Tag: spider-man character cars

Hot Wheels’ FLIP FIGHTERS – A Quick Review

It’s kinda funny…back when I was dumping all that time and energy into my article talking about the upcoming Flip Fighters (and Battle Rollers) I ended up finding all 4 of them like, the very night I wrapped up the article. It was a few more days before I really busted into ’em, but I’ve sat around and…*ahem* played with them…several times now. Curious about these gimmicky rehashes of existing character cars? Look no further!

First let’s take a look at the overall build and structure of the Flip Fighters. Unfortunately, these are not diecast, which means these vehicles are almost completely made of plastic. The switch makes the cars feel less like finely crafted models, but it also serves a practical purpose – more metal = more force it takes to flip and more flip force = less consistent (possibly more dangerous) outcomes. So I get it. Mattel doesn’t want to start launching big metal things into the air near little kids. Nonetheless, they come off as feeling a little cheap. For a real comparison, grab one of the Star Wars All-Terrain Character Cars. They’re both around 1:43 scale, but notice how much heavier and higher quality the All-Terrain feels.

Spider-Man Flip Fighter

Next let’s take a quick look at the detail and artwork. Part of me is frustrated that Hot Wheels is reusing designs for these, but I guess they want kids to look up at the shelves and recognize them. Spider-Man and Hulk are spitting images of their smaller counterparts…which means Spidey is pretty cool looking and the Hulk is on the bland side. Iron Man…is weird. He’s like a Picaso version of one of his old selves…or something. I guess it’s just something about the eye placement or how the head/helmet is represented…I don’t know. And finally we have Black Panther, sporting an all-new design which is also being given to his new Character car, while our old look is handed down to Killmonger.

I got no real problem with the designs in and of themselves, but when you start scaling something up, you’re going to need to capitalize on the enlargement and add in some extra detail; that’s why Hulk looks so damn boring and why all those corners and angles hold up decently well on Spidey. Now I will concede some degree of ornamentation or elaborate construction on the basis of what these cars do: they flip over. You don’t want a bunch of weak pieces breaking off every time a car flips. You don’t want a bunch of intricately painted details suffering a big scratch. So I kinda get it. These things need to be durable…but that also doesn’t mean they have to be boring and/or straight up carbon copies of what came before.

Hulk Flip Fighter

Alrighty, so let’s go ahead and get on to the meat and potatoes of the Flipsters (er, yes, I called them “Flipsters” but I liked it so I’m leaving it in): how do dey werk?

Each Flip Fighter is equipped with a hinged arm on the bottom. The hinge sits roughly behind the front wheels. When extended towards the front, the arm is almost right at the front of the vehicle. When back, it reaches right about the rear axle. In its resting position, the arm is in the forward position. By turning it towards the back, you’re basically winding a spring, and then a small plastic “hook” catches the arm and locks it into its rear position. I haven’t exactly figured out what disengages the hook. Part of me thinks that it’s simply loose enough to “shake loose” as the car roll, but after some cursory experimentation, it seems like the release is connected to the back wheels, possibly after around 7 to 10 rotations. The good news is that hook reliably catches the arm and doesn’t seem to randomly disengage while handling the vehicle, i.e. it’s not all fragile and delicate like a set mousetrap. Whatever the case, the little hook lets loose, the arm flies forward thereby hitting the floor and causing the car to fly both upwards and forwards. I suppose that the ultimate ideal is for the car to flip a full 360°, land upright, and then continue on another few inches or so.

