Still Leading the Way: A Hot Wheels Retrospective


Little known fact about me: I grew up as a little boy. What this generally meant is that Barbies weren’t typically in my play-cycle and Hot Wheels dominated most of my free time in between Ninja Turtles. I’m happy to say that even though I’ve taken a long hiatus from the small die-cast cars of my youth, they’ve been waiting around should I ever choose to get back into the habit. It’s always great to know that my kids will someday have the chance to play with my favorite toys.

Simple Fun Without Limits

So what made and still make Hot Wheels so great? Not to sound too crass, but they’re extremely cheap. You can get a pack of 10 for under $15, and a lot of stores will sell them individually for 99 cents. Even better is the sheer amount of models to choose from. You and your friend could each own three-dozen cars and only have two that look identical. This means that every kid has a chance to have a unique set of cars best suited for his or her personality (sure, girls like Hot Wheels, too).

Sweet Glavin! This 10 set has a motorcycle?! I would have killed for a motorcycle Hot Wheels as a kid.

What did I have? I had a few cars that I absolutely loved, but my favorite for some reason was a beat up old Jeep that had a hood that could open. I had entire plotlines that involved this Jeep fighting other cars, just because it was my favorite and clearly the hero among my other cars. It had a posse of several other, “cooler” cars, but nothing could outclass my Jeep, not even the Mach 5 from Speed Racer or a car shaped like a dragon. Nope, the Jeep was my favorite.

Yeah, I'd be happy if I could race cars through a shark all day, too.

I was also lucky enough to have a set of tracks for my Hot Wheels, allowing me to make the most basic of tricks for them to engage in such as loop-de-loops and jumps. I never had the more elaborate sets like they’ve got today, though, such as the freaking Sharkbite playset or a rapid-fire car launcher. There are now just about as many Hot Wheels playsets are there are cars to play with, meaning that you can customize your adventures even more so that the Batmobile can race a Dodge Viper (literally a snake with wheels in this case), past an erupting volcano. Kids today have it too good.
There is also a lot to be said for simplicity. While Hot Wheels likes it when you buy new playsets, I always enjoyed a simple play rug. I had a city-themed one the size of my room laid out for me to drive around in. I’d dump out all my Hot Wheels and place them in the city as I figured real cars would be placed in parking lots and at stop signs and such. And then the Jeep would show up and fight all of them just because. Oh yes, life was good. I should go back and buy some new Hot Wheels. Maybe you should, too.


About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

1 Comment

  1. I have found an old 1997 Hot Wheels playset without the original card box and cars. I don’t know his name, I only know what is written in the bottom side of the light gray straight track: © 1996 MATTEL INC. CHINA 0057RE. It seems it was made in the fifth day of 1997, wich is sunday. What is the name of this playset?

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