Hot Wheels: From 0 to 50 at 1/64 Scale – A G.I. Gary Review

February 3, 2019 Author: Gary Viola

Hot Wheels: From 0 to 50 at 1:64 Scale is a book that helps celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels. The book looks at the past and present and discusses what made them a success and how they’re continuing to lead the die cast toy car market.
The book comes in a case reminiscent of those toy car cases prominent in the 70’s and 80’s. The construction is the same, with vinyl wrapped cardboard that is seamed on the edges. It features a plastic handle and metal snap. Because it has the same properties, it also suffers from the same design limitations. Extreme cold temperatures will make the plastic brittle and the corners will easily tear. Unfortunately the copy provided exhibits this, but it is a really thoughtful extra. It’s a great way of protecting the book, but is definitely suited for an adult. I can see a child beating it up, through the usual wear and tear that a child brings.
Once I read the book I came to two conclusions. It is pretty informative, though limited in scope; and the book felt paced, like a car accellerating.
The book is about how Hot Wheels has lasted 50 years. It starts at the beginning with the formation of Mattel and proceeds to the idea of Hot Wheels, by founder Elliot Handler. It goes on to describe how Handler’s ideas were revolutionary for the toy car market and also in line with the trends and the public consciousness of 1968. There are some technical details with what set them apart then, and how they continue now. It moves on to more of a marketing aspect and talks about the track system and other ways that they’ve continued to keep the brand in the minds of the public, especially kids.
Reading the book, I found the earlier chapters seemed to take longer than the later ones. It may have been that more of my interest is based  on the history of the toy as the earlier chapters focused on that aspect and concepts. As it moved away from the technical towards the marketing end of things, which is essentially building on the basic toy, I found myself turning the pages faster. It’s not for a lack of pictures in the earlier chapters. Each segment has plenty of graphics that make this a quintessential coffee table book.
Overall the book is about how Hot Wheels has maintained its popularity over half a century. This is a great coffee table book to pick up and read a couple pages and look at the vibrant pictures and infographics/timelines. It works best in this aspect as you can skip around and read a couple pages at a time depending on a specific curiosity of the reader. History of Mattel? Check. Why are Hot Wheels the fastest die cast cars? Check. Perspective from a 40 year employee or collecting aspect? That’s there, too. The book is light on details for  hard core Hot Wheels historians and is not a checklist for collectors. It is best served for a more casual fan or as a primer for a beginner, but author Kris Palmer and the folks at publisher Motorbooks put together such a beautiful book and package that no hardcore Hot Wheels collector should go without it either.

Thank you to Quarto for supplying The Pint with a review copy, and see you back here soon!

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