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Unbelievable RC

Fast Lane 1:8th scale RC Pro-Kart

October 2011
rc

Street Price: $19.99 US
Manufacturer: PlayMind Ltd.
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 8
Our recommended age range: 5-7
Primary use: Outdoors
Top speed: Not tested
Radio: 27mhz (red car)
Includes:

  • Assembled vehicle
  • Controller
  • Instructions
Requires:
  • 4x AAA batteries for the kart
  • 9V battery for the controller

Initial Impressions

The Fast Lane RC Pro-Kart really stands out because you almost never see RC go karts, even though a lot of kids out there would really love to drive one some day (at least a real one). This model is a little under 11 inches long and has a lot of detail, including the engine, muffler, radiator, rear disc brake, fuel tank, and of course the driver. The design of the chassis is really clever, as at first glance it's tough to see where all of the RC stuff would even go. As it turns out, the electronics are in a small flat space under the driver's seat, the electric motor and transmission is actually hidden away inside the scale-looking engine, and the steering motor ("servo") is hidden inside the fuel tank. What about the batteries? The kart uses small AAA batteries, and they go inside the cowling on the sides of the vehicle, 2 on each side. The standout feature of this vehicle is that the driver's arms are jointed at the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, and they actually move, along with the steering wheel, when the car is turning. This adds a huge splash of realism, as it almost looks like the driver is really alive and piloting the kart. His head doesn't turn on its own, I'm afraid, but you can pose it yourself.

 

Testing

The Fast Lane RC Pro-Kart isn't particularly speedy. It moves more like a beginner-level amusement park go-kart than a professional racing kart. It's not too slow to be any fun, just not what I would have hoped for. The car has a pivoting rear axle for a little bit of suspension action, so the ride is pretty smooth for such a low-slung vehicle. The slick tires are far apart and made of real rubber, so the handling is pretty decent. I had some troubles with radio glitching, though, where as I drove along the vehicle would stutter repeatedly like it was losing power or radio contact for a tiny fraction of a second and then coming back to life. In the video you can see this happening -- the driver's apparently shaky arms are the giveaway. Keeping the radio really close to the kart and driving in a completely different place didn't solve the problem.

Video

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

Conclusion

I give the Fast Lane RC Pro-Kart a passing grade. It's awesome to look at and has a very clever design, and the animated driver figure is a really nice touch. The performance is really hindered, though, by the use of a really small motor and small batteries hidden away to enhance the scale appearance of the vehicle. The weak radio was a bit of a drag, too. I would say to ignore the recommended age and pair the RC Pro Kart up with a younger kid (or two -- the blue version is on a different radio frequency), more in the 5 to 7 year age range where less speed is more tolerable and also prudent (to reduce crash damage).

C+

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