It’s a bit weird to be the kid of a blogger. I mean, what four-year-old has a really firm grasp of what their parents do for a living? Honestly, I have trouble explaining exactly what my husband’s job entails. Cub knows I’m a blogger, and I’ve started to try to help him understand what that means exactly. When I was talking to VTech about their Smart Wheels products, I knew both of my kids would adore them. Like any parent, I love being able to give my kids cool toys (even if they wind up fighting over a rock), but I also don’t want them to think that toys magically appear at our front door. (Because that’s silly, we all know that toys only magically appear below decorated trees in December.) I realized that this VTech product review would provide the perfect opportunity to bring Cub on board.
Before I agreed to take on the review, I sat down with Cub at the computer to look at the Smart Wheels toy sets to see if he was interested in them. Vehicles, lights, sounds, racing … he was impressed. Then I explained that if he wanted to get these new toys, we would have to choose some other toys to get rid of. It was a tough sell but an important lesson. I was afraid he would get cold feet when two very happy boys came to pick up the toy he decided he didn’t play with anymore … but he did not. The next lesson was the waiting game. When would his Smart Wheels arrive? He was pretty excited when the boxes showed up one evening, and his dad and he got started constructing his Go! Go! Smart Wheels Ultimate RC Speedway. Okay actually, they started to construire son Super circuit RC Tut Tut Bolides. If you haven’t already noticed, I enjoy taking a didactic approach to parenting. Therefore, be not surprised that I insisted on reviewing the French version of VTech’s Smart Wheels, known as Tut Tut Bolides.
First of all, what is a Tut Tut Bolide? Tut tut means “beep beep,” and a bolide is a race car, although this is not a common term in Québécois French. Literally translating “Go! Go! Smart Wheels” would be a bit of a mouthful (Allez! Allez! Roues Intélligentes!), so Tut Tut Bolides will do just fine.
VTech’s Smart Wheels vehicles “entertain your child with a light-up driver button that activates music and sounds.” When used with Smart Wheels playsets featuring VTech’s SmartPoint technology, each vehicle responds with different sounds and phrases as it crosses a SmartPoint location. Our Tut Tut Bolides sing and chat in French, inspiring my children and me to play more in our second language.
The Ultimate RC Speedway is easy to set up, although I know some parents will be annoyed with having to affix all the stickers. (I personally enjoy this part … stickers are the best!) The track can be configured in multiple ways and it’s easy for little hands to click the pieces in place. The tracks also connect to other Smart Wheels playsets, of course. The set comes with one race car and remote control, and a second or third car can be purchased separately. The vehicles can only move forwards or backwards, keeping things nice and simple for young racers. The beauty of remote control race cars is you can play with your kid from the comfort of your couch!
Our favourite part of the Speedway is the elevator!
When my son and husband play together, I notice my husband will often inadvertently switch to English, even though he strives to always speak to our kids in French. With our Smart Wheels constantly chirping and singing en français, I overhear them playing entirely in French. The most common thing out of Papa’s mouth? “Lâche ma voiture!” (“Let go of my car!”) Anytime Papa is close to winning the race, Cub interferes to rig the race in his own favour.
If you’re looking for smaller-scale fun, the new Go! Go! Smart Wheels Racing Runway Airplane can be used independently or it can be attached to larger sets.
Little Miss Cub likes to open and close the airplane, and send her Smart Wheels down the track.
The new Smart Wheels Press & Race vehicles can be purchased separately and used with or without a playset. Press down on the vehicle and it will speed off while singing and talking … in our case, exposing my wee ones to more French. Ever noticed how the songs played by your children’s toys are always stuck in your head? This can be annoying … or it can be awesome if you’re trying to improve your French!
Since moving from Montreal to Calgary, my kids are no longer immersed in French when we leave the house. Cub already has a foundation thanks to his early years in La Belle Province, but I am trying to expose his little sister to as much French as possible so that she’ll be a poisson dans l’eau when she hits French preschool in two years. Playing with our new Tut Tut Bolides toys is a great way to have fun and fortify our French at the same time!
Shop for VTech products at VTechKids.ca!