Hot Wheels is a brand of die cast toy car, introduced by American toymaker Mattel in 1968. It was the primary competitor of Matchbox until 1996, when Mattel acquired rights to the Matchbox brand from Tyco.
Hot Wheels are die-cast model vehicles manufactured by Mattel and were introduced on September 7, 1968. Originally the cars and trucks were manufactured to approximately 1:64 scale and designed to be used on associated Hot Wheels track sets. By 1970, however, a series of 1:43 scale "Gran Toros" made by Mebetoys in Milan, Italy, were introduced. More recently, a range of highly detailed adult collector vehicles, including replicas of NASCAR and Formula One cars, have found success. Despite the forays into larger scales, the brand remains most famous for the small scale free-rolling models of custom hot rods and muscle cars it has produced since the range first appeared. Roughly 10,000 different models of Hot Wheel Cars have been produced over the years.
Hot Wheel Vehicles are authorized by the car makers General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler Motors. Other car makers like Ferrari, Mazda, and Toyota have licensed Hot Wheels to make a scale model of their cars. To make a Hot Wheels version of a current-model car, Mattel looks at design blueprints of the full-sized car. An example of this is the Chrysler 300 Hot Wheel car. First, the Hot Wheel Team and Mattel went to Chrysler to look at the design of the 300 and an actual car. Chrysler licensed the blueprints to Mattel and the Hot Wheel Team for the purpose of producing the model car. Chrysler then required Mattel to return the blueprints after the Hot Wheel team was finished studying them. At Mattel's Hot Wheel design center, the blueprint's design measurements and dimensions were scaled down to conform to a model car that is 1/64 the size of a real car. Then a mock-up of the car was produced in plastic and evaluated. After this process, the mock-up became a die cast metal mock up, which was evaluated again. After these processes were complete, the final version of the car was then manufactured. For older scale models, the 1968 Chevy Nova for example, the model maker uses blueprints from General Motors and also studies car brochures of that model year. Larry Wood, the head of the Hot Wheels division (now retired), had been with the Mattel/Hot Wheels team since 1969. He originally worked for General Motors as a designer. The Hot Wheels product line has also included various tracks, accessories, and other kinds of vehicles such as "Sizzlers" rechargeable electric cars, "Hot Line" trains, "R-R-Rumblers" motorcycles, "Hot Birds" airplanes and the comical half-human/half-machine "Farbs".
Before Hot Wheels, the huge market for small car models was dominated at that time by the British company Lesney with their Matchbox cars. Elliot Handler, co-founder of Mattel, decided to produce a line of die-cast toy cars for boys. Although his executives thought it was a bad idea, he was able to capture much of this market by introducing a number of revolutionary features, including low-friction wheels suitable for racing on a track, and styling in tune with the times of customized, racing and show cars coming out of places like California.
There were sixteen castings released in 1968, eleven of them designed by Harry Bentley Bradley, with the first one produced being a dark blue Custom Camaro. Although Bradley was from the car industry, he had not designed the full-functioning versions of the real cars, except the Dodge Deora concept car, which had been built by Mike and Larry Alexander. Another of his notable designs was the Custom Fleetside, which was based on his own heavily-customized '64 El Camino. (Other info...It is more likely that Bradley's heavily customised hot rod was a 67 Chevrolet Pickup Truck...not the 64 ElCamino.)
Of the first 16 cars (sometimes called the "Sweet 16" by collectors), 10 were based upon customized versions of regular production automobiles of the era, and 6 were based upon real show cars and cars designed and built for track racing. All of the cars featured "Spectraflame" paintwork, bearings, redline wheels, and working suspension. There was one notable difference in the first run production cars and that was a lack of "Door Cuts" in the molded cars. This was thought to be more accurate to the scale as door openings would be nearly invisible at that scale. Also, the sharp edges of the cuts in the molds would quickly wear away from the process of injection. Later they were brought back due to public opinion and toy testing on children. The metallic "Spectraflame" paintwork also marked out these models from drab enamel of Matchbox cars. The attractive finishes were achieved by firstly polishing the bare metal of the bodyshells and then coating them in a clear colored lacquer, and featured such exotic colors as "Antifreeze", 'Magenta' and "Hot Pink". Because "Hot Pink" was considered a "girls color", it was not used very much on Hot Wheels cars. For most castings, it is the hardest color to find, and today can command prices ten times as high as more common colors. In order for the cars to go fast on the plastic track, Mattel chose a cheap, durable, low-friction plastic called Delrin to use as a white bushing between the axle and wheel. The result was cars that could go up to scale 200 mph. The bushings were phased out in 1970, and replaced with flush black inner wheels with outer caps. The early years of Hot Wheels are known as the Redline Era as until 1977 the wheels had a red line etched around the tire rim, popular on muscle cars at the time. The "Torsion Bar" suspension was simple, but flawed. Inside the car, the axles followed a "C"-like shape that was connected to the chassis. When pushed down, the axles would bend like a real car. However the axles were hard to install on the chassis while being assembled and would become detached from the lugs on the baseplate if very hard pressure was applied. Well played with cars would develop an obvious "sag" to the wheels. The suspension was redesigned in 1970 with solid axles mounted on a bar of plastic acting as a spring. Packaged along with the cars were metal badges showing an image of the car so fellow collectors could identify each other and compare collections.
Most importantly, they were designed to run on orange plastic track, which could be placed to make interesting jumps and loops. Motive power was by means of gravity, by attaching the starting point of a course to a table or chair via an included C clamp. A two-lane starting gate was available, allowing two lengths of track to be set up for racing. Later sets had both the starting gate and a finishing flag which would be tripped by the first car. One of the most famous sets was the 1970 Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set, which reached values as high as $500 during the 1990s, but has since been produced in modified replica form. It featured yellow Plymouth Barracuda and red Plymouth Duster funny cars, loops, jumps, and even an apparatus that would deploy drag chutes after they crossed the finish line, all in a box showing Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen.
Other sets included a Supercharger that had an electric motor and foam covered wheels that propelled the car around a loop of track as the cars passed through. Accessories included a lap counter and a speedometer. It was the combination of all of these ingredients — speed via the low-friction wheel/axle assembly and racing tires, looks due to Spectraflame paint and mag wheels, plus the inclusion of very American themes such as hot-rod designs based on true American prototypes not seen in great numbers in the competition's product lines — that laid the groundwork for the incredible success story Hot Wheels were to become.
Twin Mill from 1969, one of the most recognizable Hot Wheels designsAs it turned out, the Hot Wheels brand was a staggering success. The series "re-wrote the book" for small die-cast car models from 1968 onwards, forcing the competition at Matchbox and elsewhere to completely rethink their concepts, and to scamper to try to recover lost ground. Harry Bentley Bradley did not think that would be the case and had quit Mattel to go back to the car industry. When the company asked him back, he recommended a good friend, Ira Gilford. Gilford, who had just left Chrysler, quickly accepted the job of designing the next Hot Wheels models. Some of Hot Wheels' greatest cars, such as the Twin Mill and Splittin' Image, came from Ira Gilford's drawing board. The success of the 1968 line was solidified and consolidated with the 1969 releases, with which Hot Wheels effectively established itself as the hottest brand of small toy car models in the USA.
The Splittin' Image, Torero, Turbofire, and Twin Mill were part of the "Show & Go" series and are the very first original in-house designs by Hot Wheels.
The initial prototypes of the Beach Bomb were faithful to a real VW Bus's shape, and had two surfboards sticking out the back window. During the fledgling Hot Wheels era, Mattel wanted to make sure that each of the cars could be used with any of the play sets and stunt track sets. Unfortunately, testing showed that this early version (now known as Rear-Loader Beach Bomb, or RLBB) was too narrow to roll effectively on Hot Wheels track or be powered by the Super Charger, and was too top-heavy to negotiate high-speed corners.
Hot Wheels Designers Howard Rees and Larry Wood modified the casting, extending the side fenders to accommodate the track width, as well as providing a new place on the vehicle to store each of the plastic surfboards. The roof was also cut away and replaced by a full-length sunroof, to lower the center of gravity. Nicknamed "Side-loader" by collectors, this was the production version of the Beach Bomb. The Rear-Loader Beach Bomb is widely considered the "Holy Grail" of any Hot Wheels collection. An unknown number were made as test subjects and given to employees. A regular production Beach Bomb may be worth up to $600, depending on condition. Market prices on RLBBs however, have easily reached the five-figure plateau. Within the last decade, one of two existing hot pink RLBBs sold for reportedly above $70,000 to a well-respected and widely known Hot Wheels collector. The Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles had a pink RLBB in its Hot Wheels exhibit. It was displayed on a single rotating platform, much like the kind used to showcase precious gems. The Hot Wheels Collectors Club released a new, updated version of the rear loading Beach Bomb in 2002 as a limited edition.
1970 was a first-rate year for Hot Wheels, so Mattel came up with a new slogan for the cars: "Go With the Winner". 43 new cars appeared this year. This was also the year that Sizzlers and Heavyweights appeared. Howard Rees, who worked with Ira Gilford, was tired of designing cars. He wanted to work on the Major Matt Mason action figure toy line-up. Rees had a good friend by the name of Larry Wood. They had worked together at Ford designing cars. When Wood found out about Hot Wheels at a party Rees was holding, Rees offered Wood the job of designing Hot Wheels. Wood agreed, and by the end of the week, Larry Wood was working at Mattel. His first design would be the Tri-Baby. After 36 years, Larry still works for Hot Wheels. Another designer, Paul Tam, joined Larry and Ira. Paul's first design for Hot Wheels was the Whip Creamer. Tam continued to work for Mattel until 1973. Among the many futuristic designs Tam thought up for Hot Wheels, some of the collector's favorites include Evil Weevil (a Volkswagen with two engines), Open Fire (an AMC Gremlin with six wheels), Six Shooter (another six wheeled car), and the rare Double Header (co-designed with Larry Wood).
This is a collection of Hot Wheels commercials from 1970, these commercials were shown mostly on Saturday morning televison during the early 1970's
WATCH THEM NOW:
HOT WHEELS TOY COMMERCIALS
MATTEL TOY CORP. (1970)