Max Traxxx Tracer Racers are a great update of old-school slot-car racing with IR remote controls and glow-in-the-dark tracks. The Tracer Racers themselves aren’t entirely new—Jamie Greene wrote about them last year—but the new versions include powered cars, so you’re no longer limited to gravity-powered runs. Here’s a closer look.
There are various sets available with different track configurations, and many of them include two cars with side-by-side racing. The one I was sent for review by Skullduggery is the Infinity Loop Set, which looks like a big figure-eight with a loop in the middle. The box says it includes 46 feet of track (though that counts the two lanes of track separately), and it did take up a significant portion of my living room floor once I got it set up.
The tracks themselves feel like those old Hot Wheels tracks I used to have: flexible plastic with slightly raised edges, just wide enough for the car, and the little flat connectors you slip underneath to hold pieces together. In this case, the connector ends also have a small hole and peg that help prevent the track from coming apart. (Tip: when disassembling the track, I found it was a lot easier to twist the tracks a little to pop off the connectors, rather than trying to pull them straight out.) Also, the tracks have a notch-and-rail system on the edges that let you attach the tracks to each other side-by-side for the dual-lane racing. And, of course, the other important feature: the tracks glow in the dark.
The banked 90°-curves are hard plastic with built-in connectors, and there are also some “Construction Brix” that are used to raise the track (for instance, to pass the track through the loop). These are basically plus-shaped blocks that are compatible with LEGO, along with a few pieces with hinges for the top of the stack, and a flat piece that connects the bricks to the underside of the track.
Each car has two LEDs on the underside: when you’re driving, the lights automatically light up, leaving two streaks on the glow-in-the-dark track that are visible even when the lights are on. Unlike the gravity-powered cars that Jamie reviewed, these do not have different light settings: the light is on when the car is moving, and off when it stops—no pulsing options, which is fine. The car has an on/off switch on the bottom.
Each controller uses 4 AA batteries, and has an on/off/charging switch. To charge the car, pull the wire from the top of the controller, plug it into the bottom of the car, and turn the switch to “charging.” The car also slots on top of the controller for storage while charging. The controller has a simple trigger control: pull back on the trigger to drive, or push forward on the trigger to go in reverse. The controller uses infrared, so you need to point it at the car, but only vaguely in the right direction. I found that as long as I had the controller pointed in more or less the right direction, the car would drive. (As you’ll see in the video below, the cars have enough momentum that even if they go behind you for a little while, they’ll probably start up as soon as they get within range of the control again.)
And the cars are fast. The box says “500mph scale speed,” which seems kind of ridiculous, but when you put the cars down and start them up, they really zip. (And they’re pretty loud: I wonder how many decibels that would scale to?) They’re fast enough that you don’t even need that much lead to be able to hit the loop—only about a foot and a half. I did notice that every so often a car would fly off the track, usually at one of the track transition spots—the banked curves have a hard ridge in the center, and occasionally the car would hit that while entering the turn.
All three of my kids loved the Tracer Racers, and after I set it up, the sound of the cars zipping around was pretty much constant except for stopping to charge up the batteries. (I did have to break the track down to make room in the living room for a birthday party, but I’m sure I’ll be asked to set it back up soon.) I’ve always been a fan of glow-in-the-dark stuff, so I especially love the way the tracks light up at night. The tracks should be compatible with existing Tracer Racer sets, but of course you’ll want to build closed loops rather than the gravity-controlled one-way runs.
The Infinity Loop Set I reviewed retails for $119.99, so the R/C cars do come at a price. (You can also purchase individual cars with controllers if you want to run them on tracks you already own.) The Tracer Racers are available on Amazon or direct from Skullduggery—just look for “R/C” or “High Speed Remote Control” in the name if you want the battery-powered version.
Review materials provided by Skullduggery.