I have a confession to make: I never really outgrew Hot Wheels and Matchbox toy cars. My interest has ebbed and flowed over the years, but it has never gone away completely . . . and these days, I seem to be in “flow” mode. Part of the reason is that Mattel has been pushing a lot of ’80s-nostalgia hot buttons recently in the Hot Wheels line. They’ve released a steady flow of ’80s TV and movie cars over the past couple years, such as the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 ’59 Cadillac ambulance, the Back to the Future DeLorean, KITT from Knight Rider, and the A-Team van. (In my experience, all of these “Hollywood” vehicles are frustratingly hard to find in stores; collectors snap them up almost as soon as they’re put out.) And, Mattel has reintroduced the Hot Wheels “Hot Ones” line as a separate nostalgia series. Oh, boy. You know you’re getting older when the throwback reissue series is comprised of many of the same cars you had as a kid.
Hot Wheels has been big on nostalgia and catering to adult collectors since the early ’90s. Up until recently, however, most of the nostalgia/reissue cars centered on the Hot Wheels of the late ’60s and early ’70s . . . the era of “redline” wheels and candy-colored “Spectraflame” paint jobs. I came of Hot Wheels age in the late 1970s, at the tail end of the redline era, so I never had those cars as a kid. My childhood Hot Wheels fandom was probably at its peak from 1979 to ’83, which is the exact time frame these reborn Hot Ones cars are recalling.
Some of the vehicles in the line are new or recent castings that didn’t actually exist back in the day, but others are originals that haven’t been seen in 25 years or more. Almost all of them are finished in eye-grabbing colors with gaudy tampo graphics that aim for the best in late 1970s/early 1980s kitsch. I’d complain that the new Hot Ones retail at more than double the price of the regular-line cars, but since Hot Wheels have basically stayed the same price for the last 40-plus years, I’ll let it slide.
Have a look at the six Hot Ones cars that I couldn’t resist buying (yes, I’m quite proud that I’ve limited myself to six), while I go try to get my head around the fact that 1982 was 30 years ago.