I’ve been putting off writing this review for quite a while because I have mixed feelings about this range of toys. We bought our first VTech Toot Toot Cory Carson Smart Point car a year ago, for Jellyfish’s first birthday. Since then, we have bought five more.
The features they are supposed to have:
They light up and talk/sing things from the Netflix TV show Toot Toot Cory Carson.
Each little toy seems to be voiced by the original actors (if you buy in the UK/Ireland you will get the British dubbed voices, which is good to know because the American ones will get the original American voices).
These work with the wider VTech Toot Toot toy range which is a whole selection of miniature toys that are like the Cory Carson ones but not part of that fictional world.
There are also playsets which have Smart Points in them. A Smart Point is an area in a playset that incites a toy car to say additional phrases.
If you stand one toy car on another one’s head, you can also incite additional phrases. I don’t know if these are different to the ones you get on Smart Points as we have several cars and no playsets.
When I first saw the orange Cory Carson cars in Sainsbury’s supermarket, I was stunned to discover they were suitable for ages 1+, which is what it says on the boxes. My baby was massively interested in cars (still is) and it was hard to find toy cars that were suitable for his age.
The bright colours appealed to him. The toy was just about the right size for him to hold in his little hand. Jellyfish was overjoyed that he had a toy car that talked and sang to him while its windscreen lit up. Everyone was happy.
However, after four weeks, that first car broke.
Cue much heartbreak and upset from a baby who had fallen in love with his new toy car and took it everywhere with him. Unfortunately, while they look really good, they are not robust enough for newly-turned one-year-olds. We think what happened to the first one was that Jellyfish dribbled too much (he sucked his car a lot as that’s how one-year-olds explore and play, really), the toy wasn’t watertight against dribbly babies, and so the electronics shorted out. But we’re not sure because I’m not an electronic engineer. Being a one-year-old, and unconditional with his affection, Jellyfish loved the car still.
So he played with his silent car, took it everywhere with him still and often fell asleep holding it. It was his favourite toy, still, but now it didn’t talk to him or light up. When he pressed the buttons, nothing happened. For £7.99 I didn’t think that was great value for a toy that was now just a small and basic lump of plastic, to be honest.
We still have that one, don’t ask me why we kept it, but we took it out of circulation and put it in a box somewhere after we bought him his second Cory Carson toy car. I think I probably held onto it in case he lost his second one and we needed to give him something while we ordered another. Cory was that essential by this point.
I agonized for several months over whether to buy a second one, because it seemed like these had a design flaw against baby dribble, and I didn’t want to throw good money after bad at this range of toys. But I couldn’t be 100% sure we hadn’t just bought a dud. £7.99 for four weeks of functionality wasn’t great value. Ultimately, though, I knew it would make Jellyfish happy to have more of them, and he was older now, so maybe the same issue wouldn’t arise.
We got the second orange Cory Carson car when Jellyfish was around 16 or 17 months. When we bought this car as part of a set, we also found another issue…
The Chrissy cars are not all created equal
He was still in love with these little cars (and he still is). He loves the TV show. He adores the characters. His favourite is Chrissy. So I bought him the Cory and Chrissy set. Our set included Freddie and Hallie, too. There wasn’t any good information about this set and I thought (being a reasonable person) after searching for any reviews online and finding nothing, that the Chrissy cars must all be the same.
The Chrissy cars are not all the same. If you buy Chrissy in a set, there’s a good chance she won’t be an electronic one, she will be a half-sized one with a big hole in the bottom proving she is hollow inside. She will not work on Smart Points and will not inspire any of the other toys to talk.
So we had to buy another one of these cars and as you can see in the picture above, we ended up with one electrical one that talks and lights up (on the left) and one that doesn’t do anything (on the right).
How to tell between the talking and non-talking Chrissy car
Counter-intuitively, the small Chrissy toy (that doesn’t talk) has “Chrissy” written across her bumper just like all the other toys (Cory, Freddie etc) have their names on their bumpers. The big Chrissy toy that actually talks has nothing written across her bumper.
I bought the talking one for €8.99 from Littlewoods after discovering that the first one we bought in a Cory and Chrissy set was actually the small, non-electronic one. Before that, I didn’t know there was any difference between the Chrissy cars you could buy, and it wasn’t very clear from the product descriptions for the various toys, all they said was that the Chrissy in the Cory and Chrissy set was “miniature” not that she didn’t do anything.
The electronic talking Chrissy is the same size (actually, bigger) than the talking orange Cory car, so brother and sister have a bit of a perspective issue when playing with them side-by-side. As far as I am aware, you can only buy a talking electronic Chrissy separately, and not in any of the bundles with any other cars.
Pros of buying a talking Chrissy:
- The phrases are a really great selection. She has a good range and the timing and delivery of the lines are really spot-on.
- If your little one’s favourite character is Chrissy, you will probably want to get this to add to your collection.
- When you put the talking Chrissy on Cory’s head, and vice-versa, you get to hear some spontaneous extra phrases from both of them.
Because of the confusion around the talking/non-talking versions of Chrissy, I don’t see the talking one being on sale for long because people don’t have enough information to understand that she’s different to the smaller one available in the sets of cars. This is a shame because Chrissy is the best character in the opinion of my toddler.
We also have Freddie the Firetruck and Hallie the Helicopter. They are available as part of a set with Cory and miniature Chrissy. If you want all the other Bumperton Hills characters, you will probably end up with more than one Cory and mini Chrissy.
Freddie is really good, his ladder is a moving part that lifts up and down. He has additional phrases when you place any other character on his head. However, his side button which makes his siren light up stopped working fairly early on.
Hallie was a bit of a reach in terms of design. The wheels are tiny so she doesn’t really roll around as well as the other characters. Her helicopter blades are supposed to spin when you press a button (that I think is spring-operated) but this stopped working within a few weeks of getting her. You can still flick the propeller around with your finger but not with the button so some of the magic has been lost.
Compatibility with other toys
Obviously, it would be completely weird to play with one toy in isolation of all the others, and that’s not how babies/toddlers play, so we have seen how these toys work with a range of other toys in our house.
The Toot Toot VTech range are the right size to fit the Ikea toy car garage. You can fit four Toot Toot Cory Carson cars on the top of the garage and they will go down the ramp (but Hallie will stop the moment she touches carpet as her wheels are small).
You can also fit them in the back of the Vertbaudet dump truck (which is marketed as a beach toy but we keep it at home), and they work well with the Mega Bloks fire engine. Jellyfish particularly enjoys putting Freddie the Fire Truck in the back of the Mega Bloks fire engine, presumably because he’s imagining he has Freddie and his mum.
If you have a pop-up toy, you can put the Toot Toot cars on top of the pop-up areas and they will hold them down or flick off at random, which Jellyfish found very hilarious to do several times as he was approaching his second birthday.
They can be put on the seat of the BabyLo rocking unicorn to take them for a little ride.
Jellyfish particularly loves lining them up and parking them on flat surfaces. The TV table, the windowsill, the top of the (switched off) radiator, the bottom step of the stairs.
If I supervise and open the stairgate, he also likes taking them for a drive up the stairs, by picking them up one at a time and putting them on the next step up. This takes a very long time and when he gets to the top of the stairs, he picks each car up one at a time and moves them back down the stairs again.
And this is why I have so many mixed feels about this set of toys. He enjoys playing with them. He adores them, in fact. And I think that’s why it bothered me so much when they stopped working properly.
More electrical issues (solved)
From the second lot of toys I bought (Cory number two, Chrissie number two, Freddie and Hallie), every last one of these toys seemed to stop working properly 6 months into having them. All of them suddenly developed the exact same electronic fault (which is different to the issue we had with Cory number one, where he just shorted out or something).
They got stuck like a broken record repeating a couple of seconds of one pre-recorded sound over and over again, and sometimes they got stuck on the first half-a-second of a sound, repeating it at high speed with a very rapidly flashing light until you turned the toy off.
When this happened to one toy, I thought we must have dropped it one too many times. But then they all stopped working in such a weird way.
