Hey, kids! Meet the new Hot Wheels Mars rover!
The landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars is now only days away – on February 18, 2021 – and the toy-making company Mattel is helping celebrate! The creator of the very popular Hot Wheels series is releasing a new die-cast scale model – the Hot Wheels Mars Perseverance Rover, inspired by the real-life rover – to mark the occasion of its landing.
The new Hot Wheels model, a detailed replica of Perseverance at 1:64 scale (about 3 inches or 8 cm long), is part of a new space-themed mini-collection, the first in over 20 years. It is intended for children three years and older, and will sell for a suggested retail price of $1.09 USD. We haven’t found a place to purchase the new Hot Wheels rover online yet, but it’s supposed to have been available in stores since late January. Try searching for “Hot Wheels retailers near me.”
Manson Cheung, staff sculptor and lead 3D modeler for Mattel Hot Wheels, said in a post at CollectSpace.com:
We want the car to be out there so kids have it in their hands when the actual rover lands in February. We want kids to be like, ‘Oh, I have the rover in my hand and I can see it on Mars,’ so there is a connection for the kids, not only with Hot Wheels, but space as well.
According to Mattel’s press release:
Space exploration fans and Hot Wheels enthusiasts of all ages can reenact the captivating journey of NASA’s Perseverance Rover as it studies the Martian landscape and seeks signs of ancient microbial life, collecting samples over the next year.
The Hot Wheels Mars Perseverance Rover pays homage to the cutting-edge instruments and technologies that will help pave the way for human missions to Mars, studying critical data about Mars’ geology and climate and eventually sending Martian samples back to Earth.
Hot Wheels and NASA have a partnership that goes back more than 30 years, which started in the mid-1980s. The first NASA model made by Hot Wheels was the Sojourner Mars Rover in 1996, part of the company’s Action Packs at the time. After that came the Apollo Mission (1998), the Galileo Mission (1999), John Glenn (1999) and JPL Returns to Mars (1999).
Design teams from Hot Wheels get to go on tours at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to see the actual spacecraft before they are launched.
Due to much current interest in space exploration among both kids and the general public, Hot Wheels has brought back the Space mini-collection for 2021. Needless to say, the Perseverance rover is a perfect addition to that collection.
Scott Shaffstall, senior public relations manager for vehicles, action figures and licenses at Mattel, added:
NASA’s Perseverance rover, just in its name, goes hand-in-hand with Hot Wheels’ spirt of ‘Challenge Accepted.’ It’s very much tied that vision of try, fail, repeat until it is done right.
So in our mind, this mission is already a success as it is moving the needle and getting us one step closer to Mars.
The space mini-collection was brought back in 2021 due to the increased interest from kids and the general public in regards to space exploration. The rover was an obvious fit and we knew that it would be touching down on Mars.
Perseverance is scheduled to land in Jezero Crater on Mars on February 18. Its primary mission is to search for evidence of ancient microbial life. Design-wise, the rover is very similar to the Curiosity rover, currently in Gale Crater, but has some different science instruments. While Curiosity focuses on finding evidence of past habitability, which it has done, Perseverance is looking for direct evidence of life itself. This will be the first mission since the Viking 1 and 2 landers in the late 1970s/early 1980s to do so.
Jezero Crater used to be a lake a few billion years ago, and contains rich sediments and clays that could possibly hold clues to microbial life, if any ever existed there. The rover will land near an ancient river delta inside the crater, still clearly visible, where a river once emptied into the lake. Jezero Crater is, therefore, a prime location for the search for Martian life.
Perseverance even has a companion, a small drone-like helicopter called Ingenuity that will attempt to be the first aircraft ever flown on Mars. It will fly ahead of the rover, looking for good places for Perseverance to stop and do analysis and sample collection of rocks and soil. The rover’s onboard laboratory can do substantial analysis itself, but some samples will also be stored for later return to Earth by another mission. Labs on Earth can then do much more detailed study of the samples in the search for evidence of past life.
Mattel also made a similar toy replica of the still-active Curiosity rover in 2012.
Bottom line: Mattel, the popular Hot Wheels toy maker, has just released a new Hot Wheels Mars Perseverance Rover to help NASA celebrate the landing of its Perseverance rover on Mars on February 18.