Heads up HW Collectors the new HW Newsletter Casting Guide 2008-2017 is here!

Exciting news Hot Wheels fans, we’re partnering with Jim Garbaczewski, publisher of the Hot Wheels Newsletter and Co-Author of Tomart’s Price Guide to Hot Wheels to bring you another amazing resource for your collection. You’ll find the official announcement below –

So I have some exciting news for all those fans of the Tomart Guides who love and miss them. Drumroll, please, because I’m pleased to announce that the Hot Wheels Newsletter is going to be publishing a NEW price guide that covers the period since the last Tomart guide. 

Over the past decade, I’ve continued to work hard logging details of all the latest Hot Wheels releases; model details, photos, colors, variations and, most importantly, pricing information! I’ve been looking for a way to be able to share this with you all in book form for some time, and now, thanks to the folks at hobbyDB who’ve formed a joint venture with me to share the upfront publishing costs, that’s going to become a reality. 

The new HW Newsletter Casting Guide to Hot Wheels will have all the same great images and information you’ve come to expect, and will cover ALL known models released between 2008 and 2017. It’s set to ship in January for $34.99 and is now available for pre-order for $24.99, exclusively in the Hot Wheels Newsletter store, so order yours today!

Pre-order Now

We’re super excited to be involved with this project and will keep you all posted with any updates from Jim!

Comments (2 Comments)
Jean-Pascal Vivet

Hello!

 

Do you plan to ship the guide worldwide?

Thanks for your answer, JPV.

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Unusual, Unique, Even Nonexistent… The AutoCult Official Archive Has Them All

Autocult leadAutoCult is the latest diecast company to host their Official Archive on hobbyDB. If you’re not familiar with them, that’s okay… you’re probably just as unfamiliar with the cars they model. But once you see what AutoCult does, you’ll be hooked.

Most model car companies play it relatively safe when they decide what automobiles to reproduce in miniature. It’s not a giant leap of faith to recreate a mid 1960s Corvette or a cup winning Formula 1 car and hope collectors will buy a copy. Sure, there’s great risk for the company, but the odds of reward are pretty good.

AutoCult does things pretty much the opposite way. Focusing not just on nearly forgotten, but in some cases, almost never-known cars have been their specialty. One-off prototypes, cars with production numbers limited by odd circumstances, legendary but fictional cars… you name it, AutoCult is interested in reproducing it.

Autocult Saab 92H camperTake their Saab 92H model. Not the Saab 92, a car which you’ve probably at least heard of… the 92H was a special one-off camper bodied version of the car, immortalized in 1/43.

Autocult VW Beetle MinihomeSpeaking of campers, how about AutoCult’s 1977 Volkswagen Beetle Minihome concept, a vehicle previously only remembered in the pages of Mechanix Illustrated. Autocult’s releases are organized into numbered series such as Campers (09000), Prototypes (06000), Delivery Vehicles (08000)… you can see the complete list of series on the Archive.

autoculttour vehicleOr speaking of really odd Volkswagens, this VW Kåfer “Wolfsberger Båhnle, a beloved tourist hauler used for sightseeing in Wolfsburg, Germany. Seriously, the question isn’t who would collect these models, it’s who would honestly take a chance on making them? It’s the AutoCult way.

Autocult Brandpowder_911_DSHeck, AutoCult even made a model of a concept so bizarre it only existed as a viral marketing campaign for a creative marketing firm… The Brandpower “911 DS” consisted of the front end of a Porsche 911 and the back of a Citroen DS, presented to the world as if someone had actually built it. Never mind the complications of where the engine would go, some publications were fooled into printing stories about it. Of course AutoCult had to build it.

Autocult VW curry busAnd seriously, what is this thing? Why, it’s a tribute to the ever lovable Volkswagen Bus and the ever popular but not too slimming delicaty of currywurst. And yes, it’s based on a real vehicle!

