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Hot Wheels Track Kits - No Creativity

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Initial post: Nov 7, 2011 1:43:42 PM PST
I'm not trying to be "the past was better," guy, but I have to put it out there.

I remember as a kid my cousins and I having about 300 feet of combined orange hot wheels track. We would build really elaborate designs with just straight tracks, the loop and curve accessory, the photo finish flag, and the screw clamp starting gate for hooking onto a shelf or T.V. tray. This was in the late 70's.

We made up our own contests like:

- Who could adjust the height of the starting slope so that the selected car would stop right at the end of the track without any assistance.
- Using books, we'd add a certain amount of hills and valleys. We'd then each try to choose a car that would make it over them all.
- We'd do the same with loops.
- Who could make a hill where the car comes off the track and lands on the same track again. Consistently.
- Making a ramp jump to see who could hit a target. Usually a laundry basket, home made paper archery target, or if we were feeling really invincible, a super-supported dixie cup that was 5 feet away.
- Making a ramp jump that would be accurate enough to launch and land the car on another set of track.
- Many times, our contests were betting exercises. We were "Racin' for pinks."

I remember a devastating loss when I first started playing some competitions. My red-white-and-blue rocket trike lost to a woodie station wagon. I didn't realize that a trike doesn't go down the track very well. Physics lesson learned.

We would build really long tracks that went around things, under the couch, and down stairs. Before the hard plastic curve accessory came out, we used books and things to make a banked curve and keep the car's speed up enough not to fall off and continue on the track.

For some added fun, we'd make Lego bridges and tunnels, or make cool domino setups that would be triggered by a larger hot wheels car barely scraping the first domino with it's doors.

So, without really knowing it, we were playing with weight, friction, inertia, and gravity. We were also estimating things like track wobble, elastic "give," (inertia absorption), and construction techniques within the limitations of the materials.

We'd even try to heat up a track section in the bathtub to get it to hold it's shape.

This all seemed to be a lot more creative and fun than assembling a static kit that launches your car up a dinosaur's butt.

Bitter? Yes.

Where the hell is all the orange track for sale? I'd like to teach my kids about physics without teaching them about physics, if that makes sense.

I looked at the blue track that's out there from another company, but it's basically one long track. Not what I'm looking for.

I'm only 41, but I seem to be a little crotchety already. Fortunately, I still don't mind kids playing in my yard.

I guess my point is that hot wheels used to be a lot more fun.

- Mike

Posted on Nov 7, 2011 7:55:10 PM PST
J. Ortego says:
Totally agree with you. We have two boys. They build the track from one table to another. The other pieces end up in a bin never played with either because they are too tedious to put together (and never stay together) or just plain weird. My husband buys the orange track pieces when he see them and we have decided to not buy any more "sets".

We also wish the stores would sell more Legos just in random sets of pieces not themes. So we buy the sets and put the instructions away. Where is the creativity? I watch my sons build train tracks all over my house and love it (well not when I step on the pieces). They use blocks and boxes and books and whatever else is around.

I am not sure why the unstructured play stuff is not on the shelves. But I think the adults want to control so much of their kids time they can't see the harm in not letting them play outside the box (or inside the boxes as my sons love to do!)

