Hot Wheels are hot again. Parent company Mattel is now worth more than GM. Got an old Beach Bomb VW model in the attic? You're rich!
On weekends, Edwin Norman likes to hit the Richwood Flea Market in northern Kentucky with his sons, Ja'Mon, 5, and Julian, 6. But they don't come to pick up a set of hunting knives. The Cincinnati-area father and his sons are shopping for wheels. The kind that come in a plastic package and cost a buck. Today, the young boys see plenty they like as they rush the table at the Mo Collectibles booth, squealing and squirming over rows of shiny, tiny hot rods. Ja'Mon suddenly spots the car he likes—a metallic midnight-blue Suzuki—snatches it up and waves it in his brother's face. "I want to drive this car when I'm big," he says. Their father looks on wistfully. "This brings me back," says Norman, 50. "I played with Hot Wheels when I was a kid, and they look forward to getting new ones just like I did."
In the fad-driven fantasyland of toys, Hot Wheels has had an incredible ride. Those pocket rockets have been racing down their familiar orange tracks for four decades now and, unlike the real car market, show no signs of slowing down. Last year Hot Wheels set a record, as sales surged by 16 percent, and they continue to accelerate in 2008 even as the economy tanks. In fact, as Motown melts down, Hot Wheels is heating up. The tiny toy cars' parent company, Mattel, now has a market capitalization that surpasses General Motors. That's right—Wall Street thinks the maker of toy cars is worth more than the largest real carmaker in America.
And why not? Hot Wheels is still a growth engine that analysts say does $1 billion a year in global sales. In the $2.3 billion U.S. market for toy vehicles, Hot Wheels has been a leader for years, according to retail researcher NPD Group. Mattel says it has produced 4 billion Hot Wheels since 1968. And Hot Wheels suffers none of the age angst afflicting Mattel's other icon, Barbie, the Norma Desmond of dolls. Now Hot Wheels is getting the star treatment. There's a Saturday-morning cartoon, "Battle Force 5," debuting on Cartoon Network next fall. A Hot Wheels movie from "Matrix" producer Joel Silver and Warner Brothers is in the works. And Wal-Mart, America's No. 1 toy seller, is featuring two Hot Wheels sets, Trick Track and Beast Bash, in its big "Ten Under $10" holiday promotion. "Hot Wheels' basic fantasy is something that is timeless—it's cool, fast and powerful," says toy analyst Chris Byrne.
The brand is riding a hot streak because it reconnected with little boys and their fathers. "Dads would see the old blue box and say, 'I remember those'," says Larry Wood, a former Ford designer who started penning Hot Wheels in 1969 and constituted the entire design staff for much of 1970s. "Our sales took off." Earlier this decade, Hot Wheels took a wrong turn by going after older boys who were getting their car play from videogames like Grand Theft Auto. To try to get those big boys to put down their game controllers, Hot Wheels came up with ever more elaborate—and complicated—play sets. One, the Slimecano, featured a slime-spewing volcano that cars had to navigate—and parents had to try to assemble. But no matter how fancy Hot Wheels became, the vid kids weren't interested. Then about three years ago, Hot Wheels returned to its roots—simple tracks that snap together quickly and fast cars that excite 5-to 8-year-old boys just coming out of their Thomas the Tank Engine years. "We were trying too hard to push the brand older," says Tim Kilpin, the Mattel senior VP who steered Hot Wheels back to basics. "We had to make it cool for the right-age boys."
And that age turns out to be under 10 and over 40. The rust-colored roadways and loop-the-loops of Hot Wheels' latest offerings are descendants of the original tracks that first put the toy in motion. "It's the circle of life," says Hot Wheels marketing executive Geoff Walker. These days, adult collectors make up a quarter of the Hot Wheels basic car business. At a Hot Wheels convention in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, a collector paid $70,000 for a rare pink Beach Bomb model, a 1969 VW bus with a surfboard sticking out the back, which never went into production because it was too small for the track. (The pink color was an attempt to attract girls, which didn't take. Hot Wheels have always been to boys what Barbie is to girls.) A new price threshold might be jumped when collectors bid on a diamond-encrusted Hot Wheels racer, valued at $140,000, being auctioned this month to mark the car line's 40th anniversary.
