Takara Tomy made a promise that MagLev technology would make its way to its toy car playsets in the following year, and when the big day came, the crew at Engadget got a chance to speak with the company at this year’s Tokyo Toy Show. The company showcased two very different toys they were presenting: one was a train that they claimed could reach up to 600 KPH (relative to its scale, at least). At first sight, the train was moving pretty darn fast, the actually the train has its own magnet that levitates it off the plastic track, which is ITSELF laced with magnets. Essentially, there are two magnetic forces pushing away from each other — something you may have learned with giant red-and-black magnets in elementary school science lessons. Similar to that demonstration, an air cushion is created, resulting in NOT a miniature bazillion-horsepower engine, but the greatest trick in physics; good, old-fashioned friction!
Here’s the thing: since the magnetic field produces both upward and forward thrusts, neither electrical power nor other types of accelerators are necessary to hurl the train and cars along the track. Takara Tomy’s other playset was a free-driving, more bare-bones car prototype that really showed the potential of the technology, however it required a large sheet of metal to work. Where you’d normally find the car’s wheels, there’s four electromagnets rotating at a high speed and create a sustained magnetic field that’s just enough to keep the car slightly above its aluminum race track.
You can see in the image above of the prototype and then in the image below of where Tomy’s hoping the design will eventually arrive at. While the train is set to be released in 2015 at a price of approximately 10,000 yen ($98) with some bundled track, there’s currently no estimated price for the car yet. This would very likely hold me over until Mattel finally gets their butts in gear and release that hoverboard we were all (kinda-sorta) promised in Back to the Future II.