Book Review: Hot Wheels: From 0 to 50 at 1:64 Scale

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

We all love cars and if you’re anything like me, you also like toy cars. In addition to die-cast cars, I own a few die-cast fire trucks, Lego cars and, of course, some Hot Wheels. Right above my desk are three Hot Wheels: Lighting McQueen from the movie Cars and two NASCAR vehicles, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, the latter mostly because I like M&M’s.

Hot Wheels: From 0 to 50 at 1:64 Scale is a new book written by Kris Palmer with a foreword by famed Hot Wheels designer, Larry Wood. It’s the most fun book about any kind of cars that I’ve read since How to Build Brick Cars, which is about building Lego cars.

Unless you are a die-hard Hot Wheels collector and maybe even if you’re not, you will be surprised at the amount of information about Mattel’s toy cars that the author has crammed into theseĀ 160 pages.

The book is arranged in a logical manner starting with the history of Elliott and Ruth Handler who started Mattel with Matt Matson (the “Matt” in Mattel, Eliot is the “el.”) While Barbie was their first product, named for the Handler’s daughter, Elliott dreamed about creating what became Hot Wheels. He was a visionary when everyone around him said, “why bother.” Thanks to Elliott Handler for creating the Hot Wheels universe.

In these pages we’re treated to the birth as well as the evolution of Hot Wheels beyond 1/64 scale cars to include racing sets. I’ll confess that while I have lots of Hot Wheels, including many used with my Lionel car carrier trains, I barely knew Mattel made little orange tracks for racing these cars. But a couple of things happened while reading this book: After reading just a few pages in each section I had the overwhelming desire to run down to Target and buy some Hot Wheels. This feeling shifted into high gear when I saw the photo of the T-Rex Takedown playset the company introduced in 2004. Yes, it has dinosaurs and Hot Wheels.

ot Wheels: From 0 to 50 at 1:64 Scale covers lots of ground of traditionally sized Hot Wheels and showcases Mattel’s venture into creating cars in others scales all the way up to 1:1 including a special Hot Wheels edition Camaro that GM produced. You’ll get a peak at the complexities of the manufacturing process starting with that first order for millions of Hot Wheels from K-Mart and following through to how these little cars are produced in factories around the world. The best is saved till last when the author introduces us to the world of Hot Wheels collectors, including a look at why people collect. Wrapping that up are profiles of two collectors who give the world “obsessive” a new meaning when it comes to hobbies.

This book shouldn’t to be confused with collectors guides, such as Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt Price Guide or Hot Wheels Field Guide but is ideal for somebody like me that has always liked Hot Wheels but wanted to know more about the cars and how they came to be and are designed and manufactured.

This is a nicely produced books with a high quality feel that extends to its heavy pages and quality reproduction of photographs and illustrations that appear on those pages. This is a lovely if not luxuriously produced book that even the most picky collector will love as a cherished addition to their own collection. And you won’t find another book that comes in its own vinyl carrying case mimicking the kind of cases Hot Wheels offers for carrying a car collection, making it an extra special gift.

As I write this it’s less that 80 shopping days till Christmas, so if you’ve been looking for a gift for a car lover Hot Wheels: From 0 to 50 at 1:64 Scale is something that will be sure to make them smile.

  • Hardbound: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Motorbooks
  • ISBN-10: 0760360308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760360309
  • Dimensions: 10 x 8.5 x .51 inches
  • Amazon Price: $25.47 Prime