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Review: 'Start Your Engines' expands the Mickey franchise nicely

Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at 10:44 AM Central
Last updated Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at 10:48 AM Central

by John Couture

When Disney debuted the Mickey and the Roadster Racers property, we talked about their foresight in extending the Mickey brand beyond the early childhood demographic of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Not only was it a wise decision, but as I discovered first hand, the new path is connecting really well with boys.

My son quickly outgrew Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while my daughter enjoyed it well into her third year. But when I brought home this second Mickey and the Roadster Racers offering, it was my son who was most eager to watch it. It also helps that he's still really into cars and is starting to discover Transformers. So, the Roadster Racers is a nice mix because the normal cars transform into racers, and he is continually delighted every single time.

With Start Your Engines, Disney continues to expand its brand further and further from the confines of the imaginary Clubhouse world. Yes, these Roadster Racers are well-traveled and by having races hosted in London and Hawaii, it allows them to bring the world and different cultures to an even younger audience.

While in its later years, Disney tried to expand their Mickey Mouse Clubhouse brand to an older demographic and introducing new cultures, the Roadster Racers is better equipped to do so and really opens up new and exciting vistas for the Roadster crew to explore.

A good example of this was provided by my son. My mom gifted a small replica double-decker bus to my son when she returned from London a year or so ago. He wasn't initially interested in it and like many other things, it found its way to the deep, dank corners of his toy box.

But when he saw a double-decker bus in one of the episodes included on this DVD collection, he was immediately excited. He exclaimed that he had a bus just like that. This exclamation was followed by a rigorous search for that memento. After about 10 minutes, he returned with the double-decker bus and watched the remainder of the episodes while holding and playing with the miniature bus.

I will say that the one thing that I found a bit annoying is what you can see in the clip above. They fall back on the time-tested cartoon hack of creating "bad guys" from existing characters and then changing them slightly. This time, it's Pete's evil cousin which is just really Pete with a bad accent and a silly mustache. I realize this is done to keep things simple and allow kids to better follow along, but I think it's a bit lazy and if you're going to push the boundaries of expanding the franchise to an older demographic, you might as well introduce new characters as well.

It's a small gripe and one that almost all animated cartoons fall into from time to time, but it's just something that I wish they would leave behind as they move farther from the Clubhouse. All in all, Start Your Engines is a worthy new chapter in the franchise and its collection of eight episodes is a good mix and complements the first DVD offering from earlier this year.

Mickey and the Roadster Racers: Start Your Engines is now available on DVD. The initial shipment of product comes with a neat Roadster Racers flag that my son now has hanging over his bed.