Adults Try Power Wheels On For Size
photo from Power Racing Series website
In the mid 80s, toy company Kransco debuted Power Wheels, a series of ride-on replica cars and trucks for kids. The expensive battery-powered motorized vehicles were a hit with kids almost immediately, with sales reaching a million/year by 1990. I can think of some real car companies that would love those sorts of sales.
Eventually Mattel bought the line, and soon after we had Barbie and Hot Wheels tie-ins that have kept the line going for so long. Newer models have refinements such as FM radios, doors, power lock brakes... can an iPod dock be far behind?
Since Power Wheels have been around for a frankly astonishing thirty years, there are plenty of adults now who grew up with the toys themselves. A healthy hacking community has grown up around the all-plastic vehicles. Simple fixes like upgrading the rechargable battery, swapping out the original motor for a stronger one from a cordness drill, to complete retrofits. Then there's the next logical step... grown-ass men racing these little pink plastic cars.
The video clip here documents an annual event - Extreme Barbie Jeep Racing. This is among the easiest "hacks" - simply pull out the drive train, and freewheel down a muddy hill. This clip is a couple of years old, but is no less hilarious. The sheer number of times drivers lose a blow-molded plastic wheel (and it's not that big of a deal) gets a bellow out of me every time.
Then there are more serious hackers who replace every part of the vehicle, essentially using the outer shell. The guys at Make Labs esentially built a little metal framed car that you simply drop the plastic shell over. Fun, I suppose... but I think it flies in the face of the insanity of an adult driving the little plastic car. Plus theirs is built a little too well to throw a wheel - and what fun is that?