These car tracks seem to pop up often in a lot of Amazon shopping groups. It is easy to get burned by a great deal on a cheap plastic toy, so is this track worth it? I was able to get my hands on the City Rescue Get Ready, Go Track Car Adventure set by HahaLand and decided to test it out.
There are multiple versions of these tracks available, though they all have the same functions. Some vary in color and even the cars you receive. A key difference to watch out for though is size. There is the large version (14x12x9), which I purchased, and a smaller version (9.5×9.5×4). While the smaller one usually has a lower price, I would suggest going with the larger one as it gives a little bit more track space and more time to see the cause and effect process.
The instructions for set up and play are lacking quite a bit. After some trial and error, I was able to help my 3 year old get through the track.
It works on a lot of skills that are important for the preschool age, which is what sold me in the first place. But the best part is that it doesn’t take batteries and the kids think its fun!
Out of the box
According to the packaging, there were only 7 pieces and 3 of those were the vehicles. When I opened it up, I discovered many more pieces to put together.
Along with the main body, it also included the long red track, track legs, helicopter, helicopter arm, release bar, crane, 2 trees, and 3 vehicles. Our set also had an extra helicopter arm for some reason.
The vehicles were a lot smaller than I thought they would be – only about the size of my thumb. This is for ages 3 and up, but if you have a particularly oral child, you might want to skip it. However, the cars are weighty and seem very sturdy. They roll super easy, which means they will glide along the track well.
There is an insert with instructions included, but with only 3 steps and a lot of pieces, I didn’t find it very helpful. Instead, I used the pictures on the box to help me.
The first thing I did was assemble the red track. Each of the 3 legs get pushed into the holes underneath. The legs are all the same size, so it doesn’t matter which one goes where. Next, I placed the tabbed ends into the corresponding places on the main body. The one up front is easy to see, but the other is located in the back by the bridge. It took a bit of finagling to get both ends in.
After the track was in place, I attached the arm to the side of the helicopter and pushed it into the hole near the mountain and bridge. The release bar is placed with the point facing right, just before the bridge.
Add the trees and the crane. Once the crane body goes in, it locks into place with a click and does not come back out. The lifter part of the crane slides into the hole to keep it aligned, but it does not lock.
Our stop light was already attached, but some sets may have to add it.
This is another area I feel an instruction card would have been helpful. There is a set on the box, so don’t throw it out until you have figured out the steps.
The box suggests starting on the red lifter at the bottom, though you could probably start anywhere. To begin, push the red button. This will lift the car up and roll onto the yellow spinner.
Using the red lever, slide it around once to move the car to the next spot; then again, and again until it reaches the base of the mountain.
Next, turn the green and yellow knob around and around. The track will catch the car with silicone pegs and carry it up the mountain to the yellow platform. This knob makes a repetitive clicking sound that really gets tiresome, though the kids don’t seem to mind.
This part is probably the trickiest of them all. Once the car reaches the platform, you must keep spinning until the helicopter is over top of the car. After it has arrived, press the yellow button with force to throw the car into the helicopter’s magnet. If you don’t press hard enough, the car won’t reach and the magnet is not strong enough to pick it up from a distance. However, if you press too hard, the car may jump off completely and you will have to hunt it down and try again.
After finding just the right amount of force, go back to the green and yellow spinner to move the helicopter around to the release bar near the bridge. The bar will knock the car off the helicopter and land on the track ready for the next spot.
Lower the drawbridge with the yellow lever. The car will roll down the track to the crane area. Our crane does not always return to position when used. This causes the lifter to create a ledge that the car can’t roll over. In this case, we have to give the car a bit of a push onto the lifter.
Pull down the gray lever to lift the crane and watch as the car rolls under the bridge, around the crane, and ends up back at the beginning red platform. From this point, you can start all over again!
I like to think of this as a next level pop up toy. Babies and toddlers use those to work on fine motor skills, object permanence, and cause and effect. Preschoolers can use the city rescue car adventure track in a similar way, but more advanced.
The buttons, knobs, and levers are less chunky for their now slender fingers. This narrows their grasp to strengthen the muscles that will soon be writing with pencils.
Movements vary between the manipulatives, which require dexterity. While there are two buttons to press on the unit, they don’t get pressed the same way. There is a bit of problem solving within.
Probably the best thing to observe is when they see the cause and effect for themselves. The child is moving the car using only buttons and levers – not their hands. They get to see how simple machines work and say, “I did that!” This can even build confidence and an appreciation for STEM.
All moving parts still function the same as when we first got it. The only part that gives us trouble sometimes is the crane, as stated above.
The city rescue car adventure track is made from thicker hard plastic, meaning there isn’t much give at all. This can be both good and bad. It means that the entire piece is very sturdy and everything holds together well, which you want with a bunch of moving parts. Unfortunately, it also means that if parts are manipulated in a way they aren’t intended then they will break off easily.
Luckily, there are replacement parts available for the helicopter arm, release bar, drawbridge, helicopter, and cars in case they get lost. There currently is no replacement for the red track.
This larger version of the City Rescue Car Adventure Track has a regular price of $49.99 on Amazon. This is pretty steep in my opinion for this toy. The smaller size is only about $10 less. Fortunately, they do have deals often, so you can get them with pretty good discounts. There many versions with prices all over the board, but most do not have good reviews and have visible flaws.
If you can score a deal on this larger option by HahaLand, I do recommend it. Out of the box, it can seem like a bit of a mistake. Especially with the helicopter, which is clearly just Harold without a face. But once it is together and children go through the motions, it makes up for the uneasy start. The skills learned by using a car adventure track are incredibly beneficial for developing writing muscles and cognitive thinking skills.