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Remembering the “Sonic Sound” and performance of Kenner’s SSP Racers

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Still image from video below.

If you were a kid in the 1970s, watching the following vintage SSP Racers commercials will instantly have you revisiting your childhood, but be warned, the jingle from the Smash-Up Derby ad will be stuck in your head for days afterward.

SSP cars provided hours of entertainment, from ripping the T-Handle Power Stick and hearing that whine to watching the car speed across the room or down the sidewalk, bouncing off inanimate objects along the way. I got my green Can Am racer for Christmas, but now that I’m looking at these commercials, I wish it had been a “Super Stocker” Super Bird… and I wish I’d kept it!

If you recall, SSP stood for Super Sonic Power via the “revolutionary new gyro system.”  That meant SSP Racers didn’t need batteries or a track, which likely made them just as parent friendly as they were kid friendly. That is until it they started bouncing off of the baseboards and furniture legs, then some parents made them “outside toys.” I recall these SSPs being exceptionally quick for their day. Kenner ads claimed “up to 400 scale MPH,” and some even said “up to 800 scale MPH.” When they hit something it, was pretty hard.

It seems that Kenner knew this as well, so for younger children there were SSP Mini Racers and Pee Wees that were smaller and slower, and their T-Handle Power Stick required less effort to use. Conversely, the company further exploited the power of the full-size SSPs and their impact capability by creating the Smash-Up Derby Sets with various cars and trucks. What could excite kids more than making cars that went fast and blew off many of their parts on impact? And then they were easily reassembled, so they could do it all over again…genius.

As you can see in the commercials, there were quite a few vehicle variations over the years, yet plenty more aren’t shown in these examples. Many were racecars and customs, but there were some replicas of real cars including the aforementioned “Super Stocker,” which was a Super Bird, as well as Mustangs, Corvettes, vans, a Mod Mercer, VW Beetles, pickup trucks, Lincolns, motorcycles and many more. Oddly enough, I didn’t remember the Star Wars vans until I saw them today in their commercial.

SSP Racers are bought and sold regularly online, and prices vary greatly based on condition and car model. There are even parts cars offered. You can get a well-used but still working SSP Racer for about $10 to $15. Used-but-good-condition SSPs  sell for about $15 to $50 and those that still reside in their original box and have never been raced can net $60 to $125, sometimes more.

There were also SSP race sets offered. I remember wanting but never getting the SSP Time Trial Set. Some others that I’ve seen include a Tournament of Thrills set with Daredevil Dan and a Mustang II, Drag Race Set Unlimited, Flying Finish Action Set, Herk Action Stunt Set with Herk sitting in his twin V-8 powered chariot, Rockin’ Rick and the SSP Cycle Stunt Show, Mod Vans Drag Set, Classy Crashers with a Lincoln and a Rolls Royce, the Star Wars Van Set, and the 4-N-1 Collectors Racing Set with Speed Shop Accessories, to name a few.

Did you and/or your friends play with SSP Racers when you were a kid? Tell us about your experiences.