Takara Tomy promised us that maglev technology would make its way to playsets next year, when we spoke at this year's Tokyo Toy Show. It had two very different toys on hand, one a train that the company claims can reach up to 600 KPH (relative to its scale, at least). To our untrained eyes, all we can say is it seemed pretty damn fast. The train contains its own magnet that levitates it off the plastic track, which is itself laced with magnets. The resulting air cushion reduces one of the biggest buzzkills in all of physics: friction. Since the magnetic field produces both an upward and forward thrust, there's no need for a set of Hot Wheels-style accelerators that manually hurl your car around the track.
The other playset was a free-driving car prototype that really showed the potential of the technology. But it required a rather large sheet of metal to work and was a bit more... let's say, bare-bones. Where you'd typically find the wheels of a car, there's four electromagnets, that rotate at a high speed and (get your Fleming's right-hand rule ready) offer a sustained magnetic field -- enough to keep the car slightly above its aluminum race track.
You can see in the background of the image above where Tomy's hoping the design will eventually arrive at. While the train is set to land in 2015, priced at around 10,000 yen ($98) with some bundled track, there's estimated price for the car yet. And if this toy-maker can do a race-car, surely Mattel will finally be able to deliver on that hoverboard we were all (kind of) promised.