Hot Wheels are usually easy enough to figure out that they don’t require instructions. It goes something like this…
1: Open Package.
2a: Scoot around on the floor or desk or table or sandbox whilst making engine noises.
2b: Or place on orange track for gravity assist.
But if you’re like many collectors, you never get through step 1, so you might not be aware of the not-so-obvious features of some Hot Wheels With Hidden Features. Or in some cases, it might look like the car has an opening/moving/removable feature, but how do you access it? Here are a few examples so you don’t have to rip your blisters open.
Side Kick – This is one of earliest examples of a car with a sort-of hidden feature. It was fairly obvious that the door opened, but how? Eventually kids figured out that by pulling on the tailpipes, the door and driver’s seat slid out to the side.
Peeping Bomb – There was something about those headlights that looked like they should move. Indeed, there was lever was in the cockpit that when slid forward made plastic shields cover the headlights. It was harder to spot on early models because the interior and switch were the same color. On some later models, they were different hues and more obvious.
By the way, both of these cars were available in a special promotion at Shell gas stations in the early 1970s. Were they chosen because of these fun features? Anyone remember getting these?
Buick Grand National – At first glance, it’s obvious the hood should open (the entire front clip, in fact.) But if you tried to lift the front edge, it didn’t budge. Unlike the real car, on which the hood was hinged at the cowl, the key here was to flip the assembly forward. Sneaky! Later versions lack this fun feature. If you never opened the blister, you might not have known about this.
Willys dragsters – Hot wheels has made at least FOUR castings representing early ‘40s Willys dragsters: the ’41 Willys Gasser for premium series, the Custom ’41 Willys Coupe for the mainline, the ‘41 Willys funny car, and the super skinny “Torpedoes” version of the funny car. It’s those last two we’re concerned with here… Both cars featured a long wheelie bar in the back, but in the blister, it was temporarily snapped under the chassis to make the car shorter in overall length. On some releases the base of the car and the wheelie bar were the same color and hard to spot.
Cars with removable bodies – Hot Wheels has made a number of cars with removable bodies over the years. Sure, anyone with a drill and a vise and a hammer can disassemble any car, but these were designed to be removable, just not very obviously so. In 2003, Hot Wheels released a series called Pop-Offs. The series name hints at this feature, of course, but if the first time you saw one of these was in a subsequent variant, you might not have noticed. The next four cars below originated in that series.
Volkswagen New Beetle Cup – A small lock under the chassis, in front of the rear bumper released the rear of the body, which could then flip off. Later models got rid of the opening feature, unfortunately. The roll cage could flip open as well.
Ground FX – This super sleek land speed car was part of the Pop-Offs Series. Again, later variants lacked the removable feature but made up for it with transparent and/or glow in the dark chassis bits.
Mini Cooper/Morris Mini – We’re talking about the original Cooper, not the BMW Cooper. The mechanism works just like the VW Cup. The roll cage also snaps open, but it’s unclear if that’s a bonus feature or just part of the production design to minimize the number of parts. Either way, the interior came in several colors, so you could mix and match. It actually says “lock” and “unlock” in the base in case you didn’t notice it. Early models had metal bodies, later ones were plastic, and the roll cage disappeared eventually too.
Hyperliner – Reminiscent of the Renault Espace super van, early versions of this model featured a removable body, again with a switch on the bottom of the chassis to unlock it. The power unit is massive to say the least, and you could argue that the chassis looks just as cool without the body. The later variants are sealed and likely don’t have the cool engine details.
X-Raycers Scion xB – The transparent body on this “Xbox” came off, but no fancy levers were needed… you just sort of pulled on the rear bumper so the body cleared the metal tab that also serves as the license plate.
Formula Solar – At least we think this one is supposed to come apart. The body just snaps on to pegs front and back, so it can be removed pretty easily.
And as honorable mention, here are some that were really obvious.
Body Swappers – These were the first Hot Whees with removable bodies, and they proudly displayed this fact on the package. What’s more, all three vehicles shared the same chassis dimensions, so you could mix and match for a total of nine different combinations. The body castings didn’t have names, but the set included a stepside pick up truck, a police car and a fantasy race car. The choice of chassis included a street car set up, a slightly jacked up race car, and a monster truck setup. Assembly and disassembly required a small socket wrench included in the package.
If you know of any other Hot Wheels with hidden features like these, let us know in the comments!