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Best Gift Ideas - Toys Under $12: Doodle-Track Car Set by Daydream Toy
Doodle-Track Car unopened in box
In Stock at Amazon
(Note - at this moment, Amazon has the car for less than $10; not sure how long this will last, if you're thinking about it, this would be a good time to shop!)
I had a chance to pick up the Doodle-Track Car Set recently. Since I like toys so much, I took the offer and ran. It seems like a very neat idea. The car has sensors that make it follow any thick black line on a white sheet of paper. Sounded like a lot of fun.
The set includes a small pre-printed map that the car can follow, and that's fun… for about 10 minutes. After that, it's all about making your own maps!
What's in the box?
A Car that follows lines YOU draw
Maybe I should give you a little detail before diving right into the 'play'…
The Doodle-Track Car set comes with 1 car, 1 magic marker, a small pre-designed map, decals, and instructions. The car takes 2 AAA batteries, NOT included, so plan ahead when you order! Daydream Toy also has a website you can go to for additional maps and a 'design-your-own' option, with a code you enter. The code is on a card in the box.
Back of the box
It won the... what was that name again?
This toy won the 2009 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. You don't know what that is? … Me, neither. But they won it, and it sounds prestigious. I'm sure that's a good thing. I'll be happy to settle for a toy that's fun and helps kids to learn, which the Doodle-Track car does. Especially if an adult provides a little assistance!
Good, but not perfect
I like toys, especially tech toys that do things that just couldn't be done when I was little. The big draw in this case -- (Yes, pun intended. I like puns.) -- You can draw your own maps, or design and print them from the website. Use the included marker, your own marker, or even a crayon.
There are some details to pay attention to. First, if you draw your own track, it has to be extra thick to work. Too thin, and the car won't lock onto the guideline. (See video for example.)
Second, no sharp turns. Smooth curves, not too much of an angle. The Doodle-Track car is good, but not perfect.
My own experience- it took a few tries to get the lines thick enough
Great educational value
As a parent, why would you want your child to play with one? Creativity. Learning. Fine motor control (Not the car motor, the track-drawing skill!) This has a lot of positive value for eager young minds. Plus, it's fun.
I've scattered video and pictures through the review, including my own video review (directly above). No speech added. I was going to, but after I watched the rough cut, speech just didn't seem necessary. You'll notice it took me several tries before I realized how thick the lines have to be, but after that it was smooth sailing.
Fun commercial for Doodle-Track Cars
Let the kids get creative
Now for some suggestions:
(Credit where it's due, most suggestions here were suggested by other customers, and I've just organized them into a cohesive plan.) As one person stated, the website print option is cool for the kids, but does require printing multiple sheets of paper, and taping them together. This seems like kind of a hassle, and maybe a missed opportunity to have your kids do something really creative.
Cool track design with over/under bridge
Developing your City
Here's the best ideas, based on a group consensus from all the recommendations I could find (and a few of my own thoughts… I get those once in a while!):
Buy a sheet of posterboard. 15" x 30" will do, but if you have room for it, 30" x 40" will give space for a huge city map. Buy an extra-large magic marker for the track, and some construction paper.
Using other sheets of paper, help your children plan the streets. Once the map has been designed, let them draw it for real on the posterboard. If the kids are too young to do this unassisted, then draw the map for them… in pencil. Now let them use the marker and trace your pencil line.
For variety, flip
the board over, and draw a second map (Maybe different terrain... A neighborhood, a wildlife refuge? A Mars colony? Maybe dirt roads out in the country?
Things Kids can do to be Creative!
Doodle-Track and other toys
Doodle Track Car Cutout Tracks
Take a drive in your own town
Now, using small boxes, paper tubes, and construction paper (don't forget scissors and glue, under parental supervision.) create buildings to line the city streets with. Park a few (Hot Wheels or Matchbox) cars here and there. Whatever you want to do, add to the playset.
Store the pieces in a box, and when it's time to play, out comes the map, the buildings, all the decorations you could think of…
And our little city-builders can enjoy taking a scenic tour through their very own town!
Action Figure Review Doodle-Track Car driveby
For Bonus Fun Points...
When planning the city, for extra fun, have the lines follow a curve as if passing a slow car, which you can position in it's proper place later on. Create more than one route on the same map. If you get 2 or more Doodle-Track Cars, you can have each one on it's own separate track, and see how long they can avoid crossing paths.
It all makes me want to try it myself. I bet there's some poster board somewhere around the house… and small cereal boxes, paper towel tubes… I feel the urge to design a city!