson immediately started to play with it, and he’s been playing with it consistently since then. His sister has also been known to play on it as well, proving that car tracks are not just for boys! The set has stood up well to heavy use by a 3 year old and a 6 year old, and has kept them both entertained. Here’s a video of the geekdaughter demonstrating the set:
One thing I don’t like about the set is that it only comes with one car – a Lightning McQueen model. It seems silly to ship a track designed for two cars with just one car and I would have much preferred to have had a second car to enable immediate play. Thankfully the geekson has quite a collection of die-cast Cars, and has been able to play with them, but the shipped car is made from plastic, and so inevitably beats any of his heavier, metal cars. We’ve also found his metal cars don’t always stay on the track as well as the included plastic car, so I would prefer it if the set had come with two matched cars.
Initially my son had a few problems with the handle mechanism to launch the cars – his hands didn’t seem quite big enough to pull the handle easily and we had a few mis-fires. He has now managed to get the hang of it though, and his bigger sister has had no problems at all, so I think although the set is recommended for ages three and up, younger kids might need adult help to play if they still have small hands like my son.
The other downside of this set, and it’s the same for most track sets I have seen, is the storage space required. Whilst you can remove the track and tuck it in underneath the grandstand the whole thing is not the easiest thing to store – we’ve ended up just leaving it down by the side of the sofa.
Those little niggles aside the Disney Cars Action Shifters Flo’s V8 Cafe Dragstrip set has proved a hit with both my children, and I award it 4 out of 5 stars. The set is available in the UK from a number of different retailers such as Amazon (affiliate link), Tesco and The Disney Store. It costs around £25.
Disclosure: We were provided with a Disney Cars Action Shifters Flo’s V8 Cafe Dragstrip set for review purposes. The Amazon link in this post contains my affiliate details – if you purchase after clicking I will receive a very small commission payment.