Thursday, May 3rd, 2007
Toy Roller Coasters for your Home
Let’s look at three toy roller coasters made by children’s product manufacturer Step 2.
Music in Motion Roller Coaster [Toys R Us] is a motorized vehicle that your baby sits inside and travels in circles on a plastic track. Product photos indicate there is an ever-so-slight bump on two sides of the circle to provide your 9-month-old that amusement park thrill. Step 2′s web site only lists a 35lb maximum weight limit, while Toys R Us states Step 2′s suggested age range is 9 months to 3 years. Toys R Us also provides its own recommendation: 2 to 4 years.
Who would want to spend $40 on a parent-pulled wagon taking kids around town and to the park when you could pay $190 to travel in circles in your living room?
Up & Down Roller Coaster [Toys R Us] kicks it up a notch, sending your toddler down a gravity-induced 10′ track complete with one minor rise and two dips. The $100 you spend on this toy is totally worth the one full hour your 2-year-old will enjoy it. Plus, you can haul this coaster in from your garage each time one of your kid’s friends visits.
Extreme Roller Coaster [Toys R Us] is the new hotness for 3-year-olds. It is a tall ramp for shooting your child on a wheeled rocket sled down and out, all for $280. The real innovation in this coaster is that the rocket sled is returned to the top of the coaster by rolling it up the ramp. That’s right, stairs are built into the ramp.
How tall is this coaster? I don’t know. Tall enough that the manufacturer feels the need to disclaim, "bike helmets not included." Incidentally, the African-American kid below has no helmet. Other marketing photos show two white kids wearing helmets. The coaster also looks a little shorter in the photo below because the lawn obscures part of its base.
Here are the safety warnings listed in the assembly instructions [PDF] that are handily provided on Step 2′s web site. It reads like a list of everything I could imagine kids trying to do with this toy, but boy wouldn’t it be fun.
- Install and use the Extreme Roller Coaster only in areas free from obstructions. Place on level ground at least 6.5ft. (2m.) away from a fence, building, overhead branches, laundry lines or electrical wires:
- Never use over concrete, asphalt, packed earth or any other hard surface. A fall from the unit could cause a serious injury to the equipment user.
- When temperatures fall below -18ÂºC/0ÂºF, outdoor use if this product is not recommended. In cold weather plastic materials lose resilience and may become brittle and crack upon impact. Store product in a warmer, protected place, when possible.
- Check all connections and screws twice monthly during usage season and at the beginning of each season for tightness, and tighten as required.
- Do not allow children to play on the Extreme Roller Coaster until it is fully assembled.
- Adult supervision is required. Children do not have the judgment necessary to avoid many accidents. Be sure that children operating this vehicle can do so safely and that they are supervised at all times.
- Never use near steps, driveways, steep inclines, roadways, alleys, swimming pool areas or other bodies of water.
- Never allow more than 1 rider.
- Instruct the rider to sit on the seat when the vehicle is in motion.Instruct children not to use the equipment in a manner not intended and not to climb on equipment when it is wet or snow covered.
- Attaching items such as but not limited to jump ropes, clothes lines, pet leashes, cables and chains may cause strangulation hazard.
- Always wear shoes or sneakers when operating this vehicle.
- Adults supervising play should insure that children are dressed appropriately in well-fitting clothes and are not wearing potentially hazardous scarfs, ponchos or other loose fitting clothing.
- Instruct children to use caution when ascending steps with or without car.
- Be sure cars rear wheels are seated in â€œwellsâ€ on platform before attempting to sit in car.
- Instruct children to use safety handle on car to keep hands and arms inside vehicle when it is motion. The child should be instructed to keep hands away from fenders when pushing the car up the ramp or when riding down the ramp.
- Instruct children to fully seat themselves before pushing car off platform.
- Instruct children in the surrounding area to keep out of the path of the moving vehicle.
- The use of a properly fitting bicycle helmet is strongly recommended.
- Oil all metallic moving parts during usage period.