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 6:35:24 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 8, 2011 7:21:53 AM PST
Clive Baal says:
Hot Wheels? The orange plastic track is at Toys R Us. So is the door clamp and other assorted accessories. I'm not promoting stores, but you mentioned where to get that stuff and that is where it is. The cars are all over; grocery stores, drug stores, department stores, gas stations, I've even seen them in party stores. I think what caught my eye here was the fact that the "themed" kits or "bundles" aren't quite what you might think. While it's not for me to say that "imagination" has been stifled, the kits come already packaged for a "game". You mentioned the Dino pak (which one I'm not certain) which includes plastic "stunt" parts. So, while you CAN get those parts anywhere else, you HAVE to get the pak so you can get them "together". I realize that on the surface it doesn't make a lot of sense, but you also get a car that MAY not be purchsed separately (it's all in the cars).
If you want to just get track, go get it! The "obstacles" that come in the kits are just that: obstacles. You don't have to use them if you don't want to. And you CAN get them separately. Or you can make your own. With regards to the cars, on the other hand, if you buy, "on-line" you're shooting yourself in the foot because it's all about the hunt. Going from store to store, asking what they have to offer, going back when the Hot Wheels boxes arrive (hence the term "Treasure Hunt"). Buying on-line is usually confined (or believed to be) to those that either have a lack of mobility or resources. Hot wheels are a buck. Period. They always have been. Although some "exclusive" pieces are more money, those sometimes do not for or have any "play" value. So, buying on-line is going to cost more than the local store.
In response to J. Ortego, "tedious" to put together??!! C'MON!! You slip the joiner into one track and slip another track onto that joiner. How "tedious" is that? Compared to other race car systems, try building a slot car track. Hot Wheels is as simple as you can get! I agree with the Legos, btw. That has really gotten out of hand since the takeover. The themed sets are supposed to be in reaction to market research....but that just says that the company wants the consumer to buy in GROSS as opposed to just buying piece-by-piece. But, just like the Hot Wheels, don't build the "kit", just build whatever you want! The kit just give some "direction". Like for example, build a Lego Castle and make a log cabin on the turret as a lookout post. Or have a Hot Wheels track go through the castle grounds.
No Creativity? HOGWASH! There are more options now than there has ever been! (Oh, and yes, we have a Lionel layout in the basement on the floor with Lego people as passengers and train personnel. Don't stop the kids from having fun, get involved and create!! (and don't stick around. kids need direction, not pressure or criticism...unless you're another kid).

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 8:38:38 AM PST
QuirkyKoala says:
Totally agree. I just threw away a couple of the "weird" sets because they never got played with. The got assembled once, were used for a short time, then were put back in the box never to come out again. I won't buy them anymore.

We like slot car tracks. Lots of open-ended design involved and more involvement in the running of the car.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2011 8:55:20 AM PST
Hi J.

I am completely on board with your Lego comments. Don't get me wrong, some of the specialized kits they have are engineering beauty, like the Star Wars line, but nothing beats the fun of a bunch of square blocks.

Kind of like Atari 2600 games vs. XBOX 360. I remember building one of the dragons from the "Adventure," game out of legos. It was really cool since legos are also a bunch of squares.

I did find the following for my kids:

LEGO Bricks & More Deluxe Brick Box #5508 (704 pieces)

This seems to be one of the last block-only options out there, along with the smaller sets like this one. I'm also finding Legos really help develop fine motor control skills for my three year old boy.

I agree that it's always a thrill walking around the house in socks and stepping on one of the 'onesie,' blocks. It gives that really nice sharp pain followed by a grinding roll down the bottom of your foot as you move forward.

The redeeming part about the hot wheels kits is that it gives me a great opportunity to teach my 8-year-old daughter about advertising. I always ask her if she thinks the cars are going to do what she sees in the commercial. Her critical thinking when it comes to commercials is getting quite good.

Where is your husband finding orange track?

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 9:50:18 AM PST
Hi Clive,

I'm not sure where you live, but here in Wisconsin I have not seen the orange track at Toys R' Us. I also haven't seen any seperate loop making or turn pieces. Believe me, if I did I'd be buying them out.

I understand the kits are more of a themed game, but my experience has been that kids get bored with them pretty quickly. The kits are also fairly expensive to have to buy to get all the parts you would like for open setups. You also don't get nearly enough track to build setups of your own in these kit games.

I would never buy cars online. I'm in full agreement there. It's great to take the kids out to get them, and it's a great reward system for when the kids are good in the toy store, or wherever the cars may be.

Legos have always been a creative blast in our house, and they're always combined with Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, and the big Dupolo blocks. The issue with the lego kits is that while you can just use the parts to mix in with other Legos, you have to dig them all out again to buld the original kit. Trust me, no part of my Slave I kit is going in the Lego pile.

