1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Motor

Usually, the first thing that doesn’t work right on an old Tune-Up Tower is the motor. The motor is housed on the top floor and lives right under the white toggle switches.

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The electric motors that Mattel used in the early Hot Wheels line-up powered Super-Chargers and Tune-Up Towers. They were all made in Japan. In my experience, these motors are pretty much bullet proof.

2 way Super-Charger motor. Front view

2 way Super-Charger motor. Front view

2 Way Super-Charger motor.

2 way Super-Charger motor. Back view

When I get one that doesn’t run, more than 90% of the time it’s not the motor that’s at fault, it’s typically a bad electrical contact that’s the problem.

And the number one cause of bad electrical contacts in Super-Chargers and Tune-Up Towers? Corrosion on the battery terminal posts. Although a slow leak from alkaline batteries left in the battery compartment will produce a white calcium carbonate build up on the negative side of the battery, by far the biggest issue is copper tarnishing. Copper begins to oxidize when exposed to air. Basically, refined copper metal will automatically return to it’s more natural state which is an “ore”.

Here are 3 questions:

  1. How do you access the metal contacts on a Tune-Up Tower?
  2. How do you go from tarnished
    Tarnished copper.

    Tarnished copper.

    to golden?

    Cleaned and ready to conduct electricity again.

    Cleaned and ready to conduct electricity again.

    3. Will the toggle switches and motor work again?

Find out what happened on my YouTube video.

Next up: I begin work on the treadmill apparatus.

The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower. It makes Hot Wheels still fast. Still fun.

1970 Collectors' Catalogue.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue.

1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower: Introduction

When they first rolled out, Hot Wheels were billed as the Fastest Metal Cars in the World. How right Mattel was. As kids, we loved the speed and would run our cars as hard as we could all day long. The result, more than a few of our vehicles ended up looking like this.

Well used '68 Custom Corvette.

Well used ’68 Custom Corvette.

All that wear and tear meant the axles got bent and the wheel bearings filled up with dust and debris. The result? Our blazing fast Hot Wheels cars began slowing down.

Thankfully, Mattel provided a solution for us in 1970. The Tune Up Tower allowed us to test our cars for drift and wheel speed.

Tune-Up Tower box art - front. Courtesy eBay

Tune-Up Tower box art – front. Courtesy eBay

Axles could be adjusted with a Tune-Up Wrench.

tool

Tune-Up Tower box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Tune-Up Tower box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

Tune-Up Tower box art - back. Courtesy eBay

Tune-Up Tower box art – back. Courtesy eBay

Tune-Up Tower decals. Courtesy eBay.

Tune-Up Tower decals. Courtesy eBay.

Here are the instructions for the Tune-Up Tower.

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 1

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 1

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 2

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 2

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 3

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 3

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 4

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 4

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 5

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 5

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 6

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 6

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 7

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 7

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 8 showing the Road Trials Set layout.

Tune-Up Tower instructions. Page 8 showing the Road Trials Set layout.

The problem with most Tune-Up Towers today is they are used, missing parts and in need of repair. I have several Tune-Up Towers and none of them work properly.

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So, I am going to explore the inner workings of these machines and see if I can get some of them to work like they did in 1970. That way, when my ’68 Custom Corvette gets towed in…

Tow Jam towing the '68 Custom Corvette.

Tow Jam towing the ’68 Custom Corvette.

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…I can go to work on that grand, old car.

The 1970 Hot Wheels Tune-Up Tower; making Hot Wheels still fast, still fun.

TUT catalog

1970 Hot Wheels Collectors’ Catalog. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Original packing. Courtesy eBay.

Original packing. Courtesy eBay.

Original packaged small piece contents. Courtesy eBay.

Original packaged small piece contents. Courtesy eBay.

Close up of original Twin Mill. Courtesy eBay.

Close up of original Twin Mill. Courtesy eBay.

Hot Wheels art by Alex Toth

One of the remarkable features from the early years of Hot Wheels is the artwork. Great car designs came from Harry Bradley, Ira Gilford and Larry Wood. Amazing package art was handled by Otto Kuni. But when it came to classic comic images with story telling, Mattel’s go-to-guy was Alex Toth.

Self portrait of Alex Toth.

Self portrait of Alex Toth.

Alexander Toth (June 25, 1928 – May 27, 2006) was an influential American cartoonist whose work began in the American comic book industry during the 1940s.  But he is also known for his animation designs with Hanna-Barbera throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His TV work included Super Friends, Space Ghost, The Herculoids and Birdman.

A book of Alex Toth's work featuring Space Ghost on the front cover.

A book of Alex Toth’s work featuring Space Ghost on the front cover.

For Mattel, he worked on the 1970 Hot Wheels comic book issues, the 1969 Saturday morning “Hot Wheels” cartoon series and all 4 Sunday newspaper cartoon ads from the summer of 1970.

Comic Books

The Hot Wheels comic book project began with this promotion.

Comic ad

A total of 6 issues were generated and Alex Toth was heavily involved in the first five.

