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  1. By Brad Bannach Everyone loves a good origin story, right? It turns out, Hot Wheels collectors are no different. There are so many over the course of the last 52 years -- many of which we'll talk about in future articles. One of the first, however, was that of the rear-loading Beach Bomb in 1969. The original design of the Beach Bomb, by Ira Gilford, called for it to carry its two surfboards in the rear, with the ends sticking out the vehicle’s rear window. The high center of gravity made the vehicle prone to tipping on curves and the casting’s width was not ideal for booster compatibility, causing the team to scrap the plans for the rear-loading version of the casting. Howard Rees designed the revised "side-loading" version, with compartments on the side for the surfboards to be loaded into. A very small run of the rear-loaders was made, causing them to be highly sought after, with values in the tens of thousands of dollars. HotWheelsCollectors.com (HWC) brought back the rear-loading Beach Bomb -- naming it the Beach Bomb Too -- as part of the inaugural run of HWC series cars in 2002 (Series One), as well as a couple of holiday releases. In 2003, the tooling of the casting mimicked the fate of the original design, as the casting was retooled in favor of the side-loading design. The Beach Bomb Too lived at the top of Red Line Club members' wish lists for years to come, as many yearned for a yearly release, collecting all that came along -- even after it was converted into a pickup. The Beach Bomb Too was one of the most collectible castings of the ‘00s due to its interesting backstory. The Bugatti Veyron, on the other hand, doesn’t have a comeback story -- at least not yet. The last release of the Veyron casting came in 2010, and rumors about licensing agreements spread rampant in the collecting world back in 2013. Some collectors even went as far as to claim that the previously released versions of the car were going to be destroyed. This sent collectors into a frenzy, causing many to scoop up all instances of the Veyron, while others parted ways with theirs due to the rising value. Ultimately, rumors of the destruction of previous releases proved to be false, but that hasn’t stopped collectors from collecting all of the releases from 2003 to 2010. Collectors have even gone as far as to project value onto the newly released ‘16 Bugatti Chiron, thinking that casting will give them the same types of returns. As it stands, the Veyron has been discontinued, but the Chiron offers hypercar lovers a Hot Wheels Bugatti at a fraction of the going rate on the secondary market. HWC has certainly revived some collector favorites over the years. Many vintage Hot Wheels castings saw new life as HWC and Red Line Club releases. One of the more popular requests for a vehicle revival wasn’t an existing casting. Rather, it was for a vehicle featured in a drawing by designer Phil Riehlman. In a 2006 article here on HWC that examined the origin of the Volkswagen Drag Bus, HWCGary uncovered the drawing that Phil originally did as Plan B. Phil’s passion for a drag racing VW Bus eventually won out because of a last-minute sketch he did for that vehicle, but another fan-favorite was born in the process. Original sketch of the Blown Delivery edited by HWC to remove livery. When shown in that HWC article, this ‘30s billboard truck caught the eye of collectors. Collectors clamored for the design to be produced. As the voices in favor grew, the HWC team obliged and the Blown Delivery was released in 2010. For the next several years, the Blown Delivery was an instant sellout, as it became a signature piece of HWC for a number of years. The story of its origin may have begun to fade in the minds of collectors, but those that were around remember the campaign that ultimately made the Blown Delivery one of the most collectible Hot Wheels vehicles of its time. What other Hot Wheels castings have an interesting backstory? Please share with us in the comments below!