I don't think that J. Ortego meant tedious to build, I'm thinking it's more of a "I am forced into this configuration only," kind of thing. Oh yeah, you are not kidding about slot car tracks, did those many times as a kid too. Lots of maintenence and perfect alignments...

I'm still sticking to my point that hot wheels track is less creative. The kits have things that are already built for you. If I want to use dinosaurs and hot wheels, I'll buy a bunch of plastic ones and make some dino crossings or stuff like that.

"Don't stop the kids from having fun, get involved and create!! (and don't stick around. kids need direction, not pressure or criticism...unless you're another kid). " This is an excellent point.

- Mike

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 9:52:35 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 8, 2011 10:09:48 AM PST
Clive Baal says:
just an fyi here, for those getting Hot Wheels track, you MAY want to purchase the "track pack" and a "booster". I realize it sounds kinda chintzy. But the booster is a great addition for longer tracks and the hard plastic curves make a great Daytona track. AND you can use the loop but it really slows down the car.....perhaps another booster is in order. :)
I mentioned slot cars, but you can do the same thing and build an over and under race track with Hot Wheels track (you'll possibly need two boosters). You can use a dictionary or phone books to get the track over top of the other, figured like an "8". We used to put the tracks in close proximity to what was "supposed" to be the layout for the kids and then leave and when we'd come back, the tracks were together. "Did you do that? Wow!" Enthusiam is a great ego builder!
And you get a new car in each track pack.
While Toys R Us is the king of Hot Wheels track, Kmart sells them, Target sells them, .....Christmas is sooo close....Have fun.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2011 10:31:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 8, 2011 10:32:53 AM PST
Clive Baal says:
M. Rinelli,
I took the liberty of calling Toys R Us for you.
here is the number: 262-797-9437
I'm sure they can help you find what you're looking for. I can't say if they have a central database of product stock and information.
If they don't have what you're looking for, you might ask where more stores are. We have six stores around the area. There are multiple toy and hobby (read: "specialty") stores around here.

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 11:07:47 AM PST
Thanks Clive. I appreciate that.

I'll try them again. The last couple of times time I inquired about other toys, they told me they didn't have it, but they actually did.

Hopefully I can get better service.

- Mike

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2011 6:35:11 PM PST
EB says:
Hi Mike, I have seen the track that Clive is referring to at the Toy's R Us on the west side of Madison. I don't remember the last time I saw it, maybe a year agog, but it was there at one point.

Posted on Nov 12, 2011 10:41:28 PM PST
Bought the orange tracks in May at both Toys R Us and Target for my boy's birthday. TRU has a nice set of basic tracks that is only sold there. Target had the loop and jump sets. I saw the basic set at my local TRU when I was there is past Friday so they still have them. At least ours does. It's in a clear plastic zipper bag, not a box, and was in the car section. Keep looking.
Go to their website and search for "Hot Wheels track" and you'll see lots of options, including the Track Pack.

Posted on Nov 13, 2011 5:27:47 AM PST
I wanted to comment on the Lego part of this thread. I used to even build transformers out of them, simply because I had enough diversity in my collection to be that creative. I completely agree about the whole theme to the extreme deal, but there are still two ways your kids can have a collection like the ones we amassed. Nowadays it just cost a lot more money. The first is to simply go to a toy store - or even better; a Lego store - and try to find sets that appear to have different types of pieces than the ones you have already bought. The second option is just ordering the pieces one at a time from the catalog, website, or Lego store. Just like the sets, the single pieces are going to seem way overpriced for a piece of plastic. In the end, we want to keep and horde anything we buy so our kids won't run into this problem with their children. I don't think our parents realized that Legos are a sure fire hand me down gift.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 8:52:27 AM PST
wendyjw says:
While the fixed track sets seem more popular, you can still get the mixed bunch of short, long and curved tracks with a launcher. Search for Hot Wheels Track Pack to find the bag. My son got one of these with an accelerator and a few extra ramp pieces for his birthday, and he and his friends spend hours creating different track combinations.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2011 2:03:50 PM PST
Monzie says:
Mike, We live in Wisconsin too (Madison area) and the Toys R Us here definitely has the basic track packs. I know because my husband and son just bought a pile of them last month...

