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Last summer the Boy and I went to a local fete and one of the activities on offer, other than the tombola and 'play your cards right', was 'circus skills': a chap with diablos, juggling balls, plastic plates to spin and these pedal racers. The Boy spent the whole afternoon trying to get his hands (or rather feet) on the pedal racers, waiting patiently for other children to let him have a go or racing over to one left unattended, only to miss it by seconds as another child got there first! Aw, poor wee soul.
Fortunately I managed to nab one for him in the end. He had a great time trying to work it and was really building up his confidence on it: it was all he wanted to do. (And it was free to try, yay!)
When I saw Hawkins Bazaar were selling these, it seemed an obvious addition to his Xmas presents.
It comes fully built in its box, so is instantly useable: a boon on Xmas day when everything else seemed irretrievably welded to its packaging (not just wired, actually screwed into the cardboard - but that's a rant for another day).
It is quite a simple machine: two pedals, four solid wheels. The idea is that you stand on it, balance and co-ordinate pushing with your feet to power yourself along. It's a sort of unicycling effect, with more wheels and less far to fall! It's quite tricky to do to start with and you have to learn to trust yourself to be able to do it.
The construction of this pedal racer from Hawkins is very robust and sturdy, in metal and plastic. It comes in a nice strong red colour. It weighs nearly 5 lb. The wheels are around the size of saucers, approximately a hand-span, and about an inch thick. It's quite a large toy and isn't foldable (for no doubt excellent strength & structural integrity reasons) so you need to have a bit of spare storage space for it.
The pedals are 11 inches (28 cm) long, which means my feet fit comfortably on it. It's a little on the large side for my son of six, but then it is supposed to be for over 8s. (It was only that he had loved the pedal racers so much at the fete that made me think he'd be able to use it. And he does). I think the recommended age group of the over 8s is probably right for most people, and teenagers and most adults should be able to get some fun out of it too. Ours copes with adult weights fine and I do like to have a go!
You can use the pedal racer either way up, and both sides have a ridged gripping surface so your feet shouldn't slide off. The solid wheels also have slightly grooved rims for grip. The racer can be used indoors or outdoors: it's best on carpets (and away from breakable objects) or on short grass, for safety and control.
Apart from the fun factor, this toy offers exercise, challenge - and mild peril! It's good for practising co-ordination and balance, and I think it's increased my children's physical confidence.
We really like this toy: it's good fun to try and funny to watch!
The Hawkins Bazaar Pedal Racer is currently available online from them at £26. (I bought ours for £15 before Xmas.) It's always worth looking out for a better price, I think. At £26 I'd certainly give pause, although it is well-made.