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Owners first install software from the set’s included disc on their PCs and plug a base unit into a USB port. Next, pop one of the two included figures (Speed or the too-cute chimp Chim Chim) onto the base, and the character magically appears and interacts in a virtual computer game world.

The new Royalton Racing Complex is now part of the Funkeys land of Terrapinia, so the figures can take part in races when not enjoying the other activities. Other figures, such as Trixie, Snack Oiler and Racer X, are available separately ($7.99 each).

Casa Cristo 5000 Maltese Ice Caves (Mattel, $24.99, uses two D batteries, not included)- The Hot Wheels franchise has definitively brought Speed Racer into its fold. This minicourse uses a launcher to propel the included battle-damaged Racer X vehicle into a major loop and then over a harrowing sheet of ice (translucent plastic) as the car slides around and takes another lap.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure children will want to play with the toy long enough to justify the price; my tester gave out at after 15 minutes. The launcher also eats batteries. Other tracks in the line include the Fuji Helexicon with wild-water Mach 6 and Thunderhead Raceway with Mach 4 ($24.99 each).

What collectors will em-brace is the Hot Wheels’ Speed Racer collection of 1:64 versions of the movie’s famed vehicles ($2.49 each). The 10 from the first wave are masterpieces, especially the colorful designs from Musha Motors and Prince Kabala and who could not like the Mach 5? Each car also gets a plastic accessory that can attach to its underbody.

Mach 6 and Battle Rig (Mattel, $24.99)- Let’s look p 1/2ast the fact that Mattel does not include a 3-inch action figure, and this transformable play set has enough accessories and play potential to satisfy any Speed Racer fan. First and foremost, it’s a semitruck whose trailer houses a customizable Mach 6 (included opening canopy cockpit) with all its extras, such as attachable saw blades, machine guns and missile launchers. The rig then unfolds and turns into a 12-inch-tall tower with a seat for a figure to monitor another missile launcher.

The missing figures are crucial for taking maximum advantage of the Battle Rig, so Mattel drains parents’ wallets a bit more with either two-packs ($14.99 each) or a Deluxe Battle Vehicle assortment ($15.99 each). The vehicles are too pricey, but designs such as the Mach 5 include Speed and a car with a hood that cracks open to reveal a saw-blade launcher (circular saw blades included).

Grand Prix Race (Lego, $59.99)- It only takes assembling 595 pieces for master builders to own a fantastic Speed Racer play set. The famed Danish company delivers quite the constructible masterpiece, including a detailed press box that doubles from behind as Racer Motors repair shop.

The cool factor rises quickly after the player has built working models of race cars driven by Speed Racer, Gray Ghost and Cannonball Taylor. Extras such as miniature tools, a television monitor, oil drum and checkered finish line add to the experience. Let’s not forget minifigures of Speed Racer, Trixie, Pops, Gray Ghost, Cannonball Taylor, a color commentator, Spritle and the mischievous Chim Chim.

@Lego also offers two-packs of other vehicles with minifigures such as Racer X & Taejo Togokhan ($19.99, averaging 240 pieces) that work well with the raceway.

or write to Joseph Szadkowski at The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002.