Photographer Willy Stylist Alphonse

Start your engines, Hot Wheels is going high tech.

Hot Wheels AI, from Mattel, features a set of smart cars, two controllers, and 20 pieces of smart track, giving kids everything they need to race right out of the box (all you need to add is about a dozen batteries). The cars quickly connect to the controllers and are ready for play within seconds.

The controllers will guide kids through the race, featuring an announcer’s voice that lead kids through the set up step by step. Kids can choose from three play modes: RC, championship, or practice. In RC mode, kids can drive completely off-track, just like any other RC car. They have full control of the trigger—which moves the car forward and backward—and the throttle, which moves the car from side to side.

In practice mode, kids can test their skills on the track, and the controller will call out their lap speeds as they cruise along the course. This mode is great for kids to play solo and get a handle on how the controls work before their next big race.

Finally, in championship mode, kids can go head-to-head in a high-octane race. The controllers keep track of kids’ times, places, and laps. If and when kids veer off the track, they’ll hear the announcer shout “WHOA!” until they get back on course. If they need a tune up mid-race, they can even pull over to the designated area for a pit stop.


Kids can completely customize their entire race experience, choosing between three levels of difficulty, deciding how many laps they want their race to last, and rearranging the track for new courses every time they play. The included manual will kick off the fun with a few track suggestions, but kids can rearrange the track in up to 40 different ways for a fresh course every time they play.

The track pieces are made of sturdy paper with traction on top. It’s easy to assemble thanks to slide-in tabs, but be careful when taking the pieces apart—they can rip if they are not handled with care. The arrows on the edges of the track make sure kids know which way to place each piece. Kids can even combine more pieces of track from additional Hot Wheels A.i. sets, or add in up to two additional cars for a four-person race.

When kids race on the beginner level, the cars will remain on the track with very little effort and cruise at a manageable speed. As the difficulty level increases, the cars will speed up and kids will have more control over the cars’ path. It will certainly take some time to build up to the advanced level, and kids will build hand-eye coordination as they practice.

Hot Wheels A.i. has a ton of play value and brings a new play pattern to a classic brand families have trusted for decades. Hot Wheels A.i. will be a great hero gift for any Hot Wheels fan, whether he or she is 8 or 88. The racing is easy enough for kids, or complex enough for adults when the difficulty level is cranked up. Combining the latest tech with stylized metallic cars, Hot Wheels A.i. will rev up RC racing this year.

About the author

Marissa Silva

Marissa Silva

Marissa Silva, AKA That Toy Girl, is the editor-in-chief at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider. With more than a decade of experience in the toy industry, Marissa is a trusted toy expert, providing parents, gift-givers, retailers, manufacturers, and licensors with information on the latest news related to toys, games, kids’ products, pop culture collectibles, and licensed merchandise for adults. A board game pro and puzzle queen, Marissa spends most of her free time shopping for superhero T-shirts, dominating at Mario Kart, and anxiously awaiting her Hogwarts acceptance letter. She is also a new mom to her baby girl Lucy Jo and has quickly become an expert in high-contrast cards, wooden toys, and plush. Marissa has been featured on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, the Tamron Hall Show, Access Hollywood, Fox & Friends, ABC World News Now, MSNBC, CBS, NY1, WPIX, and more. You can follow her on Instagram @thattoygirl.