If you happen to be a person of a certain age — say, under 50 — there’s a fair chance you know I’m not speaking gibberish when I hold forth on the benefits of kitting out your Princess Peach Biddybuggy with roller wheels and a parasail.
So, if I didn’t lose you right there, you’ll probably feel your fingers twitch when I tell you that Hot Wheels and Nintendo have collaborated recently on a Super Mario-themed Rainbow Road racetrack. It’s a gift any Mario Kart or Hot Wheels fan (or parent of young children) should consider.
Hot Wheels Mario Kart Rainbow Road Raceway Set
Easily the most iconic track in the Mario Kart video game series, the Rainbow Road level had you racing against Koopa Troopas, Yoshi, Toad and two Brooklyn-born water-and-sewerage specialists on a gravity-defying rainbow in outer space. The Hot Wheels Mario Kart Rainbow Road racetrack doesn’t launch you into orbit, but it does come with other essential elements from the Mario Kart level, including the countdown lights, randomized block items that can either help or hinder your progress and even an electronic scoreboard that announces the winner of each race.
There are downsides, though. For one thing, it’s 8 feet long — and regardless of what ‘90s sitcoms may have tried to foist on the rest of America, most New York City homes aren’t equipped to handle 8 feet of anything. The racetrack can be assembled to be curvy instead of straight, which will shorten it, but it’d still take up a lot of real estate for a city home — meaning there’d be sacrifices, probably from a grown-up. Another issue? It seems to have caught on with other Mario Kart and Hot Wheels fans — they have been selling out quickly.
I’m strongly considering getting my son this racetrack soon. On a recent trip to a new theme park, my 3-year-old ignored the brightly colored rides and intricate, life-sized toy sculptures and spent the biggest chunk of his time at a simple wooden ramp almost hidden indoors. It was a crude miniature racetrack, and my son spent easily an hour letting his race car creations speed down the slope over and over again.
My son isn’t an especially avid Super Mario fan — we limit his screen time to special occasions, so what he knows about the Super Mario character he’s gleaned entirely through kid-level cultural osmosis. (He still peppers me with questions I can’t quite answer, like “Is Mario a good plumber, actually?” and “Is a plumber’s job to fight monsters?”) But the chubby, bright and cheerfully designed characters seem to have a universal appeal, and I know he’d get on board immediately — OSHA-type dilemmas concerning plumbers’ occupational hazards notwithstanding.
Whether you’re still looking for the perfect gift for a video game zealot or, like me, have young, car-loving kids to shop for, the joint creation from Hot Wheels and Mario Kart is definitely worth considering. Right now, the Hot Wheels Mario Kart Rainbow Road set is just waiting for the green flag in my shopping cart, because I know it’d be guaranteed years of fun for my son — and because, yes, I’d definitely play with it, too.