1970 Hot Wheels Rod Runner Speedway Set

Throughout 1969, Super-Chargers provided “lap after lap” action.  For 1970, Rod Runners were added to the circuit scene.  The basic track consisted of a single lane Rod Runner powering an oval layout.

The 1970 Hot Wheels Rod Runner Speedway Set includes 16 feet of orange track, 8 joiners, 2 full curves, 1 single lane Rod Runner and 3 white trestles.

The main difference between Super-Charger and Rod Runner ovals is car action.  Super-Charger circuits automatically space the cars out evenly.  That’s the nature of a battery powered system.  When 2 cars start getting close to each other, the second car receives less power because of lag time in the spinning Super-Charger wheels, so the second car falls back.  It’s quite unlikely that a Hot Wheels car will catch up to the car in front of it.  But a Rod Runner is elastic band powered and shoots cars out with equal force no matter how close they get to each other.  So it is very likely that the faster car on the track will catch up to and rub bumpers with the car in front of it.

Here’s the track layout on paper and on the floor.

Mattel’s suggested test track. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

The full track. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

The assembled layout.

Ready for a lap.

Into the Rod Runner and blasting out.

Up and into the elevated first curve.

Out of the curve and heading for the hill.

Up and over the back straightaway trestle.

Into the second curve.

And back to the Rod Runner.

Here’s my video of 2 Hot Wheels cars running the single lane Rod Runner oval.

So there you have it.  The 1970 Hot Wheels Rod Runner Speedway Set.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Canadian Collectors’ Catalogue in French & English. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art - front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

This is an example of an unopened Speedway Set. Courtesy eBay.

This is an example of an unopened Speedway Set. Courtesy eBay.

Front and side view. Courtesy eBay.

Front and side view. Courtesy eBay.

A white Ford J-Car vacuum sealed into place. Courtesy eBay.

A white Ford J-Car vacuum sealed into place. Courtesy eBay.

Back of the unopened Speedway Set in English and French (Canadian). Courtesy eBay.

Back of the unopened Speedway Set in English and French (Canadian). Courtesy eBay.

Box art showing the Rod Runner Speedway Set layout in color.

View of insert and box contents. Courtesy eBay.

1970 Hot Wheels Twin ‘Chute Action Set

What would you get if you took all of Mattel’s Hot Wheels gravity race sets from the first 3 years of production (1968 Drag Race Action Set, 1968 Hot Curves Race Action Set, 1969 Double-Dare Race Action Set, and 1970 Mongoose and Snake Drag Race Set) and put them together?  Such a set was never produced or sold in North America. But…in the United Kingdom, the Rosebud subsidiary of Mattel did make one. The 1970 Hot Wheels Twin ‘Chute Action Set.

Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

This set has it all.  And, in fact, it was judged as “Toy of the Year” for boys by the National Association of Toy Retailers at the 1969 UK Toy Show preview of all the upcoming toys for 1970.

The Twin ‘Chute Action Set includes 32 feet of orange track, 6 joiners, 2 dare-devil loops, 2 full curves, 2 ‘chute traps, 2 drag ‘chutes, 1 starting gate, 1 finish gate, 1 universal clamp, and 3 trestles.

A few components are unique to Rosebud Mattel manufacturing.

The universal clamp is white and made in the UK.

Rosebud Mattel insignia in the top left of the clamp.

U.K. imprint to the left of “Hot Wheels”.

The joiners are white and “Made in England” by Rosebud Mattel.

The ‘chute traps are narrower and have a smaller holding compartment than their US counterparts.  This allows a better fit with the dual lane race track.

‘Chute trap doors closed.

‘Chute trap doors open.

These are the instructions.

Instructions – front page. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Instructions – back page. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Here’s the layout.

Four cars to race on this track:

From L to R: 1969 Pontiac T/A, AMC Javelin AMX, 1971 Plymouth GTX and 2007 Ford Shelby GT 500. All have Faster Than Ever wheels.

At the start.

Go!!!!!!!!

Into the loops.

Through the loops.

Into the curves.

Out of the curves.

At the finish.

Poppin’ the ‘chutes.

Here’s a link to my YouTube channel where you can see this set in action.

