1968 Summary and extra pics

Mattel’s 1968 Hot Wheels track sets are all gravity powered and include:

1. Strip Action Set

2. Stunt Action Set

3. Drag Race Action Set

4. Hot Curves Race Action Set

This is my summary video for these 4 Action Sets.

And here are a few extra pics of the 1968 sets:

Cars that I used for my Strip Action Set video and blog.

Daredevil loop from Stunt Action Set.

Trestle hill from Stunt Action Set.

Mid air jump from Stunt Action Set.

Out of the jump from Stunt Action Set.

From the Drag Race Action Set.

From the Drag Race Action Set.

From the Drag Race Action Set.

From the Drag Race Action Set.

On the 90 degree curves in the Hot Curves Race Action Set.

Dodge Challenger SRT8 in focus.

2007 Ford Shelby GT500 in focus.

Out of the 180s and flat out to the finish.

Finish line on the Hot Curves Race Action Set.

The 1968 Hot Wheels track sets.

They are still fast.  Still fun.

1968 Hot Wheels Hot Curves Race Action Set

The big track set for 1968 is the Hot Curves Race Action Set.  Each car has to deal with 16 feet of orange track, a 90 degree half curve and a 180 degree full curve.  I find the most interesting feature of this set involves splitting up the cars through the mid portion of the track.  This adds an element of suspense as each car speeds along on its own.  “Who is ahead?” Then, just before the finish gate, both cars are brought back together for a head to head finale.

Hot Curves Race Action set box art – side: close up.

The set includes 32 feet of orange track, 12 joiners, one universal clamp, one start gate, one finish gate, 6 trestles,  two 90 degree half curves, and two 180 degree full curves.

The set up is a little more involved, so it helps to pay attention to the instructions.

Front Page on instruction sheet. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Back Page of instruction sheet. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Ready to go…

They’re off…

Splitting up at the 90s…

Racing into the 180s…

Coming back together…

Flat out to the finish!

There you have it.  Drag racing with a twist (so to speak).

The 1968 Hot Wheels Hot Curves Race Action Set.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

Here is a link to my YouTube channel: 

From the 1968 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Here’s another way to set up the track.

From the 1969 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – front.

Box art – back.

Box art – side. Same for both US and Canadian boxes.

Box art – side. US boxes have clear windows that let you see which cars are included with the set. So, you get this great art on the box side.

Box art – side. Canadian boxes with no clear window to show which cars come with the set. Instead, the included cars are marked on the side.

Box art – end.

1968 Hot Wheels Drag Race Action Set

The Muscle Car era had been building rapidly in the sixties.  So when it came time to design a race track for the new Hot Wheels cars, a drag race set was an obvious inclusion.

Close up of 1968 Drag Race Set box art.

The 1968 Hot Wheels Drag Race Action Set track components include 30 feet of orange track, 14 joiners, one universal clamp, one starting gate, one finish gate, and one elimination lane merger.

Here’s the instructions:

It is easy to set up and I can remember spending entire afternoons racing cars with friends.

Ready, set….

Go!!!

Stretch it, stretch it….

The winner!!!

On other occasions, tight races always turned into crash events at the elimination lane merger.

So there you have it.  The 1968 Hot Wheels Drag Race Action Set.

It’s still fast! Still fun!

Here is a video link to my YouTube Channel:

“From 1968 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.”

Box art – front.

Box art - front. This is an early run 1968 box where Mattel used stickers for the cars contained inside. In this case an orange "Custom Chevrolet Fleetside" and a lime "Custom Mercury Cougar".

Box art – front. This is an early run 1968 box where Mattel used stickers for the cars contained inside. In this case an orange “Custom Chevrolet Fleetside” and a lime “Custom Mercury Cougar”.

Another early run box with a Custom Camaro and a Custom Mustang. Courtesy eBay.

Another early run box with a Custom Camaro and a Custom Mustang. Courtesy eBay.

Box art -side.

Box art – side.

Box art – back.

Box art – end.

“Picture of a Drag Race Set on the back of a 1969 Competition Pak.”

The Italian version. Front box art. Courtesy eBay.

The Italian version. Back box art. Courtesy eBay.

1968 Hot Wheels Stunt Action Set

Covering distance with speed was the focus of the 1968 Strip Action Set, the Drag Race Action Set and the Hot Curves Race Action Set.  Straight forward and to the point.  But Mattel did one more thing in 1968.

They came up with a way to stretch every kids imagination.  Mattel devised a track with a 360 degree loop, a mid section hill, and a jump ramp.  Any one of these track components would have been a hand full for other die cast cars of the time.  But putting all three together in one set had, heretofore, been an impossiblity.  Could even a Hot Wheels car do it?

