There is no toy that better symbolizes American childhood than a red wagon. Of course, long past are the days of drag racing down a 7-degree street without any helmets or pads (and good riddance), but kids can still enjoy some excitement with these. This applies double if you get an all-terrain red wagon, such as the very aptly named All-Terrain Steel & Wood Wagon. When this thing comes in the mail, you’ll be sorry they don’t make it for adults.
If you’re not so keen about getting a red wagon, consider the fact that ride-on toys such as these are incredibly beneficial to a child’s physical and mental development. Aside from helping strengthen motor skills, both gross and fine, the red wagon encourages all sorts of physical activities and plenty of healthy exercise, and it does much to foster a sense of exploration and independent play in children. Not only that, but it helps develop your kids’ sense of balance (not as much as a trike or a bike, but still helps), as well as build their confidence. As we already mentioned, it helps with emotional and social development of your child by encouraging group play, but it also enhances their spatial intelligence and sparks their creativity.
As you can probably guess, the main ingredients that go into making this puppy are steel and wood (surprise, surprise), and a bit of rubber (more on that shortly). The body is steel throughout, seamless and without any scratch edges that could, well… scratch your kids. Speaking of scratches, the paint job is very much up to game, seeing as the body is heavily (and we mean heavily) coated, so the cart itself won’t suffer scratches.
The whole thing measures some 41 x 21 x 37 inches (wheels and all), with the basin alone measuring 33.5 x 14.5 x 4 inches on the inside, or 5.5 x 16.5 x 10 inches when you put the wood sides on. Speaking of which, the sides are very smooth thanks to the heavy coat of lacquer, which makes them definitely on par with the basin itself. While we’re on the subject, the wagon weighs 36.6 pounds, which isn’t exactly lightweight, but then again, it’s not supposed to be carried. The maximum load is 200 pounds, which is a piece of info that’s sure to make your inner child happy (hint – it’s the recommended weight limit, not the breaking point).
The steel wheels are up to game, having been made to handle adventuring both on the road and on the rough. Much of this ability comes from the rugged rubber pneumatic tires (10 x 3.5 inches). Firm ground, concrete, boardwalks, sand – they’ll tackle anything you throw at them and come out none the worse for wear. The wheels are wide apart, so that the wagon is perfectly stable even with a couple of kids frolicking inside.
We’ll round off this section with another integral part of the wagon – the handle. Much like the body, the handle is also made of stainless steel, and connects to the also steel wheel axle. It’s extra-long, so that you don’t have to put any more strain on your spine than needed when pulling the little tykes around the backyard. The turning radius is controlled, so that you don’t have to fear tipping even if you get a teensy bit carried away pulling the kids around the backyard. Moreover, the handle folds underneath the body, so that it doesn’t take up any extra space when stored.
As far as comfort goes, there are no seats and no padding whatsoever (though the inside of the basin is smooth enough to warrant no padding but the clothes). Still, if you want to put at least some cush for the tush, you can easily remedy this by using a blanket. Besides, it’s not like a 3-year-old will notice an asleep bum when she’s having fun being pulled around on the grass.
As far as other features go, there’s not much else than the wooden side panels. Granted, these are not removable on this version, at least you can’t do it without tools. If you don’t want the panels, it’s a simple matter of taking a screwdriver and taking them off, though it’ll take some time. While we’re at it, we should note that the wagon does require some assembly out of the box, but it’s nothing more complicated than attaching the wheels and inflating the tires, as well as attaching the handle and the side panels (if you want, they’re purely optional). You can also choose to screw on only the back side (for support) if you have one kid, or back and front if you have two. Also, you might want to screw all side panels except one, so that the kids have an easier time getting in and out, whichever floats your boat. If you’ve ever ordered from IKEA and survived assembling the thing, this should be a walk in the park for you. You can even have your kids “help” you, and make it into a family activity. The whole unboxing and assembling shouldn’t take more than 30 to 45 minutes, a whole hour if you stretch it.
Besides this, there aren’t any additional features, such as cup holders, doors, or a canopy – it’s just the plain, ole red wagon, pretty much like the one you may have had as a kid. Come to think of it, why aren’t you passing your old red wagon to the kids or grandkids? You’ve been using it as a garden cart, haven’t you? In all seriousness, though, Radio Flyers red wagons are definitely durable and long-lived, and there are stories upon stories on the Internet about some wagons bought way back when Lyndon Johnson was elected president, and which are still in usable condition.
On that note, you can “inherit” the wagon when your kids are fully grown (and lugging toys and younger siblings around the backyard isn’t fun anymore) and use it for grocery runs, or as a garden cart.