Elliot Handler, co-founder of toy company Mattel and the brains behind the most popular die cast toy car brand, died of a heart failure last July 21 at the age of 95, according to The New York Times.
Handler started Hot Wheels in 1968 as Mattel's answer to the then-popular Matchbox brand of die cast toy cars, with the name coming from Handler's comment after seeing designer Harry Bradley's custom Chevrolet El Camino in the Mattel parking lot.
Although Mattel only had 16 models when it first started producing toy cars, they quickly became a hit as the cars were customized versions of production automobiles, which were popular at that time.
Hot Wheels is also known for its orange plastic track that could be assembled to make the cars jump or run through a 360-degree loop.
By 1996, Mattel had acquired the Matchbox brand from its then-owner, Tyco Toys, putting the two competitors under one corporate banner but continuing to produce their respective products.
Today, Hot Wheels is not just a toy for kids as adults are now known to collect the vehicles as well.
Handler's death came just nearly two months after Hot Wheels constructed a life-size version of the toy brand's popular orange track and jumped a four-wheel vehicle 332 feet through the air to set a world record at the 2011 staging of the Indianapolis 500.
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