Product: Nintendo’s franchise player, Mario, is back with his sweetheart, Princess Peach, this time doing battle in 1:43 scale on the straights, corners and loops of Carrera’s latest GO!!! slot car set — Mario Kart DS! Included in the set is Mario-themed track with a loop, banked corner and flyover, and two carts — Mario and Peach. Also included are two Carrera plunger throttles with “turbo boost” button and power pack.
Performance: Setting up the track was a snap — literally. While the GO!!! pieces slide together easily, each connection needs to be fitted with a small plastic clip on either side of the track. For some places, like the loop and banked corner, these clips also went between the tracks to hold them together. While this was a bit time consuming, it made the track very sturdy, eliminating gaps between track pieces and dead spots from poor connectivity.
The downside to this setup is that once the track is together, it’s virtually one single piece. Unlike other slot products from Carrera, Scalextric or SCX, swapping pieces in and out of this track isn’t likely. Removing a piece or taking the track apart requires the removal of all the plastic clips, which don’t come out easily.
Once set up, the track is a solid 4- by 6-foot layout with the familiar stars from the Mario Kart game along the route. The track tries to emulate Mario Kart with its banked corner and loop, but it’s a victim of its own success. While these elements do accurately emulate the video game, the track is a little too packed with them. The loop, for instance, requires the use of the boost button to get a cart through it, but it takes a little skill to know when to lay off the boost so as to not shoot the cart straight off the corner right after the loop. While experienced slot car drivers may have the finesse for this, young video game fans may not.
The carts themselves are of stellar design with excellent paint jobs. They are clearly the stars of this set. They handle well, but, again, due to the design sticking as closely as possible to the video game, younger drivers may have difficulty controlling them.
All in all the GO!!! Mario Kart DS set performed as I expected it would, good enough to please my kids, but it’s not for slot enthusiasts.
Marketing: Some products need demoing and others just have that shelf appeal — this is one of the ones with shelf appeal. Mario (and Mario Kart) has almost become a household name. With that element alone this has great marketing potential.
Carrera has done a nice job, also, of packaging this set to make it reach as broad an audience as possible. It includes both Mario and Peach, so it will appeal to both boys and girls alike. And Carrera offers the villainous Wario (No. 61083, $17.99) as a separate purchase for those wanting a little more variety in their GO!!! Mario Kart experience.
With the Christmas season looming, this set is a great additional item for your store’s slot section. Moms will like it for their kids with its recognizable characters and its lower price point. And those wanting to get into slots, but not wanting to take the plunge for a bigger set can get the experience here.
Product: GO!!! Mario Kart DS
Stock No.: 62206
Availability: Check with your favorite slot car distributor
Sturdy track layout
Great entry-level price point