Today I bring you the latest in my look at the 25 best toys of 2015. This time it’s the WowWee REV Robotic Enhanced RC Vehicle Starter Pack—a fun new RC racing car set unlike anything you’ve ever encountered! With multiple play pattern options and a serious cool factor going for it, this set is sure to be a big hit this holiday season. If you think the REVs are something that you (or someone you know) might enjoy, then keep on reading for full details of all the good (and the bad) aspects of these fun new products. If you’re on the fence about them, you won’t be for long. I’ve got you covered!
The REV set makes a very good first impression as you take the cars from their package. There’s one black car with red trim and one white car with light-blue trim. Both cars are dark grey on the bottom and have black, opaque windshields. There’s an oval LED light on the roof / trunk section of each car that flashes white when the car is first turned on. This indicates that the car is ready to be connected via Bluetooth to your smart device. Once the connection is established, the LED changes to solid blue.
One thing I can definitely say about these cars is that they’re hefty and feel very solid. The rear (motorized) tires are wider than the front (plastic) tires and are real rubber. This provides excellent grip and helps your REVs to achieve impressive speeds.
Charting the Key Considerations
|How much set up time is required?||To get your REV up and running, all you need to do is install the batteries in each individual car and download & install the REV App (Apple users use the App Store & Android users download from Google Play) . That’s all there is to it.|
|What type & quantity of batteries does the REV set use?||Each individual REV car requires 4 x AA batteries, so you’ll need a total of 8 batteries in all. As there is no hand held remote control (the REVs are controlled by your smart phone or other smart device), you’ll need no additional batteries aside from whatever powers your phone or tablet.|
|What are the mobility (& range) characteristics of the REV vehicles?||The REV vehicles easily drive all around your home and have a very good range for indoor RC vehicles. As long as I kept within sight of my REV during testing, the signal got through and I had full control (including forwards, backwards, left & right steering, and even firing my weapon). In the VS. CPU mode, the computer’s car detected the position of my car and followed it all over the house. While I could find no reference to the REV’s speed capabilities on the box or in the instructions, I can assure you that they drive very fast and it’s all one can do to keep them under control when driving in relatively tight quarters.|
|Do the REV cars feature any special lights & sounds?||The REVs make motor running (or revving) sounds during play, and when you fire your weapons you’ll also hear blaster firing sounds. This can get pretty loud with both REVs going full blast. Also, both the REVs themselves & their app produce sound, so it’s coming from all over.|
|What is the suggested age range of the REV set?||The REV set is recommended for children ages 8 and up. This seems reasonable in that the cars are both fun and (relatively) easy to use for kids in that age range. The only hitch here is that I personally don’t know a lot of 8 year old kids with a smart phone or tablet. If you’re comfortable letting your kids use your device, or you want to go to the expense of getting them a smart device of their own, then sure, 8 and up is fine. I also expect that folks a whole lot older than that would get enjoyment out of this set. Although they do have fairly sensitive controls, they’re a really fun (and considerable) step forward in the evolution of ground based RC vehicles.|
|How much of a WOW factor (on a 0-5 scale) does the REV set have?||
I would have to say that the REV Starter Pack falls somewhere in the range of 3.5 – 4 / 5 on the WOW scale. This is a very solid score, and the reason I’m giving it as a range is because my first instinct was to measure the REVs against all of the other RC toys I’ve tested in the past few months—many of which were airborne vehicles. When compared with the likes of flying drones such as the Air Hogs Star Wars RC Ultimate Millennium Falcon, it’s difficult for any ground based toy to truly stand out (this accounts for the 3.5 / 5 aspect of the rating). However, this may not be the most fair of comparisons, and when I consider other ground based RC toys, the REVs certainly fare much better (thus accounting for the 4 / 5 aspect of the rating).
Testing & Play
The REV instructions say that they’re intended for indoor use only. Other key tips include not driving your REVs through water (which could damage their electronics) and never dropping, throwing, or kicking your REVs. Finally, the instructions also advise that for ideal performance, it’s best to use your REVs on smooth, flat surfaces (I.e., not on rug or shag carpeting). Even with this warning, the REVs do drive very nicely on rug (although the rug in our apartment isn’t super thick).
