Bruce Pascal is a renowned Hot Wheels and model car collector. We asked him to share with us the ten items he thinks are fascinating and would interest other Hot Wheels collectors (there is always the Pink Beach Bomb – but you have seen that one here on our blog already!).
When it comes to collecting Hot Wheels, renowned collector Bruce Pascal has seen it all over the decades. Today Bruce shares with us 10 vintage and rarely-before-seen Hot Wheels collectibles. Click on the images to view the item on hobbyDB!
Over to you, Bruce!
If you wanted to buy a Hot Wheels in Japan in the late 1970’s, you would go to the store and buy them in a box just like the competitor brand Matchbox were sold. The “Japan Red Box” was almost identical in size to the Matchbox box but was all red with a number on it or a picture of a Hot Wheels. Many of the Hot Wheels pictured had redlines, too – but alas all the cars were blackwall wheels. They made 89 different boxes, numbered 1-80, and nine of them had a number and the letter A.
I started buying the Japanese Red Boxes on eBay about 25 years ago. I was able to get about 75 of them easily, but those last 14 took me years. I found the few people that collected them in the States and traded and bid often to get those wanted boxes. Luckily some Japanese collectors came to the U.S. for a major Hot Wheels convention every year – that helped for a few boxes too.
After I completed the set, I was unhappy that some boxes had pictures, and some had just numbers. I spent another few years upgrading the collection to be all pictured boxes. I think I may have one of the few complete pictured box sets known today.
One of the hardest items for a collector to get are items directly related to the factory production of Hot Wheels. Mattel had very strict security and never wanted any items to be taken home by employees. It is well known Mattel security even looked at employee’s lunch boxes as they left the factory.
When I saw this sticker roll, I couldn’t believe it! This is an almost complete roll of stickers used to apply to the Sizzler 512 S made in 1971. It has three stickers per car, a number 21 by itself and two smaller 21 stickers – one for each side. In all my years of collecting I have never seen a factory roll like this.
Temporary tattoos were all the rage in the early 1970s. After all, an 8-year-old was too young for the real thing! A company called Swell made a packaged Hot Wheels tattoo including a piece of bubble gum in 1971. The Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corporation was a Pennsylvania corporation formed on August 12, 1947, to manufacture candy and chewing gum. The company was also notable for in 1964 the company signed a deal with the NFL.
These tattoos are very hard to find packaged and only one selling cardboard box I have seen, and luckily it is safe in my collection.
When Harry Bradley left Mattel in 1968, he had made many friends there. As a goodbye gift they mounted a gold Deora and Orange Custom Fleetside on a wood base. They had a metal engraved Col. Bradley written in script on it, his nickname. This small token of appreciation Harry kept for over 50 years – then he sold me the cars and told me the story of how they gave it to him on his last day at work. Turns out the Orange Fleetside is the painted rail version, a very rarely seen Fleetside early version with the extra black paint on the rear deck.
Every year in New York during February is the Toy Fair. At the Toy Fair corporate buyers from across the country see the latest products from the different toy companies. Mattel always has a large display showcasing the latest toys coming out for the year. This way, the buyers can place their orders for the upcoming Christmas season and get them delivered in time.
For the 2000 Toy Fair, Phil Riehlman the Hot Wheels designer, hand-painted a 4X resin mockup of the Rocket Oil. The beautiful piece of art must weigh at least 15 pounds and was hand polished after painting and is an amazing piece of history. It is a prized piece in my collection and was offered on eBay by someone who was allowed to take the piece home after it was no longer needed.
The black Rally Case is perhaps the most famous item people think about when you ask how they stored their cars. The Rally Wheel looked like a wheel, with the famous redline around the edges of the wheel. Inside were spacers that allowed you to put many cars inside, many times doubling up and squeezing them in!
When Mattel engineers make the first example of an item as a prototype, they often would use clear plastic. That way, if the item had mechanical features inside the engineers could easily see them through the plastic. This rare wheel in the collection is that prototype, made with a clear plastic and shaped identically to the final product. This is one of one, never seen or heard about another example existing.
