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Re-Inventing Hotwheels 216

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fun-bits-of-plastic dept.
garzpacho writes "BusinessWeek has an interview with Gary Swisher, Mattel's Vice-President of Wheel Design, who talks about the challenges of designing new toys for today's tech-savvy kids. In addition to discussing 'the challenge of stewarding an old-school brand like HotWheels in our tech-driven age, the emerging technologies that will affect the toy industry, and Mattel's Web strategy,' he also talks about the effect that video games have had on toy design, and argues that exciting the imagination is the most important role that a toy can fill."
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Re-Inventing Hotwheels

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  • by nachmore (922129) on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:35PM (#15735047)
    Just as long as they remember that you don't always need technology to excite the imagination we may actually see something new and innovative out there.

    Lego bricks anyone?
    • by frosty_tsm (933163) on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:45PM (#15735077)
      Tell that to the children.

      You know, the children who constantly play their gameboy wherever they go and possibly have lost the ability to enjoy the simplicity of non-technology based entertainment.
      • by Moofie (22272) <lee.ringofsaturn@com> on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:50PM (#15735096) Homepage
        And thus repeateth the cycle.

        People have been saying "Eh! Kids these days! Never amount to anything!" for approximately 6000 years. They've pretty much always been wrong.
        • When I was a kid, we had plenty of toys to play with that "excited our imaginations". However, it was just as fun to play with a cardboard box. (And we liked it that way!)

          I'm sure there are still plenty of kids that get bored with whatever toy and turn to playing with the box in which it came.

          Don't even get me started on bubble wrap.
        • by ClemensW (835172) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @09:57AM (#15736137)
          "The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders.... They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and are tyrants over their teachers."

          Now guess who said that?

          Socrates, greek philosopher, 470-399 BC.

          Very probably in his advanced years ;-)
          • I appreciate that you want to join in, but please check your facts first.

            There is no evidence at all that Socrates said that at all. Probably some joker made it up in the 1950's then attributed it to Socrates.

            Besides, there's no way Socrates would speak like that. This was 2500 years ago.

            What Socrates did say however, on a similar line, is:

            . . .
            A boy must hold his tongue among his elders.
            . . .
            Greed was abhorred, it was taboo to snatch
            Radish tops, aniseed, or parsley before your elders,
            Or to nibble kicksha
      • the children who constantly play their gameboy wherever they go...

        These kids are not the target, if they are then the company should hire a new CEO.

        My kid plays with these things all the time. He knows about vidio games and badly wants to play them but he is only 4 and just cant get it right. I dont doubt that in a year or two the hot wheels will be in the closet and the game boy will be the hot property.
        I think hot wheels has a strong but limited and temporary audience, they should understand tha
        • "I think hot wheels has a strong but limited and temporary audience, they should understand that and focus on it." I actively "played" with Hot Wheels and Matchbox (and the occasional Johnny Lightening and Corgi) cars until I was 10-12. I had the playsets when I was younger, but as I got older we used to take those long strips of plastic track and run them down the stairs and make big jumps at the bottom.
          I am almost 30, and when my kids (a boy and a girl, 3,5) want a hot wheels car I always give in. They a
      • by Mr_Tulip (639140) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:53PM (#15735331) Homepage
        The reason kids these days are more into Gameboys and iPods than trucks and footballs is that many parents these days can't be bothered to actually play with their kids .

        Gameboys can be played solo, and it is much easier, as a parent, to buy your kid a gameboy and tell them to go play with it than to spend time with them.

        A toy truck is a pretty boring toy in itself, but if you have several toy trucks, a few kids of the right age, and one or more helpful parents, I guarantee that it's a lot more fun than playing a gameboy solo.

        • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @09:04AM (#15735856) Journal
          I'm not so sure of that. My parents rarely had time to play with the kids, and the same is true for previous generations, IMHO. We amused ourselves outside because that was our best option. We wanted to play with the newest and coolest toys -- we just didn't have them, so we made do with building forts in the woods, playing tag, playing catch, etc.

          I think you hit the nail on the nead, though, when you mention "a few kids of the right age." Larger houses, smaller families, and fear of predators have led to kids playing inside by themselves, or maybe with a sibling or one friend. Gone are the days of all the neighborhood's kids playing outside, unsupervised, in the afternoon.

