When my son Benjamin’s first birthday approached back in July 2016 I found myself looking for a great toy that I could give to him as a birthday present, and that Benni and I could enjoy together. You know, when having a one year old toddler at home, it can become quite difficult to find toys that your kid will love and that you as a mom or dad won’t find boring right?
I was always into Lego, but let’s be honest: Even Lego Duplo is quite difficult to play with for a one year old. I tried it every now and then, but it always turned out to follow one simple rule: I build he, Benni destroys it 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, this can also be tons of fun, and I’ll probably describe my experience with that in another blog post soon, but it is not what I wanted to get as a first-birthday-present-experience!
So, as the toy obsessed dad I am I decided that this would be a great opportunity to go explore and visit a “real store” instead of just searching online. I love toys store anyways, so obviously I didn’t let this chance slip. I drove to Toys”R”Us near where we live and started looking around. There is tons of stuff for babies and toddlers, but I felt that for a one year old lot’s of these toys are either too simple (in terms of: they are made for babies) or simply too boring for me as Bennis Dad. And That Toy Dad does not like boring toys 🙂
Somewhere in the back of the store I found what I was looking for. There was a whole area with VTech toys, and they caught my attention. What I saw there were tons of colorful, well designed boxes with playing and laughing kids on them. Well, obviously, you shouldn’t make your buying decision based on smiling kids printed on a box by some company you’ve probably never heard of before; but what I’m saying that it caught my attention. Another great thing I remember was that if you want to, you can basically try out every toy, as the VTech boxes have cutout on certain positions, and you can press buttons etc. and really see what that toy does and sounds like before you actually commit to spending money on it, right?
So there I was, standing in front of talking crocodiles, singing dogs, plastic sheep, flashing trains and – nice one – colorful, exciting looking cars. Cars with sound and light. And as we all know: Men and little Kids are ALWAYS attracted to sound and flashing lights, right?
I liked what I saw, so my next step was to look at the company’s age recommendation. It showed “Recommended Ages 1-5 Years” – Ding, ding, ding, I had a winner 🙂
VTech Go Go Smart Wheels Is Not Just Cars, It’s A Whole System
One of the great things with Go Go Smart Wheels is that it is not just a single toy, but rather a whole system of toys that work together and that can be combined. The system consists of multiple components:
- The Go Go Smart Wheel Cars, obviously
- Several Base Packs, like a Garage, an Airport, a Ramp-Set etc.
- Extension Sets
The great thing is that with every new set that you buy, your existing cars will gain additional value.
For example: When I visited Toys”R”Us back in July to get the birthday present for my son, I decided to go with the “3-in-1 Launch and Play Raceway“. The set includes two ramps that you can setup in various ways, I thought it shouldn’t be too complicated for a one year out (it turns out I was about 60% right, though, but I’ll explain that below 🙂 ) and it already comes with a nice racing car. Together with a second car, a nice little convertible (I love convertibles 🙂 ) I was paying about 20 bucks, which I think is fine for a single present to a one year old. So, at that point Benjamin would have
- One set with two Smart Points (I’ll explain that below) and
- Two fun cars
Each Go Go Car has several sentences and songs programmed and there are two ways you can trigger them: Manually by pressing the windshield-button or automatically by placing the cars on afore mentioned Smart Points (explained below). Every Smart Point triggers different sentences and/or songs.
Long story short; what I am trying to explain is this: Whenever you decide to get another play set from VTech, the additional Smart Points that come with it will trigger new phrases and songs in your old, already existing cars. That way, there is always new stuff to explore: When you get a new set, you’re kid will find that even his “old” cars add new stuff to their playing experience. That is really smart move from VTech, and something I really love about this entire systems: Old toys do not get boring. When you buy a new set, there is always a reason to use play with all cars you already own, even the oldest have something new to add to your kid’s playing experience.
What Smart Points Are And How They Work
So I mentioned those mysterious Smart Points before, and now I want to explain and show to you what these are and how they work. Essentially, each VTech Go Go Wheels Car has nine microswitches on its bottom; one in the back of the car, eight in the front. They work as triggers, and the Smart Points are able to push those triggers when you move the car over them or place them on top. Basically, Smart Points are tiny elevations in the Tracks of the Go Go Smart Wheel Sets.
To give you an example: For this year’s Christmas Benjamin’s grandparents got him the “VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Park and Learn Deluxe Garage“. It’s a great set with lot’s of different stuff, one of them being a fuel pump on the very top level. When you place a car in front of the fuel pump, the car will say something related to that content, for example: “I am refueling” or so. The fun thing is that EVERY car will say a DIFFERENT phrase!
