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Home  >>  Reviews  >>  Track Sets

Mattel HO Speed Racer Set

Published: May 16, 2008

Mattel HO Speed Racer Set

by Paul Shoemaker

“Here he comes, Here comes Speed Racer, He’s a demon on wheels”.... Yes, you actually will catch yourself playing the theme song in your head when you get the cars going in this set! The Summer blockbusters are here, along with all the merchandise to buy, right along with them. You can’t escape Speed Racer marketing, from cereal boxes, to clothes, to toys and even to slot car sets. Mattel and Carrera (1/32nd scale) have signed on to bring us the famous Mach 5 (Speed) and Shooting Star (Racer X) race cars. We will be taking a look at the Mattel offering. could not find the set at any of the local stores, but was able to order one from Amazon ($24.99 USD + shipping). Now there are two sets being offered by Mattel. The first and reviewed here, is the small figure 8, battery powered set. There is also a more conventional electric set (wall plug) but it has different cars that are more stylized and less accurate than the set being reviewed here. I chose this set strictly for the cars and their appearance.

So What do you get???

Here’s what comes in the box:
1.) 6 - 9 inch radius 1/4 curves
2.) 1 - 15 inch straight squeeze track
3.) 1 - 9 inch straight terminal track
4.) 1 - 6 inch straight track
5.) 2 - Controllers (75 Ohm)
6.) 1 - Battery Pack (4 “D” size batteries required)
7.) 1 - Mach 5 X-2 Pan Chassis Slot Car
8.) 1 - Shooting Star X-2 Pan Chassis Slot Car
9.) 1 - Building/Skyline Backdrop
10.) 2 - Track Suppports
11.) 8 - Red Guard Rails

The Track -

The track is standard Tyco/Mattel black track. The connections are slightly different than the original Tyco. This is a small beginers set and you are limited to a small oval or the figure 8. There’s a cardboard skyline that clips on to the track to give you some scenery and enough guard rails to help keep you on the track.

And Now the Cars -

Mattel has done a decent job of capturing the lines of Speed’ s car, the Mach 5. The distinct 3 points that make up the front end look just right. The car is modeled on the new movie version, so there are no long tailfins like in the original cartoon, just two stubs that rake back behind the rear wheel wells. One big down side to the Mach 5, is the width of the body. It doesn’t come close to fitting through a 1 5/16th tech block, which leaves very little (read none!) room for passing.

The Shooting Star is also very well done and in the correct proportions. Like the Mach 5, it is modeled after the movie version of the car, but looks more like the cartoon version than the Mach 5. It’s a slight bit narrower than the Mach 5, but it also will not fit through the tech block. I’m guessing this was done to create a little bumping action on the track while you raced.

Both cars include an interior and driver. The one thing I did not like was the solid, molded- in wind screens, painted grey. The Hotwheels cars came with separate clear glass, so why didn’t Mattel keep the detail here? I’m certain it was a cost cutting measure, but the clear glass would have made the appearance all the nicer.

Both cars are a wee-bit wide for the tech block. This will make passing a definite fender rubbing event!

The chassis are the venerable Pan-style X-2 design. They are designed for low amp battery power. The armatures Ohm out at just 4.1 and 4.3 per car. They will work on 18 volts, but I would not run them in any marathon sessions under that power as they would likely burn up.

One word of warning: I noticed that Mattel has a strange material for tires that I first noticed on the “Cars” race set. DO NOT leave these tires touching any type of ABS based plastic, like the track, for any long duration! The material will melt the ABS plastic. I have 4 lovely ruts on top of my parts bin where I set the chassis from the “Cars” set. The Speed Racer cars have the standard X-2 wheels, but are equipped with the same tire material on the earlier “Cars” chassis.

A few views of the cars: The Mach 5 and the Shooting Star.

If you were ever a fan of the old cartoon series (dare I say Anime???), you’ll have to have the set. If you are new to the world of Speed and Racer X, these will draw you in deeper! I wish they were just a bit more narrow and that Mattel would abandon the acid-like tire material. Mattel has the entire history of Tyco to build on. The chassis is of sound design, even by today’s standards. It would be nice to see them re-enter the hobby/sport of the slot car market and not focus so much on the toy market. It would be interesting if they were to spin that off into it’s own division and see a revival of the Tyco product line. Can I daydream or what? Overall, this set is squarely aimed at the younger toy-focused crowd and that of the collector, but the price is right and the cars do look good!
Go Speed Racer Go!!!

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