In testing my REVs, I took the official advice and used them indoors only. The only problem with this is that they go waaay too fast for the enclosed area I had to work with. I was definitely impressed with how fast the REVs moved, and the white car (which I had set up as the computer controlled one) kept on chasing me (the black car) all over my kitchen floor.
One fun aspect of these toys is that each car is out to get the other (this includes chasing & shooting at each other until a winner emerges). I lost my first game against the computer because I was too excited to play and didn’t read the instructions fully. I therefore didn’t realize that I was supposed to press the firing (shooting) button on my phone screen to shoot at the white car, so white eventually beat me down. I soon learned my lesson, however, and went after white hard in the next game. I won rather quickly too, even if I do say so myself!
In the screen shot at right, the firing button is bottom center. When you press this button, you fire straight ahead. Make sure to line up your shots or you’ll miss the enemy car. The larger circles (to left & right) are the driving & steering controls respectively. These only appear when you physically touch the screen. By moving your finger upwards on the left control circle, you drive your REV forward. By moving your finger downwards on the same control, you back your car up. Similarly, the control circle at right steers your car to left or right in the exact same manner. You can also set your controls to drive & steer all in one (doubled up) circle—if you’re good enough!
Each of the REV vehicles is capable of tracking (locating) the other car through a unique, intelligent system that includes tiny sensors placed on all 4 sides of each vehicle (front, back, left, & right). These tiny sensors, called BSA (BeaconSense Array Sensors), are well integrated into the vehicles and don’t immediately stand out. They are noticeable, though, when you take a closer look at the car (see the photo at left). With these sensors in play, it’s very difficult to escape the enemy car! Try as I might, I just couldn’t outrun that pesky white vehicle.
For & Against
What I really like a lot about the REV set is the variety of play options available. It’s very cool that you can play against the computer (when there’s nobody around) or a friend, though both users will need their own smart device with the REV App installed. Remember, the REV App is free, so your friends can easily download it at any time. There are also multiple game options within the app that you can choose from, and as you defeat your opponents, you sometimes unlock special moves and weapons that make you even more invincible!
The REVs’ main drawback is that they’re meant primarily for indoor use, yet they go way too fast for most indoor environments. Both the forward / backwards controls & the left / right steering controls are extremely sensitive. You barely have to touch them and your car just takes off. This is fine (great even) if you have a large, empty room, or a room with plenty of open floor space to play in. If your floor space is limited, however, or you have lots of furniture in the way, it’s going to be rather difficult to fully enjoy these toys.
For me, the best place to use them was out in the garage. This meant moving our car outside to make enough space. I did try them out in the driveway as well, but, even though it is paved, I found them ineffective on the slight bumpy surface. I also found that direct sunlight is a deal breaker for these cars. It kills their sensors’ ability to pick up the opposing car, so unless both cars are being controlled by a human driver, playing in the sun is a no go. Perhaps on a cloudy day, things might be different. With all of that said, I still think that the REVs are completely worth while. Just know what you’re getting into and make sure you have plenty of space to play in.
Examining the Video Evidence
Please check out my short video supplements of the REV Robotic Enhanced Vehicles… The first is a general overview video, and the second is a brief demo of the REVs in action.
This is an easy one: I wholeheartedly recommend the REV Starter Pack, particularly if you have plenty of indoor floor space to really open them up in (they especially like linoleum flooring, which the rubber wheels really take to & grip extremely well). It’s a fun and innovative take on ground based RC vehicles, and, unlike many of the RC products that are currently available, REVs can be played with for an extended period of time. This is because they’re not saddled with built-in rechargeable batteries that only provide 10-12 minutes of running time (I used to think that built-in rechargeables were a good thing, but with the long waiting period to recharge between play sessions, I’ve somewhat reconsidered this). Since the cars themselves take AA batteries and the app runs directly from your device, both will give you much longer than 10-12 minutes. All in all, the REV Starter Pack is a very cool set. You really can’t go wrong with this one!
Mini Gallery of Additional Photos