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New Models Update #1: a Baja Racing Bel Air®, Frankenstein’d Truck & MORE!

By Brad Bannach

 

 

Hot Wheels releases dozens of New Models every year. In 2020, there are over 50 being introduced in the mainline alone. Have you ever wondered what the story is behind them? Why the licensed models were chosen? How the designers came up with the Hot Wheels original designs? Let’s take a look at the latest creations to come out of El Segundo, and see what the designers who designed them have to say.

 

Big-Air™ Bel-Air™

Hot Wheels Designer: Brendon Vetuskey

First Appearance: 2020 Hot Wheels mainline, Mix K

Mini Collection: Rod Squad

 

The Big-Air™ Bel-Air™ is a throwback in all sorts of ways. First, that name. It's a throwback to when Hot Wheels were named – not only based on the model of car, but also their presence. This Baja-racing Bel Air is designed to catch some major air as the Baja 5-spoke wheels are orange track compatible. Hot Wheels designer Brendon Vetuskey reimagined the original Hot Wheels ‘56 Chevy® casting design when he pulled inspiration from modern throwback trends for this Baja-racing beast.

 

Big Air Bel Air LEAP2-tiny.jpg

 

 

What makes this brand-new casting super cool is that Brendon decided to forego the standard window piece that most Hot Wheels basics have in favor of an additional “interior” piece that allows for some great color breaks in the casting. Doing this made the exposed shocks, roll cage, light bars, and fuel tank protruding from the casting’s body possible. It's details like these that are going to make this casting a collector favorite in the years to come. Will it rival the ‘55 Chevy® Bel-Air® Gasser in terms of popularity? Those are big shoes to fill, but this is another design by Brendon that seems destined for stardom, as collectors will certainly be giving him another "Tri-Five Hi-Five" at the next convention.

 

While you’re at it, you might as well give his wife, Coco, one, too. She's listed as the “driver” of the Big-Air™ Bel-Air™, as her name is tampo-printed on the roof in white. Brendon’s name is in the co-pilot spot on the passenger side. To further emphasize that Baja racing is definitely a team sport – and a “marriage” of ideas – their anniversary date (July 18th) is on the side as this car’s official number (718).

 

BigAirBelAir-CUx3-1570-tiny.png

 

 

 

Erikenstein Rod

Hot Wheels Designer: Eric Han

First Appearance: 2020 Hot Wheels mainline, Mix J

Mini Collection: HW Hot Trucks

 

As the name implies, this rat rod is a melting pot of ideas, “frankenstein’d” by designer Eric Han. He is a huge fan of the Hot Wheels (2019 New Models) design, the Mod Rod. When its designer, Hot Wheels Design Manager Dima Shakhmatov, approached Eric to do another rat rod design for a “family of rats,” he jumped at the idea of designing a unique vehicle.

 

ErikensteinRod-ModRod-H2H1570-tiny.png

 

Eric’s love of rat rods extends back to his days in Detroit. In his spare time he watches the TV show Roadkill, which can be found on MotorTrend's streaming service. Earlier this year, we offered a subscription to that service along with a two-car set inspired by a Roadkill project, and Eric went into his design with the Roadkill mentality, that this could literally be anything. 

 

Since Eric wanted to make the design something he would actually love to drive, he made a “to-do list” much like you would for an actual 1:1 build. He began to research ‘50s and ‘60s trucks, and immediately knew that the vehicle had to have a super-wide front with bulging fenders. Being from Detroit, Eric said this design had to have a “Detroit drop,” which is essentially the slamming of a 2WD pickup. In addition, the truck couldn’t have a hood, as he wanted to have a specific supercharger on a big blown engine. Eric made sure wheels on the Erikenstein Rod were designed to be the max width a Hot Wheels basic car would allow, while also incorporating a rear-mounted radiator, some nitrous, and a rat – all things to look for in this design! 

 

ErikensteinRod-SS1570-tiny.png

 

Eric spends the majority of his time designing track and playsets, but when he got his opportunity to design something that didn’t need to be track compatible, he personified his inner spirit by caging the beast known as Erikenstein – a name given to this creation by fellow designer Ryu Asada. This first thing Eric did when he received his first sample? He shot it through a slam launcher and a booster, likening the experience to that of a cannonball. 

 

The Erikenstein Rod is the second of three cars in the “family of rats” mentioned earlier. The third is yet to come, but as it stands, this rat pack – which also includes the Mod Rod – is going to be highly collectible, with an ultra-cool, matching matte steel blue and gold motif.

 

 

 

Grand Cross

Designer: Lindsey Lee

First Appearance: 2020 Hot Wheels mainline, Mix K
Mini Collection: HW Race Team

 

The brand-new Hot Wheels Grand Cross is a design that Lindsey Lee holds close to her heart, as it was a design that could be traced back to her college days. She actually designed the basis for the Grand Cross as part of her personal thesis project, giving it a name that meant “Little Fiery One.” 

 

GrandCross1570-tiny.png

 

While meeting with her design manager, fellow Hot Wheels designer Dima Shakhmatov, Dima suggested Lindsey’s Crossover Utility Vehicle be reworked for its inclusion into a specific category the design team had been looking to fill. Lindsey made some updates to her original design that represented “femininity and fire,” and the end result is what we now know as the Grand Cross – a grand touring, crossover utility vehicle.