Posted on Nov 17, 2011 10:14:40 AM PST
The basic track set in the cylindrical plastic zipper bag is the best to start with. It's a TRU store exclusive, though. Remember that you can order online at their website if your local store doesn't carry something specific, and they frequently have deals for free shipping and such.

Posted on Nov 17, 2011 1:07:53 PM PST
Wayne says:
I think I know where the orange track is. It's in my parents' basement. But I did take the juice machine with me when I found it, not that it's of any use these days.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2011 1:17:24 PM PST
Clive Baal says:
do you mean from the sizzlers? that gas pump? GGEEEZZ that thing MUST be so cool to still have!!

In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2012 2:30:52 PM PDT
blr says:

Posted on May 21, 2012 3:10:32 AM PDT
acapulco says:
The reason LEGO sets are all Star Wars these days is because the copyright for the Lego bricks went into public domain a few years ago. Lego is over 75 years old and so anyone who wants to can make it and sell it without getting sued. The only way Lego themselves can keep people buying their product is to cross-license it with something more recent that can be legally protected like Harry Potter. Mega Blocks has Halo. Also, they do very much make generic sets of bricks with no instructions. I have seen bins of them at Wal-Mart and Toy R Us. Maybe you haven't checked hard enough for them because there are a lot of sets on display and sometimes things get shoved to the back of a shelf. When I was a kid in the 70s I preferred the space themed sets to just a bin of bricks. I think they charge way too much for the Star Wars Lego sets, but they artificially limit supply on the original trilogy ships so that they sell consistently over a longer period of time as they ship a few unit at a time and they instantly sell out and then they slowly restock them.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2012 10:02:51 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 3, 2012 10:04:02 AM PDT
DisplacedMic says:
i didn't even have to read past the first 2 sentences of your post to know i agreed with you 100%. ( but i did anyway)

the second you said "orange hot wheels track" i started thinking back to all the crazy combinations of race tracks we used to make all over the house. so much fun!

you're absolutely right, great post!

Posted on Oct 19, 2012 3:16:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 19, 2012 3:42:58 AM PDT
Henq says:
Is anyone from Mattel reading this, hello? I've seen films of youtube of Americans that used Hot Wheels track from two generations to build huge tracks around the house, powered by gravity. Kinda strange to read that people from the USA are now struggling to get a hold of regular orange track. People want modular toys for their kids to stimulate creativity and manufacturers want to deliver us bland kits.

I'm from The Netherlands, and aquiring orange track is really, really hard here. I managed to get 3 small sets with a loop, 2 track packs, and 2 impossible to find V-Drops (used) which come with 6 foot of track. Mind you, within a timespan of a year and it took serious effort to hunt this stuff down. I had to order the track packs from Germany because it's a Toys 'r Us exclusive and there was no Toys 'r Us in The Netherlands. Not to mention the Team Hot Wheels double loop that was originally a Target exclusive. No Target stores in Europe whatsoever.

So now I'm slowly "feeding" my oldest son some track pieces here and there in the form of the smaller sets, whenever there's an appropriate occasion. He's starting to get the idea, with building tracks. He's 3 years old now so I'm showing him how to build tracks and how gravity works. I'm sure he'll be experimenting by himself within a year or so. No plastic dinosaurs and robots in my house!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2012 8:12:56 AM PST
walmart and toys r us sell individual and packs

Posted on Dec 8, 2012 5:51:05 PM PST
Here in British Columbia Canada I have been trying to get straight track and a starting gate ike the original. I found the track in Wakkmart but ieack piece in a four pack is only half as long as the original track I have. Thanks for the "Hot Wheels" No. I will phone them and also look in Toys are us here.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 8:28:47 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 13, 2012 8:29:18 AM PST]
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Initial post:  Nov 7, 2011
Latest post:  Dec 13, 2012

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