By Brad Bannach
The “Lost Redline” has found its way back (again). Originally created by Hot Wheels artist Otto Kuhni for use on the original Hot Wheels packaging in 1968, this redline-era car was never meant to join the Original 16. Rather, its all-encompassing design took many styling cues from the muscle cars of the era and served as the backing for the first Hot Wheels vehicles. In 1993, the car’s role as nostalgic packaging superstar was reprised as it was brought back to grace the blister cards in the Hot Wheels Vintage line as part of the 25th Anniversary.
The fate of this “Lost Redline” changed in 2008 when -- in honor of the 40th Anniversary -- this design was cast as an actual Hot Wheels vehicle. It was dubbed the “Custom Otto.” The “Custom” portion of the name was reminiscent of the original naming for the custom cars in the Original 16, and the “Otto” portion was in honor of the car’s original creator, who also had a reprised role of sorts. In the early days of HotWheelsCollectors.com, Otto came out of retirement to create much of the art that was featured on the posters, HWC master sets, and even the packaging for the sELECTIONs vehicles. Otto would go on to attend several conventions, signing autographs and letting collectors know that he was thrilled to have his illustration become a Hot Wheels car.
The Custom Otto has had a very unconventional run as a Hot Wheels vehicle. Of the 14 total variants, 13 were released in 2008 -- including a very special one-off release that was cast in 18-karat white gold and encrusted with more than 2,700 diamonds. Four years later, the Custom Otto was last released was in Spectraflame bright orange as part of the HWC Series 11 Neo-Classics. The casting was then unofficially retired.
Over the last eight years, Hot Wheels has put out several surveys asking for collector input. Collectors just like you have repeatedly asked for the return of the Custom Otto -- oftentimes, even insisting that the Mainline was a great place for it. The good news for those collectors is: They listened! Due to your persistent requests, the Custom Otto has been tooled for Mainline use and will start appearing in the 2020 Hot Wheels Mainline starting in Mix J, in the Muscle Mania mini collection.
Due to requirements for all new castings in the Mainline, the hood has been sealed shut, but they did manage to keep that original metal body. The Custom Otto will appear in three different colors for 2020 -- including one that will be a Target-exclusive Red Edition. Also, they know that some of you enjoy racing your Hot Wheels cars. The good news now is that you can leave those collectible Custom Ottos on display -- or even race them, too -- as they have new releases coming your way that you can take to the track.
Otto Kuhni, unfortunately, passed away in 2017. Collectors these days celebrate his legacy, as his artwork has touched millions of people over the last 52 years, and even inspired a few Hot Wheels designers. His Custom Otto lives on so a new generation of collectors can embrace this timeless design. Thanks go to you, the collector, for consistent reminders that designs like this make up Hot Wheels lore.
Custom Otto Checklist
- 2008 - Spectraflame Red - New York Toy Fair
- 2008 - Spectraflame Green - New York Toy Fair
- 2008 - Diamond-encrusted, White Gold - 40th Anniversary Celebration
- 2008 - Spectraflame Otto Blue - HWC Exclusive
- 2008 - Spectraflame Pink - HWC Exclusive
- 2008 - Chrome - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (El Segundo stop)
- 2008 - Red/White - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (Bonneville Salt Flats, Wendover, UT stop)
- 2008 - Spectraflame Brown - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (Speed, KS stop)
- 2008 - Metalflake Blue - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (Indianapolis stop)
- 2008 - Spectraflame Black - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (Detroit stop)
- 2008 - White - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (Watkins Glen stop)
- 2008 - Spectraflame Gold - 22nd Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Convention (Otto Kuhni Dinner)
- 2008 - Spectraflame Pink - Employee Exclusive
- 2012 - Spectraflame Bright Orange - HotWheelsCollectors.com Series 11 / Neo-Classics
- 2020 - Metalflake Purple - Muscle Mania
- 2020 – Micro Intense Blue - Muscle Mania
- 2020 – Micro Apple Red – Target Red Edition
Edited by BIGBADBRAD01