Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Man, those Hot Wheels-branded computers from the 1990s were terrible

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With its bright blue paint job and eye-catching flame decals, the Hot Wheels computer manufactured by a long-gone firm called Patriot in 1999 looks absolutely amazing. It’s definitely a kid’s idea of what a personal computer should look like, and it comes with a real steering wheel and pedals to boot. Every part of this system, from the speakers to the keyboard to the mouse, has been given a radical Hot Wheels makeover. On the outside, at least, this thing promised hours of high-octane, nitro-fueled fun. Unfortunately, the machine itself was pretty much a badly, cheaply made hunk of junk, nowhere near worth the $600 retail cost, and it soon vanished from the marketplace. But a few dilapidated Hot Wheels computers have survived through the decades as Ebay collectibles, and one enterprising YouTube hobbyist has spent a few busy weeks restoring one such model to its Clinton era glory on his misleadingly named Lazy Game Reviews channel. (“Laziness is a state of mind,” he explains, “not necessarily a lack of action.”)


The revived Hot Wheels computer looks every bit as good as it did back in 1999, and the host of the video has gotten it to work better than ever before while staying true to the computer’s primitive roots. The machine was made to run Windows 98, so that’s still the operating system at use here. With persistence, it can be coerced into playing Doom, albeit with limited sound effects. But for fans of the miniature car line, the main attraction is a demonstration of the CD-ROM game called Hot Wheels Stunt Track Driver 2. This is the title for which the aforementioned steering wheel and pedals were included with the system. Stunt Track Driver 2 turns out to be a simple but charming 3-D driving simulation. The host gamely attempts to use the wobbly official Hot Wheels steering wheel, but he soon finds that this makes the game “exponentially harder.” Though the gamer is obviously proud of the restoration work he’s done on the machine to get it running again, he cannot avoid the conclusion that the machine is really a con job foisted on gullible kids whose parents had deep pockets:

It’s kind of awful. But, whatever, man. What do you expect for something made for, like, 8-year-old boys? Actually, people expected a whole lot more, to tell you the truth, and that’s why these things failed. They were ridiculously overpriced, for what they were.