When was the last time you bought a toy car? (For your kids, right?) Well, even if you're not into toy cars, you might be tempted by Sphero's latest invention -- a Lightning McQueen replica, released with the new Cars 3 movie, that does more than any remote control racer before it.
Built into the plastic shell, rechargeable battery and undercarriage of Sphero's latest gadget, you'll find one thing no other toy car out there can boast: a trapezoidal LCD screen, dedicated to replicating Lightning McQueen's eyes. There's a big, loud speaker in the car's roof that handles sound effects and speech, too -- like other Spheros, this is a toy that interacts with you.
Connecting to your phone over Bluetooth, you've got access to all the usual connected play features we've come to expect from Sphero. The ball-style control scheme is a little confusing to understand at first, but is usable with a bit of practice. It's the script feature, where you can line up specially recorded dialogue, that stands out to us as a crowd-pleaser.
Just take a look at it:
There are six different motors under the toy's plastic shell, which handle everything from the emotive up-and-down motions from the suspension above each wheel to the actual, y'know, driving. The Ultimate Lightning McQueen really is so much more than just a toy car.
Even the tyres are different on front and back so you can easily drift the car around while you're controlling it for the app -- both on hard and soft floors, Sphero says. And there's a dedicated button to do some donuts.
It might not look it, but this render of the toy from Sphero is surprisingly close to how it reacts to your interactions with it in real life:
Like other Sphero-family gadgets like Star Wars' BB-8, Lightning McQueen can watch along with all the Cars movies and react to scenes with extra lines of dialogue, audio cues and physical effects. Owen Wilson recorded hundreds of lines just for this toy -- and yes, it does say "ka-chow". A lot.
The attention to detail on Sphero's Lightning McQueen is, frankly, stunning. It's very well built, the artwork is picture perfect from the movies that inspired it, and the combination of a LCD panel for the eyes and animatronic rubberised mouth makes for a surprising lifelike -- well, talking-car-like -- toy.
You'll be able to pick up the Sphero Ultimate Lightning McQueen from JB Hi-Fi, Apple Stores and Zing for $499, with pre-orders opening today and availability starting June 19 in Australia.