It is a common picture from your childhood: you’re on the floor with your friends and your favorite car is clutched in your hand. In about 10 seconds, the race will begin and your car will be driving off the roads and on the walls in your attempt to win.
These tiny cars, probably bought with a fistful of change from your local toy store, have had a long and storied life started way before they were packaged and put on shelves. Each car represents hours of combined efforts between full-size and toy car designers. When Hot Wheels were released by Mattel in 1968, they presented an enticing concept to car fanatics young and old. They were designed to be a 1:64 scale model of the real cars seen on the roads and on the racetrack. When a new car, like the 1969 Corvette was released, Mattel would work with the designer to replicate the design down to even the axels spinning the wheels.
Nowadays, only about half of the yearly Hot Wheels models are replicas. The others are created and designed by a staff of 17 artists and engineers. Throughout a ten month process, designers sketch the car – usually on a digital drawing program. Then, the design is sent to become a 3D printed prototype that must be approved by a team of automation engineers.
Once the design is approved and refined, an alloy die casting model is created in order for the newest member of the Hot Wheels family get on toy store shelves in the quickest and most effective way possible. In fact, the die-casting process is so effective that each second 16.5 new Hot Wheels cars are created and more than 6 billion cars have been sold since 1968.
The next time you get ready to race the toy cars of your youth, take an extra second to study to sheer craftsmanship that went into the tiny model in your hand. Everyday, an entire team of people pour hours of care, detail and passion into the minuscule cars that defined your childhood.