Hot Wheels has always been great at giving users the virtual experience for the past few years when it comes to toy cars. Their toys like Hot Wheels AI, Mindracers and Augmoto all have been focused on making it a driving experience that is played like a video game. This year, Hot Wheels has finally created something that will please their fans - the new TechMods set. The vehicle is controlled by an app, and you build the vehicle yourself and which can be controlled with your phone. The product will be released via Indigogo on their pre-order page with shipments going out in June. The product will cost $50 for those giving feedback on the product first before officially releasing it in stores or expanding the line.
The new Hot Wheels allows the user to control the car via the TechMods app on users' mobile device. (Image Credit: IndieGoGo)
The kit includes a plastic chassis that has a battery, a motor, and four wheels. Two of those wheels can be steered. There is also a plastic frame that snaps on top of the chassis, and the remaining toy-vehicle is made out of pre-cut pieces of plastic that you cut out of sheets and fold based on the instructions provided by the app. All pieces are held together by plastic rivets. This is all very similar to Mattel's Kamigami toys. A couple of years ago, the company released robotic toys that were insect-like and the collection from a year ago was a series of dinosaurs you had to put together. Hot Wheels has used the same idea here, but with mixed success. The in-app instructions show you how to assemble the toy-vehicle with an animation showing you how to fold and put the rivets in. If you missed a step, you can always replay the instructions until you can assemble it correctly. There are some downsides to these instructions - you can't rotate the image like you would be able to with Kamigami or Nintendo Labo. Locations of some rivets may not be accurate and would require you to double and triple check it to get it right. The rivets can easily be removed with the included wrench. Rivets are quite small, folding requires a strong hand and putting the toy together requires some patience. The sheets only have seven plastic parts, including the fender. The chassis and frame are only three pieces. Only 26 rivets are needed to assemble the toy.
The simple design and construction of the toy-car makes it less likely to fall apart when it's faced with obstacles or obstructions while on the move. The design makes it easier to replace the outer shell if you wished. Once it's assembled and charged up by using the micro USB port in the back of the toy, you can link it to the TechMods app. The toy uses Bluetooth to connect to the app, but with the Hot Wheels product, the connection is quick and easy. The app only has a limited number of modes and doesn't have any coding available.
One of the modes included in the app is a standard driving mode. This allows you to speed the car around in the real world but it's only suited to be used on a hard floor. Another mode is the treasure hunt mode - this mode allows you to drive the toy around, waiting for the phone to locate any nearby treasure. The app lets the user know the car is getting closer to treasure by alternating the lights from red to yellow to green. The car doesn't allow you to keep track of distance traveled. There is also the car as controller mode, which is basically in-app games that asks you to point your TechMods car at the screen in order for it to steer around. The games include a standard track-racing game where you can drive around an arena, transporting items and a survival game that lets you drive around until your car has taken maximum damage.
This new product from Hot Wheels has a lot of potential and can be something that kids will look forward to hacking and modding. At least we can hope.
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