Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Chuggington Championship Deluxe

£29.99 from Toys R Us.

The Trial of Chuggington Championship Deluxe

The Chuggington Championship Deluxe is accused of raising hopes, dashing dreams and generally being a not very good toy. It is hereby sentenced to--

Defence: Hang on a minute, we haven't had the trial part yet! Chuggington Champ... Can we just call it CCD? The full name is a bit of a moutful.

Prosecution: Agreed. It'd be impossible to fit the full title on a letter to Santa. Yet another crime it is guilty of!

D: Well, if we're going to get that petty...

P: Hey, I was perfectly happy to sit back and skip straight to the sentencing. If you're going to insist I do work... Look, I don't need to 'get that petty' to ensure this toy remains on the shop shelves of Toys R Us and not in the trolleys of the good hard-working people of this land. CCD's crimes are numerous and severe. Is it really necessary to highlight them all?

D: That would generally be what trials are for. That way the defendant gets a chance to, you know, defend himself.

P: Fine, fine. We'll start at the beginning: construction. The packaging states that the track is 'easy' to snap together. This is a lie. Almost every single piece of track was a complete nightmare to click into place with the next one!

D: Yes, some of the parts are a bit tricky, but it does clearly state that an adult is needed to assemble it. Since the track isn't flat, on the whole, it needs good strong connections to ensure the train doesn't fall off as it goes round the track. Those pieces which are flat to the ground, are easy to snap together and separate again.

P: This just brings up my next crime: the CCD is HUGE!

D: You get a lot for your money. How is this a bad thing?

P: Where are you supposed to store it?

D: You're putting it away already? Come on, give it a chance!

P: No one, besides those with their own TARDIS, has the space to have this toy out in a room all the time. As you pointed out the track is firmly stuck together and a nightmare to separate to put back into the box! Even if you do somehow return it to individual pieces, then getting it back into the box for storage is like a packing a car for a family holiday! It just won't all go!

D: But it all came out of the box, so logic says...

P: You'll agree, though, that storage is an issue.

D: Would you believe me if I said that the toy is so much fun that children would want to play with it constantly and therefore storing away unnecessary? I'll assume from that look on your face that you wouldn't.

P: Once the track has been set up, the crimes continue. Would you care to describe the general principle for the court?

D: I'd be delighted! It really is such a fun toy. It's a bit like a Hot Wheels track, except for trains.  The train drops down the track from the starting line, then with the help of a child cranking a handle--

P: Far be it from me to interrupt, but you missed out setting Vee.  As you'll recall from the television show, Vee is the depot announcer and in the CCD represented by a small piece of blue plastic.

D: Fine. Vee sits on a junction and controls whether the train continues to go round the track or slides onto the winner's track at the end of the race. To set how many laps the trains need to do before proceeding to the finish, you turn her.

Vee located at the very bottom left.

P: Would you care to illuminate the court as to whether you rotate her clockwise or anticlockwise?

D: Um.

P: Well?

D: Okay, so there's a slight mistake in the instructions regarding which way, but it's a minor point and you obviously figured it out quickly by yourself.

P: Please continue.

D: So the train moves into the station and as you crank the handle, the train shoots up the...shoots up the track, through the sawmill...to...

A likely place that the train will get stuck,

P: Why are you stopping? Expecting me to object to something? I can do it if you like.

D: Maybe you'd better.

P: Objection! The odds of the train 'shooting' from the station further along the track are very low indeed. If you're lucky enough for the train not to get stuck in the station, then it'll likely not be able to get all the way up the slope and fall back to the sawmill. It takes a lot of strength and skill to get the train to go all the way.

D: It can be done, though!

The Handle of Doom.
P: What's this on the box? '3+' Is a 3 year old going to be able to accomplish this? I think you'll find not. I think you'll find that the person doing all the cranking is going to be Dad while the children sit and watch. The cranking takes so much effort that even a father can't do it and watch the trains go round the track.

As someone who's tested this equipment himself, it's worth nothing that I have never been able to get two trains to go through the station one after each other, meaning I've never been able to try the 'racing' game option.

Oh, and I almost forgot: the cranking handle comes off very easily indeed.

Assuming you get 2 trains through the station, one takes the outer track
& changes the points so the one following goes along the inner track.
D: But the trains are great! Good quality die-cast metal!

P: I will concede this point. The actual trains are very nice. But you don't expect people to pay £45 for two trains now, do you?

D: Nice trains.

P: Even nice trains should not cost £22.50 a piece.

D: I'll point out that the set is currently on offer at Toys R Us for the bargain price of £29.99.

P: A price reduction which does not change any of the arguments I've made thus far. Do you have anything else to say in defence of your client before summary and our esteemed judge passes his verdict?

D: I think you've managed to completely destroy my case, and you obviously love the sound of your own voice, so you can finish off by yourself. I'll see you in the bar shortly.

P: Mine's a pint.

D: You expect me to lose the case and buy you a drink?

P: That was the bet, wasn't it?

D: Isn't betting on cases illegal or something?

P: Pffft. What would I know?

D: Fair enough. Catch you shortly.

P: In summary, the CCD offers so much to a child. It comes in a big box with a big price tag. It will cover a large portion of your living room and make you think, for a fleeting moment, that you got your money's worth. Unfortunately the hand-powered train-firing mechanism is highly flawed. It is not often with a toy that I would recommend that a battery-powered motor be added, but in this case it would make for a much better toy. The mechanism is already very noisy, and couldn't possibly be made more noisy with a motor present.

At its size and cost, the CCD would likely form the centrepiece of a child's Christmas present pile. The one present you do not want to see disappoint on Christmas morning is The Big One.

Your Honour, I rest my case.

Chuggington Championship Deluxe, you have been found guilty on all charges. Your sentence, to be carried out immediately, is to be taken from this place to face every toy everywhere's greatest fear. You have my sympathies, but you brought this upon yourself...

RAR! Baby eat toy! Dribble dribble chew dribble...

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