How Mattel Shrinks Cars Into Hot Wheels (Crash Test Included)

There were no shrink rays involved in the building of the 2JetZ Hot Wheels toy. Which entails something more miraculous: It is someone’s job–really, a few people’s jobs–to transform a custom-built, 1,650 -pound, open-wheeled jet car into something that might fit in the palm of your kiddo’s hand.

The 2JetZ is the first winner of Hot Wheels’ Legends Tour. Last-place time, the tour drew 15 stops around the country to check out 3,600 custom-built automobiles. The destination was to find one that might make a 1:64 -scale die-cast toy that your neighborhood orange mini track enthusiast would affection. And as soon as Hot Wheels’ designers looked hobbyist Luis Rodriguez’s creation, on the tour’s final leg in Las Vegas, they knew the hot rod would look great in miniature. “One of my designers was so excited about the 2JetZ that he started modeling it immediately, on the off chance it would be the winner, ” says Ted Wu, Hot Wheels’ is chairman of designing. “And it was.”

Hot Wheels, which is owned by multinational plaything firm Mattel, can take a full-size vehicle and change it into a teensy one on store shelves in 12 to 18 months. “We’ve got it down to a quite regimented repetition planned, ” Wu says.

First step: design the cars. Matchbox, “whos also” owned by Mattel, obliges 1:64 -scale die-cast simulateds of the cars you might see tooling around your neighborhood. Hot Wheels induces 1:64 -scale die-cast repetitions of the kind of cars you might see tooling around your neighborhood, if your neighbors are speed freaks, coloring fiends, and drivers with slight aggression issues.

So Hot Wheel designers live for the embellishments, and even though car corporations sometimes just forward their designing registers for miniaturization, the designers ever become some stylistic tweaks. Hot Wheels vehicles’ back rotates are often bigger than their front. Decorators add fender flares, spoilers, bonnets, and roof scoops. Anything that, as Wu says, “gives it a more aggressive stance and a meaner look–then it feels like a Hot Wheels car.”

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