Hot Wheels Posts

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!

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.

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!

Arrrrrr! Are There Treasure Hunts in Your Booty? Find Their Values on hobbyDB Now!

Treasure is usually hidden, but thanks to our price guide, its value won’t be – at least, not if it’s the Hot Wheels kind!

Over the last few months, we’ve been working hard to make our price guide a one-of-a-kind resource and today marks an exciting milestone. As well as our Expert Valuations, we’re now calculating values from a variety of sources with the aim of providing the most accurate pricing information for every collectible in the database. First up: Hot Wheels Treasure Hunts!

We’re now displaying calculated values for all of the Treasure Hunts U.S. cards and are working on finishing the values for international long and short cards and sets. As well as being able to check out what your Hunts are worth, we think you’ll be fascinated to see the range of values, from $2 to more than $500 and which ones are the most desirable! Hint; it’s not always the ones you’d think!

Ever wanted to know how much the TV Series Batmobile is worth? Now you can easily find out –

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How about that sweet Dairy Delivery Treasure Hunt – a cool $16.76

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And what about the super cool Cruise Bruiser Treasure Hunt – valued at $22.41

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What’s the value of your favorite Treasure Hunt? For a full explanation of the price guide methodology click here. Interested in getting involved? Contact us to figure out how you can help build out the most accurate collectible price guide in the world!

 

Rocky Mountain Diecast Club Archives now on hobbyDB

Rocky Mountain Diecast ClubThe Rocky Mountain Diecast Club is now hosting their Official Archive at hobbyDB. Having a collectors club post their history here is the beginning of what we think becomes a big movement in the collecting community.

Consider all the exclusive merchandise a club can generate over time…  special T-shirts, club exclusive cars, publications and newsletters you’ve created over the years. Wouldn’t it be great to put those things in a permanent museum here? Even better, each item is linked to variants and other related items and Subjects in the hobbyDB database, making it easy for club members to do research and for other folks to find you.

According to Kevin Feeley of RMDC, the club has been active for over 20 years, starting as the Rocky Mountain Hot Wheelers, and changing the name recently to be more inclusive of other brands and interests. “We are a group of car enthusiasts that enjoy getting together to discuss and trade, the latest releases, and treasured diecast vehicles of the past, he said.” Meetings have been held in various places around the Denver area, and they currently meet every other month in Boulder at hobbyDB’s headquarters, of all places. It’s a great space for collectors, especially diecast, specifically Hot Wheels.

Rocky Mountain Diecast Club

Kevin Feeley of the Rocky Mountain Diecast Club with a small portion of his collection. The club has produced very limited Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars for events.

In addition to the bi-monthly meets, the club does other events. “Several members attend the annual Nationals, and Hot Wheels Convention each year, Kevin said. “The club sponsored a diecast toy show at the local fairgrounds several years ago that was very well attended.” If you were there, you might have been able to snag some very rare collectibles. The club has produced some limited edition custom models from Hot Wheels and Matchbox to commemorate such club activities.

rocky mountain diecast club

A Sizzlers track is part of the Hot Wheels action at a recent club meeting.

The next event is April 15, 2017 at hobbyDB.The club has about a dozen regular members who attend, but they are always looking for more to join them in the hobby. “Everyone is welcome and we would really love to see some new faces at our bi-monthly meetings.  I would also like to thank HobbyDB for all of their help in attempting to expand our club in the Rocky Mountain region!” There’s a simple application and a $20 annual fee to cover the club’s basic expenses like their summer picnic.

rocky mountain diecast club

The RMDC visited the Shelby American Collection in Boulder.

Are you in a diecast collecting club? Or ANY kind of collectors club for that matter? We’d love to have you host your Official Club Archive here on hobbyDB. It’s a great way to publicize the club and promote events, and you might find a lot easier than maintaining an archive on your own site. Contact us and we can help get you started!