Product Type: Flair Toy Car
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Tightrope Terror? Purchase at your Peril!
GX Racers Tightrope Terror Playset
Member Name: jo1976
GX Racers Tightrope Terror Playset
Date: 15/11/12, updated on 15/08/13 (60 review reads)
Advantages: It is possible to get the car to travel along the string
Disadvantages: Impossible for children to get this to work, inconsistent results, frustrating, poor quality
The premise of this set sounds really promising, as the (rather dated) packaging shows a small car whizzing along a narrow piece of string, which is up to three metres long. I was sure that my kids would love this, even if their enjoyment was only short lived. Like many of these kinds of car sets, the kit comes in a number of pieces and requires a bit of assembly although, fortunately, it contains nowhere near as many pieces as a typical Hot Wheels set, for instance. There is only one small die cast metal car provided, similar in proportions to a Hot Wheels vehicle, but with a central wheel section which is designed to fit on to the string and helps to propel the car along once a small rip cord has been pulled.
The main parts are the side towers which need to be slotted into the plastic bases. Frustratingly, once attached these bases can't be removed which does mean that the towers no longer fit neatly back into the box they came in. This is something that I find really frustrating as a parent, trying to keep everything neatly contained and tidy between uses. The remainder of the set up is fairly straightforward, with a couple of luminous plastic rods needing to be connected into place, although the positioning of the string along which a small car (supposedly) travels is a major complication.
The quality of the set overall is fairly cheap and unimpressive, making the full RRP seem pretty unrealistic. The instructions even advise that the bases need to be weighted down using heavy books! This does have something of a retro appeal, bringing back memories of a 1980's childhood spent using books as impromptu ramps for toy cars but, in all honesty, kids (and parents) nowadays expect something a little, well, better designed!
Having connected everything together and made good use of the Argos catalogue to keep the towers steady, my boys were very excited about seeing the car whizzing along. This excitement very quickly turned to disappointment, then frustration and ultimately boredom. Eventually, we did manage to get the car to travel across the string but only once my husband had taken charge of the process and after several failed attempts and lots of tears. Even then, the distances achieved were nowhere near the maximum string length of three metres.
The 'trick' to making this set work is to start with the towers very close together and, very gradually, begin to move them very slowly apart to lengthen the string track and, in turn, extend the distance across which the car travels. The other key principles are that the towers need to be absolutely level and the string itself needs to be completely taut. If there is any unevenness or slack in the string, the car will almost instantly topple straight off. The car also needs to be released instantly on to the string - the slightest of hesitation and the car will, again, simply fall straight off, making for some disappointed and frustrated children.
The set does work but it is so difficult to do and, even when positioned correctly, so inconsistent in the results achieved, there is no way that this can be done by a child anywhere near the minimum recommended age of five years. This requires the speed and steadiness of an adult realistically - not to mention the patience of a Saint! Needless to say, this set hasn't seen a great deal of action since its original purchase. There have been a few halfheated attempts to get this to work - my boys do like the idea of this set and seem to forget how inconsistent it is - but very quickly become frustrated by the lack of results.
Despite its high RRP, this set is frequently featured on Amazon's toy deals and can be purchased for as little as £5 on occasion. (The set is currently available for £7.50, as of November 2012.) Even at this low price, I can't recommend the set as it really isn't designed well enough for the children it is intended for. I'm having a pre-Christmas decluttering session and this set is off to the bin where it belongs!
Summary: A poorly designed play set which offers inconsistent results and is ultimately frustrating
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