Very few photos have been found showing the early days at the plant where Hot Wheels were made in Hong Kong. But one photo was found and sold to me from a former Mattel employee. He kept the original but let me make a copy. What it shows is an amazing thing that happened in the model shop that had to be kept secret in 1967. To make a Hot Wheel typically an individual hand carves an exact 4x scale mockup of the car. Then a pantograph machine creates the items to a 1/64 scale. Then the cars can be produced.
But in 1967 Mattel didn’t have the time or the number of skilled woodcarvers to make the mockups. What did they do? They went and bought AMT model kits and had them built. They used them to pantograph down to 1/64 scale. This had to be kept secret, and I have an internal Mattel memo that states that. Wow! A big secret is out after 55 years!
In 1978 Hot Wheels released the Racebait 308, based on the Ferrari 308 model. Mattel used a separate company called IDA, which stood for Industrial Design Affiliates, to hand carve all the wood 4x mockups. Many of the people that worked there also later worked at Mattel. They had expert wood carvers, and they made the wood 4x mockup for the Ferrari 308. It is in amazing condition and one of my favorite wood mockups.
In 1964 Bob King started a project where a 1913 Model T was to be transformed into a special Hot Rod. With Don Tognotti providing the funding and the final touches, King T was finished in 1964, but only after having the famous painter Gene Winfield paint the car in a special chameleon Lavender color. With a 1955 Corvette small block engine, a unique all-chromed chassis, special chromed independent rear suspension and a fiberglass trunk, this car was entered into the Grand Nationals.
Declared America’s Most Beautiful Roadster, it won the top award and the trophy that goes with it. It toured the USA in 1965, and had two different model kits made of it also in 1965 and 1966. In 1967 Harry Bradley picked the King T to be one of the first 16 Hot Wheels released in 1968. It was called Hot Heap as a Hot Wheels. Today the car sits in my warehouse Museum and is my favorite car I own.
For years as I collected Hot Wheels and the historical items associated with Mattel, the dream of putting back together all the items once separated that deal with one casting was just a dream. Until last month though, as I received a call from a man in Austin, Texas, who found a large resin car. This car was a resin 4X mockup of the Mad Maverick, later to be called the Mighty Maverick. I had in my collection the wood mockup and was able to compare the two and see they were identical. The actual resin was taken from a mold created by the wood mockup.
Before I received this, I did have the original paperwork from IDA who created the wood mockup. Showing a drawing of the wing, IDA created the plans to make this casting and the plastic wing. I had already found the unpainted and unassembled Mad Maverick, so this completes the full cycle. paperwork of the plans, a wood mock-up, a resin mockup, and then the prototype. A full cycle on a historic casting.
Which one is your favorite? Tell us below!
Those are amazing 4x prototypes!!! What a collection!
WOW! Very impressive and informative. Thank you for sharing.
Great Stuff Bruce… Thanks for sharing. Hope all is well.
Fabulous history! Thank you for sharing.
Awesome collectables that you just don’t see.
Thank you for sharing some of your collection and the great history behind the items. I really enjoyed it
The Japanese red boxes did indeed have the redline releases as well as the blackwalls. I’ve personally had 2 of the redline Show Hoss, and have seen quite a few more of it, as well as the other redlines from 1977 that were only found in 4-packs otherwise (Letter Getter, GMC Motor Home, T-Totaller). A complete collection of the red boxes should also have the WHITE box P-911.
That real Hot Heap is a real prize! Imagine just having it out in your garage. I don’t know if I’d drive it or not, but probably! Amazing article
My grandparents sent my mother and father $2 a week for like an allowance when I was a child. I was born in 1960, so I was there when Hot Wheels came out. I took my $2 and bought two Hot Wheels every week 🙂 even after a terrible divorce, I maintained position of my Hot Wheels and still own them to this day. I’m now thinking of giving these to my son for his children when they get a little bit older 🙂
Very nice! Please show us a photo (you can upload here)!
Wow, thanks for sharing some of your collection and the history behind the best diecast cars out. I was 7 yrs old in ’68 and remember the excitement every time I got a new hot wheels
Sooo very interesting. I took my time reading and looking at this. Mind blowing items!
Great read, thanks for sharing!
Just when you think you’ve seen it all Bruce pops up with something else that’s mind blowing.
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