Hot Wheels is one of those brands that has etched itself firmly into Western popular culture since it was established by the American Mattel brand in 1968 – indeed, many of us have never lived in a time without it. Unsurprisingly, then, it has built a strong following of collectors, many of whom buy Hot Wheels toy cars for highly competitive prices from our own online shop here at The Modelstore.
But what are some of the most interesting twists and turns of the Hot Wheels story over the last 50 years that have led to its legendary status today?
Inventor Elliot Handler had founded Mattel in 1945 with his wife Ruth and business partner Harold Matson. Ruth went on to create the Barbie doll, which debuted in 1959 and became one of the most iconic toys of the 20th century. Its success inspired her husband to consider how he could create a line of toys with a similar impact, but geared towards boys.
He therefore got working with a GM car designer and rocket scientist on what would become Hot Wheels. The first Hot Wheels toys – conceived to resemble comparatively ‘tricked-out’ cars, as opposed to the more realistic depictions of British rival Matchbox – were released in May 1968.
The debut range of Hot Wheels models was dubbed the ‘Original Sweet 16’, and consisted of representations of 16 cars said to be among the most influential of their time – including the likes of the ‘Custom Mustang’, ‘Custom Firebird’ and ‘Ford J. Car’.
Decades of remarkable success
To say that the Hot Wheels range achieved Handler’s mission of creating the equivalent of a ‘Barbie for boys’ would be quite the understatement. More than 16 million of the miniature cars were sold in the first year alone, and in 1991, the billionth Hot Wheels car was produced. This milestone was celebrated with the release of the Billionth Car Collection, comprising four chrome-plated, die-cast gold Corvettes with a removable trophy-style display.
Hot Wheels’ relevance has remained undimmed in recent years, in part due to its tie-ins with such franchises as Ghostbusters, Fast & Furious and 007, James Bond himself. Such collaborations have all helped to further maximise the brand’s collectability among adults and the traditional younger age groups alike.
It’s already been a spectacular journey for Hot Wheels over more than half a century – and the story is far from over yet! What’s more, you can indulge your own passion for these legendary models when you buy Hot Wheels toy cars from The Modelstore.