Hot Wheels


Hot Wheels

Hot Wheels is a brand of die cast toy car, introduced by American toymaker Mattel in 1968. It was the primary competitor of Johnny Lightning and Matchbox until 1996, when Mattel acquired rights to the Matchbox brand from Tyco.

The original, and now famous, Hot Wheels logo was designed by California artist Rick Irons, who at that time worked for Mattel.

Models

Hot Wheels are die-cast model vehicles manufactured by Mattel and were introduced in 1968. Originally the cars and trucks were manufactured to approximately 1:64 scale and designed to be used on associated Hot Wheels track sets, but by 1970 a series of 1:43 scale 'Gran Toros' were introduced and more recently a range of highly detailed adult collector vehicles, including replicas of Formula One and NASCAR cars, have found success. However the brand remains most famous for the small scale free-rolling models of custom hot rods and muscle cars it has produced since the range first appeared. Today, there are roughly 10,000 different models of Hot Wheel Cars.

The Hot Wheels product line has also included various tracks, accessories, and other kinds of vehicles such as 'Sizzlers' rechargeable electric cars, 'Hot Line' trains, 'R-R-Rumblers' motorcycles and 'Hot Birds' airplanes.

izzlers

Sizzlers were a 1970s Hot Wheels spin off with a built-in motor and a tiny rechargeable battery. (The X-V racers of the 90s were similar.) Mattel recently struck an exclusive deal with Target stores, and re-released Sizzlers in 2006. They currently sell for about $8 per car. Sizzlers run on the regular "orange" Hot Wheels track, and Mattel created special race sets with U-Turns, multi-level spirals and loops to take advantage of the cars' electric motor. Two lane race sets were developed that allowed Sizzlers to race side-by side, until Mattel created the black Fat Track, which is three lanes wide and designed to allow Sizzlers to run free. In action, Sizzlers display a unique, competitive "passing action" when running on the Fat Track, as if each car were piloted by an impatient driver trying to get ahead of the rest. Fat Track accesories included a four-car starting gate (Scramble Start) and lap counter.

Sizzlers were (and are) charged with four or two D cell chargers called the Juice Machine and Goose Pump respectively. Later, the "Power Pit" was introduced--which was an electric charger that plugged into any household AC outlet and resembled a race track garage or pit stop. A 90-second charge of the tiny internal NiCad battery gives up to five minutes of frenetic run time. It has been said that the 90-second charge time was "the longest minute and a half in a kid's life," as they waited impatiently for the car to charge sufficiently to get back into the race.

The Sizzler electric technology spun-off into the the Hotline Trains, which ran on track similar to regular Hot Wheels, and the Earthshakers construction vehicles. Both lines of vehicles were charged using the Sizzler Juice Machine or Power Pit.

History

1968

Before Hot Wheels, the huge market for small car models was dominated at that time by the British company Lesney with their Matchbox cars. Elliot Handler, co-founder of Mattel, decided to produce a line of die-cast toy cars for boys. Although his executives thought it was a bad idea, he was able to capture much of this market by introducing a number of revolutionary features, including low-friction wheels suitable for racing on a track, and styling in tune with the times of customized, racing and show cars coming out of places like California.

There were sixteen castings released in 1968, eleven of them designed by Harry Bentley Bradley, with the first one produced being a dark blue Custom Camaro. Although Bradley was from the car industry, he had not designed the full-functioning versions of the real cars, except the Dodge Deora concept car, which had been built by Mike and Larry Alexander. Another of his notable designs was the Custom Fleetside, which was based on his own heavily-customized '64 El Camino.

Cars released in 1968

*Beatnik Bandit (designed by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth)
*Custom Barracuda
*Custom Camaro
*Custom Corvette
*Custom Cougar
*Custom Eldorado
*Custom Firebird
*Custom Fleetside
*Custom Mustang
*Custom T-Bird
*Custom Volkswagen (designed by Ira Gilford)
*Deora (based upon a real custom surf-truck designed by Harry Bradley for Dodge)
*Ford J-Car (based on the real race car that became the Ford GT40 Mk IV)
*Hot Heap (based upon the Model T roadster known as "Tognotti's T")
*Python (designed by Dean Jeffries, based on Bill Cushenbery's "Cheetah" show car)
*Silhouette (based upon Bill Cushenbery's custom car)
Of the first 16 cars (sometimes called the "Sweet 16" by collectors), 9 were based upon customized versions of regular production automobiles of the era, and 7 were based upon real show cars and cars designed and built for track racing. All of the cars featured 'Spectraflame' paintwork, bearings, redline wheels, and working suspension.

