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This Nikko Vaporizr was a Christmas gift for my daughter who had asked Santa for a remote controlled car. We chose it because it looked robust, claimed to work on all kinds of ground and to be able to traverse water. It was also reasonably priced; £29.99 in Smyths, where the shop assistant assured us they had been flying off the shelves, (note - does not fly).
This was an attractive looking present to open on Christmas morning and was greeted with delight upon being unwrapped. Looks-wise it is a fun, chunky design, with something of the Beetle about it, despite the racing style stickers and huge tough looking wheels. I much preferred it to some of the more souped-up macho designs available. Ours is the blue and white design pictured, there's also a green one available.
In the box is: the car, remote control/transmitter, battery pack and charger, 9v battery and instruction booklet. The 9v battery is for the remote control. The booklet is fine, with lots of pictures and good explanations of how to use the controls. One quirk I noticed was that the instructions say the battery should be charged for 4 hours, but on the charger it says 5 hours, it also says it's important not to overcharge - we charge ours for 4 hours. There's an on-off switch on the underside of the carriage. There's a wire aerial at the back of the car which is floppy and can drag along the floor if not properly fixed in place; into a little plastic holder that makes it stick up. It can be tucked in instead, which is what we do, doesn't seem to have any effect on it's, erm, effectiveness.
The battery needs to be charged before the first use. The battery life isn't great. The first play lasted only around 20 minutes before it needed to be recharged and we've since had little more than half an hour out of it. The instructions say that the battery life increases with the first six charges; we haven't charged ours more than a handful of times as the weather this year has meant that we haven't had as many opportunities as we'd have liked to take it out. It's too big, (roughly 28 x 15 cm), to get much mileage out of indoors or in a small garden. We've played with ours at the local basketball court, park and go-kart track.
The remote control unit is nice and chunky for little hands. It has two small joystick style controls and a short stick-up aerial encased in hard plastic. The controls are simple enough for a young child to get to grips with. The basic manoeuvres are: forward, backwards, left turn forwards, right turn forwards, left turn backwards, left turn backwards, left spin and right spin. The controls are fairly intuitive and the response is excellent. It's maximum range seems to be about 20 metres.
It's fast and fun. It has been bashed, banged and flipped many times over and withstood it. It has been spun around in circles and launched through puddles. It has been repeatedly bumped into walls/kerbs/railings. It has attracted a crowd of admiring children all wishing they could have a go while my daughter showed off her skill at noisily spinning, bashing and flipping it over, making no attempt to get it to actually race around the track. It's done well on moderately rough ground, but will flip onto it's back if it goes too fast on rough ground. My daughter loves to make it do high speed spins. We haven't tested it in deep water, despite the claims on the box, I wouldn't want to risk breaking the motor, but it has charged through plenty of puddles with no problems.
It's a fiddle to remove the battery after it's run down; something best done by an adult. The body needs to be removed in order to place the battery inside. The aerial slots into a hole in the upper body and needs to be removed and re-slotted each time the battery is taken out and replaced again. It might be better if it was possible to charge the whole car, rather than remove and replace the battery each time, but as it's possible that the battery can be replaced if broken or run down, then I suppose the pack is more practical in the long term.
The Nikko Vaporisr would probably not be classed as a top of the range remote controlled vehicle, but factoring in durability, manoeuvrability and price, it's definitely a toy that gives excellent value for money.