          I guess my main point here is that it's not parents not playing with their kids that is the issue -- it's kids playing solo. It's not like parents 50 years ago magically had more time to play with the kids, or more of a drive to play with their kids.

          Then again, my perceptions are skewed -- I grew up on a farm with six kids.
      • My nephew who is still young likes playing with his hotwheels cars and playsets just as much as his gameboy.
    • Just as long as they remember that you don't always need technology to excite the imagination. . .

      Like a corn husk doll and a chunk of wood. There's a kid in my neighborhood who always has some sort of stick in his hand when he walks by my house. The interesting thing is that it's always a different stick, but it's always a stick that in some way impresses me as being, well, cool.

      I mean this kid doesn't just pick up any old stick and start waving it around. He's got himself a serious eye for just the right
    • by pw700z (679598) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:13PM (#15735185)
      Context: I was born in 1976. Does anyone else find the tech stuff a "turn off"? If I want to play with tech stuff, I will play with my computer. If I want to play with toy cars, I want to play with ... TOY CARS!! Why in the world can't I buy my 3 year old a decent quality hot wheels/matchbox sized Dump truck? Or bull dozer? Or car that actually looks like a car that actually exists on this planet? Why do they all have to be "pimped out"? Or have crazy high tech styling? I remember when GI JOE was pretty realistic looking, then they got all spacey, and suddently it seemed stupid to try and play around in my back yard with them... And at hotwheels.com, or matchbox.com, why can i find a listing of their products, such as which cars they sell? What's wrong with realistic?
      • by plover (150551) * on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:33PM (#15735264) Homepage Journal
        Why in the world can't I buy my 3 year old a decent quality hot wheels/matchbox sized Dump truck? Or bull dozer? Or car that actually looks like a car that actually exists on this planet? Why do they all have to be "pimped out"? Or have crazy high tech styling?

        Context: I was born in 1962. (Yes, people really are that old.) When I was playing with Hot Wheels in the 1960s and 1970s, the cars were all "futuristic". Nobody wanted to play with a navy blue Chevy Impala when you could have a purple metallic-flake paint "Scorpion" or a "Stinger" with a plexiglas dome for the driver, looking more like a UFO than a car. Even the models of the current cars were "tricked out" with giant chrome air intakes poking out of the hood, and flame decals burning down the sides. They were indeed the "pimpmobiles" of their era. None of them looked like cars anybody I knew would ever own, or anything I'd seen anywhere but the Popular Mechanics photos of the Detroit Auto Show.

        Matchbox, on the other hand, made the "realistic" vehicles. I had a dump truck that was obviously of British origin, which I always thought was kind of cool. And I played with those, too.

        I suggest you get your kid some Hot Wheels anyway. When you sit down to play with him/her, the only person who cares if they're real or not will be you. You'll both be making "brrrm-brrm" noises soon enough, making little roads in the dirt, and the realism will not matter in the least.

        • [[Context: I was born in 1976.]]

          [Context: I was born in 1962. (Yes, people really are that old.)]

          Context: I was born in 1959. ~;-)

          I am not so sure about the hot wheels all being "tricked out" or "hot rodded" but I now have a 5 year old who just got a hot wheels pack with a 3 d figure 8 track with jumps and a launcher. These new deals might be cool if they worked consistently, but more often than not, the car does not make it around the track. It is a waste of time. Give me the clip on to the coffee table tw
          • My 5 yr old just got this as well. It helps a LOT to stabilize not just the track, but the loop as well. You can actually hear the cars going around faster.

            But then, it's not so much fun to just sit there with your hand on the loop, watching cars just go round & round.
          • by digidave (259925) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @09:46AM (#15736073)
            And *that* is the problem with modern Hot Wheels.

            My six year old got lots of Hot Wheels three years ago for X-Mas. He's got roads and mountain passes and all the cool stuff. The problem is that none of the new cars will actually go over the hills because they don't have enough ground clearance. Some of them won't make it down the mountain race track because they have giant spoilers that get stuck in the tunnel. Some are too wide to fit on the roads. Only two or three will make it down the race track and do the loop.

            Of course, I gave my son all my old Hot Wheels. All of them will work with his new race tracks, including the loops and hills. They have higher ground clearance and go a lot faster.