There was one notable difference in the first run production cars and that was a lack of "Door Cuts" in the molded cars. This was thought to be more accurate to the scale as door openings would be nearly invisible at that scale. Also, the sharp edges of the cuts in the molds would quickly wear away from the process of injection. Later they were brought back due to public opinion and toy testing on children.

The metallic 'Spectraflame' paintwork also marked out these models from drab enamel of Matchbox cars. The attractive finishes were achieved by firstly polishing the bare metal of the bodyshells and then coating them in a clear colored lacquer, and featured such exotic colors as 'Antifreeze', 'Magenta' and 'Hot Pink'. Because 'Hot Pink' was considered a "girls color", it was not used very much on Hot Wheels cars. For most castings, it is the hardest color to find, and today can command prices ten times as high as more common colors.

In order for the cars to go fast on the plastic track, Mattel chose a cheap, durable, low-friction plastic called Delrin to use as a white bushing between the axle and wheel. The result was cars that could go up to scale 200 mph. The bushings were phased out in 1970, and replaced with flush black inner wheels with outer caps. The early years of Hot Wheels are known as the Redline Era as until 1977 the wheels had a red line etched around the tire rim, popular on muscle cars at the time.

The "Torsion Bar" suspension was simple, but flawed. Inside the car, the axles followed a "C"-like shape that was connected to the chassis. When pushed down, the axles would bend like a real car. However the axles were hard to install on the chassis while being assembled and would become detached from the lugs on the baseplate if very hard pressure was applied. Well played with cars would develop an obvious "sag" to the wheels. The suspension was redesigned in 1970 with solid axles mounted on a bar of plastic acting as a spring. Packaged along with the cars were metal badges showing an image of the car so fellow collectors could identify each other and compare collections.

Most importantly, there were designed to run on orange plastic track, which could be placed to make interesting jumps and loops. Motive power was by means of gravity, by attaching the starting point of a course to a table or chair via an included C clamp. A two-lane starting gate was available, allowing two lengths of track to be set up for racing. Later sets had both the starting gate and a finishing flag which would be tripped by the first car. One of the most famous sets was the 1970 Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set, which reached values as high as $500 during the 1990s, but has since been produced in modified replica form. It featured yellow Plymouth Barracuda and red Plymouth Duster funny cars, loops, jumps, and even an apparatus that would deploy drag chutes after they crossed the finish line, all in a box showing Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen.

Other sets included a Supercharger that had an electric motor and foam covered wheels that propelled the car around a loop of track as the cars passed through. Accessories included a lap counter and a speedometer.It was the combination of all of these ingredients — speed via the low-friction wheel/axle assembly and racing tires, looks due to Spectraflame paint and mag wheels, plus the inclusion of very American themes such as hot-rod designs based on true American prototypes not seen in great numbers in the competition's product lines — that laid the groundwork for the incredible success story Hot Wheels were to become.

1969

As it turned out, the Hot Wheels brand was a staggering success. (This accomplishment must be put in its historical perspective: Basically, the series "re-wrote the book" for small die-cast car models from 1968 onwards, forcing the competition at Matchbox and elsewhere to completely rethink their concepts, and to scamper to try to recover lost ground.) Harry Bentley Bradley did not think that would be the case and had quit Mattel to go back to the car industry. When the company asked him back, he recommended a good friend, Ira Gilford. Gilford, who had just left Chrysler, quickly accepted the job of designing the next Hot Wheels models. Some of Hot Wheels' greatest cars, such as the Twin Mill and Splittin' Image, came from Ira Gilford's drawing board.

The success of the 1968 line was solidified and consolidated with the 1969 releases, with which Hot Wheels effectively established itself as the most important brand of small toy car models in the USA.

Cars released in 1969

*Brabham Repco F1
*Chaparral 2G
*Classic '31 Ford Woody
*Classic '32 Ford Vicky
*Classic '36 Ford Coupe
*Classic '57 Bird
*Custom Charger
*Custom AMX
*Custom Continental
*Custom Police Cruiser
*Custom Fire Engine
*Ford MK IV
*Indy Eagle
*Lola GT70
*Lotus Turbine
*Maserati Mistral
*McLaren M6A
*Mercedes-Benz 280SL
*Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
*Shelby Turbine
*Splittin' Image
*Torero
*Turbo fire
*Twin Mill
*Volkswagen Beach Bomb

The Splittin' Image, Torero, Turbofire, and Twin Mill were part of the "Show & Go" series and are the very first original in-house designs by Hot Wheels.

