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My son loves cars so when we came across this launcher we decided to purchase it for his birthday. The launcher itself is a large case that has a carry handle so that little one can transport it to where ever they would like to play easily. This toy can hold up to ten cars at a time each with its very own bay to park in. It is a very large toy, and compared to my youngest son it looks massive. My children find it is very light so they are able to carry it around easily, with it still be a substantial size to make it interesting for them.
With the set you also receive a Lightning McQueen car to be used in the play set, however any normal die cast car can be used in this launcher. The car you receive is actually made out of plastic, but this does not affect play at all. As my son has a number of cars already he was able to use them with this set, including the smaller Disney store versions he owns from his Mack carry case. We have never had a problem with any of the usual sized cars not fitting inside this toy, however we did find the smaller cars toons vehicles are useless, as a lot of them are too tall to fit in correctly. The original cars movie vehicles are also compatible with this set so there are a large range of options when buying accessories for it.
The launcher is made of really thick plastic so is very durable while in play. There are shutters at the front of the launcher to store the cars while carrying it around, and the launch buttons them self are located at the top of the toy. It is red in colour which so many of the Cars merchandise are to reflect the connection with lighting McQueen. There is no way that it would not be instantly recognised as the Pixar Cars merchandise it is really in your face.
My sons love pushing their cars across the floor as far as possible, so to have something that can do this for them, it seemed to amaze them. It is a very simple idea you simply load the cars into each bay. The five bays on the left side are operated by one button, while the five on the right are operated by a second button. Then you simply press a large button to pull them back against the launcher, and then press a second button that releases them. This sends the cars flying out of the launcher rolling across the floor.
The buttons are all very easy to press, and large so they are very easy to locate. There were instructions with this set but to be honest it is really easy to figure out, so we did not need to use them. The cars are pushed out with some power, and this means they travel a fair distance across the floor. We do find this works a lot better on wooden flooring, so for this reason my children tend to use it in the kitchen or their bedroom for maximum results. It does work on carpeted flooring, but the cars do not travel as far making it less exciting.
Another thing I love about this sets is the different country's flags are brought into the launcher, as with most other Cars 2 products. On the front of the bays are different flags including the British flag, Italian flag and the American flag. My son likes to match the corresponding engines into the correct bays by using these as a guide so he is learning while he is playing without even noticing. The flags are repeated in the bays, but to be honest any sort of educational value is good for me. There are also numbers written across the bays so that little one can have a little more help matching the corresponding cars.
The cars can be stored in this set as there are shutters at the front of the toy that clip over, and lock the cars in place. This makes the toy fantastic for packing up, and taking out with us so my son has something to keep him occupied while we visit family. Again we find that these are very easy to close over, and open again so my children are able to play independently.
I did think that it may become a little boring as it is the same thing over and over again. You load the cars; press the buttons for them to shoot off that is all this toy has to offer. In fact I have found that this is a huge hit with all of my children, and visiting children. The age recommendation is four years plus, but my youngest son who is two can fully operate it without any problems. There are no small parts to hurt little one, but I am not sure my son would know what to do if it had not been for his elder brother playing with him. Also my nephew who is a little older at nine can still enjoy playing with this. He does become bored a lot quicker than younger children, but he still plays with it for a fair amount of time.
The handle to carry the toy around is fantastic, it means the set can be picked up and moved at anytime. It is also great that you can store the cars inside the launcher so when my children want to play with it next it is ready to go. The whole set is so simple to use, with large bays the cars can be loaded very easily, and they always shoot out the other side with no problem. The whole set has a flat bottom so it sits on the floor nice and steady. There are small ramps at the gate way to the launchers, which provide a little lift for the cars as they are fired out of the launcher.
This set receives a lot of play so is definitely earned its money's worth. I find it is not something that receives just five minutes play at a time; it actually receives use every day for half an hour to an hour at a time. The task of loading all the cars up correctly into the bays, sorting the buttons and then firing them can take a few minutes at a time, so this repeated over and over again really holds their concentration.
It helps promote fine motor skills with all the fiddly parts that need set up for this launcher to work. We find it also introduces flags, countries and numbers as little one counts how many cars they are loading, and where they are from.
Although you only receive one plastic car with the launcher itself, I feel you do not need to go out to buy lots of accessories. Yes it is a lot more fun with all ten places filled, but it can be used just as much with one vehicle. Extra cars can cost £5 a time so not cheap at all but they do help make this launcher a little more interesting. My son finds that his regular cars like hot wheels also fit inside this launcher. As long as they are around the same size as the compatible Disney cars die casts then it's safe to say they will work in here. It is also fantastic for role play, my sons usually dream up something that includes a crash, but they make up stories using this launcher all the same.
As there are two different launch sections for five cars on the right, and five on the left my son thinks it is brilliant he can race five cars at a time while the others are held back. My eldest son likes to load all of the cars, and press the left button to release the cars from the left side. He then loads the left side back up, but then shoots the cars from the right side. Just this simple concept of two different launchers in the one set really seems to please him.
Overall I would highly recommend this toy, as out of all the Cars products we own this is probably the most used. There are a number of features that little one can involve them with, and it is a really sturdy toy. It seems to appeal to a large age range of children, and although it is a very simple concept it mages to hold little ones attention. It does have some educational purposes, but mainly it promotes good honest fun for children of all ages. It is well made to last rough play from children, and after months of use we have yet to find one single fault with it. It is available at all major toy stores retailing at around £25; however do shop around as we only paid around £12 for this on sale at Amazon.