With Christmas now just under a month away, we have been thinking about what to buy LO. There are so many different toys, games, puzzles and other exciting products about, it can sometimes be hard to know where to begin. I was really pleased therefore when Argos got in touch to ask if we would like to have a look at their range of top toys for Christmas and pick a new toy for LO to try out. As he's only 2, he's still a bit young to make a Christmas list or tell us what he'd like, we had a look and decided to go for something to do with vehicles as these are by far his favourite type of toys to play with. The VTech Toot Toot Raceway was the toy we felt was most likely to interest him, and so we opted for this.
Currently on offer at £44.49, the Raceway features a plastic racetrack with action zones around the course. A little car is powered by a simple to use remote control which can be easily operated by small toddler hands. Like other VTech products, the raceway features sound effects, flashing lights on the car and different songs which play as the car passes through the different action zone stations. It's made with durable plastic and is really bright and colourful.
The VTech Toot Toot Raceway arrives 'flat pack' in a box and upon opening it, I must admit, I did feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of pieces and instructions to follow. I had imagined I'd just be able to piece the track together with LO helping like you would a wooden railway track. Unfortunately not...
One of the more time consuming jobs was matching and putting on all the stickers on the various different pieces- definitely not a job to get your toddler to help you with as once they're on, they really are stuck on and will rip if you try and take them off. Once the stickers are done, it's time to start constructing the action zones. Now again, this job would be less daunting if you didn't have your little one climbing all over you and throwing pieces of track around the kitchen!
If you're good with following instructions, you'll be fine, but if you want your little one to be able to play with the Raceway on Christmas day, I'd strongly suggest building at least the action stations before the day itself so they can crack on and enjoy playing with it rather than waiting for you to construct it.
As the car drives around the track (which can be set up in various different ways according to the instructions) different tunes and captions play along the way at the SmartPoint action zones. One thing to note is that once the 5 action zones are built, they don't come apart again as they have click locks. It does mean the Raceway doesn't go back in the box how it arrived so you may want to consider how you will store it when it's not in use.
The Toot Toot Raceway once complete. This is just one of the options for track design as the pieces can be put together in different combinations.
When picking both Christmas and birthday presents, we tend to pick things which link to what he's interested in and which we also feel he will get a lot of use from. Too often, toys can be bought, played with for 10 minutes and then consigned to the toy cupboard for months gathering dust and not being played with, so this is a major consideration for us. Personally, I haven't ever spent more than about £60 on any one toy for LO, including his play kitchen we bought for him last Christmas.
I think the Toot Toot Raceway offers good value for money if your little one plays with it often enough. Initially, LO was really interested to have a go and he'd never used a remote control toy before so that was a new experience for him. The control is good as there are only 2 chunky buttons, forwards and backwards, so it's easy for toddlers to operate (the Raceway is aimed at ages 1-5). He enjoyed watching the car race around the track and danced along to the songs too.
We did find that once he'd mastered that, he played with it for 5-10 minutes before moving onto something else. Part of this is due to the fact that he is just pressing a forwards or backwards button and watching the car go around and around so the toy isn't very open ended. I think the toy would be more fun to play with if you could play together with another child. Separate cars can be purchased and I feel this would be a valuable addition to making the raceway more fun for children. I also feel that a 4 or 5 year old would be more able to help with the construction and design of the track and that would sustain interest for longer too.
A really important factor for us when picking a toy is how easy it is to store. As I mentioned above, the Toot Toot raceway action zones don't come apart once they're built, so while the track pieces fit in the box, the zones will need another home when not in use. I like to clear all toys away in the evening so my living room is clutter free and relaxing, so we tend not to have too many really large toys. This, along with his play kitchen are by far the biggest toys he has.
Overall, I feel the VTech Toot Toot Raceway would make a lovely Christmas gift, and with the current offer, it's well priced for what you get. If your little one is into vehicles then this may be the perfect toy for them, but overall, LO is more used to playing with open ended toys where he can be imaginative and decide what he wants to do with the toy himself. However, it's lovely and bright and the plastic feels durable. I'd definitely recommend purchasing an additional toot toot car so that it can become multi-player and children can enjoy the racing aspect of the toy even more with other children. I think we will get a lot more use out of the toy once LO's baby brother has arrived and they can enjoy playing with it together.
NB: This post is written in collaboration with Argos. All photos, words and opinions expressed are my own. I, together with a few other bloggers, have written articles all about Top Christmas toys over on the Argos website. Click here to check out what we all said...