Product Type: Chicco Toy Car
Newest Review: ... the car goes. The only trouble is that we have a job keeping it away from my five year old daughter, who also loves mucking around w... more
Chicco score a scoop with Johnny Coupe
Chicco Johnny Coupe Remote Control Illuminating Toy
Member Name: Hishyeness
Chicco Johnny Coupe Remote Control Illuminating Toy
Advantages: Sturdy, practical and fun-looking design. Good range and excellent durability.
Disadvantages: Eats through batteries relatively quickly.
Having generous aunties and uncles, and two complete sets of doting grandparents means that my son and daughter tend to do quite well out of Christmas. As their Dad, it leaves me with the unenviable task of wrestling with the cleverly conceived packaging, tortuous twist ties and fiendish fasteners that the toy manufacturers seem determined to inflict on unsuspecting parents. It makes for hard work on Christmas day, making sure that the new additions to their burgeoning empire of toys are all batteried up and in correct working order.
The upshot of all this is that I have become a reluctant expert in what constitutes a good, durable, and well designed toy with a decent attention-grabbing shelf-life. As my 16 month old son gleefully ripped apart the exquisitely wrapped box (I keep telling my mother that intricately tied ribbons and bows are wasted on the kids, but she still insists...), Chicco's red remote-controlled Johnny Coupe (looking suspiciously like Lightning McQueen from Pixar's "Cars") fell under my cynical gaze.
Once I got past the overenthusiastic packaging, my first impressions were very positive. The box clearly labels the product as suitable for ages two plus, so at first, it looked like it was going to be too "old" for my toddler, but he's a capable little lad, and got the hang of it pretty quickly. From a safety perspective, Johnny easily passes parental muster. There are no loose parts that can be pulled off, no sharp edges or protruding bits (other than the spoiler, which doubles as a carry handle), and perhaps most importantly, the radio control unit has no external aerial.
The remote control unit consists of four simple buttons - forward, reverse, left and right, each clearly marked with a directional arrow - and thoughtfully, you only have to press one at a time. For instance, we have similar toys that require the forward and left buttons to pressed together simultaneously to make the car turn, but the left arrow is all you need to move the car in that direction. The unit takes three AAA batteries, which are housed in a sticker-decorated and cross-head screw-secured compartment immediately under the controls.
However, the real beauty of this toy is in the way the remote is stored. Anyone with kids will know how hard it is to get them to keep toys with multiple parts together so that each bit is around when they want to play with it. My son also has Tomy's remote controlled Thomas the Tank Engine, and we are forever hunting for the remote - which he likes posting in obscure and interesting places. Johnny is different. His remote actually doubles as the rear window and slots easily and securely into place, so there is an intuitive place to store it once play is finished.
The car is finished in a glossy red hard plastic with soft plastic "body-coloured" bumpers. The faux "air intake" on the bonnet doubles as a nose, the "radiator" as a mouth, and the "badge" as a tongue. The wide open, bright eyes and eyebrows on the front windscreen complete a very friendly and fun looking face. The wheels have chrome "alloy" inserts and the hard black plastic tyres have a rubber tread running down the middle of them. The battery compartment (which takes four AA batteries and is secured by a cross-head screw), discreet on/off switch, and a dial for wheel alignment are located on the flat, black bottom of the car. The design is nicely finished off by opaque LED headlights, which glow green when the car moves forward (or left and right) and tail-lights which glow red when it reverses.
GO JOHNNY GO
The rubber treads give the car excellent traction on both smooth and carpeted floors, although it does struggle a bit with deep pile carpets. I would estimate the maximum operating distance (depending on line of sight) to be around 15 to 20 feet, after which, radio reception is a bit patchy. Johnny cracks on at a fair clip, enough to give a decent illusion of speed, but not so fast as to cause any damage when it hits something. This is a car best suited to the ground, and isn't going to go very far if you try and jump it off a ramp (we tried - purely for testing purposes obviously).
My son absolutely adores this toy and has been repeatedly playing with it, almost to the exclusion of anything else, for the best part of a week - both with the remote (under my supervision) and also with the car (in "off" position) on his own. When we play together, I am not sure he has the directional arrows sussed, but he knows that if he presses one of the buttons, the car goes. The only trouble is that we have a job keeping it away from my five year old daughter, who also loves mucking around with it.
JOHNNY BE GOOD...
Chicco's Johnny Coupe has proved to be an instant hit. It's well worth its £25 RRP and can be found cheaper on-line with a little leg work. It is ideal as a first remote control car for a toddler, and although my 16 month old is having oodles of fun with it, for a child to get the most out of it, the suggested two year plus age range is probably about right. The only real downside is that it eats through its seven assorted batteries fairly quickly - after four days of fairly heavy use, we have already had to replace a set.
Also, the packaging (did I mention it was a pain to release the car and remote from?) doesn't mention how many batteries you need, so it was a combination of luck and previous Christmas experience that we had the right batteries around. In that short time, Johnny has already been dropped numerous times, driven off the top of the stairs, stepped on, sat on, and enthusiastically driven at speed into walls - and apart from a few scuffs on its hardy bumper - it just keeps on cruising.
© Hishyeness 2010
Summary: An excellent first remote control car for toddlers (2+)
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