Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Build-A-Road X-Track

Build-A-Road X-Track

Fall 2012 Toys
Ages: 3 & Up
Price: $30.00

The Build-A-Road X-Track offers a set of pieces for kids to make their own track, and two battery operated cars. It includes a hard plastic 'X' road piece, as well as a little hill that can be used as a tunnel (with track under it) and a hill (with track over it). There are several ways to put the track together. For example, you can put the track together as a figure eight, with the "X" piece in the middle. Then one side of the track can go through the tunnel or over it. Another way is to cross the loops together, so that as one track goes through the hill, the other goes over it. The box offers photos of different types of configurations, but our testers, ages, 4 and 8, didn't need the help and were at ease experimenting. The track worked great on both carpet and on our tile.

The best part of the set is the track, which is made of over 200 colorful, thin pieces, which snap together incredibly easily, even for very young hands. The flexibility of the track (over 11 feet when assembled) makes it easy to make curves for the cars to follow. The box and packaging was easy to open: We opened the box, put the battery in each car (no screwdriver required), and had the first track set up in an enjoyable 5 minutes. Because the track is so flexible, there are many different possibilities. The battery operated cars grip the track on the curves and the hill. Extra rubber tires are a nice plus for the cars. The cars zip along at a fast pace, and one moves a little bit faster than the other, prompting lots of discussion and predictions in our house about where and when the two cars would crash when put on the same track.

The bright colors of the track encourage pattern making and lots of creative play. Our child testers sometimes set the cars aside and just played with the track! They alternated the yellow, orange, green and blue track pieces to make different patterns, and then made two pretend "snake" pets that they dragged through the house. They hooked the track into circles to make giant "arm guards", "leg guards", "necklaces" and "crowns". Then they pieced them all together again as a track, and experimented with the battery-operated cars pushing other toys on the track, predicting what toys would be too heavy to push.

Barbara Chamberlin   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Barbara Chamberlin researches and develops educational software and media at New Mexico State University's Learning Games Lab. She and her husband have two boys.

Look for this product at:
International Playthings, Inc.

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