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Hot Wheels

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Hot Wheels

 

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This scale-model die-cast toy car was introduced in 1968 by Mattel. Over 10,000 different models of Hot Wheel Cars have been produced over the years. Hot Wheel Vehicles are authorized by car makers like General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Motors, Ferrari, Mazda, and Toyota among others to make a scale model of their cars.
 
Mattel also offered as an accesory the Hot Wheels track system. A do-it-yourself kit of track sections, connectors, loops, curves, ramps, launchers, speedometers, and much, much more, the track system enabled Hot Wheels fanatics to build elaborate and ever-changing speedways. Even without the spring-loaded launchers and battery-run super charger power boosters, the cars could get rolling along the tracks pretty fast with the force of gravity.

As the years went on, the Hot Wheels line continued to expand. Cars rolled off the assembly line at a rate that eventually exceeded Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers combined. The track sets and other playsets got more and more elaborate, incorporating everything from the treacherous intersections of “Criss-Cross Crash” to the erupting leap of “Volcano Blowout.” A merger with Tyco in 1997 brought the Hot Wheels line into electric, slot-car-style racing, while the new X-V Racers line introduced motorized, chargeable cars that sped along without the aid of launchers and power boosters.

In 1981, Hot Ones wheels were introduced, which had gold-painted hubs, thinner axles for speed, and additional suspension that most production Hot Wheels lacked. Ultra Hots wheels, which looked like the wheels found on a Renault Fuego or a Mazda 626, were introduced in 1984 and had other speed improvements. It also offered models based on sports and economy cars of the 80s, like the Pontiac Fiero or Dodge Omni 024. In 1983, A new style of wheel called Real Riders were introduced, with real rubber tires. Despite the fact that they were very popular, the Real Riders line was short-lived, because of high production costs. In the late 80s, the Blue Card blister pack was introduced, becoming the basis of Hot Wheels cards of nowadays.

The Thermal Color Change paint, and rotating Crash Panel vehicles were also introduced. The former were able to change color on exposure to hot or cold water, and there were an initial release of 20 different cars, available as sets of three vehicles. The latter were vehicles with a panel that, on contact, would rotate to reveal a flip side which appeared to be heavily dented, including front, rear and side panels, the last of whose mechanism has proven to be the most durable.

In 1982, the Chevrolet Corvette ended the Mako Shark design that had been in production for almost 15 years, and GM announced that the Corvette would be redesigned. In 1983, Chevrolet did not produce the Corvette, but Hot Wheels already had seen what the Corvette was going to look like and they designed a die cast version of the 1984 Corvette. GM almost pulled its licensing with Mattel, but this controversy helped Corvette buffs see what the new Corvette was going to look like.

In 1995 the cars were split up into series. One was the 1995 Model Series, which included all of that year's new castings. In 1996, the Model Series was renamed to First Editions. That same year the Treasure Hunt Series was introduced. The rest of the series included four cars with paint schemes that followed a theme.

Sales for the Model Series were boosted by  the Bonus Car program, causing stores across the United States to have shortages. Purchasing the four car sets and sending in the packaging backs plus a handling fee gave the customer the opportunity to collect the bonus cars, each one released for each quarter of the year starting in 1996 through at least 2000.

In 1997, Hot Wheels started making replicas of NASCAR race cars; and in 1999 Formula One car models.

In 1998, Mattel celebrated the 30th anniversary of Hot Wheels by replicating various cars and individual packaging from its 30-year history and packaging these replicated vehicles in special 30th Anniversary boxes.

After more than 30 years, Hot Wheels remain one of the fastest die-cast cars on the planet. Hot Wheels cars and track sets can still be found laid out on the bedroom carpet of many a young racing enthusiasts.

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