Iron Man Flip Fighter

If you give a damn about your toys, I would strongly suggest not using these around concrete, asphalt, or any other rough, hard surface….unless you just totally don’t give a damn about the paint jobs. I’ve played with these 4 cars…a lot…over a stretch of my kitchen floor and the results are about what you’d expect: eh, it’s alright. I guess one bright spot is that all 4 cars roll fine “normally,” so if you just wanted to roll them around sans gimmick they’re well-balanced and roll in a fairly straight line. But let’s get back to those dang flips…

Iron Man: To me, this is the silliest looking car of the lot. I can’t decided if it’s supposed to be some mutation of the original Iron Man character car or if it’s aiming for an all-new design. Either way, he’s the most consistent flipper of the bunch. Or I guess I should say he’s the most consistent lander, hell they all flip. What I mean is that he actually lands upright about 50% of the time. Now this doesn’t mean he’s necessarily facing the right direction or that he keeps going, just that he “survives” the flip. The number of times where the car actually flipped and continues forward were few and far between. Still, out of all of them, Iron Man executed the gimmick “the prettiest” of them all.

Spider-Man: Just from looking at the vehicles, I would assume Spidey to be the most aerodynamic and the most suited to all this flipping business. Spidey had the tendency to want to rotate not only its x-axis (the flip) but also along its y-axis – it wanted to twist and spin in the air (like a bullet?) as it flipped. This led to a remarkable number of trials where he landed directly on his side and continued to slide forward. I mean damn, it was uncanny how many times this went down. To be fair there were a couple of crazy disasters and Spidey did get in a couple of flawless landings, but not enough to push Iron Man’s consistency.

The Hulk: I don’t know if it’s the shape of this guy or the weight distribution or whatever, but man, he was one wild critter out of the gate. Maybe he had a problem doing a full 360° (or overshooting) but there was no way to predict what part of this car was gonna hit the ground first.

Black Panther: This one is fairly streamlined and at first I had high hopes…but no. Black Panther’s “schtick” was to land on its “face” (windshield/hood) and skid onward a few more inches. It actually moves pretty straight after landing, though the friction brings it to a quick halt.

Black Panther Flip Fighter

Now these are by no means an exhaustive, experimental analysis of the cars, just some generalizations I made after a few dozen trips up and down my kitchen. I’d be interested to know if you observed similar (or different) behaviors. I did try a few other things though…like I tried rolling them backwards, which of course did nothing, further reinforcing the fact that the “flip” is initiated by forward motion. I tried rolling them gently; sometimes they didn’t flip at all but when they did there wasn’t really any forward momentum left to keep the vehicle active. I also tried rolling them really hard. If you’ve ever tried rolling a little toy car really hard you know accuracy quickly goes out the window the harder you push. Many times these would flip too early and even they tended to go all over the place.

And there you have it: Hot Wheels’ Flip Fighters. Do they work? Meh, sortta…Hot Wheels needs to tinker with the formula before going wild with these guys. They probably aren’t worth the $7.99 price tag but honestly, I bet these will quietly fade away. And then again, something like that could just make ’em all the more valuable!

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2 New Character Car Offshoots – FLIP FIGHTERS (Marvel) & BATTLE ROLLERS (Star Wars)

I don’t know a whole helluva lot about these new toys yet, only what the shop.mattel.com has shown us, one thing being that we can currently find these at retail. I personally haven’t seen either series yet, but that don’t necessarily mean nothin’. I was going to split this into 2 articles, but once I realized that the bulk of info we have on these things is purely pics, I opted to throw ’em both into one piece and we can sort out the details once I get my hands on the stuff.


Flip Fighters

If you’ve been paying attention to the toy shelves for maybe the last week you’ll notice the influx of Black Panther merchandise rapidly encroaching on Ragnarok’s territory. I must admit that Black Panther isn’t a property that interests me much, even with Marvel’s flashy treatment. For one, Africa isn’t a locale that interests me…at least not in modern / post-colonial times where the continent is ravaged by civil war, controlled by warlords with varying degrees of psychopathy,and ultimately riddled with befuddling amounts of disease, filth, poverty, starvation, and outright ignorance to the simplest of things. I realize that conditions have improved in lot of places, but the whole damn continent just feels like one big, egregious human rights violation.

