Bought this for the rugrat (4 year old) at Christmas. It is not that good. My list of grievances:
- The cars move too fast for the track, so invariably they go flying off into the air when they try to take a turn. I should add that the straight-aways aren't long enough to warrant cars that move this fast.
- Despite this, for some reason the manufacturer put restrictors on the controllers which, if removed, allow the cars to go even faster (which of course causes them to fly off the track when they take a turn). The restrictors are small plastic clips that go on the controller right below the plunger button, preventing the plunger from being depressed all the way. The first thing a four year old does when he gets ahold of a controller is yank off the restrictor. This means I am continually picking up cars off the carpet and putting them back on the track.
- The railings / billboards are made of stiff paper (not even cardboard, let alone plastic). As you can imagine, they quickly get bent, frayed and torn. I took them off and discarded them.
- The conduits on the underside of the cars (the part that draws power from the metal rails in the track) are made of flat, braided wire. They collect fuzz and lint, and are easily bent, which means that I am constantly getting called over by my son to straighten them out because the cars stopped working. (they need to be lined up parallel with the underside of the car, with the front end of the wire folded to touch the back end, in order for the car to work). I seem to remember that on the old-school slot cars, the cars had small flat metal plates on their undersides.
- The track connectors (the tabs on the ends of the track that snap together to hold the pieces of track together) are delicate and break easily.
- The controls have a cheap-y feel to them, and are not that solid.
The rugrat played with this a few times, but when he couldn't have races with his friend (because the cars kept flying off the track), he lost interest. On the plus side, the cars look nice and the superhero theme is attractive. To answer other questions, this runs on electricity (not batteries). Theoretically, you could snap other track of the same guage to it to extend the length, but I don't know whether the power supply would put out enough juice to power a longer track. As it stands, out of the box, there is only one configuration: the figure-8 shown in the pic.