  2. By Brad Bannach Since 2001, new Hot Wheels collectors have come to the forums here on HotWheelsCollectors.com and asked: “What should I collect?” They are usually met with the same response: “Collect what you like.” Why is that? Hot Wheels collectors collect for a variety of reasons. Some are automotive enthusiasts who find intrigue in adding cars to their toy garage that they could never add to their real garage. Some love recapturing the cars they had as kids. Some make it their mission to collect everything out there, while others simply collect the castings/releases/lines that appeal to them. The truth is: any Hot Wheels vehicle can be collectible. So why do collectors flock to certain things? Why are some Hot Wheels worth more than others? In the 52 years of the Hot Wheels brand, we’ve seen some pretty crazy reasons why collectors collect what they do. This is the first article in a series of five examining some of today's popular collectible items. CHILDHOOD FAVORITES It all started with the Redlines. Henceforth, it is that generation of collector which established Hot Wheels collecting. Respect. Many of the Redlines collectors of today will tell you some version of a story that starts with, “I remember going to the store as a kid in 1968 and seeing these cars with this shiny, Spectraflame paint and redline wheels…” and that the performance of these cars matched the coolness factor. Whether they kept their childhood collection, or started reclaiming a portion of their youth years later, people we now know as Hot Wheels collectors found any means necessary to obtain those California Custom Miniatures they knew as a kid -- becoming the first generation of the Hot Wheels collector. Similar stories have been told throughout the toy collecting world, as it echoes a common trait among adult collectors: collecting toys that were childhood favorites. There have been many examples of the nostalgia factor turning adults into collectors over the years, as the brand shifted from Redlines to Blackwalls, and Real Riders to Treasure Hunts. Even the stand-alone lines like the Sizzlers (‘70-’73), RRRumblers (‘71-’73), and Crack-Ups (‘85-’87) have niche followings. Head to any official Hot Wheels convention to chat with fellow collectors, or do it right here in the HotWheelsCollectors.com forums, and you’ll hear many great stories as to why these Hot Wheels collectors collect what they do. Every generation has its own grouping of products that existed, so... What Hot Wheels are the young adults of today collecting? The Hot Wheels brand has become exponentially more diverse compared to where it started in 1968 with the Redlines. The young adult collectors of today grew up in a world of multiple product lines, so there isn’t just one avenue of the brand that they collect. With that said, probably the more surprising revelation to the “traditional collector” is the interest younger collectors have taken in the AcceleRacers line. To many, that was their youth. From the four squads in the animated movies to the special co-mold wheels that adorned the vehicles, these clearly resonated with kids at the time. Collectors largely ignored the line in 2005 and 2006 before it was ultimately dropped by retailers. Now? Check the eBay “sold listings” to see the high price some of these vehicles demand on the secondary market 15 years later. Looking to complete the set and need an original Chicane or Reverb in the package? Be prepared to spend as these no longer come cheap on the open market. Ultimately, it goes to show that no matter the era, Hot Wheels collectors exist at all ages. Many of those collectors collect nostalgic pieces, reminiscing of much simpler times. This is not the only reason why certain Hot Wheels are collectible, but certainly one of the more easily identifiable concepts surrounding the Hot Wheels collector. In part two we will look at Variants & Variations. Which Hot Wheels do you collect for nostalgic reasons? Let us know in the comments!
  3. By Brad Bannach Two of the most popular Hot Wheels castings of today are the ‘55 Chevy® Bel Air® Gasser and the ‘71 Datsun 510 -- castings that are undoubtedly different. But they weren’t instant favorites in the Hot Wheels collecting world. Sure, they both appealed to their niche groups at the time of their initial releases, which were 2013 and 2009 respectively; but no one predicted at the time that either would cause the commotion they do every time one is released. They do share something in common. Both castings had a defining release that acted as a catalyst, setting off a chain reaction among Hot Wheels collectors that elevated these castings to a level of collectability seen only by Hot Wheels like the ‘67 Camaro® and the Volkswagen Drag Bus. For the ‘55 Chevy® Bel Air® Gasser, it was a release that was so iconic, it’s commonly known by collectors as “The Candy Striper.” At the time of its sale, the 4,000-piece run didn’t sell out until day two. But it didn’t take long after collectors got these in hand that they realized how special the piece was, which in turn, turned the masses onto the casting, and Gassers in general. As the value of this piece inches closer to $1,000 on the secondary market, many will point to this significant release as the reason why so many collectors choose to collect the ‘55 Chevy® Bel Air® Gasser – and it speaks as to why the Red Line Club is so popular today. The ‘71 Datsun 510 had a more gradual rise to stardom, as the casting notoriously sat on pegs in 2009 when it was first released. In 2011, John Morton’s Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) Datsun Bluebird 510 was the oddball in the premium Hot Wheels Vintage Racing line, as it appeared in a line that was dominated by American muscle cars. In some areas of the United States, the release also sat on pegs for months. There was even an HWC Special Edition release John Morton’s #46 BRE Datsun 510 in 2013 that had Spectraflame red paint and neo-classic redline wheels. Shortly after that, secondary market prices on both BRE Datsuns started to rise, exposing the Hot Wheels collecting masses to the international and domestic interest in Japanese domestic market (JDM) vehicles. The movement echoed that of 1:1 car culture at the time, and in the wake of this shift in collecting, many Hot Wheels collectors scrambled to collect these premium BRE Datsuns and any other versions of the casting that they could get their hands on. This ultimately vaulted the ‘71 Datsun 510 to not only the most popular Japanese-branded Hot Wheels car of all time, but arguably one of the top 10 Hot Wheels castings of all time. Had it not been for the BRE Datsuns, the popularity of the ‘71 Datsun 510 may not be where it is today. These are just two popular examples of Hot Wheels castings that vaulted in popularity after a specific release. Certainly, there are other examples of significant releases that served as a catalyst to ignite collectors’ passions when it comes to certain castings -- from the masses down to the individual. Do you collect a certain Hot Wheels casting? What was the reason you began collecting it? Can you narrow it down to a specific release? Share with us in the comments below!

