There is a reason I started to avoid going to our local bookstore with our kids, and that reason was PlasmaCar. You see, in the bookstore children’s section there are some toys to try out, and one of them is this fabulous self-propelled ride-on toy. Once they started playing on it, they would take turn after turn, and it would take forever to get them out of the store.
So when the opportunity to review a PlasmaCar came up, it was a no-brainer for us to say yes.
The PlasmaCar arrived in a large cardboard box but did not weigh too much to easily pick it up off of the doorstep and hide it quickly before the kids saw it. We intended to keep the car a surprise we would pull out on the first dry day that came up, but true to form here in “Raincouver” the moisture kept falling so we broke out the car in the living room on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
The PlasmaCar is very easy to assemble. The rear wheels push into the body and the front wheels and steering column structure takes moments to put together. The saying “so easy a child could do it” is appropriate here because our 9 & 10 year-olds put it together with just some supervision from dad.
I should point out at this stage that you only need the hex key supplied with the car to put it together. The socket set in the picture above is because Gabes takes every opportunity to get his hands on dads tools and today was no exception!
One thing to point out if you are not familiar with how the PlasmaCar looks, the two front wheels are not designed to touch the floor. They are there to provide stability if the rider leans too far forward so don’t panic when you have you a finished toy and the wheels are still up in the air.
There are no gears, no pedals, and no batteries, about which to worry. Your only concern will be whether or not you have enough PlasmaCars in your home for everyone who wants to ride one.
The weather put a bit of a dampener on the fun at the beginning. The kids wanted to get out there straight away to play, and the rain had turned to hail. Although the PlasmaCar is tested to, and exceeds international safety standards, knowing how fearless and reckless our youngest two are, I wasn’t going to let them ride down the slope of our drive when it was covered in ice. Therefore, they were confined to the house for the day and Evey played all day in her fury onesie.
The smoother your riding surface, the better PlasmaCar ‘drives’ but our little ones managed just fine on our tiled floor and the carpet. Both of them got up to a speed that caused giggling (maximum speed is ten kph), and at times were fast enough for the occasional shriek.
I have read some reviews that say the writer’s kids couldn’t get any speed going with the car, but your rate and continuation of motion is dependant on you keeping the steering wheel twisting. If you can’t be bothered to keep up your side of the action, then the car doesn’t keep going. Your kiddo is the engine, and it is your kiddo that has to put in enough physical effort to get the enjoyment from the car.
Which brings me to the next point, exercise. You might wonder how you can work up a sweat on a ride along toy, but with PlasmaCar the more you ride it, the more you want to ride it. This ends up with your kids racing around the house, arms pumping back and forth as they twist the steering wheel, usually with a second child running alongside asking “Is it my go yet?”
Science Alert – The Physics Of PlasmaCar
If you are not a nerd like me feel free to skip over this part but if you are fascinated by this little vehicle, this is how it works. The force that drives the car forward comes from the force exerted on the steering wheel/handlebars.
The second set of wheels are connected to the steering wheel by a lever. This is done in such a way that the wheel is set behind the axis of rotation of the steering column. When the steering wheel is twisted back and forth, the torque applied causes lateral friction force by the front wheels. This force is parallel to the axel and perpendicular to the direction that the wheels are rolling in. Newtons action/reaction law comes into play here if a component of this force points to the rear of the car, the reaction force of the ground on the car points partly forward and causes the car to accelerate.
Information from the PlasmaCar website
1. Where to ride your PlasmaCar:
PlasmaCar rides best on smooth, flat, hard surface. If you try to ride your PlasmaCar on something soft or bumpy such as carpet, grass, gravel, or sand, it won’t work as well. PlasmaCar is not for use on hardwood or laminate floors. The turning of the wheels may mark the floor.
3. Weight Limits:
On a smooth, flat, surface, PlasmaCar supports up to 100kg (220 lbs) and on rougher, uneven surfaces up to 55kg (120 lbs).
4. How fast can PlasmaCar go?:
On smooth, flat surfaces, the PlasmaCar can reach an exhilarating, but kid-friendly, speed of up to 2.8 meters per second, or over 10 km/hour (6 mph).
Where To Buy PlasmaCar
PlasmaCar is available in a wide range of fun and fab colour combinations and they have even just started selling a Paw Patrol range. You can buy them at many independent retailers. To find a seller in your local area, use the store locator. or you can purchase online for $68.88 CAN from Amazon.ca