Over four-and-a-half days of testing and playing with Sphero’s Ultimate Lightning McQueen “connected companion” RC car, we can confidently say that the toy lives up to its moniker — it is the ultimate Lightning McQueen. Between his superb and very sturdy build-quality, you’ll be able to play with Lightning without the worry of easy breakages (we sheepishly admit to rolling him off of a curb while driving a little aggressively…don’t tell his girlfriend, Sally).
The detailed animations in his eyes and emotive suspension really make him feel much more alive than you’d think is possible. The quality of his speaker is quite surprising as well as you can clearly hear his voice even at the far end of his 98-foot (30 Meter) Bluetooth range.
When the news of the Ultimate Lightning McQueen broke we wrote a post highlighting some of the high-level specs of Lightning, but we decided to really dive in and provide a detailed video breakdown in the following areas:
- Unboxing McQueen
- Learning how to use the app to drive
- Testing Lightning’s driving ability on multiple surfaces (rubber, cement, carpet)
- Close-ups of his animatronic mouth in action
- Detailed look at the app — settings, acting studio (scripts), pit stop panic gameplay, and more
- Watching Cars with Lightning and showcasing his reactions to the film
- Exploring how McQueen reacts to his interactive touch panels
- Our wrap up thoughts with favorite moments while playing with McQueen, wish list of items we’d like to see in future updates, and quirks we faced and how we fixed them.
The Ultimate Lightning McQueen falls somewhere between an RC car, a robot, and a toy. From those we surveyed while playing, people said that his emotive nature, speaking phrases, and his lean while steering were their favorite elements. Diehard RC fans wanted more speed and noted that they would prefer a separate controller rather than exclusively controlling him through the app — but that group admittedly held different views of what an RC car is than the standard user.
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UPDATED: This incredible must-have addition to the Cars toy franchise can be purchased used on eBay (search on eBay using this pre-filtered link) and is no longer available in new condition (it retailed originally for $299.99 USD).
As noted in our video review, after being away from McQueen for a while, we were tempted to rev his engines and start driving again as soon as possible — and that’s a great sign of a fun and interactive experience.
- Driving – Emotive suspension allows Lightning to move like a champion.
- Drifting – Drift and do donuts Lightning-style with authentic movement.
- Reactive Touch – Master Lightning’s latest moves with a simple tap.
- Acting Studio – Create animations for Lightning to perform.
- Pit Stop Panic – Race the clock changing tires, fueling up, and getting racers back on the track in this mini game.
What’s in the Box
- Ultimate Lightning McQueen
- Micro USB Cable
- Quick Start Guide
- Legal Guide
- Wall Adapters based on Region
- iOS & Android compatible
- 30 meter range
- Bluetooth™ Smart v4.0
- 40 minute battery life
- Free App: Ultimate Lightning McQueen powered by Sphero available through iTunes or Google Play Store
- Speed up to 6 MPH
- 1 Hour Charge Time
- Height: 3.23in./8.2cm – Length: 9.91in./25.1cm – Width: 5.0in./12.7cm – Weight: 1.98 lbs./916g
Made for iPhone 5s or newer, iPod 6th Gen or newer, iPad 3 or newer, iPad Mini 2 or newer. Made for Android with Bluetooth(TM) v4.0 and running Android 5.0 or newer.