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I'm certain the instruction manuals probably say somewhere 'never let a bunch of friends aged between 4 and 10 drive your R/C cars at operating temparatures of minus 8 degrees, especially if there's thick snow and ice around.'

But of course, we Dads are a risk taking bunch. And with a house full of boys and their Dads today it didn't take long to suggest we headed out with four over-charged battery packs - discovered with a polite query from the Wife "What's that smell? Gosh it's smokey in here darling - is one of the cars getting too hot?".

I made several school boy mistakes. We stayed out too long, meaning the kids got cold, which meant tears. I somehow got the fitting of the steering servo in the Stinger the wrong way round, meaning the car swung - left, when you steered right. And I left a controller at home. The kids were so disappointed that I rang home and asked my ever loving partner to bring it up, which went down like a rat sandwich.

But, despite everything, we had a pretty good time. The Gran Turismo GT40 was a tight handling bruiser of a car on the only bit of freshly gritted road we found, but boy, is it low. The bodyshell caught on noisily on the grains of grit and sand, such is its dramatically low stance. Oh, and did I mention it's 4WD? As a self confessed petrol head and Top Gear fanatic, I would suggest that this is just plain wrong. Yes, make it low. Yes make it fast, but 4WD? Never.

This thing is supposed to be a handful because of the original's huge V8 engine coupled to 2 rear driven wheels. I almost blushed telling a fellow petrol head who came up to watch us at the park that I had brought him a 4WD GT40 to play with. He winced, like I did, on looking at the underside. I guess it's probably a money saving tip for the manufacturers, but come on, let's at least make them authentic. And while I'm on it, couldn't we have front wheel drive cars too? Like a Monte Carlo mini and a Renault 5 Gordini Turbo that both suffer from torque steer, just like the real thing? Anyway.

The Carisma Mercedes was fun for a few minutes on the snow, but filled it's bodyshell and contents with the white cold stuff and quickly died - it's still thawing out now on the radiator, dripping gently onto the utility room floor.

And I felt so guilty when Sam's tractor like Traxxas Rustler came out - it badly needs some gearbox attention, and worse still, its tires were too bald for the snow, and it would only perform 360s most of the time. But as I've mentioned before, it just won't die.

But the star on the snow was the most basic car there. Everyone loved driving the predictable and basic 2WD Stinger, its plain and simple style made it drivable despite the steering servo being reversed, and its brand new square cut grippy sand tires dug in and bit into the snow. It's lack of power was a distinct advantage, and its wide track with it's tires well out of the way of the bodyshell meant it wasn't hampered by the snow entering the internals.

Some of you may have spotted a wild card in the outdoor line up - a hugely fast unnamed 4WD truck brought along by one of our local teenagers who's made the switch from model trains to R/C cars. Man that thing was fast. He said it was because of the brushless motor and speed controller. And that all the components were anodized blue.

So fingers crossed the Carisma will come back to life. We're huddled round a warm LCD screen letting ourselves thaw out playing Wii Drift Racer. Cold, but fun. So that's cool then?

PS. A night in the airing cupboard has revived the Carisma Mercedes. Phew. I think i need a 'wet weather' buggy and keep the Carisma as a dry weather clean car-park or shopping mall option.

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Written by Rupert Stelling

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Rupert Stelling writes the Radio Controlled Gamer column.

"Having grown up racing Tamiya radio and remote controlled cars and trucks I was keen to get my kids started on the same hobby. Here, I share my R/C reviews and guides to getting started in this electric and petrol powered world."

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