Air Hogs Zero Gravity Real Rides
Street Price: $24.99 US
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 8
Our recommended age range: 8-11
Primary use: Indoor
Top speed: Slow
Radio: Infrared, 3 channels available
- Assembled vehicle
- 6x AA batteries for the controller
I've previously reviewed both the Air Hogs Zero Gravity Micro and Zero Gravity Nano, and while both performed well, the main thing I didn't like about either was the fact that the visible "wheels" didn't turn at all and were just painted on the body for show. The Zero Gravity Real Rides series finally fixes this in a Micro-sized package. The wheels & tires are very skinny, but they do turn, they ride on soft springs, and they look good. In fact, the whole car looks amazing, detailed as well as many non-RC models. Major kudos there. The visible wheels spin freely with nothing really connected to them though -- actual forward propulsion still comes from just two clear, thin tires on the underside of the car (you can barely see one just in front of the rear tire in the photo above).
Preparing to Drive
You know the drill, this is an Air Hogs product, so there car has a rechargable battery built in, and you charge it directly from the controller. It really couldn't be easier.
Like the earlier Zero Gravity cars, each Real Rides car has two driving modes. The first is for driving on normal horizontal surfaces. In this mode, the bright headlights lights come on, and the car drives somewhat like a tank. The front wheels don't steer, and instead the left and right wheels turn at different speeds and can even go in opposite directions to make the car spin in place. The speed is not exciting at al. Steering is quirky, too. The car really wants to drive on a perfectly flat and smooth surface. It would sometimes get temporarily stuck on a pretty flat linoleum kitchen floor. It also turned much better in one direction than the other, and I could not fully correct this with the steering trim on the controller.
In wall/ceiling mode, the vacuum motor comes alive in dramatic fashion. This thing is loud! They never point that out in the commercials. The sound is truly intense, like an actual small vacuum cleaner. It's the type of thing that I fear will make some parents or siblings scream at the top of their lungs, "Turn that off!" after a couple runs. Regardless, the sound isn't for nothing, as the vacuum does indeed hold the car to a smooth wall or ceiling. The key word there is "smooth." If a surface has too much texture on it, the vacuum won't be able to seal up under the car, and it won't stick well.
I didn't have much fun driving the Air Hogs Zero Gravity Real Rides car on a wall. Gravity and the skinny tires battled too evenly. Sometimes the tires won and the car went where I wanted it to, and sometimes gravity won and the car slid down a bit. It drives best sideways across the wall, but sometimes one side would slide down and it would turn up or down when I didn't want it to. On a smooth ceiling is where the car did best, driving around even better than it did on the ground, with no surprises.
Speaking of surprises, you don't have to worry about the battery suddenly dying out of nowhere, causing the car to freefall to the ground. When the battery is about to run out, the headlights flash! As soon as they flash, you should take it down and turn it off. It will only be a matter of seconds before the headlights go out completely as a final warning, and a couple seconds later it will shut off altogether.
(Click a video a second time to view it larger in a new window.)
I think The Air Hogs Zero Gravity Real Rides cars are a much-neded update to the original Micro version, with amazing detail in various officially-licensed body styles. However, the newfound beauty is only skin-deep in my experiences. The Zero Gravity Micro drives better and is much more fun to actually use. The Real Rides car does drive on floors, walls, and ceilings as advertised, it just doesn't to enough of it well.