Start your engines!
Slot car racing sets are a hell of a lot of fun, especially when there are sharp bends, crossed tracks, and super fast cars whizzing around. However, bigger sets can be a tad inappropriate for younger kids, despite looking and sounding massively appealing. Many of you may recall the misery of your younger siblings toddling across your track as you attempted to overtake your dad, causing your cars to crash and your track pieces to separate. First World problems, yeah? Fortunately there is an answer- get them their own set. We check out the Go MINI Night Challenge Raceway.
The what? Well, the Go MINI Night Challenge Raceway is a slot car racing set with everything kids need to race: cars, controllers, and track pieces. Think of it as a smaller scale and easier to use Scalextric set, aimed squarely at kids as young as three years old. Obviously, we don't want to mention the above company's name too much in a post about a rival's product, but parallels are plain to see, from the gun-like controllers to the layout of the track. Still, there is a lot to differentiate it from that well-know brand, making it ideal for younger kids.
For a start, this takes batteries, and doesn't need to be plugged in (although you can – with a optional extra cable). Although the fact that you need eight AA batteries to power it (stock up in time for Christmas morning!) might make some parents sigh, it means there is no electrical cable to worry about, especially if you're leaving your kids to get on with it by themselves. Also, everything is smaller, so the cars are easier to handle and place on the tracks, and the controllers are simpler to grip and manipulate.
Once set up (which required an adult's helping hand – it was a tad too complicated for our three and six year old testers) it was basically a case of placing the cars at the starting line and selecting the speed of the race. Setting that base unit to the lowest setting means that, even if the kids squeeze hard on the triggers, the cars will never fly off the track. This is great for the wee ones who might not be as subtle with their acceleration as they should be, but this can be increased for older kids and adults. Set to high it is a real possibily to spin a car from the slots on a fast corner, which is always the most exciting thing about these kind of toys. If we're honest, our kids demanded the fastest possible setting and then spent an entire afternoon intentionally making the cars fly off. Little sods.
The two included cars are great, having a cartoon-y aesthetic rather than a realistic look. We were impressed to see that the headlights really do shine when being driven around, as well as lighting up pretty much the whole vehicle from within, making night-time races a bit more exciting. Oh yeah... the name is Go MINI Night Challenge Raceway. Silly us.
Great for younger kids who may have looked on longingly at larger slot car racing sets, but fun also for bigger kids and their thirty-something parents. Ahem.