Thursday, March 4, 2021

Pidoko Kids Power Burst Speed Break Apart Cars (Amazon)

Absolute garbage.


As I established in an earlier post, our four-year-old son has a fascination with car crashes, and watching cars break apart. We fed that interest with “computer car crash” videos (movies and clips made with the computer program Beamng.drive) and crash test videos (yes, the ones used to rate cars on their safety), but of course he eventually wanted cars that would do it in “real life”. Rather than head to the junkyard to buy a bunch of “beater” cars that we could destroy, I decided to do it the safer way, and find toys that we could break apart.

There really aren’t too many options for what we were looking for, but of course those lovely Chinese folk had a couple options. I purchased the version from Chuchik, simply because they were cheaper—after about a month of remaining obsessed with these cars (to the extent that he would actually throw fits when staying at his grandmother’s house, wanting to come home just so he could play with them), my own mother decided to buy some to keep at her house. Lo and behold, she ended up buying these cars from Podoko, which are really the only other option for authentic, “break apart” cars (at least as far as Amazon is concerned).

One thing you got to give Podoko: these look really cool. There are some really cool designs—like skulls—that really help to give each of the six included cars their own “personality”. Even better: all of the pieces can be used on any car, allowing you to “mix and match” the pieces to create your own “Frankencar”. It’s really a cool idea, and having so many cars (each with their own design) really gives you dozens upon dozens of combinations and possibilities for each vehicle. Kids who are creative and crafty, who aren’t even into the crashing aspects, could probably keep themselves entertained just seeing what sorts of cool cars they can make using all of the available parts.

At least, in theory, because looks are about the only thing these cars have going for them. Putting them together is a complete chore. And even when you do manage to get the cars “together”—which pretty much just means getting them in “well enough” so that they don’t just pop apart while you’re putting them together—the cars still look all disjointed, with small, but noticeable, gaps in between each part.

At least they look cool.

And yes, we turned the switch to “off” so that the front bumper (which is what triggers the “crash” mechanism) wouldn’t be activated while we were assembling them. (You can also keep this setting locked to play with them as normal wind-up cars, for kids who aren’t really interested in the crashing aspect.) And yes, we read the instructions, following them step-by-step until it was completely clear that not even the manufacturer is aware of a fool-proof way to assemble these. In fact, the few times I did manage to get one assembled (only to have my impatient son destroy it less than five seconds later, thus destroying whatever small sense of semi-accomplishment I managed to muster), it was entirely by improvisation; I basically forced the pieces in, to the extent that I was initially afraid I was going to break it (by that point, I already didn’t give a shit if I did).

There is simply no reliable (and efficient) way to put these together. And when you have a child clamoring for his toy, you know time is of the essence. My parents tried for a long time before me, and just thought it was a matter of inexperience—even my wife (who’s better at making things than I am) couldn’t figure out a good method for putting them together. Even more frustrating is that, before you do get everything to stay in place, chances are good that the whole thing will fall apart once or twice before that happens, filling you full of blood-burning rage. 

In the end, this is one time where I’m grateful that my cheapness actually ended up getting me a better product, because at nearly $30, these are a complete rip-off. Which is precisely why they ended up in the trash the same day my parents gave them to me (and at their insistence…they didn’t want to see these things ever again, either).

Overall: 1/10. They look pretty cool, and despite my initial impressions, actually seem to be sturdier than I initially thought. However, all plusses are limited to physical appearance, because in terms of actual execution, these cars are complete and utter junk. Just complete shit. Even for an adult, putting them together becomes an almost psychological torture test, with the included instructions not helping one single bit. The few times I did manage to get one together, I improvised my own way, basically forcing parts in until they finally stayed. Even then, there were still noticeable gaps between each piece, making them look unprofessional and lopsided, and making the effort just seem even less worth it than it already was. (Ditto that for every time our son destroyed one within ten seconds of me finally getting one together after five minutes, and then just impatiently sat waiting for me to get it back together again.) They’re also somewhat a gyp, with a six-pack of cars costing around $30. $6 a car wouldn’t be all that bad if they worked, but considering they don’t? It feels like little more than a scam. The idea is cool, but the execution is abysmal, and the experience of trying to assemble them is absolutely rage-inducing…these would make a great test for anger management and/or psychological studies.


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