Move over BB-8, you’ve got some company. Sphero, most well-known for its line of educational toys, branched out with the adorable and fun droid back in 2015 to coincide with the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” And its newest toy – the Ultimate Lightning McQueen – takes a page from that same successful formula.
Teaming up with Disney/Pixar just in time for the release of “Cars 3” into theaters, the app-enabled toy brings a big dose of movie magic into your home and whatever track you can imagine.
Packed with technology
The first thing you’ll immediately notice after removing the Ultimate Lightning McQueen is its size and the enormous attention to detail from Sphero.
Weighing in at just a little less than two pounds, the car is almost 10 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 3 inches high. It dwarfs tiny BB-8, and that’s a good thing as it packs an impressive amount of technology.
There are more than 450 individual parts used to construct the race car, and that attention shows in the final product. Lightning McQueen is truly brought to life.
For example, there are six different motors – one for the animatronic mouth, two for the emotive suspicions, two for the front tires, and one for steering.
Speaking of animatronics, the car is full of life. There are five separate capacitive touch panels on Lightning that will respond with just a tap.
But along with the moving mouth, the real star of the show is the custom screen where Lightning’s eyes are located. That allows for the more than 150 different animations to show through. And it’s a big part of helping the animated character come to life in your home.
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but Lightning is all about hitting the race track.
You’ll control the racing with a joystick in the app on either an iPhone or iPad. Drivers can watch him respond to different commands including reversing, doing donuts, and drifting.
Lightning can travel at up to 6MPH, which is faster than it seems when you see him race across your kitchen floor. And no matter if you have carpet, hardwood, or other floor covering, the toy’s special tires can handle it all. I have a variety of flooring in my house, and the toy was fun to race and easy to control anywhere and at any speed.
Even more fun
And there’s much more to the app than just racing.
The favorite mode that my young children enjoyed the most was the Acting Studio. There are a huge number of authentic catchphrases from Lightning that can be selected to create a custom script. They can be saved to play with later and even able to be used while racing.
In the Pitstop Panic mini-game, you’ll need to try to bear the clock as you’ll change tires and field up racers on the screen.
Finally, you can watch the original “Cars” movie with Lightning and watch him react to all the action on the screen. It will definitely bring a smile to everyone’s faces.
Another great feature that needs to be mentioned is the custom designed speaker. Every word Lightning says is loud, crystal clear, and can be heard from far away. It’s by far the best speaker I’ve ever heard on any toy.
Your iPhone or iPad can be up to 30 meters away from Lightning. The built-in battery can provide up to 40 minutes of playtime and can completely charge in two hours. In my testing, I was able to squeeze around 35 minutes of use, but I was definitely putting the toy through its paces.
The included charging cable plugs into the toy’s driver side, right where the fuel cap is located.
If you couldn’t tell, the Ultimate Lightning McQueen is a massive hit at my house and has been in constant use since it has landed on my doorstep.
It has all of the fun of BB-8 and takes it to an entirely new level, especially if you’re a fan of the “Cars” movies and good old No. 95 himself.
The racing is pure joy, and the extra features add even more fun to the overall package.
While $299 isn’t exactly cheap, especially for a toy for kids – or a kid at heart – it’s extremely impressive and I’m sure something to become even more popular after kids see “Cars 3” at the movie theater. As technology continues to get even better, the future of app-enabled toys – for learning or play – is bright. And Sphero is definitely leading the way.