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Unbelievable RC

Hot Wheels RC Stealth Rides - Racing Car

September 2010
hot wheels stealth rides

Street Price: $24.99 US
Manufacturer: Mattel
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 8
Our recommended age range: 6-12
Primary use: Indoor
Top speed: n/a
Radio: Infrared
Includes:

  • Assembled car
  • Controller/charger/holder
  • 3 spare batteries
  • Instructions
Requires:
  • Just a driver!

Initial Impressions

I've heard about the Hot Wheels RC Steath Rides coming for months and was anxious for their release, so when I finally saw them show up in a store, I felt like I had hit the jackpot. They present a very interesting, completely new & unique concept, where the car itself collapses and folds up, and then fits into a pretty flat controller. Given the small size and dramatic transformation act, I was a little worried about durability right from the start, and that the transformation mechanism might be a little tricky, or sticky. The $25 price tag on such a small vehicle shocked me, as did the fact that the main picture right smack in the middle of the package showed a car that was missing a screw! A lot of potential for success here, and a lot of potential for failure. Let's see how it pans out.

Testing

The Hot Wheels Stealth Rides Racing Car comes out of the box fully ready to run. There is no charging, no battery installation, no work or wait whatsoever. You flip a switch on the car, do the same on the controller, and go. I wish there was a way for all RCs to be like this! As soon as I saw that the car would run, though, I took a detour to investigate the whole folding/transforming setup, as that's the real innovative feature of the Stealth Rides. What happens is that the roof & windows of the car collapses downward into the body, and the sides of the car, with the wheels & tires, rotate outward to create sort of a car pancake, as if it had been stepped on. To do this transformation from running to storage mode, you do have to pick the car up, but then it's a pretty simple squeeze between the thumb & index finger, and a complex set of levers & links on the back of the car makes sure everything lines up right. When flat, if fits conveniently into a large slot-like pouch in the lightweight controller, and the combination of the two is about the size of a thick touch-screen mobile phone.

The really cool action of the Hot Wheels Stealth Rides car comes when you want to unfold the it and drive . You just slide it out, put it on the ground, all completely flat, and push a concealed button on the rear window. The whole thing snaps together into running form in a small fraction of a second, fast as a mousetrap, but without the danger & pain. I transformed the car between the two modes countless times, and it worked smoothly every time.

Alright, driving time. Because the sides of the car flip outward, there are no traditional axles going through the car. The front wheels don't steer, either. Instead, there is one motor in each side pod, each driving one rear wheel. It's a "skid steer" arrangement, where if you want to turn, you just make one motor go at a time, or even run them in opposite directions to spin in place. It works well with the Hot Wheels Stealth Rides car, with soft rubber tires at the rear giving good consistent traction, and spring suspension on the front wheels allowing the car to rotate without bouncing or skipping noticeably.

Top speed is modest, but liveable for the size of the car. The main thing you have to watch out for is the surface you're driving on. The car is very low to the ground, so it needs a smooth surface, otherwise the chassis can get caught on things.

Video

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

Conclusion

The Hot Wheels RC Stealth Rides Racing Car, in addition to being a mouthful to say, is one cool toy. It's a completely unique concept, but it makes sense, and it's very well executed. There are only two things that I don't like about this product. First, it uses "AG13" or "LR44" button-cell batteries. These are the size of a vitamin supplement tablet and are definitely not as common as something like a AAA cell. Fortunately they are available in various places, as they're used in some watches, keychain flashlights, and other small devices. They're also incredibly cheap, like this deal for 50 LR44 batteries for $8, and the car comes with one spare set of three for free. For longer runtime per battery, you can splurge a little on silver oxide "SR44" batteries . The one other thing I'm not entirely happy about is the price of the car. At $25 US, it feels like you're getting a physically small return on your investment, even though the car performs great for its size. Even with these strikes against it, I still give the Hot Wheels RC Stealth Rides Racing Car a solid "A" rating for ingenuity & good old fashioned fun.

If you like this one, also check out the even more unique tank-style Hot Wheels RC Stealth Rides Power Tread vehicle!

A

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