91jsjscw5pl-_sl1500_As a kid who grew up with slot cars, seeing the resurgence of scale automotive racing combined with the newest technology has been heartwarming. Last year Anki Overdrive showed what could be done with the latest bells and whistles, but their sets were pricey and require a smartphone or tablet to operate (one for each car).

This pick for the 2016 PopCult Gift Guide finds Mattel meeting the challenge head-on with a Hot Wheels-branded set that comes with dedicated controllers, has extra features and costs under a hundred bucks–less than half of what the Anki Overdrive starter kit sells for. If you have a kid on your holiday shopping list who loves racing, but isn’t old enough to drive, this is the way to go.

Hot Wheels A.i. uses computer enhanced Artificial Intelligence to help guide your car around the track. But watch out! The A.i. also controls rival racers who will stop at nothing to overtake you and speed to victory. Use your driving skills and launch virtual hazards, like oil spills and tire blowouts, to be the ultimate Hot Wheels champion. You can even race off-track with the standalone freeplay mode.

giftguide-graphic-smallHot Wheels Ai features Smart Car technology, with sensors on the bottom of each vehicle that read the lines of the Hot Wheels Ai Smart Track. Together, this technology will make sure your car stays on track and in the race. But be careful, as you increase the skill level from beginner to advanced to expert, the track assist decreases as the speed increases. Master control of your Smart Car to become Hot Wheels Ai champion.

Hot Wheels Ai Smart Track is made from a durable vinyl material. The track is designed to be thin and flexible to create a smooth, road-like surface. The matte surface of the track enables the Smart Track to interact with the Hot Wheels Ai Smart Car.

This is one of those toys that makes your PopCulteer wish he was still a kid, or had more room, or had a kid that he could say he was getting this for but really gets it to play with himself. Available wherever toys are sold, and as the holiday approaches, the prices keep dropping. The suggested retail price is $99, but I’ve seen it as low as $65.