One of the coolest toys I remember from my younger days was the Hot Wheels Sizzlers. They were the size of regular Hot Wheels cars, but were made of plastic and had electric motors (like you’d find in slot cars) and batteries that would recharge in a minute or so using The Juice Machine — a gas pump-styled charging station — or the smaller charger that would clip to your belt.
The cars and the triple-wide black tracks were all the rage when they came out in 1969, but Mattel phased them out by 1976(?) Then a few years ago (2006?) just before Christmas I saw them again in the Target toy department! Tracks, cars, chargers, the whole works! The really cool thing was that Mattel had used the original graphics for the packaging and the original tooling to make the cars & track — it was like going back in time!
But being the procrastinator that I am, I waited too long to buy that Christmas season, and the opportunity to bless the kids with one of my boyhood toys was gone. I never gave it much thought after that, but then last weekend I went into one of the local Ace Hardware stores — they usually have a decent selection of oddball toys you don’t find at department stores — and there it was! One lone box with the Sizzlers Extended Eight racetrack inside!
$20.00 later, it was mine (to give to one of the boys, of course!) and I was on my way. But looking closer at the box I noticed that there’s only one car and the belt-clip charger inside; what good is a racetrack if there’s nobody to race against? So in the days following I started looking around for more cars. They are nowhere to be found locally. I even asked at Target, and the kid there said others had asked about them, but as far as he knew they hadn’t had them since that one year a while back.
Shopping online it’s possible to find them, but they don’t come cheap at all; Amazon has them but they start at $20 for just the car, and go up from there, some listing for $70! I’m unsure whether that’s for a 30-year-old original or one of the more recently built cars… A Google search will yield other websites that specialize in selling original Sizzlers to collectors, and some of them go for a lot of money.
So for this year, it’s just the track and one car, and I’ll keep an eye peeled for more Sizzlers to pop up in coming years.
One thing I did to make-do without multiple Sizzlers cars is buy a few Darda race cars; they are German-built wind-up cars that are really pretty incredible. You press down on the car and push it back & forth a few times to wind it, and when you let it go, it really flies! The cars can be purchased individually or with track packages, and the tracks are pretty incredible too, as they typically have a number of loops on them, sometimes stacked loops. And even more incredible is that these little cars can make the loops! We found out about them through a friend who babysat for us a number of years ago; she had several sets and a number of cars that her son had used, but didn’t play with much anymore. We borrowed them for a while, and I think I had more fun with them than the kids!
There’s only one store in Sioux Falls that sells them — Kidtopia — and thankfully they had plenty on hand. I bought one for each of the boys, knowing that the older boys will want to play too. I don’t know if the Darda cars will have the endurance of the Sizzlers, but they’ll have plenty of speed. Should be a fun toy mashup for Christmas!