My son Marco and I have been having the time of our lives ever since our first eBay shipment of Hot Wheels track arrived a few days ago.
I decided to get him the same kind of track that I got back around 1970 rather than the track Mattel sells today. Perhaps this is just for sentimental reasons, but I have another rationale: the old sets are just track and other parts that can be configured in myriad ways. The new sets have departed from the concept of modular parts, and are more like kits. This is similar to the change in Lego over the past few decades.This evolution in children’s toys is chronicled well in Howard Chudacoff’s Children at Play: An American History. Toys used to leave a great deal more to children’s imaginations than they do today.
This means that we’re constantly trying to figure out how to improve our designs. We need to exploit our physical features, especially steps, and we always like to add creative flourishes (e.g. where to put the loop-the-loop?). So, we’re creatively problem-solving, and Marco is taking more and more of this on from me as he learns how things work.
In addition, we’re trying to make this a social neighborhood game as well. We’re setting up the track on our front yard and sidewalk, so we’re able to attract boys of all ages (including boys like me ; > ) to play with us. I’ll tell you – Hot Wheels is quite an attraction!