    Custom Otto Is Back by Collector Request!

    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
  5. 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. 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). 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. 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! 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.” 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. 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. 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. 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.
  6. By Brad Bannach Thanks for coming back to read the second part (of five) on “What Makes Certain Hot Wheels Collectible?” In the last segment, we talked about Childhood Favorites playing a major role in the way generations collect. Today, we will look at the one constant in collecting that has existed since the days of those very first Redlines collectors: Variants and Variations. Hot Wheels collectors have always gravitated toward collecting variants of their favorite Hot Wheels castings. From full-on color variations to intricacies in tampo and wheel changes, collectors collect it. Some are intentional, others are not. Variants refer to the number of times a casting is released -- whether it be by variation or by a new release method. And variations refer to when a single release has a change to it (i.e., color, wheels, graphics, etc.). No Hot Wheels car has had more variants than the ‘67 Camaro™, which has nearly 300 if you include the packaging variants as well. Affinity for the ‘67 Camaro™ stems from its clean, custom look, complete with an opening hood and an exposed exhaust that peeks out from underneath the side panels. It's widely considered the most popular Hot Wheels car of all time and its sheer number of variants can make a collector go mad -- and broke! If you’re going to start collecting the ‘67 Camaro™ today, two words: “Good Luck!” Hot Wheels castings like the ‘67 Camaro™ always seem to grow in popularity. It is incredibly challenging -- and expensive -- to put together a casting collection that has dozens of variants, let alone hundreds. Though, if you can do it, it’s certainly a sight to see as collectors love a good casting collection. Wheel variations have existed for decades but the specialized collector market really took off in the ‘80s and ‘90s when more wheel styles were introduced. Standard mainline production these days lasts only a few weeks. But back then, with longer production runs, the planned wheel would often run out at the factory, as certain releases were manufactured for months at a time. The factory would replace the planned wheels with another similar option, thus creating a wheel variation. Today, with the number of wheel styles we offer, wheel variations can (and do) occur. It takes a good variation hunter to know how to find them; and the most successful collectors are often the ones who dedicate the most time to research. Color variations were the original variation, as the Original 16 came in a rainbow of colors. Outside of shade variations, most color variations are planned these days, as we know collectors love to collect them. Vehicles in the Hot Wheels mainline will often come in multiple colorways throughout the year, and we even offer a variety of store-exclusive color variations throughout the year. Make sure you check out our latest bunch of exclusive color variations at Dollar General. Another place collectors love to look for color variants are within the Hot Wheels multipacks, as many former graphic designs are brought back for exclusive recolors via the 3-, 9-, 10-, and 20-Packs. Some collectors devote their entire Hot Wheels collection to variants and variations. For variant collectors, it’s often about completing a casting collection; while for variation collectors, it’s about tracking down the rare Hot Wheels that are out there -- or at least ones that are less common. Either way, collectors who collect by variant/variation are collecting what they like. In the next part of this five-part series on “What Makes Certain Hot Wheels Collectible?” we will explore some of today’s heavy hitters, as their collectability can often be traced back to A Significant Release. Look for that feature article soon! Which Hot Wheels variants and variations do you like to collect? Let us know in the comments!
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