Among the bidders will be Bruce Pascal, 47, a Washington, D.C., real-estate agent who has a Hot Wheels collection valued at $400,000. As the stock market melted down, he still paid $13,000 for a rare "overchromed" Ford T-bird from the original Hot Wheels catalog. "I've looked over my portfolio and I'm down in everything except Hot Wheels," he says.
Analysts see investor exuberance for two-inch toy cars as adult rationalization for engaging in child's play. "They might think of it as a poor man's commodity exchange," says modern-history professor Gary Cross of Penn State. "But what they're really doing is collecting their youth." And that drives up revenue, though Mattel didn't realize it at first. When adults first started gathering to swap cars 21 years ago, "Mattel didn't want anything to do with us," says Mike Strauss, who has organized the swap meets since the beginning. At his convention at the Hilton LAX this month, $2 million worth of toy cars changed hands, including one $168,000 collection unloaded by a man to help pay for his divorce.
With that kind of money on the table, Mattel now rolls up big, providing product and, most important, its stable of Hot Wheels designers to autograph their creations, which typically don't leave the packages (the better to hold their value). More than 100 grown men lined up in a courtyard at the Hilton to meet the designers they idolize. "A part of me feels like a geek telling people I'm going to a Hot Wheels convention," says Carlyle McCullough, 43, communications director for a Texas church. "But it's not like we're going behind a closed door and going 'vroom, vroom.' Well, not very often anyway."
It hasn't always been a smooth ride. The Hot Wheels story has many twists. It began in 1967, when custom hot rods ruled the road in Mattel's southern California neighborhood. Mattel cofounder Elliot Handler wanted to capitalize on the craze and give boys a toy on par with Barbie. Back then, boys played with toy train sets. Toy cars were crude contraptions, with wheels fused to their die-cast bodies. Handler asked a designer to rig a car from British competitor Matchbox (now owned by Mattel) with wheels that actually spun. An hour later, the designer had a prototype. The boss gave it a flick and it zipped across his desk. "Now those are some hot wheels," Handler reportedly said. And a franchise was born.
When the first flamed-out, chromed-up cars appeared in 1968, with names like Hot Heap and Heavy Chevy, they took off like dragsters. Mattel figured it had a hot product it could ride for a year or two. But the toymaker discovered that as long as it rolled out new models—revved-up reproductions of Detroit muscle along with flights of fancy like the skull-faced Bone Shaker—boys kept coming back for more. "The cars change every year, so you have perpetual contemporaneity," Cross says. "That's what makes Hot Wheels go."
What made them stall was any design change that slowed the cars down. In 1973, to cut costs, Hot Wheels cheapened the cars' piano-wire suspension, which made sales go cold. Designers fixed that and Hot Wheels took off again. In 1977, to save a penny per car, Mattel stopped painting a thin red line around the tire sidewalls. (Keeping the price under a buck a car has always been critical.) Today, collectors pay hundreds for those original "Red Line" Hot Wheels.
These days, Hot Wheels does as much business for Mattel as Barbie, toy analysts say. And there are now 35 designers, kicking out 300 new models a year. Lately, they've been toiling in a "treehouse" on the company's backlot in El Segundo, Calif., while Mattel builds them a new hangar-size studio nearby. You can climb to the second-floor studio on a rope ladder hanging from a faux tree, or you can simply take the stairs. Once aloft, you find a tree fort outfitted like a gearhead's garage, with a gleaming chrome toolbox, a checkerboard-flag floor and corrugated metal bulletin boards where designers hang their latest works with magnetic lug nuts. "This is our brainstorm area," Wood says. Detroit's real-car designers are trying to escape to this toy land. "I got a call today from guy in Detroit asking if we had any positions open," says designer Alec Tam, 37, a second-generation Hot Wheels designer whose father penned the original Beach Bomb. "The little cars are very similar to the real-car business from a design standpoint."
