Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Celebration Was a Nonstop Victory Lap

hot wheels 50th header

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

The Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary celebrated half a century of the world’s most popular toy cars in 2018 with a year-long blowout. As the calendar flips to 2019, let’s look back at some of the highlights.

hot wheels 50th logoFirst for a sense of scale, consider what Hot Wheels did in 1993. In that pre-internet, pre-everything-is-collectible era, the Hot Wheels 25th Anniversary caught many fans by surprise. If you happened to be scanning the pegs for new cars, you might have been stopped in your tracks by the once-familiar red and orange flamed packages with the Hot Wheels logo. The wide custom cut card art, the button (reproduced in plastic) and the brightly colored cars were an instant time machine to the late 60s and early 70s remembered so fondly by kids of that era.

It’s almost cute how subtle the whole thing was. Original 16? No, Mattel only dragged out eight molds from the past. Heck, they may have even been caught off guard at how popular these would be, as the next year, “Vintage Series II” was released with eight more early favorites.

And that was pretty much it. Hot Wheels did a few commemorations for their 35th and 40th birthdays, but those numbers aren’t as magnificent as the big 5-0.

hot wheels 50th lionel train2018 started off kind of subtle, with the new “50” logo on all the packaging for new models and old. Not a huge deal, actually, although it set up some packaging variants to keep track of. In fact, the really special merchandise kind of just trickled out at first. Lionel surprised collectors with an elaborately decorated Hot Wheels-themed train set (complete with orange track!). It’s a really nicely done set, but that wasn’t quite what fans were expecting.

hot wheels 50th twin millhot wheels 50th flyerThe first 50th cars arrived early in the year, the “Black and Gold” series, a set of seven castings from various eras (six plus a mystery Treasure Hunt). If you hadn’t been paying attention to signals from the various insider clubs and rumor mills, that almost seemed like that was going to be the whole shebang.

Shortly after those cars came out, however, a little flyer arrived… a tear sheet available next to the store displays, outlining the rest of the commemorative models. A lot of them. Suddenly, it was game on!

Stars and Stripes,” “Zamac Flames,” and blue “Race Team” themes were all on the way, but some more “commemorative” lines were also promised. The 20 car “Throwback Collection” featured a mix of old and new castings. One interesting trend was that most of the celebration focused on models based on real cars, with only a few unlicensed, original, fantasy designs to be seen.

hot wheels 50th originalsThe “Originals” Series was kind of an odd mix… the late ’60s flamed card art, plus Spoilers-era cartoon illustrations of the cars, plus… well the castings were interesting.  They included a VW Beetle, a ‘Cuda, a Camaro, a Cougar, and a Mustang, staples of the original 16. But not the original castings: these were versions of later models. For the price, the overall effect was neat, but kind of a near miss for some collectors. (A few years ago, on the other hand, the RedLine Club did a much more accurate tribute by re-releasing castings of all of the “Original 16” cars. They even got the wheels right, with the covered center hubs. And the packaging was a much closer replica, as real as you could get without causing authenticity questions. More on these in a bit…)

hot wheels 50th mediaThe History Channel broadcast a one hour History of Hot Wheels in the summer. It was fun to watch, but it zoomed down the orange track too quickly. August brought about another amazing retrospective history of the brand in a more permanent form. The book “From 0 to 50 at 1:64 Scale” by Kris Palmer featured colorful layouts, terrific photography great sidelights, and an intro by Larry Wood (it was a big year for him and the other historic designers). Oh, and it came packaged in a vinyl carrying case that looked and smelled like 1970!

Speaking of good reading, Jim Garbaczewski teamed up with hobbyDB to publish the latest Hot Wheels Casting and Price Guide this past Spring. With 228 pages of details and 3,300 color photos, it’s as accurate and complete a listing of castings as you can get.

hot wheels postage stampsSeptember brought possibly the most welcome surprise of the anniversary… Hot Wheels postage stamps! Ten designs featuring cars from the original Twin Mill to 2018’s Mach Speeder made the mail flow just a bit faster. (How many of you used them on your holiday cards this year?)

hot wheels 50th convention carsThe conventions had a more celebratory feeling than usual too. The 18th Annual Collectors Nationals debuted a VW T-2 Rockster, a new casting that is sure to be popular among premium offerings for years to come. The 32nd Collectors Convention got into the spirit of things with an outstanding array of amazingly detailed paint schemes on the convention cars, including early castings of ’65 Mercury Cyclone of the new Dragstrip Demons gassers.

hot wheels 50th favoriteshot wheels 50th favorites drag busFall brought the 10 car “Favorites” series to stores. Sharp black cards stood out among the rest of the offerings, with colorful, Real Rider-adorned, metal-chassis cars. And what a selection it was. The Drag Samba Bus, the ’55 Chevy Gasser, and the ’67 Camaro anchored a wide variety of vehicles from different marques. They were kind of hard to find, but not impossible, making the hunt challenging and fun, but not over the top.

