I COULDN’T TEST-DRIVE RADIO FLYER’S STAR WARS LANDSPEEDER, BUT MY 5-YEAR-OLD DID
I can tell that my son is impatient to start off. We’re at the end of a paved recreation path not far from my house, and we’re waiting for a mother and son to turn around with their pair of dogs. Bram is sitting in the driver’s seat of Radio Flyer’s kid-sized replica of Luke Skywalker’s X-34 Landspeeder, an X-Wing helmet perched on his head, and we want to make sure we don’t spook the animals. The ride-on toy has become a favorite of Bram’s ever since I brought it home, but it’s the first time we’ve had a chance to try it out on pavement. The mother and son disappear with their two dogs around the corner, and I tell my son, “okay, go.” He stomps on the accelerator pedal and he shoots off down the path.
Last summer, Radio Flyer unveiled the toy at San Diego Comic Con, accompanied by a slick video featuring a pair of adorable child actors pretending that they were driving around the deserts of Tatooine. I later caught site of a live demonstration on the crowded sidewalks outside the convention center. It was cool to see in action but a product demonstration isn’t the same as having one in your garage.
Radio Flyer’s toy is loaded with detail — something that many toys have benefited from in recent years. The cowling for the left-hand turbine is missing, just like Luke’s, and there’s a bit of damage on the nose. It’s certainly not the exact replica you’d find at a collector’s house, but as I noted to a co-worker later that day, it’s the sort of thing that I would have killed for as a kid: a realistic piece of the Star Wars universe that would have transported me to a galaxy far far away.
And I might have brought one home last year for my kid, save for its exorbitant price tag: $500. That’s a lot for a toy that’ll be outgrown in a couple of years, despite every part of me wanting to watch Bram ride around in it.
But the winds shifted this spring. Toys R Us, the exclusive outlet for the speeder, announced that it was shutting down all of its 800 US stores, and that it would liquidate its assets — including the Landspeeder. From the time of the announcement to the end of May, the toy’s price dropped from the prohibitive $500 to a far more reasonable $250. Friends of mine in the Star Wars community began reporting in that some stores still had dozens of them in stock, and after another couple of weeks, that price fell again and again, until it reached the stupidly low price of $99. At that price point, it wasn’t hard to rationalize picking one up. I made the trek out to the local store and snagged one, jokingly texting my wife that I’d made a “terrible mistake.”
Sadly, Toys R Us wound down its operations last month, and Radio Flyer has quietly begun selling the speeder at a much reduced price of $249. It’s not quite the same bargain-based price I and others snapped them up at, but it’s definitely worth picking up if you happen to have a child who’s obsessed with Star Wars.
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