Just like their big-car cousins in Detroit, Hot Wheels designers went to art school and now create cars on computer. They zap their digitized designs to virtual model makers in Asia, who send back encoded files that are then used to produce 3-D renderings. The entire process takes just days, and a car created in January can be hanging on a peg at the toy store by summer. The process in Detroit can take four years. Another contrast: since you don't need a car loan for a 99-cent car, sales for an individual model can top one million units. "I've designed the bestselling production car in GM history; it's crazy," says GM designer Amaury Diaz-Serrano, referring to his Chevroletor retro racer, which became a Hot Wheels model last year in a design contest Mattel conducted with real-world carmakers.
Hot Wheels takes no pleasure in Detroit's pain. "We need Detroit to exist for us to be successful," says Walker. After all, Hot Wheels bestsellers remain replicas of classic Detroit iron. For decades, Motown has shared its top-secret blueprints of upcoming models with Mattel so that the Hot Wheels and real-wheels versions could debut simultaneously. That's happening again in November at the L.A. Auto Show, when Ford unveils a new design for its Mustang. As soon as the wraps come off the candy-red pony car, the journalists covering the introduction will be handed the 1/64th-scale Hot Wheels replica with a matching paint job. "It helps sell the real thing," explains Ford licensing executive John Nens. Barbie might get old. But boys and their toys never grow up.
With Patrick Crowley
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
[b]buy cheap microsoft software, [url=http://firgonbares.net/]selling a software product[/url]
[url=http://firgonbares.net/][/url] creating educational software microsoft email software
buy adobe acrobat software [url=http://firgonbares.net/]adobe software reviews[/url] oem software sites
[url=http://firgonbares.net/]discount software discount[/url] buy softwares online
[url=http://firgonbares.net/]educational software stores[/url] purchase manager software
windows vista ultimate [url=http://firgonbares.net/]where can i buy dreamweaver[/b]
Can anyone recommend the top performing Managed Service tool for a small IT service company like mine? Does anyone use Kaseya.com or GFI.com? How do they compare to these guys I found recently: N-able N-central MSP tool
? What is your best take in cost vs performance among those three? I need a good advice please... Thanks in advance!
You may probably be very interested to know how one can manage to receive high yields on investments.
There is no initial capital needed.
You may commense to get income with a money that usually goes
for daily food, that's 20-100 dollars.
I have been participating in one company's work for several years,
and I'll be glad to share my secrets at my blog.
Please visit blog and send me private message to get the info.
P.S. I make 1000-2000 per day now.
http://theinvestblog.com [url=http://theinvestblog.com]Online Investment Blog[/url]
My friend and I were recently talking about how we as human beings are so hooked onto electronics. Reading this post makes me think back to that debate we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.
I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as the price of memory drops, the possibility of uploading our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I dream about almost every day.
(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=http://www.leetboss.com/video-games/r4i-r4-sdhc-nintendo-ds]R4i[/url] DS NetBlog)
Technology truly has become one with our daily lives, and I am fairly confident when I say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.
I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further advances, the possibility of transferring our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I dream about all the time.
(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=http://kwstar88.insanejournal.com/397.html]R4[/url] DS SerVo)
Memory sure is becoming cheaper these days. I'm curious as to when we will finally reach the ratio of $0.01 to 1 Gigabyte.
I'm still waiting for the day when I will finally be able to afford a 20 TB hard disk . But for now I guess I will be satisfied with having a 32 gigabyte Micro SD in my R4i.
(Submitted using Nintendo DS running [url=http://kwstar88.insanejournal.com/397.html]R4i[/url] SKu2)
[url=http://tinyurl.com/getvpn][b]Click here to get VPN service![/b][/url]
Using our service you'll be fully anonymous in the Internet. Hide your IP address, and nobody will know that strange visitor from Germany ( Great Britain, Estonia and so ), is you.
[b]Full access to network[/b]
You can use any services, access any sites and use any software with us. BitTorrent, Skype, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Pocker .. we have no restrictions.
Don't worry, from this moment all you data will be protected using 256 bit Blowfish encryption algorithm. Nobody can access your internet data.
