Category:Hot Wheels

From The Brighton Toy and Model Index
(Redirected from Hot Wheels)
Jump to navigationJump to search
Toy Brands and Manufacturers

Hot Wheels catalogue cover (HotWheels 1967).jpg

Hot Wheels

1968 -     

Mattel's Hot Wheels range erupted onto the diecast toy car market in 1968 (the first catalogue is marked 1967), and radically changed the market, forever.


The idea of a range of 1/64-scale hotrod cars was apparently inspired by Eliot Handler (the "El" of Mattel) watching his son playing with some imported small-scale British Matchbox cars, and thinking about how the idea could be beefed up for the US market. The US car enthusiast community had been going through a period of obsession with hot-rodded cars, every US plastic kit manufacturer had a "hotrod and novelty" range, Californian surf culture had encouraged beach buggies, and the 1966 Batman' series had just appeared showcasing George Barris beautiful red-lined black reworking of the Lincoln Futura concept car as the Batmobile.

The Hot Wheels concept can be summed up as " 1:64-scale + hotrod design + low-friction wheels ".


if all of this wasn't already enough, the Hot Wheels range hit the market with a full range of accessories, which in the case of this range, included a full track system. The Hot Wheels bendy single-car track didn't attempt to look like normal roadway or racecar, and supported banked curves and a loop-the-loop. It even had a "supercharger" accessory that, when a car passed through it, would fling the car out at high speed without needing a steep slope or a helpful finger.


The appearance of Hot Wheels was practically an extinction level event for the traditional British diecast toys market. Up until this point, Dinky Toys and and Corgi Toys had been competing with larger 1:43-scale vehicles, tring to make them more and more complex, with trick mechanisms and "opening everything". When Hot Wheels arrived, it suddenly became terribly clear that what kids really wanted in a toy car was not the very latest dustcart with opening compartments, but a little shiny hotrod with a metallic color scheme, designed to look as exciting as possible, and able to be propelled at high speed across a kitchen floor by the flick of a finger.


With their entire business model in question, Dinky responded with low-friction Speedwheels, and Corgi produced small-scale Husky Toys range (later renamed Corgi Juniors), Matchbox responded by doing their best to avoid competng with Whizzwheels, and focusing on nostalgia vehicles with the Models of Yesteryear range.


The Hot Wheels car were not designed as toys in the conventional sense, in that they were not a toy designer's idea of what a hotrod ought to be -- the designs were instead churned out by legitimate hotrod designers, using their own in-depth engineering and design knowledge of what was and was not physically possible with current automotive technology, frames, and custom parts. In short, they were "real world" hotrod designs, to the extent that some of them were actually built for promotional purposes, and Mattel's theme park showcases a range of full-size hotwheels designs.

Jack Ryan

Engineer John W. Ryan (1926-1991), graduated from Yale and worked on two missile systems (AIM-7 Sparrow and MIM-23 Hawk), before Mattel hired him for his expertise in materials and design.

Ryan was the co-creator of Barbie, along with with Mattel founder Ruth Handler – Handler having the idea and seeing the business and marketing opportunity (and having bought examples of the German "Lilli" doll for reference) and Jack doing the practical work in turning the concept into reality.

Ryan went on to help Eliot Handler to create the Hot Wheels range.

Initially working as a freelance consultant, Ryan became VP of R&D.

Harry Bentley Bradley

Californian car designer Harry Bentley Bradley (1939-2023) started out as a design consultant for a range of hot-rod magazines, moving to Detroit in 1962 for his new job at General Motors. In Detroit he met the Alexander Brothers (who ended up building custom and concept cars for clients including Ford and Chrysler), and worked for them as "Designer X".

Bradley produced 11 of the first sixteen Hot Wheels designs, and is chiefly remembered for the 1995 Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and the Dodge Deora (the sixth Hot Wheels model).

Subsequent designers

When Bradley went back to Detroit, he recommended Ira Gilford, who'd worked at Chrysler. Further designers included Howard Rees and Larry Wood (both from Ford), and Paul Tam.

The first sixteen models

all with "red stripe" tyres:

External links

Media in category ‘Hot Wheels’

The following 25 files are in this category, out of 25 total.