            So maybe what's wrong with Hot Wheels is that they care more about what the cars look like than making a product that works well. If my beat up 20+ year old cars are faster than any of the new ones and the new ones don't work well with the playsets, no wonder kids don't play with them much anymore. Mattel should just try to make them fun again.
          • Specialty toy stores (such as the place in my sig) have all kinds of good stuff that works. The problem is that your Mattel stuff is for the "big box" retailer market (Walmart, etc) and is designed for the masses. It's pretty much made to be disposible, just like everything else in the store. If you go to a quality local purveyor or on the internet, you can find high quality toys that cost a little more but last longer, offer more fun value, etc.

            My favorite items now are the 300(100,60)in one electronic
      • Look for "Johnny Lightning" cars....hard to find, but they still seem to make actual replicas of cars. Although, I seem to recall that Matchbox still makes construction vehicles and even Hot Wheels will have vintage hot rods (Shelby Cobra for example).

        There out there, my kid has over 100 of them.

      • I don't know where you're shopping. Over half my 3 year old's cars are "realistic"; he's actually recognizing more and more of them on the street every day. He got a box of all-realistic Maisto cars (noticeably lower quality than Hot Wheels, but still good) for Christmas, which has some really boring cars (Ford Explorer, Mercedes C-Class) mixed in with the Zondas and Vipers.

        On the other hand, I don't see what there is to complain about in the pimped out / spacy realm either. The designers at Hot Wheels are
      • Why in the world can't I buy my 3 year old a decent quality hot wheels/matchbox sized Dump truck? Or bull dozer?

        You can. My three year-old has an entire fleet of construction trucks that are Matchbox- or Hotwheels-sized. Admittedly some aren't made by either company, but I know for a fact that he has a really nice Matchbox dumptruck -- which, come to think of it, I think came with a construction set of some sort. 'Course, he also has an entire fleet of Hotwheels monster trucks. He puts that stuff toge

      • TFA makes a dad like me think that HotWheels is surely doomed...

        If you want realistic toy cars that are inexpensive, modelled and scaled after actual vehicles, and sized appropriately for small boys, go to Wal-mart. There is a manufacturer out of China (surprise, its Wal-mart), that builds 1:40 scale toy cars for about $1 per vehicle (a bit larger than your standard HotWheels car, a good fit for small hands). My son (almost 3) has a dozen of them and plays with them frequently.

        Many of them have rubber tir
    • Tell that to the brand managers.
    • Please take a look at this page [washingtonpost.com] form february 2006. It shows some very nice toys that are actually based on technology, like the bug sound amplifier [littlekidsinc.com] (bugs to be collected by the kid himself) a toy creator [areyougame.com] set, where you can mould your own toys. And some moldeable moon sand [makezine.com]. All these modern technological toys really stimulate kids discorvering the world, and technology is in there, but not in the way. And dammit, I wish I had some of these things as a kid! By the way, lego also contains a lot of technology,
    • Or becomes obsolete quicker. Then people have to purchase the next level.
  • Lead paint makes small die cast toys taste good and that will be good for business.
  • Memories (Score:2, Informative)

    by alphax45 (675119)
    I still remember being a kid and setting up huge tracks that went all the way from the 2nd floor to the basement. I had a ton of track :) Good times.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:42PM (#15735067) Homepage Journal
    They don't need to reinvent themselves because they are perfect as they are.

    My youngest is a clutcher and takes a car with him to school every day.
    Most days he doesn't come back with one, or if he does still have one, you can bet it wasn't the one he took.

    • They don't need to reinvent themselves because they are perfect as they are.

      Seconded by my 5 year old.
      More votes for "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" from my nephews and the kid down the street. And my 2 year old daughter.

      These marketing weenies need to get their heads outta... wherever they keep them, and take a look at what their customers actually want.
    • by Nick Driver (238034) on Monday July 17, 2006 @11:26PM (#15735430)
      ...to do to reel in some insane profits for the 2006 holiday season is to make these following models:

      1) Red sports car that looks like kinda like a curvy blend of a Corvette, a GT-40, and a Viper.
      2) Blue Porsche 911.
      3) Blue Hudson Hornet.
      4) Rusty old, hoodless 1955 Chevy tow truck.
      5) Blue Roadrunner SuperBird.
      6) Green Buick Regal.

      And an assortment of other vehicles from you-know-what-movie.

      Better put eyes on their windshields too.
      • by WinDoze (52234) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @11:40AM (#15736919)
        4) Rusty old, hoodless 1955 Chevy tow truck.

