Like many young hockey fans, 3-year-old Carter Stamkos is obsessed with the Zamboni machines that resurface on the ice during games.
He expressed that sentiment in no uncertain terms when he attended the 2022 NHL All-Star Game in Las Vegas in support of his father, Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos. Sitting on his father’s lap for a post-match press conference, Carter kept repeating “I want to drive Zamboni please!” until the captain of the Lightning exempts them from the procedure to find the nearest ice resurfacing machine.
“He really likes the Zamboni,” Steven Stamkos deadpanned.
Now Carter Stamkos and other young fans can finally ride a Zamboni whenever they want. The Zamboni Company and the NHL have teamed up with Kool Karz Playground to launch the world’s first Zamboni electric ride-on toy, which will be released this month.
The 22-pound rechargeable battery-powered vehicle, available at NHL online retail stores and official Zamboni and Kool Karz Playground sites, is designed for fans ages 3-8 and is deliciously authentic. It has the same horn sound as a Zamboni, a “snow collection tank” for storage, working LED headlights and even a media center with a speaker. It comes with an NHL shield and a full set of logos for all 32 teams for personalization.
“The Zamboni machine is like a mascot for kids,” said Paula Coony, Zamboni Brand Manager. “They know it’s going to come out. It’s a routine thing. It’s also magical and mysterious. How does he do what he does?”
Carter Stamkos’ wish has finally been granted. His dad surprised him with one of the new Kool Karz Zambonis at the Tampa rink recently. Father and son then took a trip around the ice:
Jim Haskins, senior vice president of consumer product licensing for the NHL, said the Zamboni vehicle was already in the works when Carter Stamkos had his star moment.
“When we saw that, we were like, ‘Oh my god, maybe we have something for this young kid. So all the stars aligned. That was awesome,’ he said .
The Zamboni carrier took decades to manufacture, as the NHL and the Zamboni Company searched for the right partner.
“We knew it had to be safe. We also wanted it to be as authentic as possible and have all the in-toy accessories that the real machine has. storage that you can put in some snow,” Haskins said.
Kool Karz Playground, the maker of replicas of everything from Mercedes-Benz cars to mini-ATVs, has uncovered some of the design elements that had plagued previous releases. Coony said they took welcome liberties with where the driver sat on the Zamboni – rather than a seat in the back like the real machine, they rode it like a riding mower.
The ice resurfacing conditioner, located at the rear of the machine, has its own wheel. “Because a child, while there’s a sticker over there that says don’t set foot there, someone’s going to stand on it. And we didn’t want that to break or be a safety thing,” Coony said. “They designed things in there that we never even imagined.”
The Kool Karz Playground Zamboni ride-on toy is available for $349.