Beyond that I’ve never found African mysticism as interesting as say, that of the Japanese or Native Americans. I can definitely see a noble, honorable hero born form these depths, it’s just not something I find inherently interesting. I’m sure Marvel will make a fine (read: decent (read: watchable)) film, and I’ll probably see it at some point, but the MCU is getting a little too cluttered and dizzying and I find myself only truly gravitating towards the high points. (I will say that Guardians Vol. 2 was miles better than I expected.)

Anyway, why am I harping on and on about this? I don’t know. I’ve had to start and stop so many times…methinks I had some sort of segue in mind before I just kept going and going. What I was originally getting at was that with all the new Black Panther stuff on shelves, maybe Mattel’s website would give us some clues about what kind of new Character Cars we could expect. For a while there we were getting really steady 2-packs (Spider-Man, Guardians 2, Wonder Woman, and Justice League) but it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing any new Black Panther stuff just yet. Instead…

…It looks like we’re going to get a new off-shoot to the Character Car line not dissimilar to the All-Terrain Star Wars Character Cars (or whatever order those terms ought to go in). According to shop.mattel.com a few of these are already available in stores! They’re in 1:43 scale so they’re a bit bigger than usual and currently includes 4 characters: Black Panther, Iron Man, Hulk, & Spider-Man. All of them look pretty much like their “normal” Character Car counterparts except for Black Panther, who’s undergone a slightly more interesting revision.

I’m not really sure what these are for…except the “flipping”…the pictures show some kind of arm on the bottom that I guess locks in place and then rapidly disengages to flip the car. I’m not really into gimmicks like these, and if it weren’t for the “Character Car” label I probably wouldn’t bother, but we’ll see. If they do flip consistently I’ll be reasonably impressed – I just hope we get more redesigns if Hot Wheels chooses to continue with the line.

Here’s a few pics I snagged from Mattel’s site:

Black Panther

Black Panther

Spider-Man

Spider-Man

The Hulk

The Hulk

Iron Man

Iron Man


Battle Rollers

I’m still a little on the fence about these because they aren’t explicitly labeled as “character cars” like many of the other offshoots…and for good reason I suppose – they don’t have much do with the concept of a “character” at all. I only wanted to mention them because I saw them in the company of Character Cars.

Overall these have a heavy preschool feel to them – exaggerated, “cartoonized” versions of some well known characters riding in “ships” that evoke something more akin to bumper cars than galactic cruisers. These will probably be a hit with younger fans, but I question their long-term collectability so I’m just going over them quickly.

  • Luke w/ X-wing
  • Vader w/ Vader’s TIE
  • Boba Fett w/ Slave I
  • Rey w/ Millennium Falcon
  • Emperor w/ Imperial Shuttle
  • 2-pack with Rey and Exclusive TIE Pilot w/ Fighter
  • 2-pack with Vader and Exclusive Luke w/ X-wing (I’m not sure how this is supposed to be different than the single other than Luke’s holding a lightsaber…let the minutia begin!)

And a couple of pics for posterity:

Luke Battle Roller

Emperor Palpatine and Imperial Shttle


So as usual, what do you think of the new rollouts? Do you appreciate these branches or would you be happier if Hot Wheels just stuck to one thing – or at the very least didn’t conflate these new ideas wit the “Character Cars” line?

Even more new stuff is coming out soon: check it out!

GIANT Marvel Character Car – Spider-Man Web-Car Launcher

Welcome back grown-ups, in-betweens, children and lil’ babies…we’ve got an unlikely piece of plastic coming our way today.

Remember the Groot Hauler? Maybe not, because I never properly wrote about it (still plan to!), but what mustn’t be ignored about the large vehicle is that despite its resemblance to a semi-truck, it is in fact considered a bona fide Character Car by Hot Wheels. I know some folks won’t like this and have a hard time accepting these giant toys as part of the Character Cars-proper collection, but hey, if you don’t like ’em, don’t get ’em. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!