        My daughter (2.5 y.o.) has one of these in plastic. In came in a box of Mini-Wheats. We took her to see the movie a couple of weeks after it came out, and immediately upon seeing the poster with that car on it she started yelling "MINI-WHEAT! MINI-WHEAT!!!!!" Seems she thought the truck's name was in fact "Mini-Wheat".
    • Most days he doesn't come back with one, or if he does still have one, you can bet it wasn't the one he took.

      that's going to become much less endearing in 10 years or so when he's driving your car.

  • Glad to hear this: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kassemi (872456) on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:43PM (#15735068) Homepage
    FTA: [On video games] They aren't the imaginative play that toys are. That's a sad thing for us.

    Thank god someone making these toys sees that. Shoving loads of useless, yet focus-grabbing information in front of a kids face is going to destroy that child's ability to actually create. Imagination should be nurtured, and the only way to do that is to force these kids to find a way to pre-occupy their own minds. My hat's off to you, Mattel.

    • Shoving loads of useless, yet focus-grabbing information in front of a kids face is going to destroy that child's ability to actually create.

      Unfortunately, imagination is secondary to sales.
    • I have to disagree with this. Have you SEEN some of the things people do with games, taking them 'out of the box'?

      And let's not forget games like The Sims. What started out as a simple 'wander around and be bored' game turned into a HUGE 'make-your-own-stuff' game. (Disclaimer: I wrote the first mesh converter for The Sims.) People have added all kinds of things to that game, from simple wings (me!) to entirely different avatars (robots, etc) and many, many kinds of furniture and even scripted objects.
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:45PM (#15735076) Homepage
    I had a general-purpose hotwheels set when I was a kid, and it was great. I still remember some of the stuff I did, like starting the track on a shelf way up high in the kitchen and running it down and all the way across the apartment, and taping fireworks to the back of the cars with my friend in second grade. I wanted to get hotwheels for my kids, but all they seem to sell these days is dopey little special-purpose sets that you can only do one thing with.
    • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:55PM (#15735111)

      Back In The Day(tm) you bought Hot Wheels and it was up to you to determine what they did. Could you make a track that would make them do a loop? Make it all the way down into the basement without jumping the track? And along the way you learned a lot about how the world worked. Notice how the car can never get higher than its starting point without a push? When I read about potential and kinetic energy in high school first thing I thought was "Aha! The Hot Wheels problem! I've seen this before."

      But nowadays (opposite of BITD, see above) the sets only do one thing. The idea is to maximize revenue. A kid gets hooked on Hot Wheels and they buy set A. They do everything set A can do, then they have to buy set B. And of course, sets A and B are not compatible.

      And that's what is wrong with todays sets. No room to grow with them. Of course they get boring quick - that's part of the revenue model. They're designed not to hold your interest very long - you can only do one thing per set. Don't confuse poor toy design with ADHD or video game addiction. You are making a more boring product these days. Your revenue-maximizing model you've fallen in love with is the broken part. Go back to making general sets as well as your special kits and you'll see interest in Hot Wheels perk back up I'll bet.

      • I agree. I think the one thing that they don't sell is the one thing that everybody wants. It's much harder to find a box of miscelaneous generic lego than it is to find the sets. It's almost impossible to find generic hot wheels track pieces that kids can put together on their own to create their own track designs. At least you can still get crayons and blank paper.
      • And that's what is wrong with todays sets. No room to grow with them. Of course they get boring quick - that's part of the revenue model. They're designed not to hold your interest very long - you can only do one thing per set. Don't confuse poor toy design with ADHD or video game addiction. You are making a more boring product these days. Your revenue-maximizing model you've fallen in love with is the broken part. Go back to making general sets as well as your special kits and you'll see interest in Hot Wh

      • In keeping with you post and the parent post: Hear! Hear! You have hit the nail on the head.

        See my post here: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=191458&thresho ld=0&commentsort=0&mode=thread&pid=15735264#157355 56 [slashdot.org]

        "Go back to making general sets as well as your special kits and you'll see interest in Hot Wheels perk back up I'll bet."

        Indeed, so their revenue maximizing model is self defeating at least in my case as I am not going to buy my son any more of these special purpose sets.

        As I poin
      • Today's technologies fail us in the Hot Wheels and Matchbox super-fun-playtime department.

        It's hard to stack up a bunch of Wikipedias to make a good starting point for a track. Old School Encyclopedias worked much better in that regard.

