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I actually bought an original Radio Flyer Ranger Wagon from America quite a few years ago, but the one I have doesn't have the back panel or the lap strap, which both seem to be a new addition. Other than that, the model is exactly the same and the basic structure and design hasn't changed.
When I bought it, it reminded me of a sort of 1950s kid's soap box type car - the boxed sides with a big logo down the side and the big wheels etc. But it has now been very much updated from those basic designs of yesteryear.
For a start, the actual body is made from one piece of metal with rolled seams, which means that there are no ragged or rough edges to catch yourself (or your children) on. In addition it is then coated with a nice red paint to provide some protection from the elements. The body is in the form of a sort of flat tray with small sides (4 inches deep), making it ideal to carry things.
Underneath you have a good solid undercarriage which carries the wheels. The wheels themselves have a rubber rim and are quite big (7 inch diameter) which means they are ideal across rough terrain. But they are also quite narrow, which is ok for a hard surface, but not always ideal across a softer surface such as a sandy beach, where you can find it a little tough going to pull along. Whilst the back wheels are fixed and are not turnable, the front wheels are turnable around a central pivot. The good aspect of the design here is that you have a central handle attached to the front wheels which you can use to steer the wheels as you pull it along. But as a little safety feature, the turning radius of the pivot is limited, meaning that you can't turn it to too sharp an angle so as to tip you kiddies out. A nice finishing touch is the moulded T piece on the end of the handle making it easier to grip. I've also found that the handle is long enough to make it easy to drag the wagon along without having to stoop down, and it is also pivoted at the wheel end to ensure that it caters for all heights.
In terms of longevity, we've left this wagon out in all sorts of weather through the years, and then we've also had long periods where it has been stored away. One of the things that is a bit of an issue is that there are no real drainage holes on the tray, and hence there are times when you find it full of rain water or damp leaves. Now the paint of the tray is quite tough, but it will get scratched and chipped over time (kids will be kids!!) and hence, the water gets to the metal and corrosion starts. It's not a rapid process because the metal is quite resistant, but it does happen slowly over a period of a few years and you'll notice that the paint may start to flake. Eventually I just wire-brushed it all off and then coated it again in red Hammerite paint, which gave the wagon a new lease of life and has lasted again for a few more years.
In summary, the kids love this wagon and have had endless hours of fun racing along in it. Equally, I have also found it to be very useful to carry things around the garden, and it did prove to be invaluable when we moved house and used it to carry some of the heavy boxes and furniture out to the truck. So for usefulness and utility, I would give it a 5 star recommendation. But the paint issue and having no drain holes is a slight, but minor concern. Ideally, I would only knock half a star off for that, but since I can't, I'll round off at a 4 star recommendation.
Age level 9 months -12 years
This is one of those toys we really splashed out on at the time and got for my sons second birthday. He hated prams anyway so we never spent money buying a fancy one, and at two was getting a bit old for a pushchair anyway. It came in really handy when the second child was born. I used a sling to carry him when he was younger, but by 9 months he could sit up in the back and his brother ride in the front. Everyone made jokes about our version of a double pram. Its really brilliant at the zoo as they can both fit in and picnic lunches too. I can even let the dog pull it if I'm having a bad day but still want to get them out to the park for a bit.
But even when the children are too old to be pulled, it's great fun as a down hill racer and the older children love it. They also have fun hauling stuff around in it, like bonfire wood. It is very sturdy and can even move some furniture. It can also be pulled behind a bike or even a small quad.
The wagon is almost impossible to break but will collect water and rust if left outdoors too long. The only other drawback is there are no brakes so downhill racing needs to be kept to a traffic free area, and even then may cause bumps and bruises.