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To be filed under: “Ideas that Sounded Really Good During That Drunken Party Last Night.” Mattel, in what seems to be a desperate attempt to remain relevant into today’s toy industry, has introduced the Bug Racer, a $35 toy car that can be driven by a Cricket. Yeah, those bugs that people buy for fishing bait and to feed to reptiles.

Doesn't Mattel Know That Crickets Make Lousy Drivers? - Introducing Bug Racer

Wired:

The $35 Bug Racer, “for kids who love science and vehicle play,” is a battery-powered car controlled by crickets (not included). Mattel says the car’s “control room” is “an ideal space for two crickets”, with room for as many as five (hey, it’s not as crowded as one of those protein bars).

The “control room” contains motion sensors, so whichever way the cricket moves, the Bug Racer goes in that directions. If the car runs into something, it will automatically reverse itself away from the obstruction. (Which is good, because crickets drive almost as badly as the drivers do on the 5 in Los Angeles.)

The racer has four driving modes:

  • “Cricket In Charge” means you let the crickets take the wheel and it goes where they go. Think of it as a cricket-based random number generator for steering. Or as a rerun of a “Charles in Charge” episode, only starring crickets. Whichever one works for you…
  • “Drag Racing” sets the Bug Racers on a straight-line course so you can stage a 10-second drag race. But without the smell of nitro and burning tires (and crickets).
  • “Autodrive” lets the car drive cricket-free. Which is handy for those times when you’ve already worked your way through your entire batch of cricket test dummies and haven’t had time to visit the bait shop.
  • “Light Show.” This lets kids “use the lights and music to better observe your cricket.” Which I assume is what’s happening in the pic below, or there is some “Disco Cricket” mode they don’t mention in the manual.

Doesn't Mattel Know That Crickets Make Lousy Drivers? - Introducing Bug Racer

The Bug Racer includes colorful instructions, (PDF) that include handling and care advice for the crickets, which is handy for children who are earning the cricket’s loyalty as they build their cricket army to take over the world. (I am sure there was a Twilight Zone episode about this…)

The Bug Racer is available from Mattel for $35, and can be purchased at ToysRUs, or from Amazon ($49.99).