        Really, though, what I'm unable to find is somewhere to buy a spool of hotwheels/matchbox track by the foot, and the plastic connectors that join the ends together. I know we used to have gobs of 2-/3-foot sections, and a box of plastic connectors. I don't want the pre-fab
    • you definitally arent looking in the right places...
    • Picked up the nothing-but-gravity-and-an-assload-of-track "Hot Wheels Classics" track set at Target. It can go from one end of the house to the other. My son loves it. We race everything down it (even his Thomas the Tank Engine trains). It's most fun when there's carnage. Boys will be boys...
    • Check ebay for the old school sets of just track, the loop, and a couple of ramps.
      I just found the set from '74 and it was only $20 (+$10 for shipping). I got it for my 2 year old, but really... It's for me.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:45PM (#15735078) Homepage Journal
    What about providing scope to explore and develop new skills?

    From kittens playing hide and seek, to puppies playing tug of war, to human kids playing house, play is how mammals learn. That's why they're programmed to dedicate such immense levels of energy to it.

    Are any of the Mattel toys as good for a kid as Legos would be?
  • by walnutmon (988223) on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:50PM (#15735093)
    I think it is possible that all this technology is actually going to make toys shittier. What was great about being a kid is you could have something very simple and make it fun with your imagination... I remember when a towel was a cape, and a plastic sword made me HeMan "I HAVE THE POWER!".

    The problem with technology is that it makes it easy to complicate things to a point where you can't take the toy in the direction your imagination wants to go. I used to love action figures that were plain, and could move in all directions, simply because I could use them to do anything... I even had GI Joe Football games.

    Seems like technology should be used in CREATING toys, not actually in the toys themselves. I don't need action figures or wrestling buddies with voices and changing facial expressions, what if i want the toy doll to be my hated enemy who I must fight in a steel cage match? Nothing worse than dropping bows from the top rope only to hear some stupid voice say "I am hulk hogan, eat your vitamins!".

    Of course kids are losing a lot of the fun toys because of the tendency to pull toys from the market that focus on violence. How else are kids going to get rid of the evil guys? Diplomacy? Bullshit, our government can't even get that to work.
    • by Moofie (22272) <lee.ringofsaturn@com> on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:54PM (#15735109) Homepage
      And the generation before you didn't have a plastic sword, they had two pieces of wood nailed together. And the generation before that just had a stick.

      Just because the toys have changed doesn't make the children less imaginative.
    • Have you ever seen www.stikfas.com? These are some of the coolest toys I've ever seen - buy a couple of kits and you can create crazy battles between normal guys, or crazy battles between crazy six armed beasts. I've completely replaced my retro action figure shelf decorations with stikfas. I wish they had toys like these when I was a kid, I would have been ALL OVER that shit.
    • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @07:48AM (#15735539) Homepage
      Thinking back, most of the things I played with as a kid was not toys at all. A tree is no toy. A stream, a lake, an empty barrel, 100 feet of rope, a saw, a bike, a fish, a path, a bunch of planks, a screwdriver, a stick. None of these objects are toys. Though all of them can be used for play.

      I think it' silly how so many parents shut their kids away in their own separate universe with brigthly-coloured, but ultimately useless "toys", that ultimately acomplish nothing. Kids these days tend to have plastic saws, plastic screwdrivers, plastic hammers, plastic cooking-pans none of which actually do what these objects normally do.

      Now I'm a parent myself, for a two year old son. And given the same choice, real or "toy" he'll go for real every time. "playing" kitchen cannot measure up to actually go in the kitchen and make a cake, or a bread, or dinner. The "toy" screwdriver is no fun, the real one is different, it *works*.

      Thing is, real objects can frequently be dangerous, if used improperly. So they tend to require that you spend time with your child, that you have patience. That you accept needing to wipe the kitchen-floor again, for the third time today. The toy, on the other hand, you can generally relatively safely let your kid handle alone with minimal supervision.

      Lots of "toys" seem to be made more for the parents than for the kids.

    • The problem with technology is that it makes it easy to complicate things to a point where you can't take the toy in the direction your imagination wants to go.

      That's a problem I have with many video games. The best ones let you think of creative ways to do things, to explore, to do tasks out of order, to choose your own path, etc. The worst are the games where you feel like you're on a set track with little or no deviation.

