Spotted: Atari Hot Wheels, at a local discount store near you.

Sometimes video games and toys make a bizarre combination. Over the years I’ve found a bunch of unusual crossovers of varying quality. But who knew that Atari, a brand basically running on fumes and nostalgia grabs, and Hot Wheels, a toy brand that became less about real cars and more about weird abominations, would join forces to make a nostalgic car collection that came out this year, of all things? I didn’t know until a friend of mine mentioned these to me.

Poor Centipede, getting stuck with such a janky toy car to be represented by.

I was tipped off to these from a friend at Hardcore Gaming 101, who found one of these at a Bi-Mart. Ah Bi-Mart, that podunk little chain of discount club stores based in the Pacific Northwest. Bi-Mart gives me that old-school vibe that reminds me of a supermarket that’s stuck in 1987. I even remember the TV commercials which looked so low budget you’d think they were made for public access. They’re still around, still shilling discounts much akin to your Big Lots or Grocery Outlet stores today.

These are a set of six Hot Wheels cars based on famed Atari franchises. The cars are based on old cars, and have decals that resemble the game’s graphics or the game’s cover art, where available.

True facts: I’d totally drive a truck painted like the Pong car is here.

The cars are the following:

  • A ’55 Chevy Panel, based on Tempest
  • A custom ’52 Chevy, based on Pong
  • A car from the “Fast Gassin” line, based on Missile Command
  • A car from the “Cool-One” line, based on Centipede
  • A ’49 Ford C.O.E., based on Breakout
  • and finally a GMC Motorhome, based on the Atari 2600.

The car choices are absolutely bizarre, either they’re based on vehicles from the ’50s or unusual branded Hot Wheels. More suitable choices would have been stuff like the AMC Pacer or the Chevy Impala, stuff from the same time period as the games being featured. I do love the choice for the 2600, it just screams 70s thanks to that faux wood paneling that was pretty popular back then.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge toy collector, and that includes toy cars. Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars were meant to be played with, not collected. I’d play with these cars in the backyard with a dirty, worn out car playset that a neighbor had. At least, that’s how it was for me when I was younger.

Though, it’s amusing to see Atari back these, as they struggle to stay relevant in the modern age. Judging how these are all based on whatever old brands and franchises from the ’70s that they still own, it just feels low effort.

This isn’t even the first time Hot Wheels has made video game cars, Sega joined forces with Hot Wheels back in 2003 to advertise then-recent Sega games. I’m missing two of those as of this writing, which I’ll hopefully complete.

Update: I later would complete the collection! Check out the blog post for the Sega Hot Wheels here.

The best part is that I paid $2 for all six, giving me $12 for silly video game cars. Thanks Bi-Mart! You are useful when I want silly junk at rock-bottom prices. I had a tub full of unopened Hot Wheels from about ten years ago, but their resale value is pretty much next-to-nil, so I’m holding onto these in some vague hope I can break even someday. But then again, would anyone besides diehard Atari nuts or Hot Wheels collectors even want these? I’m not even sure, myself.

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B.J. Brown

B.J. Brown is the creator and sole writer on You Found a Secret Area. Casually writing since 2010, Fascinated by dumb things like game shows, music, and of course, video games. Also on Twitter. You can support their work on Ko-Fi or Patreon.

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1 Response

  1. May 25, 2020

    […] Atari Hot Wheels, a time where a discount store was beneficial for finding toy cars for a brand that should’ve […]

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