The initial prototypes of the Beach Bomb were faithful to a real VW Bus's shape, and had two surfboards sticking out the back window. During the fledgling Hot Wheels era, Mattel wanted to make sure that each of the cars could be used with any of the play sets and stunt track sets. Unfortunately, testing showed that this early version (now known as Rear-Loader Beach Bomb, or RLBB) was too narrow to roll effectively on Hot Wheels track or be powered by the Super Charger, and was too top-heavy to negotiate high-speed corners.

Hot Wheels Designers Howard Rees and Larry Wood modified the casting, extending the side fenders to accommodate the track width, as well as providing a new place on the vehicle to store each of the plastic surfboards. The roof was also cut away and replaced by a full-length sunroof, to lower the center of gravity. Nicknamed "Side-loader" by collectors, this was the production version of the Beach Bomb.

The Rear-Loader Beach Bomb is widely considered the "Holy Grail" of any Hot Wheels collection. An unknown number were made as test subjects and given to Mattel employees, and today there are only about 25 known to exist. A regular production Beach Bomb may be worth up to $600, depending on condition. Market prices on RLBBs however, have easily reached the five-figure plateau. Within the last decade, one of two existing hot pink RLBBs sold for reportedly above $70,000 to a well-respected and widely known Hot Wheels collector. The Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles had a pink RLBB in its Hot Wheels exhibit. It was displayed on a single rotating platform, much like the kind used to showcase precious gems. The Hot Wheels Collectors Club released a new, updated version of the rear loading Beach Bomb in 2002 as a limited edition.

1970s

1970 was another great year for Hot Wheels. This was also the year that Sizzlers appeared. Howard Rees, who worked with Ira Gilford, was tired of designing cars. He wanted to work on the Major Matt Mason action figure toy line-up. Rees had a good friend by the name of Larry Wood. They had worked together at Ford designing cars. When Wood found out about Hot Wheels at a party Rees was holding, Rees offered Wood the job of designing Hot Wheels. Wood agreed, and by the end of the week, Larry Wood was working at Mattel. His first design would be the Tri-Baby. After 36 years, Larry still works for Hot Wheels.

Another designer, Paul Tam, joined Larry and Ira. Paul's first design for Hot Wheels was the Whip Creamer. Tam continued to work for Mattel until 1973. Among the many futuristic designs Tam thought up for Hot Wheels, some of the collector's favorites include Evil Weevil (a Volkswagen with two engines), Open Fire (an AMC Gremlin with six wheels), Six Shooter (another six wheeled car), and the rare Double Header (co-designed with Larry Wood).

1972 and 1973 marked a slump for Hot Wheels; few new castings were produced, and in 1973 most cars changed from Mattel's in house "Spectraflame™" colors to less-shiny solid enamel colors, which mainline Hot Wheels cars still use today. Due to low sales, and the fact that many of the castings were not re-used in later years, the 1972-3 models are known to be very collectible.

In 1974, Hot Wheels began using the slogan "Flying Colors", and added flashy decals and tampo-printed paint designs, which helped revitalize sales. As with the low-friction wheels in 1968, this innovation was revolutionary in the industry, and — although far less effective in terms of sales impact than in 1968 — was copied by the competition, who did not want to be outmaneuvered again by Mattel product strategists.

In 1977, the Redline Wheel was phased out, with the red lines being erased from the wheels. This cut costs, but also reflected that the red lines popularized during the era of muscle cars and Polyglas tires were no longer current.

1980s

What happened in the 1980s for Hot Wheels sent them in the path of what they are today. In 1981, Hot Ones wheels were introduced, which had gold-painted hubs and thinner axles for speed. Ultra Hots wheels, which looked like the wheels found on a Renault Fuego or a Mazda 626, were introduced in 1984 and had other speed improvements. Hot Wheels started offering models based on 80's sports and economy cars, like the Pontiac Fiero or Dodge Omni 024. In 1983, A new style of wheel called Real Riders were introduced, which had real rubber tires. Despite the fact that they were very popular, the Real Riders line was short-lived, because of high production costs. In the late 80s, the Blue Card was introduced, which would become the basis of Hot Wheels cars still used today.

Two other innovations were introduced briefly in Hotwheels cars in the 1980s - Thermal Color Change paint, and rotating Crash Panel vehicles. The former were able to change color on exposure to hot or cold water, and there were an initial release of 20 different cars, available as sets of three vehicles. The latter were vehicles with a panel that, on contact, would rotate to reveal a flip side which appeared to be heavily dented. Variations in crash-panels included front, rear and side panels, the last of which's mechanism has proven to be the most durable.