      This is why I love games like Oblivion, WoW, Guild Wars, Second Life, etc. and ha

    • Of course kids are losing a lot of the fun toys because of the tendency to pull toys from the market that focus on violence. How else are kids going to get rid of the evil guys? Diplomacy? Bullshit, our government can't even get that to work.

      Dude, don't tell me that your "good guys" actually captured, and killed the evil bad guy? That's against union rules. After any small adventure the evil villian must be let go or escape so more adventures for the "good guys" can happen. Diplomacy might rock. You'd just
  • hopefully (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hawfizzle (968007)
    with negroponte's laptop freebie-thing, the kids of the future will hopefully be programming infrastructures and desiging better networks. networked digital interaction is the (near)infinite playground, it is play on a level completely different from physical play.
  • by path_man (610677) on Monday July 17, 2006 @09:59PM (#15735133)

    Lego is a great example of adapting to the changing world. For example, a few years back when they were all the rage, my son had upwards of 20 bionicle Lego sets. These are the kits that let you build robot-like guys with ball-and-socket joints and interchangeable arms/legs/heads/weapons.

    These are a long ways from the red and blue square blocks that Lego made when I was a kid, yet the idea was the same: give a kid a kit that they can primarily build the picture on the box with, but the ability to adapt a few kits into something all together different. My son built everything from hover-crafts to star-wars droids to ultra-mega-bionicle-man.

    Not to crack on Mattel, but the core hotwheels concept is die-cast metal cars that resemble the real things. The only "innovation" that I see them coming up with is the new H3 with pimp spinners, a lift kit, and gold trim. Unless they come up with something like Lego has with the shift away from their legacy product and into a new Internet age toy, Mattel will be doomed to a niche of kids who really dig cars (arguably a shrinking demographic...)

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @08:44AM (#15735756) Journal
      Sure, Lego has three main lines now -- Legos, Bionicle, and Technik (sp?).

      But most of Legos "innovation" now comes not from new products, but from licensing. I recently went to a Lego store for the first time (awesome! the only problem was I didn't have a kid with me, so it would have creeped people out if I stayed there too long...) and was amazed at what was available... for $60-$100. Star Wars, Batman, etc.

      Lego's patent is expiring/has expired. The shift to Bionicle and Technik reflects the concern that basic Legos will be facing cheap competition in the very near future. The shift to licensed subjects for kits also addresses this issue. I'll be able to buy basic "legos" for next to nothing... but if I want that AT-ST Lego model, I'll be paying through the nose for it.

      That said, does anyone recall what happened to Fischer-Technik? Those were the most amazing toys when I was growing up... expensive, but I got a solid foundation in mechanics from play.
  • by Harmonious Botch (921977) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:00PM (#15735137) Homepage Journal
    Those uf us who have sampled the intellectual delights of high tech can no longer be fascina...oooh...SHINY..
  • I am 32 years old now. When I was a kid I had a several Hot Wheels cars, and a maybe a couple of cheap imitations. What annoyed the hell out of me at even a tender young age, was that not all of my cars would work with the tracks that I got. I was MOST annoyed that only 1-2 would work wiht the custom tracks that I put together from all the different tracks that I had.

    How could I setup a decent testing methodology of speed/flight with only 1 car!! (yes, I was a geek even then)

    So, I told my mother to stop
    • Yeah, but did you see their new radar gun [hotwheels.com]? This time you could actually measure the speed, measure the distance that it travelled and compare (draw graphs of the trajectory if you want to). Does someone know if it works as a generic radar gun, and until what distances? Could be pretty cool for kids that want to do physics experiments!
  • My son LOVES hotwheels. Granted, if I offer up my Nintendo DSlite for him to play Mario, he jumps, but he's just as happy pushing his hot wheel across the floor. I just wish Mattel would make more durable hot wheel tracks. Bought a cheap one for my son on Christmas Day and by the end of the week it was broke. The old one that looked like a race track with T-Handles was fun to play with when I was a kid.
    • Not to sound like one of those "When I was a kid" whiners, but... When I was a kid I had a huge box of that orange hot wheels track that lasted for years. I came across it while cleaning out some stuff in the attic and it is still in great shape. Thank goodness for a time before everything had to be biodegradable. My 6 year old loves it.
  • Reinventing Hot Wheels(tm):

    1: Buy a petrol company.
    2: Invent Hot Wheels(tm) that run on tiny gasoline engines...
    3: ....
    4: PROFIT!!!

    wait.. That one might actually work.. I guess it can't be a true 'PROFIT!!!' joke..
    • 1: Buy a petrol company. 2: Invent Hot Wheels(tm) that run on tiny gasoline engines... 3: .... 4: PROFIT!!!

