Spring is here again, and I’ve been looking for some new ways to keep my kids—and let’s face it, myself—entertained while playing outside. Going into the sunny weather during lockdowns for the second time, we have worn out a lot of the simple standard activities, so Spin Master’s Monster Jam Megalodon Storm RC Car got their attention right out of the box.
Having grown up in the nineties, I couldn’t help but remember all the various shark-themed merchandise that was peddled at my generation, and the Megalodon fit right in with memories of Street Sharks and my Mighty Max Man Eater playset.
But Monster Jam branding aside, the toy itself is light yet durable. I was a little surprised that the “shark” body itself is hollow, as it seemed like a solid or reinforced piece of plastic from its pictures. Instead, it’s mostly there for show, while the actual “RC car” itself constitutes about 2/3 of its size. This made it light enough for my toddler to lift, yet durable enough that it wasn’t taking any damage when smashing into tree trunks or careening off hills.
Its all-terrain features are a strong selling point. As advertised, the Megalodon handled all the surfaces my family threw at it—hills, soft grass, puddles, mud. The engine is powerful enough that it climbed a steep incline from zero to sixty with ease, and barely slowed along the way. If anything, it can be a little too powerful, especially in the hands of younger, inexperienced operators. When the sticks are pushed to their limits, the Megalodon really books it, and can easily flip or crash. We often had to stop and reset if it hit a divot at the wrong angle.
Speaking of the sticks, the controller is simple and effective, with one stick to move forward or reverse, and one to turn. It struck the right proportionate balance to be held by kids and parents and has an impressive range from the car itself.
The Megalodon’s battery life, however, was somewhat underwhelming. With a full charge it lasted about forty minutes, or almost as long as most younger kids are going to want to stay outside. The charging compartment isn’t too tedious to get to, but constant charging makes it a nuisance, given the short USB charging cable attached to the unit.
That being said, there isn’t a lot to do with the Megalodon either. It needs a lot of space and varied terrain to really get the most out of it—cramped backyards will not be very stimulating, unless one makes a game out of retrieving and flipping it. Here the battery life becomes relevant again, for people who live in cramped suburbs and may need to take a jaunt to get to sufficiently open space.
Aside from its power and all-terrain capabilities, the Megalodon doesn’t have many bells and whistles, or tricks to perform. It does perform very well in its limited capacity, however. It’s a fun entry-level RC car for children to learn with—kids from 4-6 can get the hang of it, older kids could really put it through its paces, and it can even be fun for toddlers to chase around while someone else operates it. Relatively speaking it doesn’t require tremendous fine motor skills to control but builds coordination in its use. Eventually my older child was running alongside it while driving, and had it follow us down a narrow footpath with ease.
And at the end of the day every parent can appreciate a toy that will take a beating and keep on going. We all want to avoid the disappointment that comes when a toy breaks down or underperforms. The few tasks the Megalodon can perform, it does admirably.