Autocult Mercedes-Benz SL-XNot to say their models are all oddballs… AutoCult’s new 1965 Mercedes-Benz SL-X answers the question of how one could possibly improve the legendarily perfect design of the Gull-wing SL… well, just look at the concept MB cooked up. And you can own it in 1/18 scale.

Models are released on the AutoCult website on a monthly schedule like a magazine. Each one is resin cast and limited to only 333 copies, so everything they do is rare. Consider their annual yearbooks, and other ephemera like the playing cards they offered in 2016, and it’s hard to resist what AutoCult is doing.

Autocult Ganz VolkswagenCustomer involvement comes at a unique level in projects such as their model of the original “people’s car,” or “volkswagen” by German engineer Josef Ganz. In a nutshell, this innovative rear engine concept was shown at the 1933 Berlin Motor Show, but forgotten to history to another similar, more famous Volkswagen. Autocult is actually running an Indiegogo fundraiser to recreate it – not in miniature, but to restore one of the actual 250 or so Ganz cars to its original glory. Neat, huh?

They’re the kind of diecast company we love at hobbyDB, and the kind you’ll love learning about.

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Auto-Archives Car of the Month — 1986 Citroën 2CV6 Spécial (The Deux Chevaux)

Citroën unveiled the 2CV— The Deux Chevaux: signifying two nominal horsepower (initially it was only 12hp)—at the 1948 Paris Salon. The 2CV, conceived and designed by Citroën Vice-President Pierre Boulanger, quickly became a bestseller, achieving his aim of providing rural French people with a motorized alternative to the horse and cart the majority were still using in the early 1950s. It was unusually inexpensive to purchase and with its tiny two-cylinder, two-stroke engine, inexpensive to run as well. The early 2CV model pioneered a very soft, interconnected suspension, but did not have the more complex self-levelling feature that would appear later. The 2CV remained in production, with only minor changes, until 1990 and was a relatively common sight on French roads until fairly recently. It is astonishing to know that nearly nine million 2CV variants were produced, in eleven countries from France to Argentina, between 1948 and 1990.

The Citroën 2CV featured; low cost; simplicity of overall maintenance; an easily serviced air-cooled engine,  low fuel consumption; and an extremely long-travel suspension offering a soft ride and light off-road capability. Often called “an umbrella on wheels”, the fixed-profile convertible bodywork featured a full-width, canvas, roll-back sunroof, which accommodated oversized loads and until 1955 reached almost to the car’s rear bumper.

citroen_2cv-002_web
Over the next forty plus year the 2CV went through many iterations (including the 2CV Fourgonnette van, the ‘Weekend’ version of the van that had collapsible, removable rear seating and rear side windows, enabling a tradesman to use it as a family vehicle at the weekend, as well as for business in the week) and modifications, including different size engines (from 375cc to 435cc and then 602cc), revised lights, extra windows, re-styled seats, and even door locks! The key to the 2CV’s huge success was its clever, lightweight engineering, which combined a small, fuel-efficient engine with an extremely light body and drivetrain.
In July 1975, a base model called the 2CV Spécial was introduced with the 435cc engine. Between 1975 and 1990 a drastically reduced trim basic version was sold, at first only in yellow. The small, square speedometer (which dates back to the Traction Avant), and the narrow rear bumper was installed. Citroën removed the third side window, the ashtray, and virtually all trim from the car. It also had the earlier round headlights. From the 1978 Paris Motor Show the Spécial regained third side windows, and was available in other colours. Beginning in mid-1979 a larger 602cc engine was installed in some models.

The 2CV Special seen here was privately imported from Belgium (it still has a Belgian registration plate on the front), and had two previous U.S. owners, before the current owner Frank Barrett bought it in 2011. It is a totally original, un-restored car with only 53,000 miles (85,000km) on the odometer. This ‘Spécial’ features a four-speed transmission, front-wheel drive; shift lever on dashboard, and inboard front disk brakes, with drums at the rear. The unique longitudinal coil spring on each side works as both front and rear suspension. The roof folds back, and the seats are easily removable if you need them for a Picnic!

 

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Holy Hot Wheels! It’s the Batmobile!

