It’s not called the Ultimate Lightning McQueen for nothin’! As a previous user of other Sphero products, I was expecting a really solid and quality experience but KACHOW, they’ve really taken the RC game to another level with this latest outing. The folks at Sphero sent us one to review and we could not have been more thrilled to take him out for a spin.


Sphero has delivered yet another remote-controlled masterpiece. The build quality is the first thing noticed when you take him out of the box – he’s solid. In the box, also well made, you’ll find Lightning, his charger, and a minimal (3 pages per language) instruction booklet. Lightning is made of plastic and his front bumper is a soft material that allows his mouth to move when he speaks. Yes, he not only talks but his mouth moves!

After plugging him in (his charging port is at his gas cap, of course) I downloaded the Ultimate Lightning McQueen by Sphero app (available for iOS and Android) which immediately applied an update to the car. It’s necessary to pair the app to the car every time you start him up but thankfully that is very easy – simply bring your device close to Lightning and they pair!


This device is even easier to control than Sphero’s previous offerings that I have used; Sphero’s eponymous Sphero and the viral sensation of BB-8. The applications virtual joystick is a D-pad used to tell Lightning where you want him to go. Boy can he go! Thankfully, his front bumper is soft. He’s very responsive however and can crawl forward slowly if that’s what you want. The D-pad controller is unique in that you can get Lighting to come back to you by circling your finger around the pad and leaving it pointed towards you vs. away from you. He will make U-turn and come back.

In order to make Lightning move in reverse you need to press the reverse button and move the D-pad in the direction you want him to travel backwards. It’s a little different than traditional remote control devices but very easy to learn and it makes Lightning even easier and more fun to play with! There is some heft to the car and the grippy front wheels make his movements really smooth on my hardwood floors – transitioning to a rug and slightly uneven surfaces were a breeze too.


His personality really shines

As I write this he just whistled at me because I was ignoring him. He sits moving slightly and looking around – even warning me that he’s about to fall asleep. His eyes are very reactive thanks to the bright LED screen. Brake lights turn on when he stops, his headlights can turn on automatically (or stay on when he’s in motion).

He has 5 interactive touch panels that cause him to react when touched on his roof, hood, both sides and his trunk. Sphero went all out with 6 motors on Lightning; one for his mouth, two for his emotive suspension, two for the front tires, and one for steering. Three processors for Bluetooth Smart and Wifi and the main processor to control his eye animations and more. He’s pretty fully loaded!

Jay Ward, creative director on Disney-Pixar’s CARS and Bobby Podesta, supervising animator on Disney-Pixar’s CARS 3 both helped Sphero to bring Ultimate Lightning McQueen’s character and personality to this device.


More to Explore

The fun doesn’t end with simply moving him around – he will move and make comments if CARS is playing and there are several games included in the app to keep the fun going.

In Acting Studio, you can create scripts of preset lines for Lightning to say with animation on command. Pit Stop Panic is a fun game to play with Lightning sitting by your side helping you along in the game. While in training, you can unlock even more skills.

In the words of Lightning McQueen – “Wooo hoo! What a blast!”

See it for Yourself

You can purchase Sphero’s Ultimate Lightning McQueen for $299.00 at and select retailers. Recommended for ages 8 and up. 

You can catch Lightning McQueen and his crew in CARS 3 driving into theaters June 16, 2017.