Then came one final present… a very limited edition replica of the Original Hot Wheels Store Display that kicked things off in 1968. This large cardboard unit included another round of repops of the original 16 in Spectraflame hues. Since it was limited to 1,500 pieces, it has sold briskly. Even at $500, it was worth it almost for the cars alone.

hot wheels 50th displayThroughout 2018, Mattel did an amazing job rekindling some of the memories that today’s collectors felt as kids. The celebration was downright fun, which is what made Hot Wheels an instant success from the start.

What was your favorite part of the Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments (4 Comments)
Samuel Ace

2018 was definitely the best year for hotwheels in a along time.  They did lots of great stuff last year for they're 50th anniversary. 👍And 2018 was the best year for me with hotwheels in along time. 2018 was the most hotwheels in one year at the stores and at the flea market and at car shows and at toy shows. 👍 And 2018 was the year where I found the most super treasure hunts at the stores since I started collecting hotwheels. 👍 So I hope and pray this continues into 2019 with hotwheels. 👍

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The Iconic Citroen 2CV, The French Car That Almost Never Was

norev citroen 2cv prototype

Here’s another Guest Blog from Patrick Wehr, owner of Pat’s Modellauto and and also a Curator and Champion at hobbyDB. 

The Citroën 2CV is one of the most iconic French automobiles ever made, but it almost never came into existence.

In 1934, the Citroën Company was bankrupt, and was taken over by the family-owned Michelin Company. At that time, France had a very significant rural population which could not yet afford cars. Citroën wanted to built a little low-priced car, an “Umbrella on four wheels.” It had to carry four people or 50kg (110lb) of goods to market at 50km/h (30mph) on unpaved and muddy roads. The car would have to be fuel efficient, using no more than 3l/100km.

norev Citroen prototype

1937 Citroen 2CV prototype by Norev

In 1936, they began to secretly develop a car called “TPV“ (Toute Petite Voiture, or Very Small Car). Water and air cooled engines were investigated as options to power the car. They settled on a water-cooled engine, a horizontally opposed 2-cylinder engine of 700cc that was capable of propelling the car to 37mph thanks to its low weight of only 370kg. experimented with lightweight materials, including an aluminum body.  Citroën expected that this light material would soon be as cheap as steel. Although this didn’t pan out, it demonstrated Citroën’s commitment to innovation.

The first prototypes were uncovered chassis with rudimentary controls. Test drivers wore leather flying suits, much like pilots wore in contemporary open biplanes. 20 TPV prototypes were built by the end of 1937. French law at that time required only one headlight, so the TPV had only one.

In 1939, 47 technically different prototypes had been built and tested and a pilot run of 250 cars was produced, receiving approval for the French market. They printed brochures, renaming the car the “Citroën 2CV“ for the Paris Motor Show in October 1939. Everything looked great.

But with the beginning of the World War II, the launch of the 2CV was abandoned. As they feared some military application for the 2CV they hide several TPV’s in secret locations, one was even disguised as a pickup and the others were destroyed.

norev citroen 2cv prototype

Norev Citroen 2CV pickup prototype

For years, it was thought that, at best, only two prototypes had survived the War or, at worst, that all the cars were lost. Apparently, management knew of the existence of some survivors, since in the 1950s an internal memo was issued ordering the remaining ones to be scrapped. Some workers who appreciated their historical value concealed those TPV’s so that they could be preserved. It was believed for years that only the Pick-Up and one other vehicle had survived. Then, in 1995, three cars were found in a barn at the Bureau d’Etudes at Ferté-Vidame and they were kept exactly as they were found.

