IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: Hot Wheels exhibition off track

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

At the new “Hot Wheels for Real” exhibit at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (through Jan. 27), pint-size Andrettis can use a simple computer program to customize a video car, have their picture taken in a play car, and see life-size versions of such Hot Wheels classics as the Twin Mill and the Bone Shaker. They can send cars down a ramp into a loop-the-loop and position reusable decals on a colorful car frame.

Hot Wheels Kids can customize a video hot rod at “Hot Wheels for Real” at the Children’s Museum. (Photo courtesy of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis)

What they can’t do, alas, is the most fun thing about Hot Wheels: They can’t create and test their own track layouts.

This isn’t a problem with just the Children’s Museum exhibit. It’s a problem with Hot Wheels in general. And at the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, let me explain.

In my day, any self-respecting Hot Wheels kid had a box of random track parts, along with a supply of their tongue-like connectors, at the ready for any few hours of downtime from more physical activity. On any given rainy day, these components—combined with a crucial ingredient called imagination—were used to fill a living room with impossible-in-real-life track layouts.

Sometimes, the die-cast metal cars stayed on these tracks. Sometimes they didn’t. And through a little something called trial-and-error, Corvette Stingrays, Dodge Challengers, and various hot rods, school buses, and VW Bugs eventually zoomed, banked and twisted their way from start to finish.

Good luck trying to find a simple pack of tracks and connectors in the toy department of your local big-box retailer these days. And online isn’t much better. (Just to be sure, I did check with Mattel for the availability of plain-old track and connectors and was directed to its replacement parts department, where you can pick up track and curves for 50 cents to $1.50 a piece and have to call a separate number for connectors. Jeez.)

Today, Hot Wheels are more about self-contained sets—Hot Wheels T-Rex Takedown, Hot Wheels Super 6-Lane Raceway, Hot Wheels Turbo Garage, et al. These kits do most of the thinking the kids used to do. And they don’t work when a piece or two is missing.

One of the reasons I looked forward to the exhibit is because the original plan included DIY tracks. But according to a Children’s Museum representative, there were issues with track durability and space limitations. That’s a shame. Because while kids can surely still have fun with what’s on display in “Hot Wheels for Real,” they’re missing out on just the thing that could keep them playing and playing and playing … and thinking.

Given the packaged nature of modern Hot Wheels, I’m guessing that, 30 years from now, these kids won’t have the same nostalgic pull for the product line that their parents do today.



Indy’s small professional theaters seem obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe. Over the past few years, Q Artistry has staged “Cabaret Poe,” Heartland Actors Repertory Theatre has offered Halloween Poe readings and, in May, Acting Up Productions brought us the biographical musical “Nevermore.”

Granted, Poe is an interesting character. His tortured psyche would seem to lend itself to psychological exploration. “Nevermore” attempts to take us into his tortured heart and mind, surrounding him with the significant women in his life as he wrestles with his demons. Think “Nine,” only much darker.

I’m guessing the songs—which use Poe’s poetry as lyrics—may prove more effective on their own than as part of a musical. They aren’t without interest here, but they have to be forced and contorted into trying to serve the narrative. That rarely works in lightweight jukebox musicals and faces even greater challenges in more serious work such as this.

Acting Up’s minimalist production doesn’t help. The music is atmospheric, but it suffers from only being played on piano. (If any musical begs for a cello, it’s this one.) The tech is basic, so we don’t get the hallucinogenic visuals that might enhance the atmosphere. What we are left with is a song cycle—well-sung and competently acted—awkwardly trying to be a musical.•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com

ADVERTISEMENT

  • track packs
    They do sell track pack kits and extra accessories at toys r us -- they have an exclusive right to sell them.
  • Agreed
    Thanks for your venting on Hot Wheels. I have the same issue with Legos. Let the kids be creative.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!

ADVERTISEMENT