Monday, 5 December 2011

Toyologist Review: GX Buggy

£34.99 from Toys R Us.

BBC2 at 6pm used to be home to all the good stuff. Yes, it was annoying if you worked and got home too late, but I was at high school (or university) so this wasn't a problem (except for lab days). Star Trek, Buffy, The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, Quantum Leap, Sliders, the Fresh Prince (actually, I hated the Fresh Prince and its endless repeats), ...

Everyone would rush home and ensure evening meals were cooked & ready for a sit down at 6pm, where you would remain (on a good night) for 90 minutes watching quality television.

I don't know where it all started to go wrong. Maybe it was when BBC2 stuck Voyager on Sunday instead of a weekday slot. Or possibly when Channel 4 got Angel and the term 'Channel 4 edit' was coined. Angel would walk into a room full of bad guys. Instantly - as though someone had hacked at the film reel with a machete - Angel would leave the room, bad guys all on the floor.

Some shows just weren't meant for 6pm.

Of course then the BBC lost the Simpsons and it was all downhill from there. No more Buffy, no more Trek. Even Robot Wars disappeared, off to Channel 5.

Remember when Jeremy Clarkson hosted it? Yeah, that series was terrible. All the good robots, the highly weaponised fighting machines, were knocked out by the maneuverability challenges early on, so when it got to the Big Fight at the end all that were left were... Well, not good ones.

Then Craig Charles took over. We had Philipa Forrester in a corset, the early rounds were thrown out in favour of pure battles, and robots like Razer and Hypno-Disc came to the fore.

In the event of a tie, the battles were judged on damage, control, style and aggression. Control was very important when facing some of the big guns. Once they had hold of you, you were in serious trouble. The amount of people who, at the start of the battle, drove straight forward into the waiting pincer of Razer... Idiots.

Speaking of control...

The latest item out of the Toyology box is the GX Buggy from Tomy. First thing you have to do after extracting the car from its packaging is sit and wait for 20 minutes while it charges (from which you get 10 minutes driving time) from the box it comes with, which drove my sons insane. You know how annoying it is when you buy a new mobile phone and have to sit and watch it charge for hours before you can use it? Imagine that, but with the patience (or lack of) of two young brothers. I don't think it would have added much to the weight of the car to simply stick a battery into the car to allow for instant play.

Charging the car is a fiddly procedure. You have to get round the plastic hoop and the bodywork to plug in underneath. You can remove the bodywork, but not the hoop, and for the life of me can't see why the socket couldn't simply have been placed somewhere more easy to access.

The red & white body work is made of a thin, cheap piece of plastic. This will likely crack over time. Not that it actually does anything other than make the car look pretty (it works perfectly well without it attached) but it's something worth being aware of.

The next phase in preparation is to 'pair' it to ensure your controller controls your car and no one else's. This only take a minute, but drags out the time before you can play even further. It does, however, allow a host of cars to be used at once, should the occasion occur.

Eventually we got there and the boys began to play.  Other than in the middle of the road, there isn't really a large outside paved area around our house where we could really put the car through its paces. There're the parks and our garden, but they're grassy and currently constantly wet so we didn't even try to use it there. So we were stuck using it inside.

The car is very powerful and sped off wildly, crashing into...well, lots of things since it self-righted and carried on crashing into other things while we attempted to wrestle with the remote. It's a good thing this isn't petrol-powered or there'd very quickly be some explosive results.

Not mentioned specifically in the instructions, the GX is set to automatically move forward without anyone touching the remote (the 'forward' control on the remote is for extra speed). So as soon as you turn the car on you have to activate the breaks on the controller to stop it spinning away.

The box quotes the car capable of speeds of 22 km/h and I can quite believe it - keeping the car in frame while trying to film it was incredibly difficult, hence why I just move it back and too in the video. The GX has a switch on the bottom to change from 'slow' to 'fast' but it didn't appear to make much difference at all. Add 'fast' to 'hard to control' and you have a disaster - especially indoors. The boys found their attempts to try and drive it futile and quickly gave up.

Always one for second chances, I had another go later. It took a lot of practice and patience but eventually I came close to mastering basic controls. It's very sensitive and a slight movement of your finger on the trigger will send it speeding off a cliff.

I offered my boys lessons, but they'd lost interest.

The remote is a bit of a strange one. I was in a conundrum as to how to hold it. Holding it like a gun was most comfortable, but this put the steering 'wheel' at an odd angle. Holding with the steering wheel horizontal was better for that purpose, but then it was awkward to hold.

The box does state the GX is suitable for use indoors. And it is, however a large amount of space is essential. Our living room was not large enough, hence all the crashing. Outdoors would be better, but I worry about what uneven ground would do to the foam tyres. Something like a school hall would be best, allowing plenty of space to control it properly and thus some chance of achieving some of the stunts the car is designed to do.

The Robot Wars arena would be excellent, assuming they extinguished the flame pit and covered the pit.

My favourite part of the car is the srimech (aka the 'self-righting mechanism' aka 'ring of plastic'). For something so incredibly simple, it works amazingly well. With a speedy, uncontrollable car such as this, its going to spend a fair amount of its time upside down and when it does... ta da! Instantly back on its wheels and off again.

If you have the space and the patience to practice then this quite a good car. There's an age of 8+ on the box and I definitely wouldn't give it to anyone younger than this. Do not buy the GX if you don't have a good sized area where you can drive it. If you have the space and an older child willing to learn to control it then it might be worth buying, but I'd definitely look at alternatives first.

Other Toyology reviews can by found in the Toys R Us Toy Box on Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog. A great read. I will definitely be back.
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