At last, roads designed for Hot Wheels
Like millions of other children, Andy Musliner’s sons collected and played with Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars.
And like so many parents, Musliner often would be on the floor with his boys, driving those cars around in circles.
“It dawned on me: Where are the roads?” Musliner wondered.
Since Musliner had a real job, “that idea sat in the back of my head,” said the man who — his sons now grown and off to college and careers — left his 30-year career in information technology to launch InRoad Toys, the Crofton, Maryland-based creator of PlayTape, a flexible and reusable adhesive that looks like a roadway for toy cars.
PlayTape comes in various widths and colors. It also sells pre-cut curves to simplify road-building play. Some roads and curves carry the Hot Wheels brand and logo. Some have the look of a muddy off-road track. There’s even a line that looks like train track and is designed for use with Thomas & Friends toy train sets.
PlayTape is “fun that sticks.” But while it sticks to various surfaces, it leaves no residue when removed, and thus can be considered mom-approved.
I recently took samples to one of my daughter’s houses. I’m not sure she was happy with me putting tape on the tile floor, but before long she and my son-in-law were building roads and playing right along with their three children and me. At one point, the parents were turning cardboard boxes into tunnels and using an angled gymnastics mat as a gigantic downhill ramp.
Working on prototypes, Musliner discovered how hard it is to produce an adhesive that left no residue. Initial batches were produced in Connecticut by a company that was acquired earlier this year by Shurtape Technologies of Hickory, North Carolina. The company makes the FrogTape, T-Rex, Duck and Painter’s Mate Green tape lines.
InRoad Toys’ PlayTape has won a variety of awards, including best toy honors from Parents Magazine, and last year was a finalist for Toy of the Year from the Toy Industry Association, which Musliner said was like being nominated for an Oscar.
PlayTape is sold in 35 countries and is available in toy departments and O’Reilly Auto Parts stores. For information, visit the inroadtoys.com website.
Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.