Friday, April 3, 2009

"Here He Comes...!"

Wow, Mattel has issued forth a SECOND WAVE OF SPEED RACER HOT WHEELS! (Cheering) Now fans of the Watchowski's brilliant 2007 masterpiece (all 23 of us) can relive the excitement of the rally race with these funky new toys.

This latest (and most likely, lastest) assortment of cars is a mix of repaints and new sculpts, featuring four new vehicles from the dastardly rally race in the second act of the film. This includes:

Snake Oiler's street car

Thor-Axine (viking)

Delila (diamond sucking/ drug analogy femme)

and finally, Taejo Togokahn (double crossing Asian racer)

As expected, these toys are nicely detailed and roll smoothly as only Hot Wheels do, but the unique factor these toys possess are the high impact plastic bodies. Initially, this turned me off, as I would have preferred a solid piece of die-cast metal. I bought one anyhow, and after rolling down some track onto a hard surface I realized the choice in materials accurately recreated the "Car Fu" stylings of the film upon impact. These things don't just bounce, they practically dance. As a true brillaint stroke, these cars feature a die-cast bottom plate, adding enough weight to land the car right side up 90% of the time. Somebody at Mattel would've received an award if not for the film's lack of success, so there is something inexplicable about this new assortment of toys. I think it's pretty great to be able to include these notable characters in my Speed Racer Hot Wheels collection, and I'm surprised and appreciative. Having a vehicle for Taejo is especially great, considering the character actually has a story arc that kids will enjoy exploring through play.

Desert Rally repaints

Of the repaints, I zeroed in on the Mach 5 and Racer X with sand detail, from the afore mentioned rally, and left the others for later. The light brown under spray impressed me by contrasting nicely with the iconic designs of both the Mach 5 and X's Shooting Star, while the rest of these toys merely represent the massive surplus that did not sell. Although I can't blame Mattel for "Race Wrecked Grey Ghost" (several cars return as "Race Wrecked", featuring a black under spray to indicate engine burnout,)I can hold out until they show up for even less than a dollar, because that's the rub here people; you can't get these at retail.

I stumbled upon these guys while looking for batteries in a dollar store. The batteries were dead, but who cares when you've uncovered a favorite toy unexpectedly. The experience was a little like the dreams I have of walking into a dusty old variety store and finding a pile of Kenner Star Wars figures at 1980 prices, only not nearly as orgasmic. Snake Oiler's street car has been seen at Target in a two-pack with the Mach 5, but even that went straight to the clearance aisle. When a movie tanks, you don't expect additional merchandise. Just one more reason to love crazy Mattel.

You cannot deny "Speed Racer" the movie was a real dog for everyone involved. This is good in a way because now they can't tarnish the film experience by making a less than stellar sequel. On the other hand it's bad because fans want to own miniature versions of the cool cars presented therein, and that's not supposed to happen much when nobody sees the movie. Mattel will never again make so much ancillary merchandise for a new movie, no matter how big the marketing push, therefore, one has to wonder what the philosophy behind releasing another assortment could be. It would seem that we are so far down along the pipeline that these toys could have been canceled. Maybe Mattel is gunning for some of that stimulus package. When they tell congress it's to make up for all the Speed Racer toys they'll surely get some.

However it happened, if you have kids and need a cheap quality toy (die-cast and chunky ABS) that will be loved, or maybe you're older and just happen to love Speed Racer, Mattel Hot Wheels Speed Racer are the thing. After all, it's going to be a long time before we see anymore Mach 5s at Wal-Mart.

No comments: