There are few better examples of the perfect American time capsule than Hot Wheels diecast models.
Today, almost 60 years after the first run of Hot Wheels (ten cars in total – can you name ’em?), they continue to produce both current models and classics from years gone by.
If you want to know what was popular, what was sought after back in 1975, just look at the Hot Wheels models produced from that year; yes, a variation of the VW Beetle was one of them.
Today, Hot Wheels models, for better or for worse, have grown far past being toys of fancy for young ’uns, and have developed a collector following to rival that of sports cards. Indeed, you’ll often see tables at trading card conventions that sell select rare Hot Wheels models (often of the “Treasure Hunt” or “Super Treasure Hunt” variety) right alongside Mickey Mantle and Wayne Gretzky rookie cards.
Collectors are aging, so Hot Wheels has decided to help them rediscover their youth with the Hot Wheels Retro Entertainment Series (HWRE).
HWRE features replicas of vehicles from the most popular Movies and TV Shows from any given era. There’s special packaging, more advanced paint jobs and rubber tires (“Real Riders,” in Hot Wheels–speak).
The available cars ranged from the obvious, such as the Ghostbusters ECTO-1 or Herbie from The Love Bug, to the more eclectic: Rick Simon’s Dodge Power Wagon from Simon & Simon or, more recently, the modelling team’s Ford Bronco from Zoolander.
They’ve even done The Homer from The Simpsons, and Biff Tannen’s ’46 Ford from Back to the Future, complete with a 1:64-scale pile of cow dung.
There are, however, a whole slew of remakes that they haven’t built; what follows is a look at some of our favourites, as well as those we think they should get to producing, pronto.
What they’ve done
Knight Industries Three Thousand (K.I.T.T.) from Knight Rider
While they have done both K.I.T.T. and its foil, K.A.R.R., they’ve even gone the extra mile and recreated an “angry” K.I.T.T.: the Super Pursuit Mode version. It comes complete with raised front bumper and wing, and exposed air inlets. Doesn’t talk, though. Shame, that.
Still, you gotta’ love the blacked-out wheels, full metal base and period-correct California rear number plate, complete with “KNIGHT” spelled in yellow letters on a blue background.
2014 Ford Mustang GT from Need for Speed
Yeah, yeah, we know: this movie went like Fast and the Furious light, and while that could be what director (and former stuntman) Scott Waugh wanted, it ended up a half-baked CGI mess. It didn’t even work for car (and video game) crazies like me when I attended the sneak preview, and that’s a big problem when the cars are supposed to be the stars.
What did work, however, was the movie’s “hero car”; I’ve seen the heavily modified ’Stang GT in person, and it was very cool.
But you know what? Hot Wheels’ version is even cooler. Why? Because when you put this particular Mustang casting against others of its ilk, it outshines them all, more so than the full-size movie car would if you put it next to, say, the Hot Wheels Camaro or stock Boss 302. The great wheels, which get the some very Eleanor-esque styling, the wide rear track, the painted Mustang logo on the front grille; all awesome.
What they should do
1993 Jeep Wrangler from Jurassic Park
Few scenes from Spielberg’s dino classic are as memorable, few baddie deaths come as perfectly executed as rogue security programmer Dennis Nedry’s death by blinding, then mauling at the claws of the at once cute, at once deadly Dilophosaurus. The car he’s in at the time? The venerable Jeep TJ, complete with winch kit, spotlights, bright red wheels and Jurassic Park branding. It wasn’t enough to get poor Mr. Nedry to the dock, but it will stick in the minds of Jurassic enthusiasts for a long time.
1965 Lincoln Continental from The Matrix
It may not get a huge amount of screen time, but the first encounter this bruiser of a car marks perhaps the defining moment in Neo’s ascent to “One-ness”. If you’ll remember correctly, it’s in this car that Neo gets a homing device “bug” from the Machines removed from his gut, the tangible evidence of The Real Word he sees. Plus, the ’65 Conti is just so bad ass, and Hot Wheels already has a Conti casting; all it would take is some Real Riders, some better paint, and Bob’s your unc’.
1971 Chevrolet Nova from Death Proof
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“This car is 100 percent death proof… only to get the benefit of it, honey, you really need to be sitting in my seat.”
The first of Stuntman Mike’s two muscle cars to appear in director Quentin Tarantino’s second of two Grind House flicks, there has never been an angrier Nova on screen. Skull-adorned, blacked-out and utterly menacing – just seeing it appear across the parking lot in its first scene is enough to give you the willies – it brought GM’s plucky compact back into the minds of film buffs and car enthusiasts alike.
1961 Jaguar XKE/1966 Lamborghini 400 GT from The Love Bug
This is kind of a tough one. While it was technically the Lamborghini that made Herbie’s oil boil when Jim traded him for it, the car that emerges after Herbie beats the hell out of it is actually an XKE, probably because smashing up the rarer Lambo was either too expensive, or Lamborghini’s lawyers would have none of it.
