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My son loves Disney cars so at Christmas a lot of his list was aimed around this brand. At the very top of this list was this drifter set, and he had been waiting patiently since he spotted the advert for Santa to bring it. On opening his present he was over the moon and we set out at putting it together right away. Since then it has remained one of his favourite toys.
The set can be built up in different ways to create different tracks which is one of my son's favourite features. At first he thought it was great it could be built into different shapes, but to be honest now he just sits with it in on round circle as the cars can go around and around without having to reset them. It comes in what seem hundreds of pieces with stickers to add, and all the pieces needing put together. It actually is extremely easy to click the pieces together and takes around ten minutes the first time, and then five minutes each time after you set the track up.
This set claims to be motorised but to be honest it is just a magnet system that is in play. The small cars have magnets on the bottom of them to help hold them to the track. There is a release pod so you can line all of the cars at the top of the slope, and with one push of a button the barrier is removed sending them flying down the track. As the track begins on a hill they build up speed, and the unusual twists and turns of the track mean the fly around it without any trouble.
The thing that we really love about this set is that once it is put together it actually stays together. We have so many different tracks, and we tend to find that not many can withstand rough play from my children without falling apart. Considering the amount of different pieces this set comes in I was very surprised that no matter how hard it is knocked or banged it still works perfectly. This can make it difficult to rebuild the track into different shapes as my son finds it difficult to unclick the pieces. We would rather have the set in one piece when it comes to racing, even if it makes it a little more difficult to swap and change the pieces around.
As there is the magnetic piece at the bottom of the cars it works well to hold the tiny cars on the track and make them fly around the curves with ease. This does not mean they are guaranteed to stay on the track the whole way round, and cars will fly off at corners. This is a blessing as I expect it would be rather boring if each and every car finished the race. My children think it is fantastic when the cars come crashing on to the floor and without these mishaps I expect it would be rather boring.
The cars are absolutely minute so you need to be careful they are stored somewhere safe. We have lost a number of the cars and need to hunt at the bottom of the toy box, so we now store them in a food container to keep them safe. Up to nine cars can be used in this set at once but you only receive one in the set. In my opinion you need at least two cars to really enjoy the track and personally my son likes to race five at a time as it makes it a lot more exciting.
There are a number of features for little one to play with while the set is being used. You can flick a switch which helps lighting find a shortcut through a small road at the side of the set. While my children do not use this each and every time it is something they enjoy. There are also spaces for the bad guys to sit and shoot the racing cars. Again without buying the extra micro drifters this is no use. My son does use them to store cars that are 'damaged' so are not taking part in the race, and they also act as boosts as the cars hit them rolling down the track.
As the cars speed down at a high speed thanks to the curves and bumps of the track the whole race is over in just a few seconds. My son finds this a little disappointing, but he enjoys lining them up at the starting line and lifting the barrier. Also as the cars speed down the track independently, and other than the few switches there is not a lot for little one to actually interact with. My son actually does not mind this, but I personally think this is the reason the set receives small bursts of play often rather than holding their attention for long periods. It is extremely well made the thick durable plastic makes it perfect for young boys who can often be rather boisterous with their toys. It has lasted since Christmas without any scratches or noticeable wear at all, which when you consider the huge amount of use it has received really is fantastic.
The one thing that gets to me is that only one micro drifter is provided and of course this is lightning McQueen himself. We were lucky that my son already owned a handful of other micro drifters which can be purchased separately. As you can imagine racing one car against it is rather boring as there is no one to compete against, and as the adverts show a number of cars racing it can be rather boring with the one car on its own. The cars are around £2.99 for a single packet but they come in a white packet so it is impossible to see who is inside without opening it. So you could end up with duplicates very easily. Luckily they are also available in packs of three from most major toy stores, and these sets have transparent casing so you can see who is hiding inside. At around £7 for three this is better value than buying separately, but as the race set is a little boring without them it is in my opinion a needed addition which adds to the cost of the set.
My son really loves this track, and while I would say it is very basic for the £30 retail price he enjoys playing with it. It receives a lot of use, but in short bursts of play rather than holding his attention for long periods. It is fantastic it can be built into different tracks as it makes it more interesting, but as it is made to stay together changing the track can be tricky even for a five year old to change around. You will need to purchase extra micro drifters for the set as I believe one car racing down on its own is just a little boring. It is very well made and has lasted rough play from both my five and two year old. It is recommended from three years plus which I think it correct, but for smaller children an adult will need to assemble and change the track. My two year old son (closer to three) can use it without any problems, but he has to get his older brother to make the track up for him. It is available at all major toy stores, and is currently on sale for £23 on Amazon which I think is a more reasonable price. No batteries are required as it works with a magnet system.