Pros: Lots of fun, lap counter
Cons: Delicate cars, single setup
Santa brought several presents this year for all three kids to share. The Carrara Go Ferrari Challenge Race Car Set is definitely one of the favorite Christmas presents this year.
What You Get
Carrera Ferrari Challenge is a double track racing set that comes with two cars and two controllers. The track features a loop and measures 6 ½ ‘ by 2 1/2 ‘ and includes a lap counter. The set is on a 1:43 scale. Carrera Ferrari Challenge is part of the company's GO!!! series of slot cars and is recommended for racers ages 8 and up.
I must admit that I was not part of the set up crew; my husband was in charge of that. The set went together in a little less than an hour. H said it wasn't "that hard" but not something that you want to do all the time. The instructions amount to a picture of what to do, with no real description. Once assembled it is difficult to move, even just a few feet so plan ahead as to where you want to play with the set. Once set up it does withstand a reasonable amount of bumps without coming apart.
Each piece of track needs to be snapped together carefully and then connectors snapped onto the sides of the track to help keep the pieces together; quite the tedious process. The small figure eight at one side of the track needs risers snapped onto the bottom to create the clearance for the lower track. Additional risers need to be snapped on to support the loop as well. Guard rails are also provided and need to be snapped on to the edge of the track with small clips. While there is a lot to the track setup it the end it does provide a smooth, nearly seamless ride for the cars.
While I had my doubts about the popularity of a race car set in the house, the Carrera Ferrari Challenge became an instant hit with us all. We play,challenging each other to complete the most laps without the car coming off or race to finish a specific number of laps first. With the built in lap counter there can be no argument about what constitutes a lap.
There is more skill to slot car racing than I first imagined. The controller has two buttons. The plunger button on the top allows you to vary the speed of the car depending on how far you depress the button; push it in all the way and the cars run at 70% of the their maximum speed. The second trigger button is the power boost that pushes the cars to their maximum speed. You need to master both buttons to successfully navigate the track. The turns are tight and if you take them at even 70% of the maximum the cars will fly right off the track. And if you want to get around the loop you need to hit the turbo boost to get to over and keep it on the track. It takes some practice to get a good rhythm going that ensure the car stays on the track while attaining the maximum speed. You do need to take care to make sure the remote cords do not cross the track and get in the way of the cars.
I really like that Carrera Ferrari Challenge is a plug-in race car seat rather than battery operated. We get the same amount of power for each lap and don't have to worry about not clearing the loop because the batteries were wearing down. I am surprised at the number of race car sets that are now battery operated. I am glad we don't have to worry about batteries. Of course this does mean there is an extra cord to trip over and (at least in our house) an adult needs to plug in the set, but it is worth it for the steady power supply.
The cars themselves seem to be the most delicate part of the set. After only owning it for a week, we have already broken the tab that rides in the slot on one car. Fortunately a little super glue fixed the tab and the car is fine, but additional cars can be purchased for under $20. The contact brushes, which transfer the electricity form the rails on the track to the cars, do pick up a lot of dirt but are relatively easy to clean. The slot in the track also seems to pick up dirt but a can of air lets us blow out anything that seems to slow down the cars; we've only had to do than once in over a week.
My complaints are minor. First, the setup is static, you can't take the included pieces and make another setup, you have to buy more track. Since the set only comes with 6 ½ feet of track to begin with, I knew that if the kids enjoyed it we would have to buy more track eventually. If I understand the Carrera website correctly we can run up to 55' for track with the single power unit. While that is probably a lot more track than we will ever need, it is good to know that we can add on. Second, the guardrails are useless and are actually more of a hindrance. While they do make the track look authentic, they do nothing to keep the cards on. And one the cars crash into them the flimsy rails fall off the clips and fall across the track. We eventually just took them off rather than try to keep fixing them.
Be warned, the Carrera Ferrari Challenge is not for very young children. This will require adult assembly and practice and patience as players learn to control the cars. Even after a week Five is just learning to keep the car on the track for a loop or two and Seven only a little longer. Nine and my husband and I are experts and love to complete. Currently Nine proudly holds the family record of over 200 laps before derailing the car. The suggested age range of 8 and up certainly seems about right for playing. Carrara Faerrari Challenge is a good entry level slot car race set.