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Unbelievable RC

Air Hogs Cars 2 Lightning McQueen RC Micro

October 2011
air hogs lightning mcqueen micro rc

Street Price: $24.99 US
Manufacturer: Tomy/Takara for Spinmaster
Mfr's recommended min. age: 4+
Our recommended age range: 5+
Primary use: Indoors
Top speed: approx. 3 mph
Runtime per charge: 7-10 mins.
Controller: Infrared
Includes:

  • Assembled car
  • Controller / charger
  • Instructions
Requires:
  • 4x AAA batteries

Initial Impressions

Well, let's see, I've reviewed Air Hogs Cars 2 RC cars in roughly 1/12th scale, 1/24th scale, 1/32nd scale, and 1/43rd scale. Why stop there? It looks like until these things are so small that they require a microscope to drive them, the size will just keep shrinking. This Air Hogs RC Micro Lightning McQueen is what's traditionally referred to as 1/64th scale, if not a little less, at 2" from tip to tip. Tow Mater, Finn McMissile, and Francesco Bernoulli versions are also available, and they're all in extra-cartoony proportions with oversized rear tires. The car's battery is rechargeable and non-replaceable, getting a full charge from the controller in 5 minutes or less. They're using the trademark modern Air Hogs hassle-free charge port style that presses on very easily and works properly whichever direction you put it together.

Testing

The Air Hogs Micro Lightning McQueen is a pretty slow RC when you drive it around normally. To match this slow speed nicely, though, it has an extremely tight turning radius, so you can easily drive the car around in an exceptionally small space. You can set up a racing or obstacle course even on a modest-sized desk. It has 4-direction control, and the tires are made of a pretty grippy rubber, so you can get out of most bad situations without having to grab the car. Because it's a street-style car and so tiny, of course it wants to only run on hard surfaces, no carpet or dirt, but it does have enough power to scale some inclines.

So far, so good. It gets a lot better, though. There's a slot on the back of the car where you can place a coin. With that extra weight, the car will actually pop a long wheelie every time you drive forward! I found that an American penny is just slightly on the light side, so you need to perch it as high up in the slot as possible to keep the center of gravity up high. Sometimes it helps to also drive in reverse briefly and then immediately go forward to help the front end pop up. An American nickel has so much weight that the wheelies just won't stop. With one of those you'll want to put it down as low in the slot as it'll go. The problem with popping wheelies all the time is that you can't steer when going forward, but you can still turn in reverse, albeit slowly.

I've purposely saved the best for last here. There's one more feature, and it's an overwhelming one. On the top of the controller is an additional button, referred to as "turbo" in the instruction sheet. This same button is used to start up the battery charging circuit when you connect the car to it. When you're just driving around, though, this button does exactly what its name suggests, and in a big, big way. Speed almost immediately goes from a casual crawl that makes you want to look at the car up close, to a blazing streak of hot-rodded velocity that makes you take a big step back. I love it. It's "turbo" done right. It's so fast that it can sometimes pop a brief wheelie without any counterweight. It's so fast that if you try to turn at full speed on a god smooth surface, the G-forces can be so strong that the car will roll over. It's so fast that if the car rolls onto its side and gets stuck, just holding turbo for a few seconds can cauze such violent vibrations that the car will flip back onto its wheels. It's so fast that if you don't keep dust cleaned off the wheels for maximum traction, it can spin out and do donuts. Awesome.

Video

(Click a video a second time to view it larger in a new window.)

Conclusion

What a great car. It looks cool, it's simple to use, it gives you great control in small spaces, and it has a great "turbo" speed to cover longer distances very quickly. It also runs up to twice as long on a charge as it takes to charge it in the first place, which gives you an almost unheard-of fun ratio. This is a great toy. Its only noteworthy limitations are that it can only be used indoors or in a well shaded area outside due to the infrared control, and it won't go on carpet.

A+

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