1990s

1995 brought a major change to the Hot Wheels line, where the cars were split up into series. One was the 1995 Model Series, which included all of that year's new castings. In 1996, the Model Series was renamed to First Editions. 1995 also saw the introduction of the Treasure Hunt Series (see below). The rest of the series included four cars with paint schemes that followed a theme. For example, the Pearl Driver cars all had pearlescent paint. Sales for the series models soared with another program also introduced that year called the Bonus Car program, causing stores across the nation to have shortages. Purchasing the four car sets and sending in the packaging backs plus a handling fee gave you the opportunity to collect the bonus cars, 1 each released for each quarter of the year starting in 1996 through at least 2000. Several new wheel designs were also introduced in the 90s.

In 1997, Hot Wheels signed a sponsorship deal with NASCAR driver Kyle Petty, and thus began making replicas of NASCAR race cars.Hot Wheels signed another deal in 1999 with five Formula 1 teams to manufacture scale model Formula 1 cars. [cite news
url = http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/cgi/news/release?id=44481
date = 1999-10-11
title = Mattel's Hot Wheels Racing finalizes licensing agreements with top five Formula One race teams
accessdate = 2006-10-16
publisher = PR Newswire for Journalists
]

In 1998, Mattel celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Hot Wheels brand by replicating various cars and individual packaging from its 30-year history and packaging these replicated vehicles in special 30th Anniversary boxes.

Treasure Hunts

The Treasure Hunt series was introduced in 1995 with 12 cars that were specially detailed and produced in limited numbers. The initial run consisted of 10,000 units worldwide. The Treasure Hunt Series was an instant hit, and as a result, production increased to 25,000 units per car in 1996 and 1997. Mattel stopped publicly releasing production numbers on the Treasure Hunt line in 1998.

Treasure Hunts are packaged and labeled as "Treasure Hunt" or "T-Hunt" in a green bar with a picture of a treasure chest. The cars are decorated with flashy designs and usually have special "rubber" wheels. While they market at the retail price of all other cars, they have a high resale price tag on the Internet and in stores specializing in collectibles when first released. The Internet price does typically stabilize once more of the cars are available on the market. Sometimes collectors will see this as the car dropping in price but empirical data strongly indicates otherwise. Instead, the high prices we see initially are the result of the Internet boom. When only a few new Treasure Hunts are available on the market and hundreds of collectors are after it, the price will skyrocket. Data collected over the past twelve years actually indicates the price on Treasure Hunts is rising quite well in general. Often when collectors quote a value, they do not take into account shipping costs and risk as negative factors in the on-line market.

Treasure Hunts are not only released as individual cars, but also in complete boxed sets through Mattel's Redline Club or through JC Penney. These sets are more rare than the Treasure Hunt cars themselves with known production numbers ranging from as low as 2,000 to 6,000 sets. The set is generally worth the combined value of each car plus the packaging it comes in that makes it a unique set and is considered to be worth even more than a loose set of the individual cars.

In 2007, Mattel changed the Treasure Hunt lineup by releasing 12 regular and 12 "Super" Treasure Hunts. The production numbers of the regular Treasure Hunts are thought to be greater than the number of Super Treasure Hunts and they generally typify the less flashy run-of-the-mill mainline car to include the use of mainline wheels while still being limited in production. The Super Treasure Hunts continue to follow the trend of flashier paint schemes and include the real rubber wheels that have personified the Treasure Hunt line since it's inception.

2000

A new generation of Hot Wheels Designers came in. Eric Tscherne and Fraser Campbell along with former designer Paul Tam's son, Alec Tam, joined the design team. Many still work for Mattel today. Tscherne's Seared Tuner (formerly Sho-Stopper) graced the mainline packaging from 2000 to 2003. The Deora II, one of only two Hot Wheels concept cars ever made into full-size, functional cars, was also released this year.

2001

During this year Mattel issued 240 mainline releases consisting of 12 Treasure Hunts, 36 First Editions, 12 Segment Series with 4 cars each, and 144 open stock cars. Popular models that debuted include the Hyper Mite and Fright Bike.

2002

For 2002, the mainline the consisted of 12 Treasure Hunts, 42 First Editions, 15 segment series of 4 cars each, and 126 open stock cars. Popular new models included the `68 Cougar and the Nissan Skyline.

2003

Hot Wheels celebrated its 35th anniversary with a full-length computer animated Hot Wheels movie called "Hot Wheels Highway 35 World Race". This movie tied into the Highway 35 line of cars that featured 35 classic Hot Wheels cars with special graphics and co-molded wheels. Another celebrating moment in the 35th anniversary was the creation of a full-sized model of the Deora II shown at the Hot Wheels Hall of Fame event at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.