Track components of the 1968 Stunt Action Set

Those of us who tended not to follow guidelines, took a good, long look at the instruction sheet just to verify that this was for real.

Stunt Action Set instructions – Front Page

“Stunt Action Set instructions – Back Page”

The moment of truth.  The car is at the start.

Powers through the loop.

Hits the apex of the trestle hill.

Jumps a wide ramp.

And…just like in the Strip Action Set…the Hot Wheels car doesn’t just make it to the end, but shoots off the orange track ready to do more.

Wow!  That’s what most of us said the first time we saw it done.

Wow! is right.  The 1968 Hot Wheels Stunt Action Set.

Still fast, still fun.

Here is the link to my YouTube Channel video:

1968 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

From the 1969 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Comic book ad from 1968 featuring the Stunt Action Set on top.

A Stunt Action Set box and track contents. Courtesy eBay

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.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - end. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – end. Courtesy eBay.

1968 Hot Wheels Strip Action Set

Mattel kicked off the Hot Wheels line in 1968 with 4 track offerings.  The first one that comes up in most listings is the Strip Action Set.  It’s the basic set with 10 feet of orange track, 5 joiners, 1 clamp, 1 Hot Wheels car with matching collector’s button, 1 instruction sheet, and 1 collector’s catalogue.

“The track part of a 1968 Strip Action Set”

“The instructions up close”

Today it doesn’t look like much.  But to appreciate how ground breaking this track set was you have to think back to 1967.  That year the best that most of us could do was push our diecast cars along floors and around model road sets.  Fact was, our cars just did not “go”.

Everything changed when 1968 arrived.  Suddenly play value was defined by orange track and speed.  Put the new Hot Wheels cars at the start of the track, let them go and, amazingly, they would travel the full 10 feet by themselves!  And it wasn’t like they would just make it to the end.  They would fly off the track looking for more room to go.  So, kids like myself would keep adding track and accessories just to see what these little cars could really do.

“At the start”

“Over the hill”

“Flat out to the finish”

From a performance point of view, there was just no comparison.  These cars were fast and that became the new fun.  Thereafter, every penny of my allowance went solely to Hot Wheels cars and track.

The 1968 Hot Wheels Strip Action Set.  Still fast.  Still fun.

Here is a link to my YouTube Channel: 

“From the 1968 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.”

“From the 1969 Collector’s Catalogue.  Copywright Mattel Inc.”

One of the earliest Strip Action Sets where the included car is pictured on the front. Courtesy eBay.

One of the earliest Strip Action Sets where the included car is pictured on the front. Courtesy eBay.

“A great example of a complete Strip Action Set. Courtesy eBay.”

Box art courtesy eBay.

Box art. Courtesy eBay.

Box art. Close up. Courtesy eBay.

Box art. Close up. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - side. Close-up. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Close-up. Courtesy eBay.

“The sweet 16. This box originally came with a Custom T-Bird. Courtesy eBay.”

Box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Check out the car.  It's run the track and is looking for more.

Check out the car. At the end and still going strong. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - front. Close up. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – front. Close up. Courtesy eBay.

More box art. Courtesy eBay.

More box art. Courtesy eBay.

More box art. Courtesy eBay.

More box art. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - end. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – end. Courtesy eBay.

“Box end. Courtesy eBay.”

A look at the Hot Wheels race tracks from 1968 to 1971

This web blog will document most of the track sets produced by Mattel in the first four years of Hot Wheels production.

I was a kid during these inaugural years and have fond memories of putting together the tracks and running my Hot Wheels cars for hours on end.

Sweet16

Summer was my time for unscheduled activities (the rest of the year was filled with sports and school) so I would get together with friends and race Hot Wheels.  I still recall the 1968 Hot Wheels Drag Set that we ran outdoors for an entire sun filled afternoon.

IMG_4202

A couple of years ago, I sold off most of my “don’t touch” vintage Hot Wheels car collection and replaced them with “touch all you want” Hot Wheels track sets from 1968 to 1971.  I use late model Hot Wheels now, mainly because it’s more cost practical, and the new cars do run well.  I especially like the Faster Than Ever vehicles because they perform nicely on the Super Charger and Rod Runner race sets.

IMG_3083

The other advantage of new cars is you don’t mind the crashes.  When I set up a recently purchased 1970 Hot Wheels Rod Runner Race Set I was surprised at all the crashes I was having.  I do not remember this being an issue when I had this track as a kid.  But, then again, I’ve noticed that the kids who come over to put their cars on these sets really enjoy the crashes.  Maybe I did too when I was young.  Fortunately, for my adult tastes, the tracks can be adjusted to minimize crashes and maximize racing.

So, as time permits, I hope to show you pictures and videos of old school, functioning Hot Wheels race track sets.

They are still fast, still fun.

IMG_4207