Friday, May 18 2018 15:32

#HotWheels50: Hands-on with the Hot Wheels 50th Originals Collection!

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Part of a series of features from The Rock Father™ celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels, Mattel is throwing things back to where it all began... to May of 1968 when a 1:64-scale Spectraflame blue Chevrolet Camaro first hit stores. Elliot Handler, who co-founded Mattel with his wife, Ruth, wanted to do something big. He wanted to create a toy car that was better than anything else out there at the time. It had to look cooler. It had to perform better. And, with a rocket scientist and the help of Harry Bentley Bradley, a designer plucked from General Motors, an icon was born. Famously stating "Those are some hot wheels!," the "fastest metal cars in the world" now had a name and 15 more would join that blue Camaro to become known as the original "Sweet 16." These rides have become highly sought-after, so for Hot Wheels official birthday (May 18), Mattel has unleashed the Hot Wheels 50th Originals Collection. The assortment includes replicas of five Hot Wheels from the Sweet 16, each presented with legacy graphics, detailed Spectraflame paint, Redline wheels, and just like the originals, they come with a collectible button packed alongside the car on reproduction blister packs that look just like they did back in 1968!

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My friends at Mattel recently sent us a box containing the complete 5-car series ('67 Camaro'67 HEMI Barracuda, 1968 Cougar, Custom '67 Mustang, Volkswagen Beetle), along with a bonus - the new Hot Wheels Track Builder System Multi-Loop Box. After all, Hot Wheels and their iconic Orange track are an inseparable pair, and what better way to test these retro classics than by sending them right through a double loop? 


The cars are fantastic, and they really take me back to a time when Hot Wheels were pretty weighty (like the collector series' are now). When you hold these, or better yet - play with these - you'll be reminded of what Hot Wheels were like way back when. Sending these through the track on the deck with my daughters, for a split second, I worried about chipping the paint (a true sign of a very well played-with Hot Wheels car)... but that quickly passed. What was interesting is seeing how the performance of these (which were the best thing going back then) has been eclipsed by sub-lines like the Track Stars, very much mirroring how the auto industry itself has evolved over the decades. Heft and power doesn't always equal speed, so that leads to trial and error with the track sets, and that's awesome to see, especially since STEM is a big thing right now. Hot Wheels have perhaps unknowingly been teaching kids elements of science, technology, engineering and math since the beginning... no catchy acronym required! 

Hot Wheels Camaro Comparison

There's a bonus feature for the Hot Wheels 50th Originals Collection. Each car will include a code where one-winner in the United States will win a life-size 50th anniversary Hot Wheels Camaro (previewed here).  For comparison, I decided to do a "then and now" with the original and current Camaro (pictured above). The Hot Wheels 50th Originals Collection is available now at most major retailers for a limited time. Please note that the suggested price on these is $5.49 each, so anything higher will likely be coming through a third-party seller, including sites like eBay and Amazon. Since these are priced 5x higher than the $1 mainline Hot Wheels, they're definitely being marketed to the collector crowd, but if you're like me, you won't mind when the kids ask to take them for a spin!

Want even more Hot Wheels history right now? Check out what Donut Media created to celebrate #HotWheels50 - a two-minute overview of a half-century's worth of legendary diecast fun...

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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