Also in commemoration of Hot Wheels' 35th anniversary, recording artist and Hot Wheels supporter Rick Tippe was commissioned by Mattel to write a song about Hot Wheels. CD singles featuring the song were given out in grab bags at the 35th Anniversary Convention in California.

2003 also saw the release of five cars themed after Sega video games: Jet Set Radio Future, Space Channel 5, "Shinobi", "House of the Dead" and Super Monkey Ball

2004

In 2004, Hot Wheels unveiled their "Hot 100" line, comprised of 100 new models. These new models included cartoonish vehicles such as the 'Tooned (vehicles based on the larger Hot Tunerz line of Hot Wheels created by Eric TscherneFact|date=February 2007), Blings (boxy bodies and big wheels), Hardnoze (enlarged fronts), Crooze (stretched out bodies), and Fatbax (super-wide back tires and short bodies). These vehicles did not sell as well as Mattel expected, and many could still be found in stores throughout 2005. Mattel also released 2004 First Editions cars with unpainted Zamac bodies. They were sold through Toys 'R' Us and were made in limited numbers.

2005

In 2005, Hot Wheels continued with new "extreme" castings for the 2nd year, debuting 40 distorted cars, in addition to 20 "Realistix" models. The rest of the line included the standard 12 Treasure Hunts, 10 Track Aces, 50 Segment Series Cars, and 50 Open Stock Models. Four Volkswagen "Mystery Cars" were offered as a special mail-in promo. Each Mystery Car came with a special voucher. Upon collection of all 4 vouchers, one was able to send away for a special 13th Treasure Hunt, a VW Drag Bus. Photos: [http://www.diecastwiki.info/wiki/index.php5?title=HW_2005_Mystery_Car_Series]

Hot Wheels also unveiled its new "Faster than Ever" line of cars, which had special nickel-plated axles, along with bronze-colored Open-Hole 5 Spoke wheels. These adjustments reduce friction dramatically, resulting in cars that are "Faster than Ever." The first run of these cars were available for a limited time only, from the beginning of October towards the end of November 2005.

Also, the continuation of the movie Hot Wheels Highway 35 World Race called Hot Wheels AcceleRacers was created, taking place two years after Vert Wheeler won the World Race. It is featured in four movies and many short segments where the drivers (old ones, gangs, like Teku, Metal Maniacs, the evil Racing Drones, and the stealthy Silencerz). All of the shorts and previews of the movies were placed on a temporary website that was deleted shortly after the last movie.

2006

The 2006 releases consisted of 38 First Editions (all realistically proportioned), 12 Treasure Hunts, 12 Track Aces, 60 Segment Series, 96 Open Stock Models and 5 Mystery Cars. Some limited editions produced in 2006 include a Honda Civic Si sporting a Dropstars logo that was only available at the 2005 SEMA convention and the CUL8R with Faster Than Ever (FTE) wheels which was only available by mail. 2006 is also the year that Sizzlers were re-released.

2007

In 2007, Mattel released 36 New Models (formerly First Editions), 12 Treasure Hunts (with a hard-to-find regular version and even rarer "super" version of each),HotWheelsCollectors.com article: "2007 Mainline Cars Headed Your Way!"] 12 Teams of 4 cars each (formerly Segment Series), 24 Code Cars (codes imprinted on underside of the car that can be used to unlock web content), 12 Track Stars (formerly Track Aces), 24 Mystery Cars (packaged on a card with a blacked-out blister, so the buyer cannot see which car is inside without opening it), and 24 All Stars (formerly Open Stock). In late 2006, a new package design for 2007 was released. Some 2006 cars and all 2007 cars released so far are packaged on a blister card with the new design.Hotwheels released a series called Modifighters, which are similar to transformers except for the fact that they were originally cars and were modified into robots.

2008

For 2008, Mattel is releasing 40 New Models, 12 Treasure Hunts, 12 Track Stars, 24 Web Trading Cars, 24 Mystery Cars, and 12 Teams of 4 cars. With the 2008 release of the Speed Racer movie, Mattel has released models based on the Speed Racer cars.

Collectors

Through the years, Hot Wheels cars have been collected mostly by children, but in the last ten years there has been an increase in the number of adult collectors. Mattel estimates that 41 million children grew up playing with the toys, the average collector has over 1,550 cars, and children between the ages of 5 and 15 have an average of 41 cars. Most believe the collecting craze started with the Treasure Hunts in 1995. Mike Strauss has been widely hailed as the father of Hot Wheels collecting; he has organized two collectors' events each year in some form since 1986. The first event was the Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Convention, normally held each year in the fall. The convention occurred in various locations around the country until 2001, when the first Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals was put together. Since then, the Conventions are held each year in southern California. The Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals rotate among cities outside of California during the spring. Mike has also published the quarterly Hot Wheels Newsletter since 1986 and was one of the first to unite collectors all over the world. Mike also writes the Tomart's Guide To Hot Wheels, a book listing history, car descriptions and values. It is used by almost every collector to learn more about the hobby and their collection.