      There are *already* model cars that run on 'gasoline.' Although the liquid fuel they use is more like a mixture of nitromethane, kerosine, and alcohol...

      -b.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:45PM (#15735305) Homepage
    You never grow out of toys. They just get more expensive as you get older.
  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:45PM (#15735308) Homepage
    Want to keep today's kids hooked on your retro toys ? Lace em with crack.

    I think today's kids needs toys that slap them in the face with a wet noodle and yell "You're a stupid disrespectful worthless excuse for a human being. Cut your hair, go to school, get a job, pay your taxes, go get real friends, quit screwing up my goddamned Drive-thru order."

    Back in my day, we had parents to do that. Where did humankind go wrong ? :P How hard can it be to put a Sausage McMuffin and two hash browns in a farking bag ? Kids these days.. The only reason they're still alive is because it's illegal to run them over with my car.
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:54PM (#15735339)
    since I was pretty poor, and getting 1 videogame, with all the characters, features and do-dads was like getting a whole box of toys.
  • by Greyfox (87712)
    Did anyone catch the Mythbusters episode where the little model cars tried to outrun the Dodge Viper set in neutral? They found a freaky-big hill, laid out something like a mile of track, fabricated their own cars out of... stuff (I think Adam's was lead) and had themselves a race.

    So maybe instead of buying your kid that Hotwheels car you should buy him an aluminum lathe, a few blocks of aluminum and a couple miles of track (And a Viper for Dad.)

    (Or not -- after all, they say don't try this at home...)

  • by Rachel Lucid (964267) on Monday July 17, 2006 @11:23PM (#15735417) Homepage Journal
    I want to see the insane tracks that make huge loops under and through your Mom's coffee table again! Bring me a way to do that, even if only with a computer, and you have your scheme right there.
  • ...kids really need to exercise their imaginations. Toys that do everything for you (makes sounds, moves on its own, etc.) really take away the "fun" of playing with toys. Sure, the whiz-bang toys are often the envy of most children, but it's simplicity that typically wins out. It reminds me of the story of the kids who got the latest and greatest, most sought after toy, and after an hour or so, the toy was in the corner and the kids were happily playing with the box.

    It's one thing to see kids zombie-like a
  • What?!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StressGuy (472374) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @08:26AM (#15735680)
    From the article:

    =======
    Where will HotWheels be in five years?

    I see HotWheels going beyond the vehicle. We're just testing the waters now with toys like the Ray Gun. We also want to get kids outdoors.
    ========

    As the father of a three year old boy and a 4 year old girl (who both play with Hot Wheels), my first thoght was, "I wonder where this puts the world in five years?"

    Great, forget about buiding entire cities populated with Hot Wheels vehicles and "My Little Ponies" using Legos, Tinkertoys, and Connects to make buildings and structures for them to run through.., or figuring out how to make a track that goes through a loop, hit's one of the battery-powered car boosters (you know, with the spinning foam wheels) then circles around and jumps back through the loop eventually arriving back at the starting point so we can send it through again. No....it's much more creative to just go outside and pretend to shoot each other. ...any other Dad's out here shudder when they read that?

  • by qazwart (261667) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @09:55AM (#15736127) Homepage
    Oh boy. You guys waxing nastalgic about the good ol' days back in 1972. Well, I was born back in the early pleolithic around 1958.

    Even back then, old people were whining about the toys being so high tech (like requiring batteries), and how kids were no longer able to use their imaginations. Hot Wheels when they first came out were a perfect example of what was wrong with toys! You built a track, and raced them.

    "When I was a kid", as people complained back then, "We had big toy trunks that you could actually play with! Not these little tiny cars. Back then, you *pretended* to race them, and that built imagination!" Then, they would go on with some story about walking 9 miles in the snow in uphill both directions every day to school, and having to work in some salt mine and how that built character. In the meantime, I went back playing with my hightech Hotwheels.

    Somehow, despite all the high tech toys I played with, I have managed to somehow grow up, avoid becoming a delinquent, and make some contribution to society. However, I worry about my kids. They sit around all day and play with their dang hightech toys. Not like I did in my day. If I wanted a my toys to beep or buzz, I had to do it myself. These kids, they have no imagination.

