A fun electric vehicle for kids

After I finished my first ride on the Roleplay 12-Volt Nighthawk, both of my kids told me in person, “It’s a lot of fun.” I had no doubt they’d love it—because what kid wouldn’t want to drive their own electric vehicle? But, with the car’s unique balancing mechanics on one of the rear wheels, I was curious how quickly they would carry the toy. Each of them felt a little uncomfortable in the first few minutes with the Nighthawk, but after their opening loop in a park, on a flat, open surface, there was no looking back.

Not only does Nighthawk look fun by roleplay, but it’s also fun. The driving mechanics introduce a bit of a learning curve to begin with, but overall this little challenge only adds to its longevity, before kids want to move on to something else.

tl; Dr

professionals:

  • funny electric vehicle
  • run time of over an hour
  • easy assembly

Shortcoming:

  • heavy to carry
  • It hurts to charge the cable

Buy on Amazon.

Nighthawk Electric Kart Features

The best toy is the one you can use right away. Nighthawk is a double-edged sword in this way as the only assembly required is to insert the flag into a hole in the back. The instructions also say to charge the battery for 24 hours before its first use. In fact, if you actually read through the instruction manual, much of it is devoted to the battery and charging – around temperature, timing or other details.

Roleplay 12th Nighthawk
The only controls on the Nighthawk are a power button on the front of the seat, and the accelerator and brake.
Tyler Hayes

The battery is an important part of the product and should provide a run time of 90 minutes. In practical use, the battery never died when my kids were riding the Nighthawk. This always provided ample time for each of them to feed themselves. To charge the battery, you must remove the seat and unscrew the connector. This process is not difficult, but it does take some time.

As per the specifications, the vehicle tops out at 6.5 mph and has a turning radius of 2 metres. The flag can be easily removed, but is recommended so that children sitting on the cart, sitting down, can be seen while riding.

Roleplay 12th Nighthawk Ride

The bottom of the Nighthawk resembles a set of skateboard wheels up front and a large, rubber wheel in the rear. Once the vehicle is moving, it balances itself, or is supposed to. This is where some practice comes into play. Immediately after sitting, you will lean to one side or the other. This is how you go. Tilt your body to the left and you slide to the left. The same is true for turning right.

At first, the turn may feel unnatural, and like you’ll be scraping the sides of the seat like a plastic sled. Under each handle is a wheel that looks like it’s taken off a rollerblade. These side wheels keep the vehicle navigating independently as you tilt your body each turn.

Roleplay 12th Nighthawk
The vehicle is a sleek, shiny plastic that has been durable during my testing.
Tyler Hayes

There are two pedals on which your feet naturally rest when seated. The right is the accelerator, and the left is the brake. Although you may be able to gradually increase the speed after a lot of use, the primary use of the right pedal is to just go. Interestingly, I noticed both myself and my kids initially refraining from using the brake pedal a bit. The temptation is to take your foot off the acceleration and keep both feet on the ground. I’m not sure why this is so, but it happened organically among different people.

To answer the question posed a moment ago, yes, I ran that one too. Official guidelines state that Nighthawk is for ages 6 and up. I was so pleased with this statue that I initially missed that there is even a weight limit of 110 pounds. But I can report that the car will still work with riders weighing around 150 pounds.

While the balance aspect is thrilling for people of all ages, the short distance from seat to brake and accelerator pedals is the biggest deterrent in making it great fun for tall adults. Read the instructions and follow the recommended guidelines. (This may work for some adults.) For kids who fall within the recommended guidelines but who are too tall, there’s a Nighthawk NexGen model that outgrows the pedals and hand grips.

During my brief test, I had no sense of my children’s speed. Proportionately, they felt like they were flying. 6.5 mph seemed reasonable for this vehicle type. Sure, after getting too familiar with it, the fast pace would have been welcome, but overall the pace felt right.

Roleplay 12th Nighthawk
Underneath the plastic car are two front wheels, two side wheels and a rear wheel connected to a motor.
Tyler Hayes

My kids, both under the age of 10, loved the Nighthawk vehicle from the moment they saw it. Even after using it for a long time, they still loved it as much. The potential a child sees in a toy they can “really” drive takes a little imagination. And finally, the vehicle fulfilled the promise they saw in it.

The Nighthawk’s biggest drawback is that it’s a bit heavy to carry. It weighs 20 pounds, but most people will be able to lift the car to stow it in a car trunk or to carry it around the garage. The weight and physical size make the vehicle a bit difficult to carry over long distances. Taking it to a park down the block, it got pretty heavy.

Should you buy Roleplay 12th Nighthawk?

Nighthawk is a little simpler than it looks. It’s not one of those novelty electric vehicles like a smaller version of a car or SUV. What it lacks in appearance makes up for in utility. It’s a thrill to learn to balance it, plus it’s fun to be able to move around in circles and have a wide range of mobility.

You’ll have to decide if spending about $150 on a toy vehicle fits into your budget, but I can attest that kids think it’s fun and it works as advertised.

Buy it on Amazon for $143 and Walmart for $139.

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