Over the past few years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy our tribute to Adam West and his Batmobile of choice.

hot wheels lincoln futura batmobile

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

June was strange month, as James Bond and Batman died around the same time, leading to speculation that they were one and the same. Bruce Wayne died, too. Go figure.

So, R.I.P. Roger Moore. But here and now, we’re talking about the legacy of Adam West, who played Batman on TV and in movies for several years in the 1960s. And since we’re all about diecast… let’s talk about his car.

adam west burt wardCustomizer George Barris was given the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car and about three weeks with the mission of creating a ride worthy of the show. To say he knocked it out of the park is an understatement. Equal parts sinister and ridiculous, his resulting car fit the tone of the show perfectly.

The earliest model of the TV Batmobile came from Corgi, complete with removable (and easy to lose) figures and launchable (and even more losable) missiles. Luckily, there are repops available of those pieces. Aurora made a ThunderJet slot car version of the car as well if you wanted to drive it for real, because of course you did.

And that was pretty much it for that time. You would think Mattel would have considered taking advantage of this hot new car to go along with their hot new diecast brand. But it didn’t fit the Hot Wheels plan at the time, probably due to licensing issues and the fact that the car could only be painted one color while still making sense.

hot wheels 1966 batmobile

The Hot Wheels 1/64 Batmobile has been released in different colors.

What a difference a few decades makes. Hot Wheels managed to get a license to reproduce the TV car, as well as other Bat-vehicles, and they took major advantage. So off course they did a 1/64 version, (above) a welcome addition to anyone’s fleet. Their mainline Batmobile would later be released in new colors for Halloween and other occasions, and there were also Treasure Hunt Versions. The details are sort of chunky and rounded to make them kid friendly, but who could complain?

hot wheels adam west batmobile

The 1/18 Batmobile from Hot Wheels came in this regular version and a super detailed edition.

But they also thought bigger. Hot Wheels created a 1/18 scale model, (above) with incredible detail for a car that retailed for about $25 or so. The proportions, textures, finishes and details on the model are superb. And if that’s not enough, there was also a special limited edition model with even higher detail levels.

hot wheels tv batmobile

The 1/50 scale Batmobile has terrific detail for its scale.

The best model of all might fall in between those two sizes, however. Hot Wheels created a series of 1/43ish “classic” vehicles, including the Batmobile. To be accurate, it’s actually, 1/50 scale (above) .  For the size and price, the detail is astonishing, rivaling the bigger car, complete with red pinstripes and bat knockoffs on the wheels. The odd touch here… there is a trailer hitch behind the jet engine. But if you can look past the combustible possibilities, it’s there to tow Hot Wheels’ matching BatBoat with trailer. Yeah, that wins.

hot wheels lincoln futura batmobileYou can debate which version of the Batmobile reigns supreme (The Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan movie versions are the other major contenders) but for a certain generation, the Barris/TV/West Batmobile is the only one you’d ever want. And Hot Wheels has created some of the best models of it.

Comments (1 Comment)
Samuel Ace

Hotwheels did a good job on the Adam west/George barris batmobile thumbs up.

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Hot Wheels Blister Cards Influenced Diecast Packaging Forever

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Otto Kuhni, one of the great American artists of the last half century, passed away recently. If his name isn’t familiar, you surely knew his work. He was the artist who created the overall look of the new Hot Wheels brand in 1968 and continued to work for Mattel on and off until just a few years ago. He did the art for the carrying cases, advertisements, lunchboxes, and most importantly, the packages those toys came in. The fiery orange-yellow-red blister cards instantly created an identity for the whole brand, and influenced diecast packaging ever since.

Hot Wheels Otto Kuhni lunchboxPrior to his designs, diecast packaging was generally plain and not terribly interesting (although there were terrific exceptions). Most diecast cars were sold in boxes, such as Corgi, Dinky, and of course, the company whose name comes from those boxes, Matchbox. A few cars were offered in blister cards, however. Here are some early designs as well as later cool blister cards where companies realized that toy cars are fun, and they should be packaged that way too. Much credit has to go to Otto’s ideas.

