Die Cast News
by Rudy Panucci

Hot Wheels Heads into 2005 at Full Speed With AcceleRacers

This year, Hot Wheels big product line fuses a futuristic, fantasy story and real-life racing stunts to bring boys enhanced ways to play, with a new line of highly-detailed vehicles, challenging sets and a card-collecting game inspired by AcceleRacers - the latest Hot Wheels entertainment franchise. The AcceleRacers animated television shows will run quarterly on Cartoon Network, and a series of micro-episodes and AcceleRacers activities will be available on the Cartoon Network website, www.cartoonnetwork.com, year-round.

This revamp of Hot Wheels "Highway 35" concept looks impressive, with sleek, futuristic cars and a fun cartoon show behind it. With the extensive media support and full cooperation at retail, this line could be a cash cow for Mattel. Kids will love it, and collectors might just get hooked on the great designs.

The four-part animated special takes place at the conclusion of the World Race, where the ultimate prize of Highway 35 was discovered: The Wheel of Power. In the AcceleRacers movies, the Wheel of Power's secret racing realms (worlds) are uncovered, and three distinct driving teams - slick, young and brash Teku, the former test robot Racing Drones and the burly, brawling Metal Maniacs - must compete in the "ultimate race" - a series of driving challenges that take them across daunting courses located in 13 environments including under water, through lava, into a dark cavern, over a cliffside and more. Successfully navigating all realms equates to total mastery of all possible driving skills, under all possible driving conditions, using all types of cars.

As the drivers compete, a rich storyline unfolds to reveal themes of teamwork, overcoming adversity, friendship and forgiveness, woven into a fast-paced, action-packed adventure boys can tune in to see quarterly on Cartoon Network. The first movie premiered in January 2005, with the remaining movies airing in March, June and October, 2005.

"AcceleRacers offers boys a new fully integrated story and product line with the chance to bring the on-screen excitement right into their own homes," said Mark Sullivan, senior vice president of Mattel Brands. "By creating a complete world of fun and engaging toys, games and online activities, AcceleRacers ignites the imagination and captures boys in all of the ways they love to play."

In support of the television specials, 16 micro-episodes can be viewed between each show on www.cartoonnetwork.com. Micro-episodes are available to enhance the overall story and offer kids a deeper look into the AcceleRacers teams and their adventures.

While visiting www.cartoonnetwork.com, kids can play interactive racing games and read all about the competing teams, skilled drivers and cool cars featured in the AcceleRacers specials. Kids also can enter special game codes that "unlock" bonus Realm Champion Game features and downloadable screensavers, icons and more. Codes can be obtained by watching the AcceleRacers television specials and micro-episodes, on www.hotwheels.com and on AcceleRacers toys. The website content will be continually refreshed to provide kids with added play value and new features all year.

For even more AcceleRacers action, kids can visit www.hotwheels.com to play different racing games, watch upcoming movie trailers, learn to play the AcceleRacers card-collecting game and check out the Hot Wheels® AcceleRacers vehicles line-up.

The extensive line of authentic Hot Wheels AcceleRacers products includes toys inspired by the series' colorful characters and stylish vehicles such as:

Hot Wheels® AcceleRacers Assortment: Thirty six 1:64-scale die-cast track-performing vehicles, all with translucent wheels; each vehicle comes with foil-packed collectible trading cards and a special code for interactive play on www.cartoonnetwork.com

Hot Wheels® AcceleRacers Swamp Beast Track Set, Acceledrome Track Set and Cliffhanger Stunt Set: Track sets that incorporate futuristic themes, time-tested races and fast-paced driving challenges like those faced by the AcceleRacers drivers in the series

Hot Wheels AcceleRacers HyperPod DLX Assortment, HyperPod with DVD Assortment and Deluxe Sweeper Vehicle: Vehicles that turn 1:64-scale cars into large, motorized high-performance vehicles; the HyperPod vehicles also are available for purchase with a 20-minute AcceleRacers DVD

Hot Wheels AcceleRacers Starter Set Game: The first-ever vehicle card game that lets kids extend their car portfolio and expand their "powers" by collecting more cards (based on the four-part series), when they purchase the actual 1:64-scale Hot Wheels AcceleRacers vehicles or booster packs of 15 cards

Hot Wheels AcceleRacers vehicles, HyperPod DLX Assortment, HyperPod with DVD Assortment, Swamp Beast Track Set and Starter Set Game are available now at mass retail stores nationwide. Approximate retail prices range from $1.99 - $26.99.

The Hot Wheels AcceleRacers Acceledrome Track Set, Cliffhanger Stunt Set and the Deluxe Sweeper Vehicle will be available nationwide this summer at approximate retail prices ranging from $18.99 - $58.99. Some of the product names may be changed before they're released.

With this new line, Mattel hopes to extend the popularity of Hot Wheels beyond just the classic die cast cars, and into the new arenas of DVD, collectible card games, and television. There are also plans for an AcceleRacers video game in the future. This could take off and be a great new franchise. Collectors should consider getting in on the ground floor.