In 2001, Mattel saw how much collecting was affecting their sales and put together [http://www.hotwheelscollectors.com HotWheelsCollectors.com] as an online way to unite collectors by offering limited edition cars, information about upcoming releases and events, as well as chat and trade boards. Each year, they sell memberships to the Redline Club, which gives members the opportunity to order additional limited edition cars, as well as access to areas of the site with information such as sneak previews of new cars.

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of web pages dedicated to Hot Wheels collecting. People are collecting everything from only new castings to only Redlines and everything in between. For the most part it is a relatively inexpensive hobby, when compared with coin collecting, stamp collecting or Barbie collecting, with mainline cars costing about $1 (USD) at retail. The price has not changed much in almost 40 years. After the cars are no longer available at retail the cost can vary significantly. A common car may sell for less than retail, while some of the more difficult cars can sell for many hundred or even thousands of dollars. The highest price paid for a Hot Wheels car was $72,000 in 2000 for a 1969 Volkswagen Beach Bomb, a van with a surfboard poking out the rear window of which only 25 are known to exist. [cite journal
last =Mort
first =Norm
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Red Hot and Rolling at 40
journal =Sports Car Market
volume =20
issue =5
pages =44–45
publisher =
location =
month =May | year =2008
url =
doi =
id =
accessdate =
]

Dates on Cars

The date on the base of a Hot Wheels car is a design copyright date, not a manufacturing date.(Specifically, the date is the copyright date for the design of the base of the car, but there are only a handful of cases where that is not the same as the copyright date for the design of the entire car.)The date is usually the year before the car was first introduced, but it is sometimes the same year.

Mattel reuses many models of Hot Wheels cars, both as part of the regular line and as "commemorative" replicas.As a result, a car with the date 1968 on the base could have been made at any time between 1968 and the present.

As of the 2006 First Editions, the date is no longer placed on the bottom of the car but rather on the inside where it isn't seen unless taken apart.

Hot Wheels Classics

The Hot Wheels Classics line was an immediate hit with enthusiasts everywhere, particularly collectors who had observed the decline in standards that accompanied forty years of keeping the cars at one dollar. The new line focused on muscle cars, hot rods, and other offbeat vehicles (such as a go-kart, a motorhome and even an airplane), many from the company's first ten years (1968-78) of production.

Series 1 from 2005 consisted of 25 models, each with all-metal body and chassis, decked out with Spectraflame paint, in packages similar to those used from 1968-1972. Each car had a retail price of about three to four dollars (USD) and each of the 25 cars were released with 7 or 8 different colors. Models included the '57 Chevy Bel Air (pictured at the right), the '63 Ford T-Bird, and the '65 Pontiac GTO.

There were also track sets in similarly-retro packaging, and Hot Wheels Classics. The Classics version of the Purple Passion was released with Real Riders tires at the San Diego Comic Con. Mattel also produced a Classics Olds 442 in Spectraflame blue for the 2005 Toy Fair.

In late 2005, Series 2 now consisted of 30 models including the '67 Camaro Convertible, the '69 Dodge Charger, and a '65 Mustang Mach 1. There was also supposed to be a separate "Mustang Funny Car" (as listed on the blisterpack rear checklist) but this was apparently charged to a Plymouth Barracuda Funny Car during production.

In 2006, a Series 3 line of Classics was introduced, again containing 30 models with multiple colors of each vehicle. Models included the '69 Pontiac Firebird, a Meyers Manx dune buggy, and the Richard Petty '70 Plymouth "Superbird."

In 2007, Series 4 debuted with just fifteen models. However, in recognition of the 40th anniversary there were two packaging versions available - models came with a collectible metal pin (featuring a portrait of the involved vehicle) or were sold alone as in the previous three series. Models included a VW Karmann Ghia, a '68 Mercury Cougar, and the "Red Baron" hot rod.

pecial Model Lines

Hot Wheels has also released slightly larger, more detailed models,such as the original Gran Toros (1/43rd scale) from 1970, and the Dropstars line (a model line of "blinged" cars). Also in this larger scale are the HIN (Hot Import Nights), G-Machines and Customs lines. These lines were introduced in 2004-2005.

Hot Wheels has produced many replica scale models in the industry standard 1/43rd, 1/24th and 1/18th scales. In 2004 They released a 1/12th scale replica of the C6Corvette.

Other lines from Hot Wheels include: R-R-Rumblers & Chopcycles (motorcycles introduced in 1971)), Hotbirds (metal airplanes), Sizzlers, XV Racers, Hot Tunerz and Stockerz.

Over the years, Mattel has also teamed up with other retail organizations to produce special models available through those retailers. The list of retailers includes Avon, Chuck E. Cheese, Dinty Moore, FAO Schwarz, Full Grid, General Mills, Getty, HEB, Hills, Hormel, Hughes Family Markets, JC Penney, JC Whitney, Kay-Bee Toys, K-Mart, Kellogg's, Kool-Aid, Kroger, Lexmark, Liberty Promotions (contracted the series of special models for Jiffy Lube), Little Debbie Snacks, Malt-O-Meal, McDonald's, Mervyn's, Otter Pops, Rose's Discount Stores, Shell, Target, Tony's Pizza, Toys-R-Us, Union 76, Valvoline, Van de Kamp's, WalMart, and White's Guide to Collecting, as well as several Major League Baseball franchises to name a few.

Notable models

Twin Mill

The Twin Mill was introduced in 1969 and was the first original Mattel design. All previous releases had been based upon actual 1:1 vehicles. The Twin Mill was designed by Ira Gilford, formerly of GM design. Many styling cues of GM design of the time, headed by Bill Mitchell, can be seen in the Twin Mill most notably the 1968 Corvette Stingray and various concept cars of the era. The original Twin ceased production in 1977. Original releases include the original 1969 redline in various colors, 1973 Shell promotional and 1976 and 1977 Flying Colors in chrome and orange. After 1977 the tooling is believed to have been destroyed. With new tooling the Twin Mill was reproduced in 1993 as part of the 25th Anniversary series. Since then the Twin Mill has been exclusively released in limited or other special upscale releases often including premium paint and wheel schemes. An updated version of the Twin Mill is set to appear in the 2008 mainline series, marking the first such occasion since 1977.In celebration of Hot Wheels' 35th anniversary, the company had a [http://www.streetrodderweb.com/milestones/0307sr_milestone_twin_mill/index.html full-size version] of the car built. It debuted at the 2001 SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

VW Drag Bus

The VW Drag Bus was first offered as a 1996 First Edition, and is the heaviest Hot Wheels model made to date. It has a flip up body, big engine, and is extremely popular with collectors. Speculation was that because of its higher cost and huge popularity, Mattel moved the VW Drag Bus from regular production to a limited edition only product.

Go Kart

The lightest Hot Wheels casting to date. Its only plastic parts are the wheels and seat. It was introduced in 1998.

Rear-loading Volkswagen Beach Bomb

The rear-loading Volkswagen Beach Bomb had 2 surfboards sticking out of the back window. The casting proved to be too thin to run through the "Supercharger" track accessory and was subsequently redesigned with the surf boards moved to new side pods. An unknown number of the cars were made as test subjects and given to Mattel employees. Currently, there are only about 25 known to exist and is widely considered to be the "holy grail" of Hot Wheels collecting.

In 2000, Bruce Pascal obtained a pink variation and paid over $70,000 for it, setting the biggest record in history for the amount of money paid for a Hot Wheels car.

`55 Chevy Panel

Introduced in 2006 as a First Edition, the `55 Chevy Panel was one of the year's heaviest models along with the VW Karmann Ghia. It has a metal body and base. The Panel also has a rear hatch that opens to reveal a motorcycle that can slide out. Due to the model's significant weight and production cost, the `55 Chevy Panel is not expected to return to the mainline after 2006. It is however, scheduled to make an appearance the Since '68 series.

Mars Pathfinder/Sojourner

In June 1997, Mattel released a Hot Wheels toy vehicle based on the Mars Pathfinder and Mars Sojourner rover, in cooperation with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

pecial Wheels

;Screamin' Wheels: Screamin' Wheels had treads on them, making them screech as they rolled down the track. They were only offered on 3 models sold with the starter set and the 2 models included in the "Serpent Cyclone" track. They were sold in very small numbers, making collectors snatch these up for high prices. They appeared once again in 2005, only on Escort Rally for a short amount of time in the Hot Wheels Racing Series.

;Lime Hub Wheels: The Lime Hub wheels were offered with black plastic tires and a lime wheel. There were only a couple of models, which were sold in small numbers, making them very collectible.