Anyway, back when the Groot Hauler was first on my radar, I remember Hot Wheels advertising a couple of other “big ones” too. I hadn’t really thought about it much until the Spider-Man car caught my eye…I guess it was over at shop.mattel.com, but what I really noticed was the little web-car for some reason. I guess I stowed it away in my mind for some reason, because I immediately recognized it against a slew of other vehicularly-themed vehicles from Homecoming peppering the shelves of Toys R Us. TRU can be a confusing place because they organize their toys by both type and theme – sometimes both. So while all the other Spider-Man vehicle stuff is over there on the “Marvel aisle,” this Web-Launcher guy is over there with the Hot Wheels and most other character cars. Oddly enough, if you wanted that aberrant Rocket Raccoon / Baby Groot 2-pack of character cars, you’d find that on the Marvel aisle and nowhere near the Hot Wheels aisle where the other 90% of character cars are kept. Kinda makes me wonder how much stuff otherwise serious collectors miss…and not because I’m not character car-spotting savant, I just have a certain OCD-ness that compels me to look up and down the same aisles multiple times during a visit. Plus I have my kid with me at least 50% of the time and he spots lots of stuff before me just because of what’s at his eye-level versus mine.

Ok rant thwarted, let’s look at what is officially dubbed the Spider-Man Web-Car Launcher. It’s big. Really big!

Spider-Man Web-Car Launcher

Alright, honestly our Web-Car Launcher isn’t as…well…functional as the Groot Hauler. It’s listed as having 2 action features which turns out to be a) the launching of the Web-Car, and b) the “eyes changing shape” when the spoiler is pressed. Ok ok ok, this is misleading, because these 2 things happen when you push the spoiler down. So it’s not like you can activate one individually or anything – not that I give a damn necessarily – but the wording is a little tricky.

Big Spidey

I know that in the wake of SDCC 2017 that weird little dune buggy thing has emerged as the “Spider-Mobile,” but I think this would be even more appropriate! Something like this could become as recognizable as the Batmobile!

Now most of the time when you’re dealing with small cars and you’ve got that buzzword LAUNCH you usually think of some sort of spring-loaded mechanism, right? Like a little projectile or whatever; something that pushes a spring back, and then catches on a mechanism activated by some kind of trigger, thereby releasing the spring and flinging shit forth. Well they really threw caution to the wind here! Basically when you press the spoiler, this big, flat “foot” thrusts out and manually pushes the web-car out of the inner tunnel of the larger Spidey car. Spidey’s got this big long “barrel,” and as I pushed the web-car in I expected some resistance but nope, it just rolls on back, ready for that chunk of plastic to push it forward!

The set will be a bit underwhelming for youngsters interested in shooting cars across the room, though some may be able to appreciate the fact that any car that can physically fit down the “barrel” can be “launched;” it’s not specifically crafted/fitted for a single car.

As far as how the car looks and otherwise functions though, I can’t see any problems. In some regards I’m glad there are no springs or more moving parts than there are. Depending on how truly collectible these become, it’ll be nice not to deal with the aging parts. Springs rust and become “unsprung,” and they also place tension on the surrounding plastic which can become brittle with age. If nothing else, when taken care of, this car – and it’s ability to motherfucking LAUNCH LAUNCH – should last a great long while.

Web-Car

The one…the only…EXCLUSIVE WEB-CAR!

Spidey is very lightweight for his size and done in the style of his updated Homecoming Character Car. It’s basically a big red thing, though there are small sparkles in the paint. For whatever reason, it be dat Web-Car that’s really gotten my attention. It’s like any other 1:64 Hot Wheels, although according to the box it is not simply some re-used/re-painted casing, but rather an Exclusive Web-Car according to the box! I like it. Not so sure how it thematically jives with the rest of the character cars, but I’m nothing if not a sucker for these exclusives.

