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We bought our (then) twelve month old son the Lightning McQueen Lights and Sounds ride-on for Christmas last year, at the time of our purchase it was reduced in Tesco to around £20 so I picked one up as his main present - which sounds very tight I know, but as his birthday is two days before Christmas he did well over the course of the festive period!
The ride-on is suitable for children from one year and above; David is quite a tall lad and his feet have always been able to have firm contact with the floor since he's had it, but looking at my friends dainty little girl who turned one last week I doubt she'd be as stable as her legs just aren't long enough! The car was already 'built' when we bought it, I seem to remember Mark having to push the back handle into place but that really is just a case of popping it into the two holes at the back of the car and pressing firmly downwards. No bother! Well, actually it is a bit of a bother as the back handle doesn't lock into place or anything so can be pulled out really easily - in fact we've seen it FALL out of the holes when David has turned the car upside down so it's not very secure at all!
Thankfully all the stickers were already in place on the car, I say thankfully as neither me nor Mark have ever gotten the knack of applying stickers to kids toys without copious amounts of bubbles! It's all very bright and cheerful; I've never seen the Cars movies myself so can't comment on whether the stickers are true to the character you see onscreen, but they look suitably boyish and are just the kind of thing I'd expect to find on a car like this. I really like the look of this ride-on, all of my children have had similarly designed ride-on toys but none have had the 'true car' appearance that this one has - one of the bonuses of having a boy after three girls I suppose!
The wheels are responsive and now, at sixteen months, David can pretty much wheel himself wherever he wants to go. The centre of balance is perfect, even when he has one of his regular tantrums while sitting on the car he's never flipped himself backwards or anything like that - it doesn't always look completely stable when he's tearing around the corners, but any time he's fallen off it's been through his own bad driving rather than any issue with the car. He has an awful habit of standing on the seat and I suspect that will be the cause of an accident at some point, obviously I move him whenever I see him but can just visualise the wheels slipping one day and him falling flat on his face! This isn't the ride-ons fault in the slightest, but I wish this type of toy would incorporate a brake for the parent to activate in case they have a 'climber' (as I seem to have).
The Lightning McQueen ride-on has a panel of interactive 'instruments' below the steering wheel, which play (tinny and buzzy) music and also says 'Lightning McQueen' in a very irritating voice. The batteries came out within a couple of weeks as it's so loud and grating, there's no OFF switch that we've been able to find so coupled with the fact that the noises happen whenever the car is going forwards it quickly became a noise nuisance in the house! Despite the fact that this is listed as an outdoor toy, David uses his inside as we have plenty of room - it's certainly robust enough for outdoor play, but we have plenty of other things to keep him entertained in the garden so I can't really see the point in risking weather damage to the bright and shiny plastic. I also worry more about the 'standing on the seat' incidences outside as the wheels aren't strong enough to cope with being run around on grass so he'd need to be on the slabs to be able to ride along on Lightning, I can do without a trip to A&E with a cut head to be honest!
One final point to make. If you decide to purchase this ride-on for your toddler be aware that the seat lifts up and this becomes a hiding place for just about anything that will fit. Just this week we've found the remote control, my phone, one of David's shoes, his training cup and numerous toys jammed inside the seat - we know now that if anything is missing around the house we should look inside this toy before searching the place as it'll probably be here! Quite annoying, but other than gluing the seat down I can't think of a way round it!
Overall I would completely recommend this ride-on to anyone who is currently in the market to buy one. It's not particularly unisex, the design suiting boys much more than girls in my opinion, but if your little girl is a fan of the Cars characters then I don't see why they wouldn't love this - after all it's us parents who have the gender hang ups, not the kids! The current RRP is £35, which is about right for a toy of this quality (and the fact that it's a movie tie-in) - in hindsight I'd have had no qualms about paying this as David loves it and despite a gigantic toy box filled with toys of all descriptions this is definitely his favourite.