[b]Wide variety of countries[/b]
You can choose one of over twenty high speed servers located in different parts of the world, from South America coast to islands in Indian Ocean.
anonymous surfing review
proxy server vpn
anonymous secure surfing
anonymous vpn free
internet explorer vpn
vpn dial up
anonymous surfing freeware
anonymous surfing software
anonymous surfing vpn
best anonymous browser
surf the web anonymous
best anonymous surfing
anonymizer anonymous surfing review
firefox anonymous surfing
Virtual Private Networks
Free Vpn Client Software
anonymous surfing software
[url=http://dasbmw.ru] anonymous surfing software[/url]
[url=http://seobraincenter.ru] anonymous proxy[/url]
[url=http://carlwebster.com/members/Alexander-Pwnz.aspx]Buy Cheap Zoloft[/url]
I'm in a love-hate relationship with virtual memory because of how prices are always dropping. I absolutely hate buying SD Cards for my R4 / R4i at (what seems to be) a cheap price only to see it become a whole lot more cheaper a couple of months later.
(Posted from N3T for R4i Nintendo DS.)
Glad to greet you, ladies and gentlemen!
Sure, you’ve heard about me, because my fame is running in front of me,
my parents call me James F. Collins.
Generally I’m a social gmabler. recently I take a great interest in online-casino and poker.
Not long time ago I started my own blog, where I describe my virtual adventures.
Probably, it will be interesting for you to find out how to win not loose.
Please visit my web page . http://allbestcasino.com I’ll be glad would you find time to leave your opinion.
hi every person,
I identified spoonfeedin.blogspot.com after previous months and I'm very excited much to commence participating. I are basically lurking for the last month but figured I would be joining and sign up.
I am from Spain so please forgave my speaking english[url=http://whatsnewtodayte.info/].[/url][url=http://neinspiringthoughts.info/].[/url][url=http://obworlddiscovery.info/forum].[/url]
Hello TO all www.blogger.com members,
I just wanted to introduce myself to all of you and say that I am extremely happy to be a new member here[url=http://latesttrendsng.info/].[/url] I have been enjoying the conversations here for some time and look forward to participating now[url=http://dycoolnewideas.info/].[/url][url=http://dibehindthescenes.info/forum].[/url]
Glad to be a part of the community[url=http://vainspiringthoughts.info/].[/url][url=http://hotrendytopics.info/forum].[/url]
affordable dating services [url=http://loveepicentre.com/]when did jewel start dating ty[/url] biggest losers 2009 competitors dating
totally jewish dating [url=http://loveepicentre.com/advice.php]widow widower dating service[/url] black granny dating
free dating from ghana [url=http://loveepicentre.com/testimonials.php]phone chat dating free trial[/url] dating scammer
ninemsn dating [url=http://loveepicentre.com/taketour.php]gbs dating sim games[/url] cinderella dating
ecuador dating [url=http://loveepicentre.com/]dating webcam chats[/url] free adult dating shandon ohio
people who has done online dating [url=http://loveepicentre.com]korean celebrity dating show[/url] dating disabled crutches
bangor dating [url=http://loveepicentre.com/map.php]christian dating online single 20[/url] national teen dating dating violence awareness
dating sites for adhd [url=http://loveepicentre.com/map.php]soft swing dating site[/url] cameron diaz dating
jewish dating coach [url=http://loveepicentre.com/]nc legal separation dating[/url] christian dating south carolina
photoshop unmasked free download ebook http://audiobookscollection.co.uk/Hollywood-Portraits-CLASSIC-SHOTS-AND-HOW-TO-TAKE-THEM-ROGER-HICKS-AND-CHRISTOPHER-NISPEROS-PHOTOGRAPHS-FROM-THE-KOBAL-COLLECTION/p122568/ rca ebook reb 1100 [url=http://audiobookscollection.co.uk/es/Numerical-methods-for-optimal-control-problems-with-state-constraints/p101528/]academic materials ebook[/url] your own ebook store
palm pilot synchronize software http://buyoem.co.uk/fr/product-36919/WaterProof-PHPEdit-4-1 shperds software [url=http://buyoem.co.uk/product-10110/Idimager-Pro-3-2]mcx100 software[/url] biblical greek software
[url=http://buyoem.co.uk/category-4/Software-Plugins?page=3]Software Plugins - Cheap Legal OEM Software, Software Sale, Download OEM[/url] tax cut software 2005
shipping label software http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/product-14003/GyazMail-1-5-Mac bible christian software home page [url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/it/product-37320/Ultra-Mobile-3GP-Video-Converter-3-8]what is verity computer software[/url] smart millionaires financial software
[url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/de/category-200-209/Antivirus-and-Sicherheit]Antivirus & Sicherheit - Cheap Legal OEM Software, Software Sale, Download OEM[/url] pattern recognition software price
