With their completely unique designs, flash colors, flames, variety and maneuverability, Mattel put out a product that can suit any taste. While we may be graced with a wide array of customized cars, trucks, and military vehicles, it wasn't always like that. When Hot Wheels had just come out in 1968, they only had a select few cars on their roster and they were almost all designed by one man - Harry Bradley.
Bradley was recruited by Mattel because of his experience in the automotive world and creative vision. Besides, it was a nice way to step away from his normal life and step into the realm that had no limits for a change. As he and his team came up with designs, which then turned into concepts, prototypes, and eventually the final product, chances are they never thought that it would eventually become such a worldwide phenomena. Nowadays, it's hard to step into any toy store without coming across at least one Hot Wheels product and we have Mattel to thank for that. So, now that we're done with the brief history lesson, are you ready to read 15 interesting facts about Hot Wheels?
Everyone makes mistakes but the one that Mattel's manufacturing division made was a pretty big one. All of Mattel's prototypes were painted either white or black so that the designers could then check for imperfections and everything was fine and dandy— until it wasn't. Some of their white 1968 Chevrolet Camaros were mistakenly packaged and then sent out for all of the general public to see. Thankfully, not too many succumbed to that error but it was still enough to make them be more careful next time. Needless to say, these were then purchased by consumers and if you can find one you should jump on it, even if it's not in the best of shape. Even one that is out of its packaging and kind of beat up may go for over $2,500 and who knows how much one that's still in the blister pack could possibly go for. If you do happen to have one then insure it.
As if their awesome handling, durability and speed weren't enough of a selling point already, here's another: they're affordable, too. Since Hot Wheels started being sold in stores, Mattel's suggested retail price has been only $1, thus making it easily accessible for kids from all sorts of backgrounds to obtain. No one should ever be denied a toy because of its price, all within reason of course, and now it's possible for them to have one. Given, what they are actually sold for will all depend on the store, taxes, and other factors that the manufacturing company has no control over but they do their best to keep the prices down low and have been doing a fantastic job since 1968. Sure, their tracks may be a different story altogether but that's what hands and a little imagination is for. So, who says that Hot Wheels are a "boys toy" that everyone can't enjoy because, in reality, they're anything but.
The scale of popularity that Hot Wheels has on the international level is absolutely undeniable. But, what's even more impressive is the sheer quantity of cars that Mattel has to produce on an annual scale. With the fact that the brand has been around for 48 years and they put so much hard work and effort into making each one of their tiny vehicles in mind, their yearly production numbers are almost inconceivable. When you take into account that this one company provides cars that are distributed to any number of retailers around the world every year, the numbers work out to them producing one car every minute of the day for over 178 years (which is pretty crazy, especially when that figure equates to over 4 billion). Sure, they have machines that do a lot of the work for them and a massive production team as is, but it's still so hard to believe, especially after you've done the math. If anything, with the growing population which then increases the demand for these cars, you can barely fathom what the future holds for the Hot Wheels franchise as a whole.
Hot Wheels hasn't always been as big as it is today and, when this particular Mattel division was just starting out on the market they had to make a huge impression with not only the industry, but the hearts of little boys everywhere. Toy cars were the "it" thing back in the day and they had to do a lot to make their brand known. What resulted went above and beyond everyone's expectations. They had initially released 16 cars but their very first car off the line was a customized Chevrolet Camaro. Designed by Harry Bradley who had experience working on cars in the past, he made Hot Wheels what they are today. With its dark blue candy coat, flames, and ability to roll better than any other toy on the market, Hot Wheels became a huge success. Sure, there may be slight differences between those that were released in the United States as compared to those in Hong King, but the love of cars in all shapes and sizes is something that everyone can agree upon and Hot Wheels has this simple fact to thank for its undeniable success.
All Hot Wheels may looks similar to the untrained eye, but there are significant differences if you know where to look and the simple and subtle red line on the outside of the tire is one of them. From 1968, when Hot Wheels were first being manufactured, to 1977, all of their cars had a visible red line on the outside of the wheel thus emulating the times. Some of the most popular cars that were released which bared this mark were the Camaro, Custom Barracuda and Corvette but many others were styled in the same fashion. However, what has since been called "The Redline Era" ended in 1977. This was a direct result of Mattel trying to cut costs and a way to signify the end of the glorification of muscle cars and Polyglas tires. This change was inevitable though because, as time moves on, things come in and out of fashion and Hot Wheels would have to keep up with it if they still wanted to be seen as the cool toy to have.
As if making toy cars wasn't enough for Hot Wheels, they decided to try their hand at making a modern concept car and, honestly, it looks pretty cool... especially for a van. While they may be best known for their hand in creating these awesome sports cars, killer tracks and even the odd vehicle connected to a movie franchise, they have proved to the world that vans can be eye-candy. In a partnership with Ford, they made a kit car out of the 2014 Ford Transit and it is loaded with all of the features that you could possibly want. From a 55-inch television screen to a Hot Wheels drag track that is build into the car, they really went above and beyond to prove a point. Then again, maybe the 2013 Specialty Equipment Market Association wasn't the ideal place to unveil such a masterpiece because, well, you shouldn't have to worry about scratching the paint.
While all of the Hot Wheels that were manufactured back in the 1960s and 1970s may be considered rare today, this particular one is truly one of a kind. Designed by Harry Bradley's close, personal friend Ira Gilford who took over Bradley's position after he left the company, the original prototype was too narrow for the tracks. While this may have meant that they would have to redesign the car in order to meet the standards that Hot Wheels had in place, a member of the team had the brilliant idea of capitalizing on the mishap and sold the car to a private collector. There are a few unique features as well. Some of the most prominent aspects that sets this car apart from the rest are its rear-loading abilities, the fact that the surfboards are located inside the van and the increased size of the tires. So, while "The Beach Bomb" concept may have gone off the tracks in a lot of regards, at least it was a worthwhile investment and a story to tell the grandkids.
In November 1970, there was a new sort of race coming to town, The Supernationals, and the Mattel Hot Wheels hobby division just couldn't step away from the opportunity to be a part of something like that. While it may have been held in what would be the NHA national event venue for an entire decade, the Ontario Motor Speedway, they needed funds to get things going and that's where Hot Wheels stepped in. This particular division ended up funding the NHA, or National Hot Rod Association, sanctioned event and in turn dished out a whopping $250,000! Because of this, it only made sense for Hot Wheels to be in the event's title and so it went from Supernationals to Hot Wheels Supernationals and it served as a great means to get some publicity. As a result of everything, they even surpassed the amount of money that was ever awarded for a cash prize. Good job, Mattel!
1 The Only Fully Functioning Car From The Original 16 Was The Dodge Deora
While Harry Bradley may have designed most of Hot Wheel's original lineup, there was only one that turned into a real concept car and that was the Dodge Deora. Commissioned in 1964 by Mike and Larry Alexander, the real life Hot Wheels car that was finally ready to show the general public in 1967 was an instant success with the fans and turned many heads along the way. Once it finally arrived at its new home, the Detroit Autorama, in 1974 it won nine awards including the prestigious Ridler Award for the best new custom car. Painted in a custom candy gold and appropriately named the Deora, everyone couldn't help, but be awe-struck when they saw this front-loading automobile. The design may be based off of the front of a Dodge A100 and rear of a Ford station wagon but the final product was, and continues to be, a glimpse into the future.
Sources: HubPages, HotWheels.Wikia, ChildrensMuseum, eBay, ToyHallofFame
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