Spider-Man Web-Car Launcher

Is the Spider-Man Web-Car Launcher worth your time, effort, and money? It’s hard to say. For what it is I think the MSRP of $20 is a little high…something like $12.99 to $14.99 seems about right for something with no lights, or sounds, or automated movement. A lot of it will depend on whether or not you like loud, noisy toys, and I happen to not care for them so much so I’m OK with giant Spidey car and the super-cool exclusive!

I Discovered Another ALL-NEW Marvel Character Car!

Pretty wild, right? I mean I know that adding a battle-damaged Rocket Raccoon to the pantheon wasn’t the most exciting to break, but I still kinda wonder, why was I the first to run across it?

A similar thing happened to me Thursday night. Yeah I know, post is a bit late but I get to it when I get to it. So yeah, I’m at TRU Thursday evening, mostly hoping to run across the upcoming Vulture or perhaps even Doomsday but no… Instead I’m immediately drawn to a 2-pack featuring the Spider-Man: Homecoming packaging. Now at that point the only Homecoming cars I’d seen were those featuring – duh – Spidey and Iron Man. So as quickly as I got excited about the 2-pack, I almost instantly deflated because I figured it was the 2 cars I’d just recently gotten off of eBay.

But I picked it up nonetheless, and my mind quickly put together that there ought to be an exclusive in here…BAM: Exclusive Spider-Man: Homemade Suit. Hey, that’s a a little more exciting than a battle-damaged Rocket, eh? The Iron Man alongside Mr. Homemade Suit is the “new” Homecoming Iron Man that just came out.

Homecoming Character Cars 2-Pack

Yeah yeah, it’s just a repaint of the new Homecoming version of Spider-Man, but I do appreciate the gesture from Hot Wheels even if it does feel like they’re milking it a bit much. Anyone out there a Mortal Kombat fan circa 1992 – 1997? If so, you’ll probably remember that one of the main criticisms leveled at the franchise was its use of palette-swapped characters – basically the same outfit was used on more than one character but the color of the outfit was changed. Think Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Reptile, Ermac, Noob Saibot, Rain, etc. They did it with the ladies too: Kitana, Mileena, Jade, and the little-known Khameleon. Anyway, at the time, it was a clever(ish) way of getting more characters out of less space. Instead of putting in a whole new character, all you needed to do was “swap” out a color (or entire palette – however small it may be – to be more precise) and add in a few new special moves. What I’m saying is that it kinda feels like Hot Wheels is doing this, except it isn’t for some lofty purpose like giving us more characters. Rather we’re just getting multiple versions of the same character. I guess I would be a little less critical if more of the color changes were dramatic rather than the small-ish ones we usually see.

Before I sign off to try and bang out another article about cool new shit, I do want to extrapolate a pertinent implication heralded by the release of this 2-pack. Remember the pamphlet present in the new Spider-Man and Iron Man cars that I posted scans of a few days ago? Now this ain’t my first trip around the playground, so even after seeing such a list, I was careful not to jump to conclusions, and indeed somewhere near the end I mention that just because someone wasn’t on this list didn’t mean that they wouldn’t appear. The 2-pack is interesting proof of this – not the 2-pack itself, but the inclusion of the Homemade Suit Spider-Man. This fella wasn’t present on the insert, so voila, fucking proof that not every upcoming car is featured on the insert. Now I may have my foot in my mouth post-Ragnarok when Homemade Homeboy is the only car to be released that wasn’t on the pamphlet, but technically I will still be / have been correct! It won’t be a victory to savor, but my point is that just maybe we don’t have to give up on a Shocker car or – how hard would it be – a fucking villain from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Alright fiends, I’m off to serve up some more delicious new shit. I hope I’m not too late with this info – well, I know I’m a little late but maybe I’ll get it out there somewhat timely. So read this (I’m guessing that you already have and assuming you didn’t just jump down to the last paragraph) and then check back every hour or two for some new fun stuff. Adieu!