    And, TV only had four channels, and one of those was PBS. And, when we wanted to change channels, we had to get up off the couch, walk all the way to the TV set, and turn a dang knob.

    And, we liked it!
  • by Zerbey (15536) * on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @10:09AM (#15736226) Homepage Journal
    When my 3 year old threw a tantrum because the toy I bought him didn't make any noises I vowed to start buying him more "manual" toys. The big issue nowadays with kids toys is that the kid doesn't need to play with them. They press a button, it does something cool and they sit and watch it. Yuck.

    When I was a kid, such toys where very expensive and a treat you only got at christmas (that Millenium Falcon ruled!. Of course, now you can pick them up at [something]-Mart for a couple of dollars.

    Since encouraging my own children to play with more traditional toys (cars, lego, etc.) I've seen their imaginations improve and less cries of "I'm bored!".

    • When my 3 year old threw a tantrum...

      I have a toy for him. Ritalin pops. :) But then again I'm an advocate of keeping children as drugged and as QUIET as possible until the age of 18.

      Yes, I have cold, black heart. No need to say it.

      • I know you're trying to be funny but I've seen what happens to a kid when they go on Ritalin [wikipedia.org]. They turn into Zombies, and when they're NOT on the stuff they have no idea how to handle their emotions. So, you end up with a kid who previously had a few minor issues that could be addressed without pills (usually they just need more attention) who will now spend the rest of their life popping pills and in counselling just to stay normal.

        I fucking hate people who put their kids on medicine.
    • I was never bored as a child. My mother, who bless her misguided ways, proved that the world was not fair. A very good lesson to learn. She would put up with cries of "I'm bored!". If you were bored, then there was a floor to be swept, since you were bored and obviously need practice at sweeping.

      As I said, never bored was I! Still got way too much practice sweeping the floor. Way more in fact than my wife. What does that say about gender roles these days?
      • Yes, that sounds like my Mother. If I claimed boredom, I'd get the standard lecture about how much she'd love to be bored and then handed a chore to do.

        20 years later I find myself agreeing with her 100% :-)
    • Yeah, I think blankMart and Toys'r'expensive fail to show the entire spectrum of "World" toys. In general, they are American designed, chinese made junk. There's a whole world of toys from Japan, Europe, Africa even, and some made in the USA that aren't battery and microprocessor controlled and actually require kids to play with them. I think they are just hard to find or something. Or maybe parents "give in" to their kids too easily. Kid throws a tantrum in the store, most parents are going to just st
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @10:28AM (#15736355)

    the challenge of stewarding an old-school brand like HotWheels in our tech-driven age, the emerging technologies that will affect the toy industry, and Mattel's Web strategy,' he also talks about the effect that video games have had on toy design, and argues that exciting the imagination is the most important role that a toy can fill."

    Damn! If he just says "synergy" I have buzzword bingo.

  • by PhotoGuy (189467) on Tuesday July 18, 2006 @01:23PM (#15737890) Homepage
    I loved HotWheels as a kid, but now that I have kids, I am so disappointed with all the crappy and expensive fluff. We don't need a fire spitting demon track, battery powered launchers, or hundreds of crappy and brittle little plastic pieces to put together for the "sets". Too many themes, with large towers and crap that snaps and breaks easily, or pieces that get lost and ruin the set. I was shocked at the stupid and needless themes, and poor quality. None of the sets were usable beyond the first setup of them. My son has more fun with my old track, curve, loop sets, with a bit of gravity to launch some stunts. If a pieces gets lost, no biggie, they're all basic and rugged units, not specialized and poorly built theme sets.

    I searched high and low last Christmas, and couldn't find a basic set with some track, a few curves and maybe a loop, and some cars. (I ended up buying some bulk track, couldn't find any curves; and a few cars. Not as much fun as when I was a kid.) Please, HotWheels, get back to the basics, with some well built, simple, and fun, sets. I think you'd be surprised at how much appeal (and profits) it would find.

    I see it a bit like Scrabble, one of my favorite games. There have been attempted variations of it, most of which sucked. But they have come out with deluxe versions of the old game (fancier tiles, rotatable board, electronic versions, etc.); that's useful and classy enhancement of a sure-fire formula. But changing the fundamentals usually blew the formula. Same thing with chintzy and expensive theme sets from HotWheels, IMO.

Man must shape his tools lest they shape him. -- Arthur R. Miller

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