The Sizzlers were a 1970s Hot Wheels spin off with a built-in motor and a tiny rechargeable battery. (The X-V
racers of the 90s were similar.) The cars were designed by George Soulakis. They were introduced in 1970 and became an instant smash. Sizzlers run on the regular "orange" Hot Wheels track, and Mattel created special race sets with U-Turns, multi-level spirals and loops to take advantage of the cars' electric motor. Two lane race sets such as the California/8 race set were developed that allowed Sizzlers to race side-by side, until Mattel created the black Fat Track, which is three lanes wide, with steep banked curves, and designed to allow Sizzlers to run free. In action, Sizzlers display a unique, competitive "passing action" when running on the Fat Track, as if each car were piloted by an impatient driver trying to jockey ahead of the rest. The Fat Track sets included the "Big O", "California 500", and Super Circuit" race sets, and accessories such as the "Scramble Start" (a four-car starting gate), "Lap Computer" four car lap counter, and "Race-Timer" stop watch
Six cars were made in 1970, 12 cars were made in 1971, and 4 cars were made in 1972. The "Fat Daddy" Sizzlers (oversized bodies with huge tires) were introduced in 1973. Mattel put the Sizzlers on a hiatus after that year, and in 1976 they created Sizzlers II. That next year, the Night Ridin' Sizzlers (which had headlights you could turn on or off) were created. Because of faded popularity (because of perhaps poor marketing, Mattel permanently stopped Sizzlers production in 1978.
Sizzlers were (and are) charged with four or two D battery chargers called the Juice Machine and Goose Pump respectively. Later, the Power Pit was introduced—which was an electric charger that plugged into any household AC outlet and resembled a race track garage or pit stop. A 90-second charge of the tiny internal NiCad battery gives up to five minutes of frenetic run time. It has been said that the 90-second charge time was "the longest minute and a half in a kid's life" as they waited impatiently for the car to charge sufficiently to get back into the race.
The Sizzler electric technology spun off into the Hotline Trains, which ran on track similar to regular Hot Wheels, and the Earthshakers construction vehicles. Both lines of vehicles were charged using the Sizzler Juice Machine or Power Pit.
In the 1990s, toy company Playing Mantis re-released Sizzlers in NASCAR stock car models and reproduced the Fat Track as the "Stocker 400" and "Mach 500" track sets. The Juice machine was renamed the "Mega-Charger" and incorporated a more efficient "trickle charge" rather than the "dump charge" of the original machines. Interest in the Sizzlers line began to increase once again. They were taken off the market after Mattel filed a lawsuit against Playing Mantis. However, Sizzlers returned again in 2006, when Mattel struck an exclusive deal with Target stores to re-release Sizzlers cars, the "Big O" Fat track, Juice Machine and car carrying case—all in the original packaging from the 1970s. As of January 2009, the Sizzlers line has been discontinued by Target.