Scott's Toy Art
Page 3 of 4

Page 1 of 4 / Page 2 of 4 / Page 4 of 4

This section covers the "12 Wheel Drive R/C Car," the "Hot Wheels Tune Up Tower" ," the "Star Wars X-Wing Fighter Space Port," and "Matchbox Big Rig Racing."

Contact Scott HERE.

"12 Wheel Drive R/C Car"

The Tyco R&D Group was always getting submissions from outside inventors and this one was really cool. The inventor (I never knew who the inventor was) came up with a functional 12-wheel drive chassis. I don't recall if it was radio controlled or just battery operated. I was asked to render three body designs using the 12-WD chassis.

The Pickup Truck had the standard fare of roll bars, zoomy headers, and a big supercharged engine. The Camaro-like car was wearing it's roll bars outside and around the car. Usually cars have their roll bars "inside" the car, but I thought this would be an interesting visual point of difference. Tyco had a very successful radio control line of sports cars and trucks. The Honda NSX was very hot back then, so I was asked to include the NSX version so that when someone in marketing would say, "That's cool, but what about our sports car following?" Then we had it covered.

Unfortunately, the chassis cost would have been outrageously expensive and probably prone to beakage. Tyco was getting clobbered at the time on returns of their $200 R/C Airplane, so they were a little sensitive on the breakage issue.

Hot Wheels "Tune Up Tower" Playset

I think it is a "rite of passage" for every designer at Tyco and Mattel to design push-around play sets, such as car washes, parking garages, firehouses, and tune-up centers. I did dozens of pencil layouts for such items.

This particular item was very unusual for those of us working in Mattel Mt. Laurel (formerly Tyco Toys before the '97 buyout by Mattel) because we only worked on Match Box, Tyco RC, and Tyco Electric Racing product lines. "Hot Wheels" was exclusively designed in the El Sugundo, California home office.

Somehow or another, probably because I had done so many, I was given the assignment to make a Tune-Up Center playset. It was going to be the high-end price point so it had to be: tall, very decorated, numerous stations where things can be done to the car, and then launched out on to the Hot Wheels track.

I have no idea what became of this design. It's not uncommon for numerous designs to be considered before making the final decision. They are also challenging to cost and then design within cost parameters. It's easy to just add everything, including the kitchen sink. It can be very challenging to design big WOW features within tight cost.

Star Wars "X-Wing Fighter Space Port"

In 1997 the entertainment trade publications were all over the announcement that there was going to be three new Star Wars films produced by George Lucus. In November of '97 it was announced that Tyco Toys was being bought out by Mattel Toys. We were all stunned. The director of the Tyco "Preliminary Concepts & Design," Ernie Baker came up with a plan that saved a lot of jobs.

Since no one had a clue what the hardware would look like for the new Star Wars films, we would make a full line of Star Wars product using existing characters and hardware. We designed a full line of price points and multiple designs for each price point. We went at the project as if we were working with the new film's hardware and characters. Presentation boards and working models were also built.

My part of the project was the "X-Wing Fighter Diagnostic, Maintenance, and Refueling Station" at the left. The X-Wing had a docking port with an overhead boom for changing engines and other changeable components. The X-Wing had lights and sound. Several of the accessory pieces also had lights and sound. The diagnostic unit had lights and recorded sound saying things such as, "Begin diagnostics check now." "All systems cleared and ready to go."

To build the model I kit-bashed a model of the X-Wing and built everything around the model. I had to make a battery box inside the model and wire in all of the lights and sound chip from another toy. The base and the overhead boom were made from styrene sheet plastic. Some of the small accessory items were taken from other toys or kits. The diagnostic box was made from sheet styrene, fitted with a battery box and sounds made using several Yack Back toys - one for each sound.

And everything had to be painted, detailed, decorated, and most importantly, functional. I used to build highly detailed model cars when I was a teenager, so I wasn't a stranger to building small things. But this was the first and only time I did any kind of model making in my toy design career.

The net result was that the director of Boys Toys in the Mattel home office was so impressed with what the Preliminary Concepts & Design Group had done, that they decided to let all of the Matchbox, Tyco R/C, and Tyco Electric Racing stay in Mt. Laurel since we were more than capable of continuing to do what we had been doing for years - design and develop toys for boys. So Ernie Baker's gamble won out for about 150 of us in the Mt. Laurel office.

Matchbox "Big Rig Racing"

We were always looking for new series for the Matchbox line. One of the cool parts about the Preliminary Concepts & Design Group was that if any of us came up with an idea for a toy, we were to sketch it up and present it to the group in our regular meetings. Our office was right next to Rt. 295 in New Jersey. I spent many lunch hours looking out the window at all of the big rigs driving on the road.

Since kids love BIG machines I thought, "What if instead of different kinds of car racing (drag, stock car, road racing, etc) there were different kinds of racing for big rig trucks. BIG, high speed racing rigs!

The yellow rig on the top left is an Unlimited Class maximum speed kind of class - anything goes kinds of rigs.

The blue and red rigs in the middle-left are a stock car-like class that uses production big rigs (Mack, Kenworth, International, etc), adds spoilers, extra tires, extra engines, and goes racing against one another.

The blue, red, and purple rigs are drag racing rigs. The blue rig is a "Funny Rig" using a fiberglass rig replica body, zoomy headers, dual rear tires and a big rear wing. The red rig is a Jet Rig with an aerodynamic nose. The purple and yellow rig is a Top Fuel rig that uses a supercharged big rig engine and duel rear tires.

This was a little too far out of the box for Matchbox.

Page 1 of 4 / Page 2 of 4 / Page 4 of 4

To return to the main page, CLICK HERE.

To return to the main page of Scott Teeters' Automotive Art section, CLICK HERE.

Free Spirit Enterprises, LLC / Medford, NJ / 609-714-0261 / E-Mail:

The website address is: