large image

Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

My best Christmas present: Auto City Airport

OPINION I’m no longer someone particularly interested in lavish Christmas presents, but I’m pretty sure I used to be. Nowadays a Christmas present is a pair of trainers, because another pair have holes that makes them useless to wear in the rain. I am an adult and therefore must be practical.

But back when I was young and carefree I did get some lavish presents, although as I got older that soon changed to books and DVDs/Blu-rays. If I have to write a similar column for Christmas 2022, I would genuinely struggle to think of what I’d write about. Perhaps getting the complete series of The Wire on DVD and not watching it in its entirety…

Getting back to the point. One of those lavish presents was Auto City Airport, made by Hot Wheels in the US but in the UK I believe it was Corgi. For anyone reading this who has a confused face then you’re not a kid from the 90s.

These playsets were all the rage back then, a bit like Super Soakers. You’d see the advertisements pop up on the TV with kids who squealed ‘yay’ at the end of advert after a disembodied announcer went through all the (imaginary) situations you play through. And I was sold – hook, line and sinker.

Auto City Airport dovetailed with my interest in all things aeronautical. There was a time where I could look up into the sky, see the flag on the end of an airplane and make a pretty good guess as to which airline it was, as well as what type of airplane (DC-10! 747-200!). Then I’d daydream about who was on that plane and where it was going as disappeared towards the horizon. It’s likely the same feeling kids these days get playing Microsoft Flight Simulator on the Xbox Series X.

Thinking about it now, that was exceptionally nerdy, but back when I was a child I was going to be a pilot come what may and I needed all the information and vocabulary at my fingertips. It was annoying when I learned you couldn’t fly a plane without having 20/20 vision. Although apparently you can wear glasses now, which irks me no end.

Anyway, back to Auto City Airport. This was the kind of toy that required assembly, which was the thing to do in the 90s. Building stuff created a sense of achievement, and at the end of it you had a living, breathing city. Well, as much as you can with inanimate cars that you make ‘vroom’ noises with.

Auto City Airport harnessed your imagination – a bit like when I’d daydream about the planes in the sky – and the plane itself would make noises when you pressed a button. And all the cars led their own individual lives as they came in and parked at the airport. Now it all seems quite weird, with today’s kids more interested in their iPads or creating (very inventive) TikTok videos, but back then it was an outlet for all the energy you had. I’d crawl on the floor, directing traffic and the airplane, which inevitably led to trousers with holes in them.

No one makes toys like this anymore, which is a shame in one sense, but also good in another, as it’s something unique to the period when I grew up.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.