Issue 1.

Issue 1. April 1970.

Issue 2

Issue 2. June 1970.

Issue 3

Issue 3. August 1970.

Issue 4.

Issue 4. October 1970.

Issue 5.

Issue 5. December 1970.

Issue 6.

Issue 6. February 1971.

My favorite as a kid was issue 2. Here’s part of the story line from that issue courtesy Captain Videos Secret Sanctum. http://captainvideossecretsanctum.blogspot.ca/2012_02_01_archive.html

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p014

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p015

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p016

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p017

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p018

Hot Wheels 1970 #002_p019

Saturday Morning Cartoon

In the late 1960s there was one time, and one time only, for every kid to watch cartoons. That was every Saturday morning. The Hot Wheels cartoon show first arrived on September 6, 1969 and new shows continued to air through December 20, 1969.

Saturday cartoon

A total of 17 shows were produced (each 1/2 hour long), often with 2 episodes per show (a total of 32 episodes were made). This popular cartoon remained on the Saturday morning circuit for 2 years from September 6, 1969 to September 4, 1971.

Here’s a link to the cartoon’s introduction.

Here’s a show with 2 episodes: “Ardeth the Demon” and “Tough Cop”.

Sunday Newspaper Comic Ads

Back in the day, the Sunday newspaper “Funnies” always had the best comics. They were large. They were colorful. They told the fullest stories. As a kid, you spent the whole week looking forward to them. During the summer of 1970 Mattel took advantage of this enthused audience and ran a series of ads in comic strip form. I know of 4 ads. The first showed up on July 19th and the last on Aug 30th.

The story line always starts with 2 friends, the Hot Wheels Kids, at the track watching their automotive heroes in action. Either Dan Gurney or the duo of Tom McEwan & Don Prudhomme would be in a spectacular race.  But each episode took what transpired in the real world and then replicated it with a Hot Wheels set.  The kids demonstrated the ins and outs of their toy tracks much to the interest of Gurney, McEwan & Prudhomme.

Here are the 4 Sunday newspaper comic ads.

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.

Sunday newspaper Comics section. Mattel's ad for the Sizzlers California/8 Race Set. August 16, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday newspaper Comics section. Mattel’s ad for the Sizzlers California/8 Race Set. August 16, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section from August 23, 1970. This ad is for Mattel's Road Trials Set featuring racing legend Dan Gurney.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section from August 23, 1970. This ad is for Mattel’s Road Trials Set featuring racing legend Dan Gurney.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section. Mattel's Hot Wheels Ad for drag racing with the Dual-Lane Rod Runner. August 30, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

Sunday Newspaper Comics Section. Mattel’s Hot Wheels Ad for drag racing with the Dual-Lane Rod Runner. August 30, 1970. Courtesy eBay.

So there you have it. The simply amazing artwork of Alex Toth for Hot Wheels. He certainly captured how Hot Wheels are “Still fast. Still fun”.

1970 Hot Wheels Indy 500 Race Set

May 29, 2016 marks the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Logo for the 100th Indy 500.

Logo for the 100th Indy 500.

Adding to this tradition is Hot Wheels. Back in 1970, Mattel issued the Indy Team pak.

Box art - back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - back and side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – back and side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art - side. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – side. Courtesy eBay.

It featured a 4 car box set of Hot Wheels’ open wheel cars.

Indy Team 4

Three of these cars ran at Indianapolis including the red Lotus Turbine which almost won the 1968 race (fuel shaft broke on lap 191 while in the lead), an aqua Shelby Turbine which almost won the 1967 race (transmission bearing broke on lap 196 while in the lead) and a light green Indy Eagle. Although Brabham Repcos competed at Indianapolis, the blue F1 model shown here ran in Formula One.

Today I’m going racing, Indy style, with a dual-lane Rod Runner oval track. This layout has 32 feet of orange track, 10 joiners, 1 dual-lane Rod Runner, two 180 degree dual-lane curves, 2 white trestles and a dual-lane lap counter.

Indy parts

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With the dual-lane lap counter we can run 20 lap races.

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For this open wheel race I am running two Winning Formula cars.

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Here’s what happened with this Indy race.

So there you have it. A custom track. The 1970 Hot Wheels Indy Race Set.

It’s still fast. Still fun.

Box art - bottom. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – bottom. Courtesy eBay.

Logo for the 99th running of the Indy 500.

Logo for the 99th running of the Indy 500.

1970 Hot Wheels Speedometer Race Set

Speed!

Box art - front. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – front. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

When it comes to speed, supercars and high performance concept cars take center stage.

Today I’m putting 2 supercars and 2 concept cars to the test.

l to r: orange Ford Shelby GR-1 Concept Car, yellow '12 Acura NSX Concept Car, metal flake silver LaFerrari and lime green Lamborghini Sesto Elemento.

l to r: orange Ford Shelby GR-1 Concept Car, yellow ’12 Acura NSX Concept Car, metal flake silver LaFerrari and lime green Lamborghini Sesto Elemento.

And that test is all about speed. This is a race set where the 1970 dual-lane Speedometer tells us who is the winner.

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There is no finish gate. Whoever slams through the Speedometer with the fastest speed wins.

To generate the highest speed, I’m using a 1970 dual-lane Rod Runner with double rubber bands on each shifter.

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Here’s what happened…

So there you have it. A custom track. The 1970 Hot Wheels Speedometer Race Set.

It’s still fast. Still fun.

Box art - side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art - side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art – side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art - side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Close up. Box art – side. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art - end. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – end. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art - back. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

Box art – back. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Collectors' Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1970 Collectors’ Catalogue. Copyright Mattel, Inc.

1969 Hot Wheels Super-Charger Grand Prix Race Set (part 2)

This is Hot Wheels’s biggest track set for 1969, the Super-Charger Grand Prix Race Set.

Box art - front with included cars visible. Courtesy eBay.

Box art – front with included cars visible. Courtesy eBay.

There are a lot of track pieces.

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The layout is huge.

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Here’s the fully assembled race track.

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Time for some perspective. It’s 1969 and we are about to embark on “lap after lap” action. Just the year before, we experienced ground breaking gravity tracks from Hot Wheels first year of production. And, remember, the year before that we were pushing our Matchbox/Dinky/Corgi diecast cars around the floor by hand because there were no Hot Wheels.

Now, in 1969, a massive one hundred lap race is at hand. The orange track is 44 feet long. There are 12 half curves measuring just over 1 foot each. That’s more than 56 total feet (17 meters) of track. One hundred laps means the cars will cover more than a mile (1.6 kilometres) together. From hand pushing diecast cars to mile running in just 2 years. Simply amazing!

On this track today, I am putting a gold 2010 Ford Mustang GT with Faster Than Ever wheels up against a blue 1971 redline Six Shooter.  New school vs old school. 

For more information on this track, check out my earlier review of the Super-Charger Grand Prix Race Set (part 1).

https://hotwheelsracetracks.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/1969-hot-wheels-super-charger-grand-prix-race-set/

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Hot Wheels Store Displays

From 1968 to 1970 Mattel produced elaborate displays that were intended to showcase the Hot Wheels line-up for store customers.

This late 1968 display looks like something right out of a big car show in Los Angeles or Detroit.

Each of the “Sweet 16” cars is represented. Five of the cars have custom paint jobs just for this display. This includes a Watermelon Custom Mustang, Chocolate Brown Custom Camaro, Honey Gold Custom T-Bird, Light Blue Custom Cougar and the Ruby Red Custom Barracuda.

For 1969 three displays are offered. The first diorama shows Hot Wheels cars on a hilly coastal roadway crossing above cars that are travelling through a tunnel.

1969 Coastal hill and tunnel display. Courtesy

1969 Coastal hill and tunnel display. Courtesy http://www.hwredlines.com/menu-grp-cars/Displays/display-US-69.shtml

The second display is located in Europe, possibly Monaco, where Grand Prix race cars are being paced at the race’s start by a Maserati Mistrel. Spectators have parked their European cars nearby. A ship at water’s edge is a nice touch.

1969 European Gran Prix display. Courtesy

1969 European Gran Prix display. Courtesy http://www.redlinegrandprix.com/Redline_GP_OddsEnds.html

The third display puts us at the Daytona Motor Speedway where race cars are on the high banks of the track. In this case, spectators from a vintage car club have shown up presumably to cheer on the Classic ’57-Bird.

Close-up. Courtesy Instagram by Bruce Pascal. http://www.online-instagram.com/media/894901587630698938_1622287635

Close-up. Courtesy Instagram by Bruce Pascal. http://www.online-instagram.com/media/894901587630698938_1622287635

The 1970 Display is a ‘Multi-Mural’ diorama with a white curved sloping track.

1970 display. Courtesy

1970 display. Courtesy eBay.

The first three murals, from left to right, show a Spoiler style car, a heavyweight vehicle and a race car.

1970 display 4

Close-up left side.

The last mural on the right reveals the open road for Hot Wheels to travel on.

1970 display 3

Close-up right side.

1970 display 2

Top view – left.

1970 display 5

Top view – right.

Also, for 1970, Hot Wheels was going ‘head-to-head’ with Matchbox so in England a special store display was used.

1970 U.K. display. Courtesy

1970 U.K. display. Courtesy pinterest.com.

The English store display is an open six-tiered white grandstand made of wood.  The entire display holds 50 cars (6 rows of 8 or 9 cars each) and has a colorful backboard illustrating a Porsche 917 with the caption, “ Here’s why more Boys prefer: Hot Wheels”.  Obviously a direct challenge to Matchbox whose display looked like this…

U.K. Matchbox display. Courtesy

U.K. Matchbox display. Courtesy pinterest.com

So there you have it. A look at some of the early Hot Wheels diorama displays used in stores.

It’s still fast. Still fun.

For more information you can check out http://redlinewheels.com and look under “articles”.