Hot Wheels

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In 1968, Mattel cofounder Elliot Handler decided to start producing die-cast toy cars to compete with the popular British line of Matchbox cars. Hot Wheels distinguished itself early on by focusing on custom, "tricked out" cars as opposed to directly mimicking real-life models. Mattel designed the chassis and axles of the cars so that they could reduce friction as much as possible and allow the toys to zoom along their plastic tracks. The initial success of Hot Wheels came as a surprise to the entire toy industry, and Mattel scrambled to continue coming up with innovative designs.

Over the next few decades, Hot Wheels began to establish itself as the top brand of die-cast cars around the world. Almost all the major automobile manufacturers have worked directly with Mattel through the years, licensing the brand to make scale models or their cars. Other styles continue to be unique and are designed by Mattel's in-house team. In addition to cars, the brand has branched out to other products like trucks, motorcycles, helicopters, and airplanes. Hot Wheels tracks have also undergone major innovations to make the cars perform increasingly extreme stunts. More than 4 billion Hot Wheels cars have been manufactured since 1968, including more than 11,000 model variations. These toys are sought out by both kids and adult collectors today.

Babies & Kids Merchandise


The actual vehicles manufactured by Hot Wheels today continue to be as diverse as ever. Cars range from typical city vehicles to sleek racers to police cruisers to hot-rods. Some cars are sold individually while others are released in multi-packs. You'll also find more extreme vehicles--several of which feature licensed characters from companies like Disney or Marvel to relate to kids' favorite film franchises. If the cars seem relatively basic, the track systems you can find are incredibly complex. Opportunities for creating extreme racecourses are truly endless. Basic straightaways, loops, and jumps can be modified as your child sees fit, but other sets are designed to fit together in intricate setups that defy gravity and reinvent stunts. Most complex sets include electronic components that accelerate the cars and make races even more exciting.

Other Hot Wheels branded products that don't relate to die-cast cars include full-sized kids' bikes and helmets. The brand's biggest fans can also find apparel like graphic tees, sneakers, sunglasses, and more, which sport the Hot Wheels logo and feature pictures of favorite cars.'s Rating of Hot Wheels

Though the Hot Wheels brand was originally geared toward boys in the late 1960s, these toys can be enjoyed by kids of both genders today. One of the major advantages of die-cast cars is that it's easy for tots to fall in love with these inexpensive playthings. You can then introduce new tracks and playsets in order to keep your little one invested, but you'll never need to spend an arm and a leg unless you want to. Hot Wheels cars may also teach your child about complex scientific topics like physics without them even realizing it. Building tracks and racecourses that allow the cars to race around without interruption helps slyly introduce kids to concepts like friction, gravity, and more. Hot Wheels cars are unlikely to ever go out of style because they have been entertaining children of all ages for almost 50 years. We give the brand 5 stars out of 5.

Hot Wheels

  • Established 1968
  • Die-cast toy cars and tracks
Sold at:
Major retailers and online
Types of items:
Toy cars, racetracks, other toy vehicles, playsets, apparel, bicycles, helmets
Related brands:
Mattel, Fisher-Price, Barbie, Matchbox, American Girl
Our rating:
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