This YouTuber turned '90s Hot Wheels and Barbie pre-built PCs into gaming monsters

Shank Mods on YouTube, best known for the project where he turned a GameCube controller into functioning Switch joy cons, has unveiled his latest project: cramming high-end gaming components into an infamous pair of children's computers from the late '90s.

Back in 1999, Patriot Computer produced a line of pre-built Hot Wheels and Barbie-branded PCs for kids under license from Mattel. They were funky little machines, boasting colorful paint jobs and distinctly Y2K-era rounded, blobby design language. They also came with matching accessories like a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers.

The Patriot Hot Wheels and Barbie PCs were also notoriously poorly designed, with underpowered components  crammed into a small plastic enclosure with hardly any airflow to speak of. If that wasn't enough, the power supplies included in the units had a shockingly high failure rate. Despite the brand power at their disposal, production quickly ceased and Patriot went under.

These computers have developed a bit of a reputation online since, I'm certainly compelled by their combination of '90s/aughts nostalgia and the absurd little story of their failure. Shank Mods was similarly captured by these weird little relics, and after acquiring both Barbie and Hot Wheels models and many of their accessories, set about turning them into secret gaming titans.

The project was almost dead on arrival, with increased attention on the PCs from a Linus Tech Tips video leading eBay sellers to jack up their prices well beyond what these dinky little guys are actually worth. Thankfully, Shank Mods got an assist from PC vendor Microcenter in the form of an expanded budget to do the project justice.

custom new controllers to match the rig

Matching controllers made for the rigs by Spicy Frog Customs. (Image credit: Shank Mods on YouTube)

And do it justice he did. Shank equipped each PC with a Ryzen 9 5950X processor, and a RTX 3060 GPU. Now, cooling is a big challenge even in modern, well-built small form factor PCs, and all that high-end silicon immediately turned these stuffy plastic cases into sweltering ovens. Shank was able to reach acceptable, non-component-frying temperatures with the help of some massively supercharged case fans that left his rigs sounding like leaf blowers.

With the builds sorted out, Shank used them to test out increasingly ludicrous multi-monitor setups on his Hot Wheels and Barbie CRTs, including a 3072x768 ultrawide configuration of Hot Wheels monitors and an astounding nine-CRT arrangement to play Minecraft.

nine crt monitors playing minecraft

(Image credit: Shank Mods on YouTube)

Shank Mods truly went above and beyond with this project, cramming a PC most gamers would be envious of into what are two of the least accommodating PC cases ever made. I certainly feel like a wimp for ever complaining about building in my old mini-ITX case. Now, finally, the flames on the side of the Hot Wheels rig accurately reflect just how fast it is.  

building in the hot wheels case

I have never felt real stress building compared to this. (Image credit: Shank Mods on YouTube)
Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.