So there you have it.  The 1970 Hot Wheels Twin ‘Chute Action Set.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

Box art – back

Box art -side.

Box art – side: close up.

Box art – side: close up.

Box art – side: close Up.

Box art – side.

Box art – side: close up.

Box art – side: close up.

Box art – side: close up.

Box art – side: close up.

Box art – end.

Unused contents featuring 2 spoilers cars. Courtesy eBay.

1970 Hot Wheels Mongoose and Snake Drag Race Set

Drag racing in the 1960s was very much a fledgling sport.  It was a tough way to make a living.  Prize money was a pittance. Drivers could look forward to $100 plus free parts and oil if they won it all on any given day.  Consequently, living conditions were bare bones.

One way to draw in the crowds was to highlight match races and generate rivalries that people wanted to see.  Nicknames were also common in this era so Don Prudhomme earned the handle “Snake” because of his cobra-quick launches off the starting line.   Ed Donovan, a drag racing pioneer, thought it would be a good idea to name Tom McEwen, “the Mongoose”.  This set up Mongoose vs Snake matchmaking and people paid attention.

As the 60’s wore on,”the two racers realized that a colorful rivalry based on their racing nicknames was very popular with fans, especially the young fans.”1

Bearing this in mind, Tom McEwen approached Mattel and negotiated a unique deal that moved drag racing from barnstorming to a multimillion dollar profession.

Mattel became drag racing’s first sponsor outside of the automobile industry.  And they did it both right and big time.  The Mongoose & Snake rivalry rose to a new level on the drag circuit and Hot Wheels fans were treated to the 1970 Hot Wheels Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set.

This set comes with 32 feet of orange track, 12 joiners, 1 universal clamp, 1 start gate, 1 finish gate, 2 dare-devil loop bases, 2 ‘chute traps and 4 parachutes.

The main highlight of this set is the 1:64 scale replica of Don Prudhomme’s yellow 1970 Plymouth Barracuda funny car and Tom McEwen’s red 1970 Plymouth Duster funny car.  To showcase this set for you I am going to race four 1994 reissues of these 1970 Mattel funny cars.

2 Snakes and 2 Mongooses in their 1994 blister paks.

Like the 1970 original, this 1994 reissue opens up like a real funny car. Too cool!

The instructions.

Page 1. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Page 2. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Page 3. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

This is the layout.

At the start…a blue Plymouth Duster “Mongoose” and a yellow Plymouth Barracuda “Snake”.

And…they’re off!

Into the loops.

Flat out down the straightaway.

Checkered flag.

Poppin’ the ‘chutes.

Rolling to a stop.

Here’s my YouTube video of some Mongoose vs Snake matchmaking races.

So there you have it.

The 1970 Hot Wheels Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set.  Probably the most famous Hot Wheels set ever produced.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

Box art – back

Box art – back. Close Up.

Box art – back. Close up of message.

Box art – side

Box art – side. Close up.

Box art – side

Box art – end

1970 toy catalogue. Courtesy eBay.

From 1970 Hot Wheels Racing World magazine. Courtesy http://www.toycarcollector.com.

From 1970 Hot Wheels Racing World magazine. Courtesy http://www.toycarcollector.com.

Original 1970 Mongoose and Snake cars in blister paks. Courtesy http://www.toycarcollector.com.

Original 1970 buttons. Courtesy eBay.

Hot Wheels “Wide World of Racing” Poster featuring the Snake & Mongoose. Courtesy eBay.

Mongoose & Snake poster. Courtesy www.toycarcollector.com.

1970 magazine ad. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section.  Mattel's Hot Wheels ad for the Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set.  July 19, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section. Mattel’s Hot Wheels ad for the Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set. July 19, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Reissues of Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Sets have been frequent over the years. Here’s the “Classics” version. Courtesy eBay.

The UK version, from 1971, was quite different. A Match Maker & Big Belter to launch the cars, no loops, and narrow chute traps for a better dual lane fit. Courtesy eBay.

Sides and back of the UK Mongoose & Snake version. Courtesy eBay.

1. Snake vs Mongoose: How a rivalry changed drag racing forever.  By Tom Madigan.