summit systems software reviews http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/it/product-36501/MathMagic-Pro-Edition-For-QuarkXpress-5-5 tabletplanner download software applications [url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/es/product-36962/Smart-PC-Recorder-4-9]seo engine promotion search software strategy[/url] active programs software
[url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/product-14239/Synchronize-Pro-X-5-0-Mac]Synchronize Pro X 5.0 [Mac] - Download OEM, Software Sale, OEM Software[/url] website survey software
texas pharmacy assoc http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/amoxil.htm pharmacy school um kc [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/combivent.htm]pharmacy practice news[/url]
fda online pharmacy http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/micardis.htm careers pharmacy [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/furosemide.htm]furosemide[/url]
comercial pharmacy http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/rogaine-5-.htm delmar pharmacy [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/ponstel.htm]ips pharmacy[/url]
drive thru pharmacy http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/lexapro.htm online veterinary pharmacy [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/dostinex.htm]dostinex[/url]
cvs pharmacy montvale nj http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/categories/weight-loss.htm pharmacy technician course curriculum [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/astelin.htm]canadian pharmacy school[/url]
originally pharmacy groups were called what http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/catalogue/c.htm mht on line pharmacy [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/zebeta.htm]zebeta[/url]
don beam pharmacy http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/lotrisone.htm pharmacy jokes top ten [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/catalogue/u.htm]wedgewood village pharmacy[/url]
peoples pharmacy north haven ct http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/xenical.htm online discount pharmacy [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/crestor.htm]crestor[/url]
oklahoma pharmacy board http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/reminyl.htm pureervice pharmacy [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/vantin.htm]rho chi and pharmacy[/url]
west lab pharmacy http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/deltasone.htm kahn pharmacy harlem hospital [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/pulmicort.htm]pulmicort[/url]
cvs pharmacy encinitas http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/suhagra.htm massachusetts college of pharmacy and health [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/exelon.htm]cvs pharmacy bullhead city az[/url]
pharmacy study abroad http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/prednisolone.htm tramadol pharmacy order [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/kamasutra-dotted-condoms.htm]kamasutra dotted condoms[/url]
stanozolol online pharmacy http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/hard-on.htm wilkinson pharmacy carthage [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/levitra-super-active-plus.htm]eckert pharmacy[/url]
ohio state university pharmacy http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/vantin.htm pharmacy contracting agency [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/ranitidine.htm]ranitidine[/url]
bilo pharmacy http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/epivir.htm langley afb pharmacy formulary [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/frozen--energy-and-libido-enhancer-.htm]natural pharmacy vitamox[/url]
grubb pharmacy capitol hill washington dc http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/albendazole.htm online discount pharmacy [url=http://certifiedpharmacy.co.uk/products/parlodel.htm]parlodel[/url]
dating show 1999 [url=http://freeinternetdating.info/meet/meet-and-fuck-roadtrip]meet and fuck roadtrip[/url] dating usa indian marriages
dating while getting divorced minnesota http://freeinternetdating.info/love/summary-of-a-very-special-love dating manual for women
guangzhou girls for dating [url=http://freeinternetdating.info/singles/singles-dance-illinois]irish dating traditions[/url] interracial dating clubs
antique bottle dating coke http://loveepicentre.com/articles/ speed dating in queens ny
overprotective parents and dating girls [url=http://loveepicentre.com/taketour/]gay male dating sites[/url] baseball terms for dating
free dating flash games [url=http://loveepicentre.com/]jr high dance dating[/url] christian dating interracial [url=http://loveepicentre.com/user/suzang/]suzang[/url] the best herpes dating sites
nike off white
yeezy boost 350
why not try these out Louis Vuitton fake Bags Full Article check here more info here visit their website
additional hints high replica bags anchor replica bags buy online browse around this site gucci replica bags
Post a Comment