Review: Fireman Sam – Jupiter Drive and Steer

Disclosure: This product was sent to me free of charge by Character to be reviewed. However, as per my PR info disclaimer, this review is my unbiased honest opinion of the product.

Product: Fireman Sam – Jupiter Drive and Steer

Price: £29.99

Age Range: 18 months+

Manufacturer’s Description: Turn the steering wheel and control where the Fireman Sam Jupiter Fire Engine goes. Press forward or reverse & turn the wheel. There’s Turbo for extra speed and a siren to warn other vehicles! Also plays the theme tune. There’s a mute button for quiet play.

Teaches: hand-eye co-ordination, cause & effect and spatial awareness in a fun way!

Rating: (4/5 stars)

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Review: As soon as I told my husband James that we were going to be reviewing one of these toys, he was excited. The little boy in him was delighted at the prospect of a remote-control vehicle with a steering wheel to turn instead of switches to flick. A fire engine, no less!

The first time he played with it, he loved it. He whizzed it around our laminate flooring quite happily, manoeuvring it quite well around the corners, and we both even managed to do some 3 (ok, maybe 4 or 5) point turns with the little fire truck.

Georgie, however, wasn’t nearly as enamoured as her parents in this case. Unfortunately, our little girl has a bit of a phobia where mechanical whirring noises are concerned. Vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, electric razors, bubble machines… they all just freak her out.

Jupiter, this poor remote control fire engine that just wants to drive around putting out imaginary fires and rescuing pretend cats, falls into the same category as the Dyson Airblade. On of these devil machines recently left me trying to dry my sopping wet hands on my trousers while a sobbing (and also sopping wet) two-year-old clung around my neck… not our finest hour.

The theory of Jupiter, as an inanimate object, was a hit. She liked to play with the fire engine while it was turned off – before she witnessed it driving along for the first time, at least! The minute the switches were flicked and Jupiter sped along the floor with siren a-wailing, Georgie decided to join in with the wailing and sped out of the room completely.

Having said all that, this is not a fault with the toy. This is a fault with my child. She is, to be completely honest, a bit of a wuss. We’re working on that. Jupiter, the actual topic of this review, is a fab little fire engine. James and I (and my Dad) enjoyed it immensely… when we were allowed to play with it (i.e. when Georgie was not around).

The turning circle is surprisingly good and the manoeuvrability actually rather decent on this thing. I love the fact you can steer it in a “normal” fashion by just holding the wheel and turning it, rather than pushing switches about – so much easier for a young child to understand, and it feels much more natural.

There are five buttons on the remote control wheel:

  • Start – “starts the engine” with a sound effect
  • Sound – plays Fireman Sam’s voice saying “Great Fires of London!”
  • Turbo – speeds up the wheels (it’s quite a decent boost!)
  • Forward
  • Reverse

All of the sound effects come from the engine itself, and a little snatch of the theme tune plays when you first flick the switch on the bottom of the engine as well.

There is also a siren noise that plays when you drive it around, but you can mute this with a switch under the fire engine. The little complaint I have with this is that the mute button doesn’t silence Fireman Sam’s catchphrase, just the sirens. I would imagine than constant repeats of “Great Fires of London” could get a little grating after a while…

I hoped to have photos or video of Georgie playing with this, but her freak outs mean that not only do I not have any of her playing with it, but I also haven’t managed to get a video of it in action in the time we’ve had it so far. Hopefully I can take it for a spin sometime soon while she’s otherwise occupied with Mr. Sandman and I will add a video to the post then.

My only real complaint about this remote control fire engine is that it only seems to run on laminate or tiled floor, not on carpet or rugs. Both ourselves and my parents have rugs in our living rooms and Jupiter wouldn’t drive on them, despite ours being low-pile and fairly carpet like. This is fairly typical for remote control vehicles with small wheels, but it doesn’t stop it being a bit annoying. Luckily we have plenty of smooth floors so it’s not too much of an issue in this house, but it’s definitely something to consider if you live in a carpeted house.

We give Jupiter a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. I think a lot of children will enjoy this toy, and hopefully Georgie will too… when she stops being scared of things that go bzzzzz!

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