 

Lindsey is extremely excited to see what the Hot Wheels Graphics Team does with her design in the years to come, while her original 1:5 scale model of the “Little Fiery One” currently is on display in her home.

 

 

 

‘91 GMC Syclone

Hot Wheels Designer: Brendon Vetuskey

First Appearance: 2020 Hot Wheels Mainline, Mix H

Mini Collection: HW Hot Trucks

 

Hot Wheels has always had a deep appreciation for custom cars – and trucks for that matter. That’s why, when you see the release of a stock model, it’s usually because that car is already pretty “syck.” Enter the Hot Wheels ‘91 GMC Syclone. Based off the 1:1 of the same name, the Syclone was the high-performance version of the GMC S15/Sonoma. The first Hot Wheels release comes in the same standard black all 2,995 1:1 Syclones were painted in 1991, and the Hot Wheels RA6 wheels were used to mimic the original pattern of the Syclone’s alloy wheels.

 

GMCSyclone-Rear1570-tiny.png

 

 

 

Party Wagon

Hot Wheels Designer: Manson Cheung

First Appearance: 2020 Hot Wheels mainline, Mix H

Mini Collection: HW Screen Time

 

Thirty-three years after its debut in the animated TV series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the iconic Party Wagon finally becomes a Hot Wheels vehicle. This pizza-slingin’, mobile party machine is a must-have for any fans of the original TMNT series, as it was the Turtles’ crime-fighting vehicle of choice for much of the 10 seasons the show was on the air. It was always a popular choice of ‘80s/’90s pop culture fanatics to make into a Hot Wheels vehicle. 

 

PartyWagon-tiny.png

 

Thankfully, collectors first got their wish fulfilled at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC). Hot Wheels designer Chris Colangelo, is a long-time fan of TMNT – since the start of the comic book days, long ago – and it was his idea to make the TMNT Party Wagon for SDCC. The 2019 SDCC release is very different from the Party Wagon that is now appearing in the 2020 HW Screen Time mini collection. With opening and moving features AND all four Turtles sculpted into it, the SDCC release will pretty much be a special one-off. The level of complexity, along with the size, made it impractical for standard retail lines – despite the original plan to remove the figures and seal the door. So, Hot Wheels designer/sculptor Manson Cheung designed this new tool to fit the requirements needed for it to be part of the basic range. So, while the SDCC piece certainly has an absurd amount of detail, it's this mainline release that has a ton of play value – and you don’t need to attend a special event to get one.

 

PartyWagon-sdcc-mainline-1570-tiny.png

 

Manson has long frequented the forums here on HWC so it should come as no surprise that his favorite Turtle is Michaelangelo. Mikey was the cool, goofy jokester that loved pizza – so it's clear Manson sees a little of himself in his favorite Turtle. The Party Wagon is the latest casting in Manson’s portfolio of epic vehicle designs from your favorite TV shows and movies.

 

Which of these are your favorites from 2020 so far? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

Items and dates subject to change. Production cars may vary from the photos shown. Mattel reserves the right to modify the color, decorations and wheel type.

 

2020 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved. Nickelodeon, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIGBADBRAD01
  • New Models Update #1: a Baja Racing Bel Air®, Frankenstein’d Truck & MORE!
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STANG.MAN

Posted

kewl beans  these are nice!!

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SEAMOORE

Posted

Brad, we definitely need more info like this. Those of us who get to attend conventions and have the opportunity to meet some of designers know how much they love what they do. But we don't always know who does what over the course of the model year. It's pretty cool to get some insight into these releases and to allow the team to get some well-deserved recognition.

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fitsector

Posted

The syclone is one of the best models to include in the hot wheels line up, we need more trucks ! 

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mikemcd126

Posted

Huge fan of all these new models but the party wagon is really a superb blast of nostalgia. Can't wait to see some creative variants, maybe a TH next year?  

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JIMMEE442

Posted

While I prefer the Big Air & Syclone, I like all of them.  The Rods... & all look great, & serve a purpose.  Nice article, Brad.

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SAMACE26

Posted

They're all my favorites. 👍I have all of those in my hotwheels collection. 👍

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Erikstein Rod

I got the Mod Rod last year, since it appealed to me.  So, it will be nice to get this one to then display them together.

 

And even better when the third, unnamed one also comes out!

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Great insight into these new designs. Thanks to all

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Schnauzer-pug

Posted

I recently found the Erikenstein Rod and the Big-Air Bel-Air and they're really nice in hand. Lots of details!

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BUELL2006

Posted

Very cool Syclone! Looks great!

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Phrogflier

Posted

Man is theis club really slow at informing us of these cars some months AFTER they hit the shelves, thanks for the heads up guys.  But really nice story and photos.

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Sugarcaddi

Posted

The ERIKIENSTIEN ROD is one off the coolest casting of 2020. Thanks for another great and informative article Brad.

20200726_073124.jpg

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Syclone, Grand Cross and Bel-Air are my favorites, in that order.

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007menhorn

Posted

Nice concept. Would be great to see a continuing series on the behind the scenes work and ideas on new models we are seeing. The Syclone is sweet, the Grand Cross looks eerily similar to a current BMW or Jaguar SUV (color is awesome!) 

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SCOTT386

Posted

Have seen none of these....

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