Must Have: Calling All Cars

Fast, furious--and really, really small. Tiny, radio-controlled cars are hot for Christmas, but which is hottest? My two sons took 'em to the track--a bedroom floor. The entrants: a Digi Q New Beetle ($49 at sigmaautomotive.com), a MicroSizers Subaru Impreza ($29.95; see microsizers.com for stores) and a Mustang ZipZaps racer from Radio Shack ($19.95; radioshack.com lists outlets). Each two-and-a-half-inch car has a tiny rotary engine, real rubber tires and a battery-powered controller that powers and steers within a 10-foot radius. In a straight-line drag race, the Beetle blew the doors off its competition. But when Calvin, 7, decided to "do NASCAR" and race around an oval, it spun out on turns. Hank, 11, liked the looks of the blue MicroSizer (he later converted the cool-looking controller into a time machine for a school video), but the engine kept popping out, stalling the car. In the end, my motorheads loved the reliable Zip. It's the first time they've ever picked the cheapest option. I'm sure it'll be the last.