Still, it’s the arrival – and subsequent beating – of this car that you can say adds to Herbie’s resolve to win the El Dorado Rally, which is why it belongs on this list.
1984 Sheepdog/Ford Econoline from Dumb & Dumber
A Ford Econoline only in name (also known as an “’84 Sheepdog”), Harry’s famous company car should be a shoe-in for Hot Wheels lore.
Not only is this the most famous car from the film (except maybe the Lamborghini Diablo they manage to procure thanks to a briefcase loaded with cash), it could very well be the most famous vehicle from the comedy genre, this side of the Wagon Queen Family Truckster.
Question is, would Mattel pony up the dough to add floppy ears, a tongue and to finish the whole thing in fur? Probably not.
Saleen S7 from Bruce Almighty
Yes, Steve Carrel’s (as Evan Baxter) hilarious bumbling of the news is probably going to go down as the scene to remember for film people. Car buffs, however, will surely remember the moment when Bruce, spurred by the mocking of a couple of kids, changes his ’85 Datsun 280Z (a great car in its own right) into a fire-breathing supercar.
Bonus points for the fact that Jim Carrey (Bruce) is actually a big car guy, and has an S7 of his own.
1958 Plymouth Fury from Christine
Of all the cars on this list, this has to be the one most likely slated for production; word has it that Hot Wheels is already working on one.
And so they should. While 1977’s The Car’s title character Lincoln may have actually chewed more scenery than the Fury did, it simply doesn’t have the cachet of 1983’s Stephen King/John Carpenter classic. For one, Christine didn’t require any George Barris trickery to be imposing; with those fins and that front bumper, she’s plenty imposing on her own. Secondly, there’s just something about her being from the friendly formica and pastel era that is the 1950s that makes her evilness that much more sinister. Thirdly, the Fury, in its own right, is an example of the epitome of ‘50s styling, meaning this casting would look good even without the special packaging.
1965 Ford Mustang from Goldfinger
First off, it’s a Mustang. It’s the car’s 50th Anniversary, and Hot Wheels people LOVE their ‘Stangs.
Secondly, you gotta give some respect to the car (and its femme fatale driver) that pursued Mr. Bond and helped pave the way for making the DB5 as enormously popular as it is today.
Plus, it looks just right in Wimbledon White (or is that Phoenician Yellow?) especially considering the former is one of two colours in which to spec your special 50th Anniversary edition of the 2015 Mustang.
The Bluesmobile from The Blues Brothers
Now, while this model has been done by other diecast manufacturers, it by no means prohibits Hot Wheels from doing it themselves, as they’ve done with the Channel 4 News van from Anchorman.
While they may not be able to give it cop tires, cop suspensions and cop shocks (doubt the cigarette lighter works, however), but can you imagine? A Hot Wheels Dodge Monaco, with a mega megaphone on the roof. Plus, it would do a good job to appeal to those collectors that like police car replicas, as well as movie replicas and replicas of classic Americana.
1970 Porsche 911 S from Le Mans
Indeed, fictional racer Michael Delaney’s Porsche 917K company car – Gulf livery and all – is the star of the 1971 racing classic, but the first car we see on-screen happens to be the venerable 911. It’s Delaney’s daily driver, and before the film really gets going, he’s using it to cruise the parts of the track where he had a near-death experience the year before.
It’s some heavy stuff, and the Slate Gray finish perfectly reflects the somber tone of the first 3 ½ minutes of the movie.
Ah, forget it. Just do the #20 917K.
ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters
Yes, the Ghostbusters’ ECTO-1 is probably one of the most recognized vehicles in the history of film—indeed, LEGO recently released its own version of the car—but that doesn’t mean it’s played out. Not by a long shot.
There is just something so perfect about turning a Cadillac hearse into a bright and flashy transporter of paranormal investigators. The HWRE model ticks all the right boxes; you get the great wheels and tires, plus superb detail, to the point where it looks like it could have been taken directly from the movie, considering how ridiculous the car looks in the first place.
Oh, and if you’re really feeling adventurous, Hot Wheels has created a 1:18 scale model as well, complete with opening doors and fully detailed interior.
Ferrari 250 GTC from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Yeah, yeah, we know the car in the film is actually an MG with some custom coachwork. But hey, custom coachwork has classically been the way for the rich and famous, right? No need to be ashamed, then.
Plus, Hot Wheels castings aren’t more than skin deep, anyway; that means you still get the awesome paint job, fantastic wheels and detailed Prancing Horse logo on the snout. Just add a little “BUE-LLER!!!!” and job done.
What about you guys? What would you like to see Hot Wheels do?