Silverlit 3D Twister
Street Price: $49.99 to $59.99 US, depending upon accessories
Mfr's recommended min. age: 5
Our recommended age range: 7+
Primary use: Indoors
Top speed: not tested
- Assembled vehicle
- Larger spare rear tires
- Cardboard stunt ramp (Deluxe set includes more accessories)
- 4x AA batteries
Just when I thought I had seen the last mini-sized RC stunt cars of 2011, here comes one more! Hey, the more the merrier, I say. Silverlit's 3D Twister is built around the "if it flips over, just keep driving" philosophy. The main chassis is less tall than the tires, so it can move just as well whether it's right side up or up side down. Normally this would still leave the problem of the controls working backwards when the vehicle has flipped, but Silverlit has addressed this with an internal sensor that supposedly lets you just continue driving normally no matter what (you can turn this sensor off if you want, but I don't know why you'd want to). The 3D Twister even has a nearly identical body on the bottom, it's just a different color to let you know when you've flipped.
The controller is small and requires just 4 AA batteries, keeping the cost of running the car nice & low. It's also an advanced 2.4GHz unit that completely eliminates the need to ever worry about whether you can run two different cars together. There's a switch that says "high gear" and "low gear," but this doesn't actually shift anything mechanical in the car like a transmission, it just gives you maximum possible speed in "high" setting, while limiting the speed on "low" to keep the car more controllable in smaller spaces. If you have a really large area to run in, you can install an included set of extra-large rear tires to increase your top speed even further.
There are three different 3D Twister packages available, and I got the cheapest one, called the Basic Set. It includes one cardboard stunt ramp and clear tape to fold & secure it into its correct shape. There is also a Toys R Us exclusive set available with a vertical half-pipe stunt accessory included, and a Deluxe set available at Get3DTwister.com includes 4 ramps and some traffic cones for setting up a veritable stunt park.
The Silverlit 3D Twister is mostly designed to be driven indoors, but our first tests were actually outside on a flat concrete slab. Unfortunately when there's any sort of dust or dirt on the ground, even if it's such a light amount that you don't notice it without actually touching it, the 3D Twister doesn't get good traction with its tires, and it will spin out easily. Thankfully the throttle ("gas") trigger has fully proportional control, so you can accelerate slowly to get moving. Once you get going beyond about 6-7mph, though, you'll start to risk spinning out again, especially if you turn at that speed. If you encounter these problems running outdoors or even on a slippery indoor surface, stay in the "low gear" setting on the controller, always squeeze the trigger very slowly when you're starting off, and don't squeeze it more than halfway.
Moving to a more appropriate driving surface, the 3D Twister completely came alive and was able to be driven at full speed pretty easily. The only downside of the top speed is that the steering radius becomes really large, but if you just slow down a little you can make tighter turns. Mastering the proportional throttle is the key to obtaining the best control over the vehicle. The 3D Twister has enough power packed in its miniature frame that if you just squeeze the trigger all the way all of the time, it will rocket off in practically random directions.
The simple little cardboard ramp included with the Basic set provided a lot more fun than I expected. It may be small, but the angles on it seem to be well-chosen and there are a lot of different types of aerial tricks you can pull off by hitting it different ways and at different speeds. You can experiment with hitting full throttle or full reverse in the air to unlock even more possibilities.
One thing that seemed very annoying during the first run with the 3D Twister was that it would suddenly stop running for no apparent reason, then return to normal driving for a little while spontaneously, only to stop again. As it turns out, this was not a problem, just an indication that the battery needed to be recharged. You get about 5 minutes of driving from a 15- to 20-minute full charge.
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The Silverlit 3D Twister is great fun. It's faster than it needs to be, and its ability to do airborne tricks and always land flat on its wheels, ready for the next stunt or speed run, is unmatched. If you get one, I strongly recommend gathering some heavy paper or cardstock, low-stick tape, and random household objects to set up the most complex stunt course you can with as many features as possible. The 3D Twister is designed to do stunts, and the more drivable obstacles you give it, the more fun you'll have. The only thing I didn't like was the poor traction on outdoor surfaces.