Hot Wheels 50th anniversary Boneshaker.
Johannesburg - There's something special about a young boy playing with a toy car that his father played with, especially when it’s a toy car that his grandfather also played with.

This is just one of several reasons Hot Wheels is so special: the popular die-cast vehicles and track systems have been exhilarating and challenging kids worldwide for more than three generations.

Today Hot Wheels is still one of the (ahem) hottest selling toys in the world and this year, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the brand is going into overdrive with a campaign designed to celebrate five decades of pushing the limits of performance and design.

At the starting line are specific 50th anniversary products including: a Black & Gold Themed Assortment, Zamac Themed Assortment, a Premium Collector Favourites Assortment and a special 5 Pack - as well as distinctive 50th anniversary branding on all 2018 products in the track set range.

The brand is also introducing Hot Wheels City, a system of play, compatible with the others, that allows kids aged 3 to 6 to build a Hot Wheels world. Parents can expect an infusion of stunting, jumping and looping with imagination and storytelling.

The very first Hot Wheels model to be released in 1968 was the Custom Camaro in Spectraflame Blue

Over six billion Hot Wheels have been produced since 1968, with more than 130 new car designs released each year in more than 150 countries. That’s 16.5 Hot Wheels produced per second, across 20 000 variations.

Having partnered with almost every auto manufacturer in the world, the brand is licensed to create scale models of many full-size cars, including the use of original design blueprints and detailing. It also has segments in digital, automobile parts, licensed apparel, merchandise, live events, Guinness World Records and video gaming, where Hot Wheels cars are featured in some of the biggest games in the industry, including Forza, Need for Speed and Rocket League.

But where did Hot Wheels come from? It emerged, as many legends do, from a challenge.

In 1968 Elliot Handler, US inventor, businessman, and co-founder of Mattel, dared his design team - a rocket scientist and a car engineer - to create a toy car that was cooler and performed better than anything else on the market, so that young boys could experience the thrill of hot rod culture. When Handler saw the first trackable toy car, with its custom design and eye-catching paint job zipping across the floor, he said: “Those are some hot wheels!”

The brand has also become popular with adult collectors, for whom limited-edition models have been made available over the past 15 years. The average collector owns more than 1550 cars.