Posts from ‘Models and Toys’
Jun Imai has one of the best car-guy jobs in the world. As Design Manager for Mattel’s Hot Wheels toy-car brand, Jun gets to make automotive daydreams into reality every day. As always, the current Hot Wheels lineup includes plenty of outlandish, pure-fantasy cars—vehicles designed to stoke the imaginations of children and engineered to zing down orange tracks and off ramps. But over the past few years, Jun and the rest of the Hot Wheels design team have also made the Hot Wheels brand a lot more relevant to full-size car culture.
by Frank Peiler
A plug-in electric vehicle with a 30-mile range, the Kozy Koot is for the get-up-and-go senior looking to relive his childhood.
A rare chance to view the work of participants in the historic Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild (FBCG) model-making program is coming up in Salt Lake City, Utah. A number of advanced-design scale models made for the national competition, which was sponsored by General Motors from 1930 to 1968, will be on display during the GSL-XXV International Scale Vehicle Championship and Convention.
Some of the graying—or maybe balding—ex-children who once imagined their favorite toys coming to life will soon get a chance to see what that would have been like. The legendary 1970s “Snake” and “Mongoose” Plymouth funny car dragsters—famously rendered in miniature as coveted Hot Wheels toys—will make a short tour in the U.S. in August and September.
If you’re a male of a certain age, chances are you built at least one model car kit in your younger days . . . maybe several. You got a kit from AMT, Monogram, or Revell and some paint and glue from Testors, put down some newspaper on the dining room table, and did your best. Maybe your finished product turned out good enough to occupy a spot of honor on your bedroom shelf, or maybe it ended up being fodder for firecrackers in your driveway.
We don’t know if they’ll actually speed up delivery of your mail, but the latest offerings in the U.S. Postal Service’s “America on the Move” commemorative-stamp series sure look like they could.
Just like sports broadcasts and Donald Trump’s hair, consumer-product packaging is one of those things that changes so gradually that most consumers are scarcely aware of the subtle shifts. Even iconic brands are regularly tweaked, updated, or outright redesigned to look fresh and new in consumers’ eyes. As the years roll by, those original products gradually make the transition from “outdated” to “historical artifact.” If you’ve ever seen the “throwback” cans of Pepsi or Mountain Dew, or the retro boxes of cereal that are issued from time to time, you know what we’re talking about.
I grew up in the 1970s, so my earliest memories of “cool” cars are clouded by the realities of the day. Yes, I fondly recall the Road Runners, AMXs, and Z/28s of my youth. But remember, these were the 1977 versions of those legendary nameplates that were largely reduced to wearing tape stripes and white-letter tires.
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.
Having worked as a design sculptor in the styling departments of three American automakers, Ron Konopka values the skill and workmanship that go into creating the models that historically have been used to establish the looks of cars. That’s what motivated him to obtain and restore a deteriorating ¼-scale plaster model of the 1956 Nash Rambler—a rare artifact of the long-defunct American Motors Corporation.