Hot Wheels Creator Dies at 95

By Trevor Dorchies | July 25, 2011
Elliot Handler, the man responsible for creating the wildly popular Hot Wheels die-cast toy cars and co-founder of the Mattel Toy Company, died of heart failure last Thursday at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 95. Since the late 1960s, young boys have had Hot Wheels spilling out of their stockings on Christmas morning. The Hot Wheels line started in 1967, when Mattel introduced a dark blue custom Camaro. Mattel called on designers from General Motors and other auto makers to help design wheels that could spin at blistering speeds. Since that Camaro first hit the shelves, 10,000 Hot Wheels models have been produced, including "King Kuda," and some personal favorites such as "Evil Weevil," "80's Firebird," and "Fangster." Handler started Mattel in 1945 with his wife Ruth. She ran the business side while Elliot took care of designing toys. Handler struck gold early on when he caught the attention of the masses at the New York toy fair with one of his first creations: a tiny, realistic-looking piano. It was so well received that stores ordered more than 300,000 of them, but Handler underestimated the cost and wound up losing about a dime for each piano sold.
Even though the little pianos sold well, Handler's miscalculation put him in debt. A music arranger later approached him with an idea of making small music boxes at a cheap price in the U.S. Handler decided to put the small music boxes into jack-in-the-boxes and other dolls, which became enormously popular, earning Handler millions. Handler built on his success with other popular toys. Perhaps most famous is Barbie, which he named after his daughter. The statuesque blonde went on to become the world's most popular doll, and was shortly joined by Ken, named after Handler's son. Handler also had his hand in the design of the equally iconic – and immensely annoying – Chatty Cathy doll. He's survived by his daughter, brother and five grandchildren. Do you have a favorite Hot Wheel? Tell us below in the comment section. Source: The New York Times