;Real Rider Wheels: These were plastic wheels with real rubber tires. While sales were strong, Hot Wheels cut the line after only three years, because they were too expensive to make. They have appeared only on limited edition cars and special series, such as Treasure Hunts, since then.

;Faster Than Ever: See the section on 2005 Hot Wheels.

Real Life

Real life versions of popular Hot Wheels Twin Mill, Deora II and Whatta Drag have been created and Tom Meents owns the Hot Wheels monster truck.

The History of Hot Wheels Online Price Guides

In 1997, Ken McClellan was searching the Internet for information on the values of some of his Hot Wheels. Finding nothing on the Internet, he searched print price guides, finding the only one available to be several years out of date. The Tomarts Hot Wheels Price Guide was considered the benchmark for price guides, but being out of date, and not available online, Ken McClellan began compiling value information into a database by searching completed online auctions such as eBay.

As the database grew, McClellan made his first attempt at putting his information online, and on April 22, 1997, Treasure Hunt Alley was born. Treasure Hunt Alley was hosted on a Geocities.com free site, and was made up of many HTML tables. Traffic and interest grew, and as the bandwidth grew, Geocities soon became unsuitable for Treasure Hunt Alley. Ken McClellan began searching out Hosting, and through a contest held on Treasure Hunt Alley, www.alleyguide.com was born in late 1998.

Traffic on the new website began to multiply rapidly. A company was hired to transfer all of the price guide data into a searchable database, which by now contained over 4000 entries. In addition to listing every Hot Wheels car ever produced, every variation was included, including color, wheels, and errors. Alleyguide grew and was soon receiving over two million page views per month.

Alleyguide.com began accepting paid advertising to counter the rising server costs that resulted from the increased traffic. Online auction houses fought for real-estate on the index page, and diecast dealers from throughout the country wanted banners on the site. Several sent product samples for product reviews. The site had become self sufficient, and more.

In mid 1999, Mobilia, Inc. of Middlebury, VT, publisher of Mobilia Magazine and owners of Mobilia.com contacted Ken McClellan about a unopened box of 1972 Hot Wheels that they wanted appraised. In addition to the appraisal they also wanted to discuss the purchase of Alleyguide.com. Mobilia flew McClellan out to Vermont to talk business. Though a deal was not struck at that meeting, a retainer check was handed over to McClellan on the promise that a purchase deal would be agreed upon.

A phone call later that week to McClellan's home included an offer he couldn't refuse. A purchase price was agreed upon, and the deal included a monthly salary for McClellan to maintain Alleyguide for three years. Alleyguide was now owned by Mobilia.

Alleyguide continued to thrive for one and a half years, but Mobilia had other plans. They sold their magazine, and made the decision to go completely online retail, selling diecast and memorabilia. In doing so, the shut down the price guide, as well as the domain www.alleyguide.com. Six months after getting investments of over nine million dollars, Mobilia ran out of money, and Mobilia, as well as Alleyguide, was gone.

Ken McClellan wasn't finished. He had seen the end approaching, and was ready with a new website. Once Mobilia had breached his contract with him, McClellan launched his latest online price guide DiecastIllustrated.com. Diecast Illustrated, officially launched February 1, 2001, enjoyed much of the success that Alleyguide did. Diecast Illustrated even attracted the advertising of major diecast manufacturers.

The road wasn't as pleasant this time around for McClellan. After a falling out with a major sponsor, McClellan decided to call it quits. In March 2002, Diecast Illustrated was no more. Though there have many imitators of Alleyguide and Diecast Illustrated, none have lived up to what the originals were. Alleyguide is still remembered by many throughout the Internet as the premier online price guide for Hot Wheels.

Online

There is a Hot Wheels site where those whom are interested may sign up, log in, and get tons of benefits, including their own personal avatar they can customize at any time when logged in. Also, two games (Rebellion Race and Finish Line: Card Race) are multiplayer and you can race other online players across the U.S.A. and maybe the world. Unregistered players still get some perks. They can still visit MyPages, but not theirs because they won't have one. there are a few registered 'legends' such as Coolguy731 and WickleWackle. These players show excellence in various games, like Terrain Tourney.

ee also

* Planet Hot Wheels
* Johnny Lightning
* Tomica
* Matchbox (toy company)
* Corgi Classics Limited
* Mettoy-Corgi
* Majorette
* Maisto
* Jada Toys

Notes

References

*"Hot Wheels, A collectors guide" — Bob Parker, 2001
*Mike and Diane Strauss — "The Hot Wheels Newsletter" — Feb. 2006
*
*

External links

* [http://www.hotwheels.com Hot Wheels Official Site]


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