The first I saw stuff about the Hot Wheel iD cars was on the Orange Tack Diecast, but then this morning seeing that the rest of the tech-minded world is reporting the release as well.
Hot Wheels is continuing its search for the Holy Grail of toys...something that is physical yet also digital, and still fun. That's a great quest but it also looks pricey. For $7 a car and then almost $200 for a track set, I think they've grossly overestimated the market's desire. But they must know something we don't...I hope...
And here's the thing that bugs me the most...the tech they put into the car is cheap. I'm sure Mattel is losing money on each $1 car already, making it up in accessory sales, but the NFC chips the report talks about are common and cheap. For what you get, I don't think $7 will be a good price point, whether it be kids with their own money or parents getting asked.
When Hot Wheels cars become a "maybe for your birthday" type of toy, that's a problem. Now, playsets have always been on the high side IMHO, but never the cars. Your car collection drives accessories...at least, they always did for me.
But lets ignore the price for a moment and think of all the cool things you could do with this tech...it's awesome! Inventory management, speed tracking, time tracking, virtual modeling, importing into other digital products...it's pretty endless and very cool, and that should come at a price, but I just don't know.
Hell, I rarely buy the $5 collector lines as it is, let along dropping more than that...just for a car that will track stats? Meh. And right now, I'll buy my kid car at the drop of a hat when pass by the pegs at the store. No way that'll happen with $7 cars.
Although I think part of the key to success will be spreading this tech out to tons of cars. If this becomes a "few dozen" type of release then it won't work. From the looks of things, they'll start putting this into lots of cars, rivalling the tech-free mainline. And, hopefully, (in theory) the price point should go down over time and before long these tech cars will be under $5, if not $1 at the end of the day.
One other thing that I hope Mattel takes advantage of with this tech is spreading it out beyond the core kid demographic. As the tech gets cheaper and gets integrated into all the cars (hopefully), there are countless ways that tech can serve the collector, the racer, the modder, the seller, and everyone in between. This has potential to unlock a lot.
Years ago I wrote about a hobby tracking app that was essentially crowdsourced and the data quality was...less than stellar. The information it had was fine but the experience was poor. Mattel has the chance to wrap all that up into a nice bow and I hope they do.
So it's too early to say, really, and I don't want to shit on all of this before I get a crack at them, but the sticker shock is a big first hurdle here. If nothing else, you're asking people to shift from $1 cars to $7 cars...that's quiet an ask. I'm trying to take out my feelings of too much tech in toys, and just one more thing you need your phone for...but it's hard. Play shouldn't be complicated regardless of age. New tech can be a lot of fun but it can also muddy waters that were pretty clear to start with. But business is business.
Needless to say, as you folks get your hands on these Hot Wheels iD cars and playsets, please share your experiences and let us know how things to.