Review, Hot Wheels RC Stealth Rides Race Car by Mattel – Champion or Chump?

Hot Wheels RC Stealth Race Car by Mattel

Hot Wheels RC Stealth Race Car by Mattel
By Jeff Beer

Dan here – This is part of our Real Dads (and Moms) Review The Top 16 Holiday Toys for 2010 series. We sent out the hot holiday toys to our members and in this series they are sharing their honest reviews before you waste any money on a flop! Want to get in on the fun next time – Join Us. Take it away, Jeff…

Hot Wheels RC Stealth Car (What is it?  How is it packaged?):

The idea around this car is that it is a small car that folds up flat and slides right into its controller.   Once folded up, the whole thing can be carried around in your pocket waiting to amaze your friends and tease your pets.  When folded, it is about the same length/width as a deck of cards, and about half the thickness.  So it is pretty small.

We received the Blue “Race Car” version of the Stealth Rides car.   From the packaging, there are 5 different types:  White Power Tread (Tank looking car), Green Power Tread, Red Race Car, Blue Race Car, and Batmobile.   Unpacking the car, the first thing you notice is that the packaging is very big as compared to the size of the car, and controller.   The packaging is 12” x 8”, but the car is only about 2.5” long.   I’m assuming this is to make it stand out in the store aisle.   This product retails for $24.99, so it’s possible they didn’t want to make it look too small for that price point.  I’m usually against a lot of toy packaging because of the stuff that gets thrown in the dump.    This has a lot of plastic and cardboard, but luckily it is just held together with tape and not the usually metal twist ties that you find on some toys.

The other thing you notice when you first see the unit is the spare batteries.   They are prominently displayed in the front of the packaging.   It comes pre-installed with two (2) LR44 watch batteries for the controller and three (3) LR44 watch batteries for the car.   It also comes with three (3) LR44 spare watch batteries.   Before I opened the car, my first thought was: “I wonder how long these batteries will last.  Watch batteries like these usually run $2 each at the local store.”    The package comes with the car, the remote control, the spare batteries and a small instruction manual.

The other thing I noticed, is that on the packaging, it says “High-Speed Spinning and Turns”, “One-Touch Transformation!”, “Geared for Speed!”, and “Super Speed Control!”    Also, it is listed as ages 8+, which is different from the listing in Time to Play Magazine.

Putting the Hot Wheels Car in Stealth Mode…Or Not??

I’m one of those guys who read the manual before doing things.   So I quickly flipped through the instructions.   Everything seemed straightforward.    They tell you how to fold the car and slide it into the controller and how to remove it, and how to use the remote control.    I had my son (8) with me to try it out.

Here is a video of our attempts to put the car in stealth mode:


(If you have problems with the video, please decrease the resolution to 360p)

First we tried setting the car on a table and folding it by following the directions which state “To fold flat, be sure to press the Fold Button.  WARNING! THE VEHICLE WILL BREAK IF IT IS FOLDED MANUALLY BY BENDING THE SIDES.”   Both of us tried numerous times and couldn’t get it to fold by pressing the fold button.    I noticed that in one diagram the place to press is different, so we tried that also.   No Luck.    The only way we could actually get it folded is by manually flipping out the sides with two hands and pressing very hard in the middle.    Even then it would only stay folded about 25% of the time.   I’d say that most kids are going to have a problem getting it to fold correctly.    So much for the advertised “One-Touch Transformation” Once it was folded, it slides very easily into the controller.  It is held firmly enough where it doesn’t fall out and comes out easily enough.

Unfolding is the exact opposite from folding.  It went really easy.   There is a button you press and the car pops open very easily.

Race Car Mode – When the Fun Begins?

My son and I immediately went downstairs to try the car in our hallway floor.    I moved the switch on the car to channel 3 and the controller to channel 3 (There are three power positions:  Off, 3 and 4.   3 and 4 are so that you can race two cars on different channels.   Not sure what happened to 1 and 2.)

The controller on this car has two sets of toggle buttons to control the car.   It controls sort of like a tanks.   The left forward/reverse controls the left side of the car and the right forward/reverse controls the right side of the car.   So to go forward, you press both buttons forward.   To go back, you press both buttons back.  To turn, you press either the left or the right.   To spin, you press the buttons in opposite directions.

Watch The Video of How the Controller Works in the RC Stealth Rides:

(If you have problems with the video, please decrease the resolution to 360p)

The first thing I noticed is that the car stopped moving about 3-4 feet in front of me.    Then I looked at the controller and realized it is IR (i.e.  It uses infrared light, like your TV remote, rather than RF (Radio) to control the car).   This means that you will need to be fairly close to the car to control it.   I moved a little closer and it started working again.  The car does not work on carpet either.  The car seemed to control fairly easily, although it takes a little time getting used to the tank-like controls on a car.     The other thing I noticed is the speed (or lack of it).   The car seemed to be pretty anemic.   We have purchase other remote control cars from retail stores in our area in the $10 range and they were at least 3x faster than this car.

But What Do the Kids Think of the RC Stealth Rides Racing Car?

After playing with it for a little bit, my son liked the car, but he wouldn’t choose it over other cars/gifts he has seen.   He though it was “cool” that it could fold up, except that it was frustrating sometimes.   He did say that it was pretty slow.   It seemed like it would be something that an 8 year old might get tired of pretty quickly though.     Our dog liked it a lot.

Watch How Dogs Go Crazy for the RC Stealth Rides Racing Car :

(If you have problems with the video, please decrease the resolution to 360p)

Pros:

  • Unique in that it folds up.
  • Easy to carry around when visiting friends.
  • Mattel/Hot Wheels name, so they can potentially come out with a lot more styles

Cons:

  • Doesn’t fold up easily.
  • 8+ age recommendation might be old for something like this.   I think it should probably be something that is marketed at 5-6 year olds.
  • Uses more expensive watch batteries.
  • Definitely not “Fast” as it claims on the packaging compared to other similar sized cars.
  • Poor response from the IR controller

Conclusion:

The folding concept of this car seems like a good idea.    Unfortunately, the folding part of it doesn’t work well.   In addition, it isn’t that great as a remote control car either.   The controls aren’t very car-like and the car is kind of pokey.    At the price point, it also seems kind of high for what you get.    We have gotten very small pocket-size remote control cars from other manufacturers that are about the same size, but are much faster, use a rechargeable battery in the car, AAA in the controller, and cost about half the price as this car.

At the $25 price range I would expect a car that had far more pros than cons.  While the small size of the car is cool, the cons outweigh the pros and I would NOT recommend this toy, at this price.

Jeff is a Telecommunications Software Architect. He has an 8-year old son and two crazy dogs and lives in Colorado. He is one of those guys who enjoys trying all the newest gadgets and this probably frustrates his wife the most.

FULL DISCLOSURE: We were crazy enough to buy stealth cars with our own money! We sent the toy out for Mr. Beer to review – he gets to keep the toy and torment his dogs to no end. We received no money for doing this review and receive nothing if you do decide to buy the toy. This is a real review, by a real Dad (and his kids)!

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