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The screen toys start low. But by age 6, these two lines grow close. And by age 8, they cross. Children are barely in their preteen years as they leave toys as we know them behind, these days.

Hot Wheels toy cars | Dr. Lori Ph.D. Antiques Appraiser

Nearly identical to the Hot Wheels produced for the last 50 years in every way, these vehicles sport one important update: They have been retrofitted with NFC chips, so they have a digital identity, too. That means Hot Wheels ID vehicles—using new track designs and components that accompany the release—will connect seamlessly to the cloud, which records their vehicle and race history like a Carfax report.

In one game mode, called Slingshot, you launch your vehicle on a physical Hot Wheels track, then you look to the screen as a digital copy flies through a flaming hoop like Angry Birds. Kids will also be able to race digital versions of their cars inside the apps, too, without buying die-cast vehicles at all, leveling up their performance and paying to unlock new features through micro-transactions. But the problem, as Mattel designers noted, was that these physical toys were mostly just a lock and key.


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You bought the figure, but it was built for your shelf. The game part was entirely digital.

Hot Wheels Race Off - All Vehicles Unlocked & Fully Upgraded

The problem remained to be solved, though: If you built NFC into a Hot Wheels car, what should it do to add to the experience? So Mattel, teaming up with Ideo, spent 12 weeks doing ethnographic research and going inside homes to identify how kids played with Hot Wheels and played in general. They learned, yes, kids love tech.


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Serious Hot Wheels collectors seek mint-condition toys, with little to no sign of use, preferably in their original paperboard-and-plastic blister pack. Even rarer: finding an original model in its blister pack. The same holds true for the other early years of the brand.

Buy Hot Wheels Toys & Gaming Products Online

When it comes to mass-produced toys, variations make all the difference. When something changes early on in the production process—such as the name or a key aspect of the physical design—the less-produced variant immediately takes on value.


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Changes could affect wheels, interiors, windows, graphics, paint shades, you name it. The fewer of a variant that are produced, generally speaking, the higher their value.

Perhaps most desirable: early prototypes of popular models that were never produced. Here, five of the most valuable and desirable Hot Wheels castings, most of which are squirreled away in private collections and not available on the open market:. The real AMX street car was a short-lived two-seater produced by AMC that, like most muscle cars, stuffed a high-powered engine into a midsize frame. For the sporty die-cast Hot Wheels version, most like the one above trade for hundreds of dollars, with hard-to-find colors like salmon and antifreeze fetching on the higher end. Shaver was a driver on the first Hot Wheels-sponsored drag-racing team in the U.

According to Hot Wheels collector, historian and appraiser Mike Zarnock, they were also available through a cereal mail-in and by sending in Proof-of-Purchase points from the backs of U. But the die-cast cars have, despite their many upgrades and tracks and play sets, always had a decidedly throwback sensibility.

The brand new Hot Wheels id, however, thoroughly plants the toy brand into the 21st century. The high-tech update keeps the classic cars and tracks but features a deep connected play element that pairs with a tablet and phone app to adds a new level of fun. The new set maintains everything fun about playing with Hot Wheels — collecting, racing, jumping, crashing — while adding new element of virtual fun. The only difference is that these new cars have an NFC near-field communication chip with a unique identifier on the bottom of each car that makes it trackable within the free Hot Wheels id app, available exclusively for iOS.

Stats are crunched and bragging rights are easily findable. It comes with two cars as well as a special Race Portal that includes a track booster — a big button kids can pump to spin wheels on either side of the track that fling the cars forward — and 14 teched-up track pieces that, when connected, create a 3D model of the assembled course within the app that shows the live locations and stats of the cars racing around it.

Speaking of stats, the smart track can, well, track additional information like the number of jumps landed and the loops and curves completed, in addition to the speed and lap information that the standalone race portal has.

The Most Valuable Hot Wheels Cars (for Now)

Because with Hot Wheels, stunts and speed have always had equal importance. All of these features are valuable add-ons, but the physical play is only half the experience. As previously mentioned, by scanning Hot Wheels id cars kids can build a digital garage that mirrors the physical cars they own.

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