In the tradition of iconic toys such as the Vacu-Form and Creepy Crawlers from the 1960s, Mattel has introduced the Hot Wheels Car Maker, a toy that as you would guess from the name lets you make your own Hot Wheels cars. The set comes with a molding machine, 10 wax sticks, three chassis, two molds, and a sheet of stickers. The box says you can make 10 cars, but really what you're doing is making and customizing about 10 of the bodies. You can only have three cars at a time because it only comes with three chassis, but the bodies are easily interchangeable. To start the process plug in the unit and you'll hear a voice to guide you through the process. Insert the wax sticks into the top of the unit, place the mold in the chamber, and close the door. The door locks as the heating begins. Heating elements are well away from kids, and the unit stays cool throughout the entire process. After the heating is finished, you'll be instructed to push the plunger, which injects the melted wax into the mold. The cooling process begins immediately, and when the mold is cool enough to touch, the door will pop open and you'll be able to remove the mold. Then carefully separate the two halves of the mold, and use the enclosed tool to remove the finished body. Snap it onto one of the chassis and you're ready to decorate it. Even though we're calling this substance wax, it's actually pretty sturdy once it's molded, and it's going to stand up to play. It also picks up the detail of the mold very well.
We thought this was very cool, and kids will enjoy being able to mold and customize the car bodies. For kids into Hot Wheels and creative play, this is definitely worth checking out.
The Hot Wheels Car Maker is for ages 8 and up.
We did have a couple of problems. First, the instructions are not completely clear in terms of the sequence of steps. Once you insert the mold, you have to push the button to lock the door and start the heating process. The directions also say that the toy comes with one wax stick already in the unit, but the one we tested didn't, so our first attempt didn't come out right. Subsequent ones did just fine, however. The unit needs to have sufficient wax in it in order to make the molds work correctly. One piece should be sticking up before you push down the plunger.
After the cars are done, for racing you'll want to play close attention to the chassis you choose. The wide ones won't fit in the tracks and are designed for "off-road" use. The instructions don't tell you which is which, and we suggest a little trial and error.
The bodies are interchangeable on all the chassis. Refill kits with more molds and the wax in different colors will also be available.
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