Friday, May 18 2018 09:39

Hot Wheels at 50: The Sto & Go Playset is Timeless Vintage Fun!

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The first in a series of features from The Rock Father™ celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels.

Since the launch of Mattel's Hot Wheels back in 1968, there have been hundreds (perhaps thousands) of playsets released, each providing an environment for generations of children to enjoy countless hours of high-octane imaginative play. At the center of that, the ever-updated range of garages has always been the pinnacle (we love our Ultimate Garage), but those were seldom portable - which is where the Sto & Go collection came in. Launched in 1979, the Hot Wheels Sto & Go Playsets perfectly reflected their name, packing big fun into a set that could quickly be flipped into a briefcase form that's ready to go wherever the family might be headed. Perhaps the most famous of the sets is the one that I had - the Hot Wheels Sto & Go Service Center, but there were several others, including the Sto & Go City, Construction Site, Car Wash & Service Station and lesser-known versions like the "Trucks & Trains" Railroad Freight Yard, Alpine Mountain Adventure military-themed "Action Command" Sto & Go Base. The line ran into the 90s before going dormant for a bit, but in 2016 it returned as part of the Hot Wheels Retro Style Series. Available exclusively at Target, the modern Hot Wheels Sto & Go Playset is not a direct copy of any of the vintage sets, but rather inspired by the best features of what came before it - largely pulling from the Service Center and City Sets. Check out the music video below to see this set in-action!

With working lifts and cool ramps, there's a lot of action to be had. Plus there's gas pumps, parking, two single-car garages, pop-up buildings and the ability to connect the Sto & Go Playset to the iconic Orange Track to extend the fun and build out your own world. When you're done, simply fold it closed and lock the tabs and carry it away! Now, if you've been following our adventures for a bit, you may already know that our family is big into Hot Wheels. In fact, our youngest daughter, Finley, has "The Rock Daughter™ Edition" Hot Wheels Bed - a two-of-a-kind creation that she helped design in collaboration with Mattel and The Step2 Company a few years back. She's VERY proud of her collection (one that dwarfs what I had as a kid, and my wife may not share the enthusiasm in quantity) and loves to show off pieces of it, so I thought it would be fun to duplicate a picture that my mom took of me back in early 1980-something. 

Finley of The Rock Daughters with her Hot Wheels Sto & Go Playset

A fun fact is that somewhere in the midst of Finley's picture are two of my actual childhood Hot Wheels (only a few still remain), both well-played-with. I'll give you a clue as to what they are in that one of them has rubber "Real Riders" tires. Also in the mix is Finn's favorite Hot Wheels ride - one that she has always called her "Winning Race Car" (more on that later). As for me, here's that picture my mom snapped back in the day...

The Rock Father with his Hot Wheels Sto & Go Playset

I didn't have as many cars as my daughters do, but what's even more impressive is that The Rock Daughters™ have a fleet of vehicles far more expansive than what we could fit on the kitchen table. One day I expect that they'll pass the excitement down to their own kids as well as Hot Wheels blazes the track into its second half-century with eyes on its 100th Anniversary in 2068.

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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