- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

CDs and DVDs are now part of the die-cast-vehicle package, allowing collectors to enjoy a multimedia experience while ogling their latest miniature dream car.

AcceleRacers HyperPod from Mattel, stand-alone product with disc requiring DVD-enabled computer or home entertainment center, $7.99. Children no longer just play with a Hot Wheels car — now they are thrust into a technologically advanced world incorporating virtual realms, mechanical magic and digital video featuring their 1:64 scale gems.

Mattel’s latest cross-promotional wallet-busting adventure takes place two years after the “World Race” story line, in which the mythical Highway 35 was discovered. It now finds four teams of drivers helping and hindering the gravely injured Dr. Tezla as he battles the robotic Racing Drones to discover the secrets of the ancient Accelerons.

That translates into a four-part, computer-generated cartoon series appearing on Cartoon Network along with weekly Webisodes on its complimentary cyber-world (www.cartoonnetwork.com/ promos/hotwheels/game/ index.html).

Young collectors can choose from 36 new cars ($1.99 each), each bearing a code on its underside. When typed into an area on the AcceleRacers Web site, the code opens virtual goodies for the kiddies, including desktop wallpaper.

Additionally, those visiting the Hot Wheels Web site (www.hotwheels.com/acceleracers) can find more codes (even more are found if they sign up for an e-mail newsletter) that enhance a robust racing game on the Cartoon Network site (www.cartoon network.com/promos/hotwheels/game/index.html).

And the fun does not stop there. One of the key parts of the story has drivers using HyperPods that act as exoskeletons for their vehicles. They can be used by the AcceleRacers to traverse hostile terrain in race courses winding through caverns and swamps.

Young collectors buying a HyperPod package get the carrier, a Hot Wheels car, a pack of trading cards (of course, Mattel has a collectible trading-card game tied into the AcceleRacers story) and a 22-minute DVD of some of the episodic action shown on Cartoon Network.

The DVD gives plenty of background on the story’s characters, racing data on all of the vehicles, and a pretty good cartoon as well. The action includes the racing teams of Teku and the Metal Maniacs competing in a swamp realm loaded with mutated monsters and the evil minions of enemy Gelorum.

Naturally, to further extend that slimy episode, Mattel has created the Swamp Beast Track Set ($26.99), which features a green creature talking smack to children and swatting at their shiny vehicles as they are propelled via a motorized booster. The set includes a counter to open up a direct course route to destroy the creature but does not include aspirin for the parent trying to assemble the track.

Did I mention the AcceleRacers Ignition DVD (Warner Home Video, $19.98), which compiles all the contents of the first set of HyperPod DVDs as well as adding another layer of bonus material?

Yes, parents, the days of simply buying some orange track to race a few slick Hot Wheels cars are long gone.

1965 Aston Martin DB5 from Joyride Studios, stand-alone product with disc requiring a Mac or PC with CD-ROM drive, $34.99. James Bond fans will not believe the detail offered in this 1:18 scale die-cast replica of 007’s gadget-filled vehicle featured in the film “Goldfinger.”

Besides the opening doors with detailed interior, working front steering, detailed engine and opening trunk and hood, owners will discover (with some careful manipulation) a pull-out front indicator light (for a hidden machine gun), a pop-up bulletproof screen in the trunk for rear-window protection, a driver-side ejector seat that really works and revolving license plates (UK, French and Swiss tags) mounted on the front and rear of the vehicle.

Also, let’s not forget the Q-card. Shaped like a traditional trading card, this CD-ROM presents numerous features for fans of the spy and car.

Bond lovers get nine photos of the car, many with the famous driver; a screen saver; a choice of two styles of wallpaper; and a link to the official James Bond Web site (www.jamesbond.com). Car aficionados can view the digital blueprint section of the disc to see a manipulable, 3-D version of the vehicle with all working gadgets highlighted via photos and text breakdowns.

Additionally, a Technical Specifications area covers measurements and data under the topics of engine and transmission, body and chassis, and performance.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail ([email protected] times.com).

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