From a technical point of view, this is an 8-bit-code, which would allow for 256 different phrases Smart Point could trigger. I am, however, pretty sure that this system only uses a subset of this theoretical range.
Smart Points aren’t really rocket science, but it adds lots of value to the entire system and makes it stand out compared to other car-play-kits and -sets.
What To Do If VTech Go Go Smart Wheels Really Freak You Out
But let’s be honest: Talking cars can FREAK. YOU. OUT. At the time I am writing this article we have seven Go Go Smart Wheel Cars and when your kid starts playing with all of them at the same time, it can get really annoying. The parking garage itself also has a sound module, so if you don’t know about the counter measures you can take, you may find yourself throwing the entire set out of the window.
But be assured, there is a solution, it is right here, and it is super simple 🙂
To be honest, it is so simple, I thought it’s not even worth mentioning, but when I noticed that one of my neighbours was totally bugged by his kid playing with those talking cars all day and didn’t know what to do, I told him, and she was super surprised.
All you have to do is pick the cars up, turn them around, and there between all those microswitches is another tiny, black switch. Flip it over and enjoy the silence 🙂 You should, of course, leave one or two of them turned on, so your kid can still enjoy them, but it’s perfectly fine to allow yourself some rest from “Smart Wheel Smart Ass Talk”! The good part is that the switch is so small and relatively hard to flip over, at least our one year old isn’t able to turn them on and off by himself, even though it seems that he starts to notice what this switch is supposed to do. We’ll see how long this “workaround” will be successful 🙂
How That Toy Dad Rates VTech Go Go Smart Wheels
I love playing those Go Go cars and toy sets together with my son whenever we can. It’s fun to let these cars race around the floor, and hear them talk all those phrases and sing funny songs. Benjamin loves them as well, it is definitely one of his favorite toys.
The cars itself and the playing sets that we own are very robust as well, and well crafted. So I can say nothing negative in regards to that, either. I am very happy with my buying decision.
I also want to mention that each car comes with a “demonstration battery” preinstalled. I was expecting this demo battery to run flat very soon, but even after six months we did not have to change the batteries. Pretty solid quality, given a price of less than $10 per car.
Therefore That Toy Dad, me Chris, rates VTech Go Go Smart Wheels 8/10: Compared to more creative construction toys like Lego, which is my personal 10/10, VTech Go Go Smart Wheels cannot keep quite up, as there simply is not much construction in these toy sets. You can, however, combine track parts in different ways and therefore be creative as well. It’s a great toy for you and your kids to enjoy. Go and get it!!!
From Benjamin’s point of view (one and a half years old) he would probably rate VTech Go Go Smart Wheels 9/10! Great toy!!!
Any Issues Regarding Toy Safety?
Nope, not at all. The toys are big enough so that you’re kids won’t be able to swallow small parts. All battery compartments are sealed by screws, so it needs an adult to open them and change the batteries. And even though Benjamin started to play with these toys early and heavily, there are no broken parts. These kits seem to be very solid.
You Do Not Live In The United States? Here’s How Go Go Smart Wheels Called In Your Countriy
I know that VTech Go Go Smart Wheels are named differently in different parts of the world. I can tell you that
- in Germany they are called “Tut Tut Baby Flitzer” and
- in Great Britain they are called “Toot Toot Drivers“
Did I miss your country? If you know what VTech Go Go Smart Wheels are named in your country, please get in touch with me, so I can add this information to the list above.
Have Something To Add To This Story?
Do you have something to add to this story? I am always eager to learn. What is your favourite set, age recommendation, play style when playing with your kid etc. Please drop a comment below or holla at me at chris@ThatToyDad.com – I’m looking forward to your feedback!
Why don’t you show pictures of you AND your son in your posts and on your blog?
My wife and I have established a very strict rule about pictures of our son on the Internet. Basically, we do not share any pictures of our son on social media or anywhere else on the internet until he is old enough to decide about this by himself. If you want to know more about our no-pictures-policy, our motivation and why we think it is the right thing to do, you can read about it here.
VTech Go Go Smart Wheels
Fun Factor For Dads8.5/10
Fun Factor For Kids9.5/10
Family Entertainment Value9.0/10
- Highly interactive
- High educational value (especially linguistic development)
- Expandable system
- Grows with your kid
- Good material quality and product safety
- Continuous play can freak parents out (luckily there is a switch below the cars to turn them off)
- Individual cars are a bit expensive (about USD 10 each). Tip: Try to buy them bundled!