Mattel’s eternal diecast brand may be celebrating a birthday, but collectors get the presents.
Hot Wheels turned 50 years old in 2018; many celebratory sets and events have come and gone–including a traveling road show and custom car show designed to choose a new Hot Wheels model for 2019, the Hot Wheels Nationals collector event in Denver, and the annual Hot Wheels Convention in Los Angeles barely a month ago. But Mattel may have saved its most impactful item for last: Hot Wheels will cap off its year-long celebrations by releasing a set of all 16 of the original castings in a single celebratory “Original 16 Display Set.”
Sometimes called the “Sweet 16” by collectors, Mattel has included one new casting to replicate each of the cars that Hot Wheels released at the brand’s launch. These include: olive Firebird convertible, antifreeze Barracuda fastback, brown Camaro coupe, blue Corvette coupe, yellow Eldorado, purple Cougar, green Custom Fleetside, magenta Mustang fastback, pink Thunderbird, dark red VW. In those days, even the fantasy cars replicated what other designers did: witness Ed Roth’s Beatnik Bandit in pale violet; the popular Cheetah, in orange; the yellow Deora pickup; the aqua bubble-top Silhouette. And a pair of high-performance Fords: the GT40-based Ford J-Car, in navy blue, and the Hot Heap, a T-bucket finished in dark brown. All colors are Spectraflame colors, of course–a translucent candy color sprayed over a mirror-polished body, for that depth of color that you remember from 1968. Castings that had removable surfboards then, have them now. Openings hoods, an early feature that largely disappeared from the basic-car line long ago, have been replicated here as well. And, of course, signature redline tires and mag-style wheels are part of every car.
But the pièce de résistance is the diorama: a replica of the original store display used to launch Hot Wheels. Display the cars in the set, or keep them hidden in a sliding drawer built into the base of the display. Even if you’re not a Hot Wheels nut, the idea of a replica display set has to resonate with anyone who was between the ages of 3 and 12 in 1968. And quite a few born before and after, as well.
Want one? Us too. Be warned of a couple of things, however. First, you need to be a member of Hot Wheels’ Red Line Club (to pre-order on November 6), or a member of HotWheelsCollectors.com (whatever is left, available November 8). Second, they’re $500 (with free shipping in the States). Sound expensive? Sure. But that works out to $31.25 a car … and shipping and the display unit are free. (Figure that the diorama is worth something, and the cars get cheaper still!) And if you think $31.25 sounds expensive for a Hot Wheels, you haven’t priced redlines lately. Even at that price, they’re going to go fast, because… Third, only 1,500 sets will be made.