Although a relative flop with the critics and something of a commercial underachiever (if one can consider a worldwide gross in the region of $550 million an underachievement…), this summer’s Cars 2 continues to provide Disney/Pixar with an array of novel merchandising opportunities, inspiring a range of products which for many fans of the studio will prove far more desirable than a copy of the feature itself.
The latest item is also the first in a potential line of Disney “Appmates”--real-world physical toys that, by means of whatever techno-digital hoodoo voodoo, essentially transform one’s iPad into a virtual racing track. The idea, as reported by All Things Digital, is that one plonks the Appmate - in this case cast in the likeness of either NASCAR ace Lightning McQueen, vintage tow truck Mater, Volvo P1800/BMW 507/Aston Martin DB5 mash-up Finn McMissile or Jaguar XJR-15-alike Holley Shiftwell - onto the iPad display and, with the assistance of a free-to-download app, enjoys hours of virtual Micro Machines style hijinks, as this video illustrates.
Like the film itself, the Cars 2 Appmates are aimed squarely at the younger gearheads among us; one would imagine that anyone over the age of 6 or 7 would soon grow tired of inching a chunk of plastic back and forth across a screen a little less than 8 inches in length and 7 inches in width.
If you want to take Lightning McQueen for a virtual spin, though, the Appmates are on sale, retailing at $20. The rest of us might want to hold out for some sort of Drive-themed alternative, an app which would presumably involve the theft of someone else’s iPad (to the pulsing of a fog-wreathed Angelo Badalamenti synth-bank), the occasional grunt and mumble in lieu of any meaningful verbal exchange, and far more brutal head-stomping than most folks were expecting to have to deal with when settling down for to view a film about a man drives some cars around LA.