Luckily, this wasn’t an electronic fault at all! Phew! They just needed new batteries. We changed the batteries and the cars started behaving themselves again, although Hallie’s propeller still doesn’t work when you press the button for it.
These toys say they’re suitable from age 1+, and it’s true from a safety point of view (there are no small parts to choke on). However, from a playing point of view, they are not robust enough for one-year-olds who dribble and suck their toys a lot. They will not stay fully functional for very long. And at their current prices, that’s a lot of money to pay for a set of plastic cars.
They are also the ideal size to get lost under the sofa. A lot. And as you can see from my photo of Cory, the details are all painted on, and this comes off under heavy use from a toddler (see especially the scuffed white area around the orange lights at the bottom).
On the plus side, however, most of the range don’t use up their batteries very quickly even if your child plays with them for hours every day.
Chrissy takes 3 L1154F (AKA AG13 or LR44) (weird silver circular batteries) which may explain why her batteries run down faster than the other toys and also makes it more annoying when you need to change them because you’re unlikely to have a pack of these sitting around in your house, because what else takes them?
All the other cars we have (Cory, Freddie and Hallie) take 2x AAA batteries but it’s anyone’s guess as to what the others in the range take.
They are very, very safe. The battery compartment is protected by a cross-head screw that you could possibly open with a coin but a small child won’t be able to get into the batteries.
The wheels don’t seem to come off no matter how much they get chewed (unlike a non-VTech toy car we bought from Hamley’s that I’ll review separately).
There are no places in the electronic talking toys for a child to get their fingers trapped (I suspect it is possible with the smaller non-electronic Chrissy if you give her to a very young child with small fingers).
The only potential issue we’ve had (which has happened a few times) is Hallie is an awkward shape and when Jellyfish drops her on his foot, she makes him cry. None of the others seem to have this issue, he’s dropped them on his foot loads of times and doesn’t seem phased by it.
Alternatives to the Toot Toot Cory Carson range of cars
If you’re on a serious budget; I recommend the £4-£5 ASDA set of four plastic cars, instead. These are roughly the same size as the Toot Toot cars (and also fit well to supplement playtime with the Cory cars if you have two-under-two, twins or other multiples and need more similar toys to the Toot Toot ones but maybe don’t need them all to have bells and whistles). The ASDA cars are not electronic, the wheels turn and that’s about it but they are also suitable for going underwater so they have that as an advantage over the Cory cars.
As you can see in the picture below, the ASDA cars are slightly smaller (and the plastic is thinner, they feel cheaper) but these two sets of cars play very well together because the wheels are identical sizes. ASDA is Wal-Mart in the US so you might find these cars in there, too, but I don’t know. It’s been about two years since I last went to America.
Buy the VTech Toot Toot Cory Carson cars if your child adores the TV series and if you have the money to spend. They’ll get some enjoyment out of them even if the electrical components fail. Otherwise, they are perfect for older toddlers/preschoolers rather than 12-month-olds. Personally, I would have waited until Jellyfish was over 15 months before buying these if I’d known they weren’t dribble-proof. Waiting a little longer could save you money on buying replacement cars.
You know your child best, and if your child doesn’t dribble a lot and suck everything in sight, perhaps your toys will fare better than our first one did.
I would not recommend buying these for autistic children because the design is not robust enough and you will have a LOT of meltdowns when the toy doesn’t do what it did yesterday, and you will be running out and buying a LOT of replacements.
The bottom line is, I would recommend these for 15 months and over, if you keep on top of the battery changes. We will almost certainly end up buying more of them one day because Jellyfish is so in love with the Cory series and with all the characters. If you need more cars to play with that will fit the same size of playsets as the Cory Carson cars, get the cheap ASDA ones as well. If you’re on a budget, just get the orange Cory and supplement playtime with the cheap ASDA cars.
This is my honest review of products I paid full price for, from four different retailers, and all opinions are my own thoughts and feelings, all photos in this article are taken by me of the toys we own. Your mileage may vary. All babies are different.
Note: These are called Go! Go! Cory Carson in the US.