1971 Hot Wheels Mongoose and Snake Wild Wheelie Set

Hot Wheels fans were introduced to Don Prudhomme, the Snake, and Tom McEwen, the Mongoose, through funny cars.  But these two also drove dragsters.

The Snake rail dragster.

The Snake rail dragster.

The Mongoose rail dragster.

The Mongoose rail dragster.

For 1971 Mattel put their rail dragsters on the Mongoose & Snake Wild Wheelie Set.

Box art - front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

The novelty feature of this set is the cars ability to wheelie out of the start gate and down the track.  The cars have a metal weight in the back that can be locked to the cockpit causing the dragster to wheelie.

WW15

Metal in the back. Plastic in the front. Courtesy eBay.

Metal in the back. Light weight in the front. Courtesy eBay.

Dragster Pak instructions - back of card. Courtesy eBay.

Dragster Pak instructions – back of card. Courtesy eBay.

A pair of trailing wheels on the back give the dragsters stability as they maintain the wheelie down the track at high speed.

wheelie_bar

To tip the front ends back down before crossing the finish line, the cars cross a balancer track piece.

WW22

This unlocks the weights and drops the cars out of wheelie position.

The finish gate is automated.

WW20

The winning car pushes a checkered flag up into the air.  The flag then resets to the resting position a few seconds later.

Lane 1 swing arm extended with resulting flag deployment.

Lane 1 swing arm extended with resulting flag deployment.

Finally, the cars cross the ‘chute traps and deploy two drag ‘chutes bringing the race to an end.

It’s a lot of action in one race.

Here are the instructions:

Front page.

Front page.

Front page close-up.

Front page close-up.

Safe drive rules.

Safe drive rules.

Track components laid out.

Track components laid out.

 

Contents close-up.

Contents close-up.

Steps 1, 2 & 3.

Steps 1, 2 & 3.

Steps 4, 5 & 6.

Steps 4, 5 & 6.

Steps 7 & 8.

Steps 7 & 8.

Step 7 close-up (top).

Step 7 close-up (top).

Step 7 close-up (middle).

Step 7 close-up (middle).

Step 7 close-up (bottom).

Step 7 close-up (bottom).

Last page.

Last page.

Last page close-up.

Last page close-up (cars).

Last page close-up (RRRumblers).

Last page close-up (RRRumblers).

Last page close-up (display).

Last page close-up (display).

So there you have it.  The 1971 Hot Wheels Mongoose & Snake Wild Wheelie Set.

It’s still fast. Still fun.

1971 Collector's catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1971 Collector’s catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1972 Collector's catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1972 Collector’s catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art - side. Color. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Color. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - side. Black, red and white. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Black, red and white. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - end. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – end. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - back. Caption. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Caption. Courtesy eBay.

Wild Wheelie Drag Set contents. Courtesy eBay.

Wild Wheelie Drag Set contents. Courtesy eBay.

You can also buy the Mongoose & Snake rail dragsters in a blister pak.

Dragster Pak - front. Courtesy eBay.

Dragster Pak – front. Courtesy eBay.

1971 Collector's catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1971 Collector’s catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close-up of Mongoose & Snake dragsters and funny cars in the 1971 Collector's catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close-up of Mongoose & Snake dragsters and funny cars in the 1971 Collector’s catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Mongoose & Snake dragsters poster. 40th anniversary. Courtesy eBay.

Mongoose & Snake dragsters poster – 40th anniversary. Courtesy eBay.

Tom McEwen dragster poster. Courtesy eBay.

Tom McEwen dragster poster. Courtesy eBay.

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1971 Hot Wheels Mongoose and Snake Drag Set (U.K.)

The 1970 Hot Wheels Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set with gravity powered start gate, double loops, finish gate and drag ‘chutes was a huge success in North America.  For 1971 this funny car set was updated in the U.K.  And this time it looked like an authentic drag strip.

UK box and contents. Courtesy eBay.

UK box art – front. Plus contents. Courtesy eBay.

UK box art - sides and back. Courtesy eBay.

UK box art – sides and back. Courtesy eBay.

Track components include 1 Big Belter, 1 Matchmaker, 32 feet of orange track, 12 joiners, 1 finish gate, 2 ‘chute traps and 2 drag ‘chutes.

MS12

I’ll be racing four 1994 reissues of the Mongoose and Snake funny cars.

l to r: green Snake Barracuda, yellow Snake Barracuda, red Mongoose Duster and blue Mongoose Duster.

l to r: green Snake Barracuda, yellow Snake Barracuda, red Mongoose Duster and blue Mongoose Duster.

Close-up of the Mongoose cars.

Close-up of the Mongoose cars.

Close-up of the Snake cars.

Close-up of the Snake cars.

Here’s a race down the track.

Ready on the launch pad.

Ready on the launch pad.

GOOOooooooo!

GOOOooooooo!

Blasting down the track!

Blasting down the track!

Snake leading...barely.

Snake leading…barely.

Stretching to the finish.

Stretching to the finish.

Snake wins! Into the 'chute traps.

Snake wins! Into the ‘chute traps.

Popin' the 'chutes. Cutting the engines.

Popin’ the ‘chutes. Cutting the engines.

Coming to a stop.

Coming to a stop.

Here’s how the 4 cars made out on this 1971 track.

So there you have it.  The 1971 Hot Wheels Mongoose & Snake Drag Set from the U.K.

It’s still fast.  Still fun.

1971 U.K. Dealer's catalogue.  From GranToros.com website.

1971 U.K. Dealer’s catalogue. From GranToros.com website.

The men themselves. Don Prudhomme (left) and Tom McEwan (right).

The men themselves. Don Prudhomme (left) and Tom McEwan (right).

40th anniversary poster.

40th anniversary poster.

Peterson Automotive Museum poster.

Peterson Automotive Museum poster.

Yet another reissue of the famous Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set.

Yet another reissue of the famous Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set.

'Chute Pak from the UK. Box art - front. Courtesy eBay.

‘Chute Pak from the UK. Box art – front. Courtesy eBay.

'Chute Pak from UK. Box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

‘Chute Pak from UK. Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

'Chute Pak from the UK. Courtesy eBay.

UK ‘Chute Pak contents. 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.