This Dinky Alfa Romeo really looks pretty amazing on its rather basic package. The layout is simple, and colors are very limited due to printing technology at the time. Even the effort required just to change the name and model number was something of a pain in those days. One odd touch is that the car is mounted so high on the card, something you don’t see today.

Husky, an early attempt at 1/64 models by Corgi, also featured simple, not terribly colorful blister cards. This fire engine is unique in that someone got a little creative and added the silhouette of the cherry picker as if it were rising from the vehicle itself. But most featured identical base art to keep costs low. Another neat thing… if you see this era of Husky card, there is often a hole punched in the circle where the price is located, like on the fire engine. Presumably, that happened when a store wanted to charge a different price.

hot wheels blister cardBut then along came Hot Wheels! Brightly colored, dynamic graphics, a custom cut shape, and even a bonus in the blister in the form of the collectors button. (Note the off-center hole punch, arranged to allow the asymmetrically weighted card to hang level.) Not only were the free wheeling cars revolutionary, but the Hot Wheels blister cards themselves created a stir with consumers – and with other toy companies.

matchbox superfast blister cardCompetitors responded quickly. Matchbox began retooling their cars as the SuperFast series, with similar speedy wheels and wilder designs on their new cars. The packaging moved to blister cards, though the art was not quite as exciting as what Mattel was offering. Hedging their bets, Matchbox still included the traditional box inside the blister as a bonus. In fact, many of their cars were still available right in the box, same as always, as if the company saw this new fangled packaging as a fad. The combination of old versus new wheels, and different packaging options has created a colossal number of variants for collectors.

johnny lightning blister cardJohnny Lightning was a new startup from Topper Toys in 1969. Thematically, they represented the closest competition to Hot Wheels, with cars ranging from crazy fantasy designs to mild customs, all built for speed. The packaging had a chaotic, exciting design to match. Curiously enough, they had to make a design modification early on… the “BEATS THEM ALL” tagline ran into a legal challenge, as it could not be proven that JL cars could indeed do that. It was modified to “BEAT THEM ALL” to imply possibility, not fact.

johnny lightning jet power blister cardA later line of JL cars, the Jet Power series, featured their own bespoke card design, with a very energetic illustration of one of the cars in action. Sadly, these new cars underperformed the promise of the packaging and were a flop. More sadly, Topper ended the entire Johnny Lightning line (and just about everything else) after only three years due to company wide financial difficulties.

corgi rockets blister cardCorgi tried to compete in the high speed 1/64 market with their Rockets series. Note the two hole configuration on the card, requiring double pegs to hang the car from. The folks who stocked the stores couldn’t have been happy about that. Cool graphics, fast cars, but no match for the Hot Wheels marketing behemoth, at least in that scale. Corgi remains a major force in diecast, but wisely decided to focus more on their main market of 1/43 and larger cars.

tomy tomica blister cardTomy (Tomica) had a lot of fun with their packaging as well. Their Pocket Cars series was printed on a card that looked like denim, complete with stitching and buttons. Such designs really stood out from the pack and looked impressive together on the pegs at the stores. Many of their later series like the Series 60 also had playful graphics.

woolworth peelers zee toys pacesettersMinor brands like the Woolworth’s /Woolco Peelers cars saw the benefit of an exciting package, even if the vehicles themselves were a notch below in quality from the big brands. Or consider what Zee Toys was doing with this Pacesetters blister, mounting the car in a position to go along with the lines of the graphics.

It’s hard to say where modern diecast packaging would be today without the influence of Otto Kuhni’s designs for Hot Wheels, but it’s safe to guess playtime would be little less exciting (also read Otto’s Diecast Hall of Fame Obituary). If you have a favorite diecast blister design, let us know about it in the comments!

Comments (9 Comments)
Joschik

I think that Hot Wheels has recently upped the game with card designs such as the one from the Japan Historics Series like this Toyota 2000 GT.

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