Tuesday, March 13, 2012
#0048: Sonic Turbo Challenge Road Race Set
To say that today’s entry is a difficult one to make is an understatement. Frankly, this may be the hardest in the long run, because this is a departure that was against my will. My hand was forced by the bitter wrath of God, and I fight back an outpour of emotion as I spit a Latin curse at the moon.
A primer: It is ironic that after my audacious claims in a prior Sonic-related post that I held the uncanny ability to collect any toy I truly wanted, it is later with that very same hedgehog that I find the exception to the rule.
There we were, strutting our stuff through a store. What was this store? I dunno, but I remember there not being many toys. I’d claim that it was a hardware store of some description, but then, there would be no toys at all. Unless it was a hardware store constructed by a man with the heart of a child, like Michael Jackson or Bud Adams. But I digress. Just a little.
And on this particular day, I spotted on the shelf a prize like no other. A prize that, in any other packaging, would have no doubt passed my attention without incident. However, this particular item was sporting my main man, Mr. Needlemouse. Yes indeed, it was the Sonic the Hedgehog Jeu De Course Sur Route Pour Challenge Turbo! And this was the amusing thing about growing up in Canada, everything was laden with French! But no; really, in my eye, it was the Sonic the Hedgehog Turbo Challenge Road Race Set. Or to be more specific, it was a box of cars with Sonic.
But alas! The parentals were steadfast. They would not be granting their whelp the box of Sonic cars on that day. At the time, I felt slighted to the umpteenth degree. Today, I grab that little bastard by the throat and tell him ‘how about you work 40 hours a week and buy it yourself? HUH?!’
What can I say, I’m a violent father. But it’s a retroactive violence against a younger version of myself, so it’s okay. It’s practically masochism. In fact, if you watch it juxtaposed against Ken’s theme from Street Fighter, it’s kind of fucking epic.
But I digress again. More so. The days would turn into months, and I don’t exactly recall how much the Sonic road race set (jeu de course!) weighed on my mind. Because this was 1994, and some serious shit was going on in the world. Some political stuff, some human interest stuff, some Donkey Kong Country stuff. So really, we were all probably a little pre-occupied.
To close the year on Christmas Day, one present stood out among all others. A little bit bigger, a little bit more significant, a little bit more radical. I’ll dispense with the suspense now, because you already know the substance, so it’s nonsense. Basically, I got the Sonic cars for Christmas. Life was worth living! There would indeed be a 1995, after all.
The concept was familiar; slot cars powered by a metallic connection to the racetrack, fed through the juice from a veritable army of D batteries. The little lights on the front of the car would illuminate when you pushed down on the throttle, and you could finally live out your fantasy of making Sonic peel about the course before your very eyes! …If, you know, Sonic was behind the wheel of a car. Like in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, just without Billy Hatcher all up in your grill.
So understandably, as the logical six-year-old that I was, I instantly assumed that the goal was to make Sonic car go as fast as possible, and I jammed down on that button with fury. And he would zip so majestically, until he hit the first bend in the track, and skidded to a deadly halt, in a most un-Sonicly fashion.
What was this sorcery? Sonic could not go at supersonic speeds without crashing to his doom, ala Tommy in Tell Laura I Love Her? Would this mean that, for the first time in our lives, we would have to show restraint?
It would seem so, judging by the yellow car manned by my cousin, who was rounding the corners with ease and heading onto his next lap. In all fairness however, his car had a Tails sticker, it was bound to have better handling.
It was a daunting task, but I came to terms with it eventually. You see, kids these days don’t know how good they have it: they can just watch Cars to learn all about how to handle corners. Lightning McQueen didn’t hit our screens until I was 18 and behind the wheel of an actual car, at which point safe turning was useless advice to me.
In the end, I finally learnt something that day, and carefully accelerated on the straights, while easing the pressure on the turns. It was a hollow victory, because my cousin had figured that out right from the start, and had already completed the circuit eight laps ago.
It’s a little over seventeen years later, and I would most certainly love to recreate that pristine Christmas afternoon, but something is amiss. The aforementioned wrath of God, you were still pondering about that, weren’t you? Well, I’ll go one better than to tell you: I’ll show you.
Holy shit, my Sonic wheels have fucking melted.
Keen racing enthusiasts will note that this is detrimental to driving properties, and frankly, I have no idea how it happened. I mean, honestly: Australia is a warm climate, no doubt, but it’s not known for temperatures so scorching it will melt shit. And before you ask, no, this was never in the garage. It’s been sitting in the dining room since 1997, and I personally don’t dine in rooms hotter than ovens.
As you may have surmised, this effectively renders my Sonic racetrack inoperable. I mean, sure, I could possibly salvage the track and its components in the assumption that there are other slot cars that would operate on it, but surely, if someone out there has said slot cars, they most assuredly have tracks as well. The only thing they’re missing is a pair of palm trees, and I cautiously question the importance of that.
So out into the exciting world of landfill goes my Sonic track. I feel absolutely treacherous to dump something my parents so lovingly bought for me all those years ago, but what other option do I have? Really slow, awkward races where the cars bounce up and down as if they had a jack on the wheels? Screw that, Sonic is made for speed baby, he’d prefer to go down in flames.
And really, isn’t this an appropriate fate for a Sonic-themed racing set? No doubt it would have been pure degradation for the cars to have been ushered through the generations, once a hip, speedy toy, later an ancient dinosaur of plastic and metal. It’s like a proud racing horse that is relegated to children’s fairs in its advanced years.
Instead, jeu de course died in a blaze of glory. Look at it this way, we literally burned rubber. And that is pretty damned badass, no matter what way you spin (dash) it.