Citroën 2CV Terrasson 1939

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Norev Terrasson TPV

norev citroen 2cv prototype

Pierre Terrasson began to built this model on 1935 and on 1939 three prototypes tested in secret the parts of the new 2CV on day and night. They tested various engines and technical parts and two Citroën Traction Avant’s with technicians on board followed them to give help if technical problems would appear. As war began the Terrasson 2CV were scrapped.

Citroën 2CV Cyclope 1939

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The 1939 Citroen Cyclope TPV by Norev

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Some Technical Specifications of the Cyclope TPV:

As at the beginning of the war the development of the 2CV was stopped but Citroën began in secret to develop another car during the war. A prototype was made in 1942 with the name “Cyclope”. Can you guess why? The Cyclope kept the same dimensions of the first 2CV made in 1939 as well as the concept of the TPV. However, the materials used to build that car were cheaper in sight of the difficult times.

With so much expertise, experimentation and trial, the 2CV would go on to write history until production ended in 1990. 5,114,966 of them were produced over the years, quite a successful run for a car that almost never happened.

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hobbyDB: What’s the big idea?

As a hobbyDB user, you may have looked up all the Super Treasure Hunts from a certain year, or how much that Headless Ned Stark is worth. You may be wondering: How’d this all start and where is it going? Well our very own Joschik recently appeared on the Syfy networks Fandom Files to provide the answers. Check out the podcast to find out why we do what we do and what you can look forward to as a part of hobbyDB.


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The hobbyDB “Just in Time” Sale! – Up to 50% off

Get your last minute shopping done on the hobbyDB Marketplace!

Thousands of items on sale, just in time for you to get some last minute gifts.

Make sure to order from Trusted Sellers by December 17th to ensure your gifts arrive on time!




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The Hard Rock Pin Catalog is coming to hobbyDB! – That’s 84,000 Pins!

Calling all Hard Rock Pin Collectors!

Discover the new home for the Hard Rock Pin Catalog at hobbyDB

Hard Rock Pin Catalog


One of the most extensive collections out there, the Hard Rock Pin Catalog contains more than 80,000 pins from around the globe and has been in existence since 2001. Inside the catalog you’ll find a full historic assortment of collectibles from Hard Rock. Currently, the catalog focuses solely on collectible pins which are a trademark collectible for Hard Rock. However, we plan to add many more families of collectibles to the catalog. Stay tuned!

Info about the catalog and those that maintain it.

The catalog is maintained by Pin Masters, an amazing group of volunteers who are each assigned a Hard Rock global location. Overseeing the Pin Masters are a group of collectors that make up the Pin Master Advisory Board. This group ensures new locations, pin groups, catalog entry standards, and other information about the pins and catalog are conveyed to the Pin Master membership so they can assure the catalog’s accuracy. As new Hard Rock locations open around the globe, the Pin Master Advisory Board searches for new Pin Masters to oversee that portion of the catalog.

The catalog itself will live within the hobbyDB collectibles database. As many of you know, it’s our mission to preserve databases and provide free, accurate information to everyone. Adding the Hard Rock Pin Catalog to the database is our perfect way to continue to achieve this mission and preserve this information for pin collectors all across the world.

Welcome to the Family Hard Rock Pin Collectors!

Whether you’re a novice collector or well on your way to becoming a Pin Master, your Pin Locker is safe in our hands. And then some. We’re working closely with Pin Masters to provide an even more comprehensive catalog with new features and options that are free to use.

Among them is a simple, three-step process to transfer your collection fully intact from the Hard Rock website. All you have to do is –

  1. Export your Pin Locker as CSV file
  2. Create a free account on hobbyDB
  3. Email your Pin Locker CSV file and hobbyDB username to

The Hard Rock Pin Catalog on hobbyDB also allows you to boost the look of your pins with the ability to add extra photos. For example, now you can feature those different pin back designs.

Does your Hard Rock collection extend beyond pins? The hobbyDB catalog affords its users the opportunity to add all their cherished Hard Rock items, such as shot glasses, magnets and hoodie bears. You can learn more about adding to the hobbyDB catalog here.

Next Steps

  1. We are finalizing the taxonomy with the Pin Masters over the weekend
  2. We will add the entire pin catalog to hobbyDB as soon as possible (hopefully within the next 10 days)
  3. We will upload all received user Pin Lockers as soon as the entire catalog has been added
  4. We will keep you updated through the entire process

If you have any questions, find more info here or feel free to reach out to our team at any time by clicking that little green support button on the righthand side of your screen.

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