Hot Wheels Convertables

Mike Pigott looks at this range of Hot Wheels vehicles from 1991 that featured colour-changing and shape-changing bodies.

In 1988, Hot Wheels introduced a range of model cars with colour-changing paint, which turned a different shade when exposed to heat, returning to the original colour when cooled. These proved popular at the time, having been sold under various brand names including Color Racers, Automagic, Color FX, Colour Turbo and Color Shifters – these are still available today. Also produced in the 1980s was a range called Crack-Ups, which were cars with rotating panels that simulated collision damage. In 1991 Hot Wheels combined the novelty features of these two lines, and came up with the Convertables, which changed both shape and colour when exposed to heat and cold.

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Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in diecast

Mike Pigott examines the model vehicles based on the adventures of video game heroine Lara Croft.Lara LR1One of the all-time favourite video game franchises has been the Tomb Raider series, following the exploits of sexy archaeologist and adventurer Lara Croft. The first version, developed by Core Design and released by Eidos Interactive in 1996, allowed players to control the actions of the shapely British treasure hunter as she travelled the globe searching for ancient artefacts. Tomb Raider proved such a hit with PC and PlayStation gamers that it spawned seven sequel videogames, and was spun off into comic books and feature films…and these led to diecast toys!

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Hot Wheels US Postage Stamps

Mike Pigott looks at a fascinating series of American postage stamps that feature classic Hot Wheels cars.

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To tie in with the 50th Anniversary of the Hot Wheels range, in 2018 the United States Postal Service issued a set of ten Hot Wheels-themed stamps with pictures of classic models. Each stamp showed a popular car from Hot Wheels’ 50-year history. They were photographed on a strip of orange Hot Wheels track.

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Demolition Man by Hot Wheels

Mike Pigott examines the Hot Wheels models based on the 1993 action film starring Sylvester Stallone and directed by Marco Brambilla.

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Although Hot Wheels appears these days to dominate the diecast character toy market, this was not always the case. In the 1990s, Hot Wheels produced very few licensed models, and the 1993 sci-fi / action film Demolition Man was one of the very few franchises that was modelled by Hot Wheels during this time. A range of nine diecast cars was issued, based on the concept vehicles seen in the movie.

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Hot Wheels X-V Racers

Mike Pigott concludes his series on motorized Hot Wheels cars with a look at this little-known range of gyro-powered diecast vehicles from the 1980s.

99 (4)Over the years, there has been a number of powered ranges of diecast vehicles from Mattel. Scorchers were diecast cars with powerful pull-back-and-go motors in them, first produced in 1979. These were followed in 1982 by Shift Shift Kickers, which were similar, but had a brake lever on the back. In 1986, Mattel introduced X-V Racers, which were Hot Wheels sized cars with gyro-type motors that could race along the floor and also perform various stunts.

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Hot Wheels Shift Kickers

Mike Pigott looks at this little-known range of motorized Hot Wheels cars with ‘stick shift’ action!Wind SprinterBetween 1979 and 1981, Hot Wheels produced a range of powered diecast vehicles known as Scorchers. This range had powerful friction engines that could run on a range of track sets, including the amazing Scorcher Chamber, where they could drive around the inside of a transparent plastic barrel! However, by 1981 other manufacturers were producing similarly powered models, and cars with ‘pull-back-and-go’ motors became a-dime-a-dozen. Hot Wheels needed to make models with more of an edge, and so three of the Scorchers castings were modified into Shift Kickers, which supposedly had ‘stick shift’ action!

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Hot Wheels Scorchers

Mike Pigott looks at this exciting range of motorized Hot Wheels vehicles from 1979.

White ThunderScorchers were a range of spring-powered diecast vehicles introduced in 1979. They were not the first motorized cars produced by Hot Wheels; the rechargeable battery-powered Sizzlers had been introduced in 1969 (although these were not diecast), and the clunky rubber-band powered Revvers dated from 1973. However, the Scorchers were the first powered diecast cars that actually worked convincingly.

Mattel described the Scorchers as being ‘spring-powered’ on the packaging, and they were activated by rolling the vehicle backwards, or backwards and forwards, to wind the motor. These days they would be described as ‘pull-back-and-go’ cars, and this type of friction motor seems to be fitted to all sorts of el-cheapo, pound-store junk toys. However, in 1979 this feature was incredibly innovative, and the motors fitted to the Scorchers were very powerful. Scorchers were the big stars of all the 1979 international toy fairs, and the ‘Scorcher Chamber’ track set was a particular favourite.

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Hot Wheels Revealers

Mike Pigott looks at Hot Wheels’ strangest marketing gimmick…model cars sold in opaque paper bags!  What was that all about?  Read on…

Revealers Packaging

 If you were buying a Hot Wheels car, would you want one that was wrapped in a paper bag inside the blister pack?  Or would you rather see what you were getting?  Well, in 1993, that’s exactly what Hot Wheels did…they brought out a series called ‘Revealers’, which were packaged in bags inside the blister card, so the purchaser had no idea what car he was actually buying.

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Harry Potter by Mattel

Mike Pigott looks at Mattel’s diecast models based on the incredible adventures of the boy wizard, Harry Potter.

King's Cross Station Trolley

The popular series of novels featuring the young wizard Harry Potter is one of the most successful book franchises of all time, and led to an even more successful film franchises. As is often the case, blockbuster movies often lead to spin-off toys and models, and there were a lot of these based on Harry Potter. However, many people may be surprised to learn that there was a range of Harry Potter models produced by Mattel in 2000, a year before the first film was released. These models were not based on the films, but appeared to be based on the novels.

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Hot Wheels Hi-Rakers

Mike Pigott looks at this short-lived group of gimmick cars with raising rear wheels, made by Hot Wheels in 1980.

Dodge D-50 with jacked up rear end

Among its new releases for 1980, Hot Wheels introduced a sub-series called Hi-Rakers. These had a novel integral gimmick, which was a rear axle that could be raised and lowered. There were six Hi-Rakers produced, with a mix of classic, modern and fantasy vehicles. Hi-Rakers were not a separate series; they were part of the regular Hot Wheels ‘mainline’, and were sold at the same price as standard Hot Wheels vehicles. They did have unique packaging, however.

The name ‘Hi-Rakers’ came from the fact that you could adjust the rear wheels to give them a higher rake. All the models had metal bases, with a rectangular cut-out around the rear axle. In this place was a grey plastic piece which held the rear wheels and axle. This part was hinged at the front and could be raised and lowered. There were three notches on the pivot allowing the wheels to be set in four positions: level, or with three degrees of height. The models could roll well regardless of which height setting was used.

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