6/14/2019 — Custom paint, wheels and personas have defined Mattel’s Hot Wheels brand for over 50 years now. From the very beginning, the Hot Wheels brand took its own stance on California car culture and shifted the imagination of young kids. Those elements of #Spectraflame Paint and custom wheels still define the brand today setting it apart from its competitors.
As the world has changed over the last 50+ years, so had the brand, as it had often made changes to continually appeal to the next generation. Every time a new product is launched it seems to spawn a new breed of collectors several years down the road following the basic formula: kid plays with product > grows up > adult collects product. As a collector of 25 years, I have seen the back half of the brand’s existence appeal to so many niché collectors. Segment series, #Treasure Hunts, #World Race / #AcceleRacers, #Hot Wheels Racing, #HWC/RLC, #Car Culture, as well as other unmentioned lines, have generated many styles of collecting.
With so many triumphs, the Hot Wheels brand has also had its share of misses — namely on the technological side of things. The tech has always been interesting, but it has — for the most part — ventured away from the castings that make up the Hot Wheels mainline. In recent years, we have seen more of a push to try and capture the identities of the castings like the #Bone Shaker and #Twin Mill with these “off-scale” products, but they continually far short despite years of development behind them.
This is NOW!
In what is being touted as the evolution of the Hot Wheels brand, we are introduced to the Hot Wheels iD series. A series of 50 “normal” Hot Wheels cars, retrofitted with NFC-chips, all-while receiving #Spectraflame Paint, full-detail, and series-exclusive wheels. The near-field communication (NFC) chips are built right into the base of the car and uniquely identify that specific car in the digital realm.
Technology is great, but the NFC-chip isn’t a new idea by any means, so building a comprehensive infrastructure around this new product line will be important to its success. Applications were built in the digital world, as well as the real one for this launch. This is your invitation to download the Hot Wheels iD app on your Apple devices. NOTE: If your phone or tablet requires the app from the Google Play store, you’ll have to wait until July 10. I was fortunate to have been able to beta test the app for Hot Wheels — in addition to the crate I received — so I could give you the idea behind it.
iD APP: Fun, Fun, Fun until Daddy takes the iPhone away
Over the last week, I have had a blast uploading my cars by tapping the base of the car to my phone, and through the Race Portal, which we will get to in a moment. There are some 636 levels in the game already, and this first iteration of it will have 50+ cars to play as. Just like any other addicting game on your phone, you continually earn digital rewards. These are mainly focused around improving your cars performance. Fortunately, since this is designed mainly for kids (although it is fun to play as an adult), the game also provides breaks. Depending on the car, you get anywhere between 5 to 10 races out of it before you have to recharge. Recharging it either requires you to not play for 30 minutes: booooo OR you can use the car’s physical representation to play with it in the real world via the classic orange track. The Hot Wheels Race Portal accessory allows you to play in two “Portal Play” modes, using your existing track and track sets. BUT, if you really want to utilize the full-capability of the Hot Wheels iD chips, you should consider grabbing the Smart Track Kit.
Let me just start by saying that the Smart Track Kit has to be the most premium track Hot Wheels has ever put out. It is SOLID! The track is made of a hard plastic, the banked corners and loop are heavy and reinforced, and — from what I can tell — the whole track is wired to function in a way that I haven’t even got to yet. There are two more “Smart Track” modes on the app, made specifically for this ultra-premium set. There is an element of skill involved that will allow kids (and adults) to challenge each other in head-to-head races, and have their results measured by a live timing feature. Personally, I feel like this is unlike any other Hot Wheels track set that Hot Wheels has put out, and its one that will sit at the top of many Christmas/Hanukkah/etc. lists by the time December rolls around.
iD Cars: New Concept, Old Flare
As I mentioned earlier, the iD cars are truly special. 50 of the cars that many of us love to collect will be in the inaugural Hot Wheels iD series — several of them are even new castings! They are decked out in #Spectraflame Paint, full-detail, and have wheels that are exclusive to this line. ALL will be playable in the game/app as each has its own digital signature via its NFC-chip.
The most impressive part of the execution of these cars is that they feel/look every part of how a #2019 Hot Wheels car should look. They have modern, full-detail applications which we are accustomed to getting in the Hot Wheels premium lines, all-while adhering to the flashy paint and wheels that have set the Hot Wheels brand apart for over 50 years.
The vehicles will come in a box that can be reused for storage as the cars can be placed back in their plastic shell within the box. Individual iD cars will retail for $7 or you can get exclusive colors as part of the Race Portal and Smart Track Kit accessories. They are available exclusively at Apple, in-store and online, now until July 10, where they then can be found at many of the big box retailers.
For more information, make sure you check out HotWheels.com!
For a list of all the Hot Wheels iD cars, check out the OTD tracker!