The world of children's racing games offers that exciting arcade-style indulgence of cars. But it's important that young car fans also have the space to create their own car-oriented worlds.
Road playmats are the ideal platform for this. They essentially provide the infrastructure while the child provides everything else in their imagination.
In recognition of the important role road playmats have, Parkers recommends its favourites.
The best road playmats
The Rug House Double-Sided Road Playmat
Dimensions: 80 x 150cm
This road playmat covers all bases. The road layout is excellent and varied and the print quality is great. While it has carpet texture, the mat is an unspecified polyamide, but most likely nylon, so you can just wipe it down for cleaning.
Of course we like the double-sided nature of this mat too, with a rural setting on the flip side. And if you're thinking 80 x 150cm might be a bit small, there is a larger 100 x 165cm version too.
Colours Danis City Road Playmat
Dimensions: 100 x 190cm
This mat does very well at providing bang for your buck. Granted, it doesn't have a map on the flip side, nor is it as large as the EDUK8 Worldwide mat (see below), but it is a nylon pile carpet like our top pick and covers a large area.
The only downside is that the scene doubles up and repeats, which is unfortunate but not a deal-breaker.
Chad Valley Double Sided Playmat
Dimensions: 80 x 80cm
Like our Editor's Pick, this mat is double-sided. On one side is a race track and on the other, city streets, which is a fantastic combo.
The downsides are that the mat isn't very big and isn't as thick as our top recommendation, but then it is significantly cheaper.
EDUK8 Worldwide Large City Rollmatz
Best for size
Dimensions: 120 x 200cm
If it's size you desire, consider this option. The layout is quite good, and we particularly like the inclusion of a railway. The only thing we don't like is that a few vehicles are printed onto the roads already. The roads ought to be clear for the toy cars to drive on.
Where the mats above are more of a carpet or rug, this has a smoother finish like a vinyl floor, thanks to a PVC film over the top. We prefer the carpet-type texture, but this acts as a great protective floor mat for general use too.
Tracks are worth considering too. They are a kind of middle ground between arcade racing and own-world road mat. Below is our recommended Hot Wheels track. However, toy car garages are a good way to bring 3D to a road playmat too - for our recommended toy car garages, read our guide.
Hot Wheels Corkscrew Crash Track
Best toy car track
There are many Hot Wheels track kits that we like and it's very hard to choose one, but we have and this is it. The reason we chose it is because it covers almost every base expected of a Hot Wheels track.
This track is a great standalone or can become part of a wider Hot Wheels track.
If it's a Hot Wheels garage you're after, the Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage is fantastic (it'd better, given it includes Super and Ultimate in its name). It's a massive multi-storey complex that has a motorised lift and can hold over 140 cars.
Toy car sets
A road playmat is incomplete without cars to drive on it. Below are a few of Parkers' top-rated diecast car sets.
Hot Wheels Muscle Mania 10 Pack
A handful of 1:64-scale Hot Wheels-tuned cars based on real models.
Matchbox Gift Set
The more realistic sibling of Hot Wheels is of course Matchbox. This gift set contains a range of nine neat 1:64-scale models. The models in the kits vary.
Majorette Vintage Giftpack
We only recommend these to gentle children. They're supposed to be for collectors but some kids take care of their cars and could use these super realistic models. The cars in this pack have detailed interiors as well as exteriors. There are a few other Majorette packs like this, including a muscle car set.