Saturday, October 17, 2009

Badge engineering in 1/64 Hot Wheels and Happy Wheels


I have always been a Hot Wheels and Matchbox fan. If you ran a meal detector over my mums backyard and dam walls at the farm, you would find dozens of these little cars. Hot Wheels and Matchbox collectors are slightly different breeds though, a bit like the cars themselves.

Crooze Ooze Coupe

Hot Wheels always had a more 'hot rod' and 'custom' approach to their cars. Moreso than Matchbox where the oddities such as Mini Ha Ha stood out because they were unlike the other Matchbox 1/75 cars. The majority of Hotwheels cars these days are of this custom variety, indeed they market outrageous impractical car designs, and hire noted full size car designers to design whacked out cars for them.

Hot Wheels collecting is popular, and several years ago was frantic. I believe the bottom has dropped out of the collectible and valuable aspect, but the collectors are still keen and seek out different variants of cars. As most of these cars can be picked up for a few dollars at Safeway and toyshops, it is easy to assemble a collection over a few months that is significant in size but not in money.

Occasionally a scarce variant will appear, and those 40 year old blokes you see fossicking through the Hot Wheels racks in Safeway at ten o'clock on a Thursday night, are the collectors looking for the scarce or new variants of cars.

So imagine my surprise to discover that Hot Wheels or their parent company, licensed some Hot Wheels designs to be produced specifically for McDonalds Happy Meals. These cars are in unique colour schemes (which attracted me to them, already having some of these in regular Hot Wheels carded variants)  and there are no real records kept on what Hot Wheels car appears as a Happy Meal car.

2Cool Hardnoze - stickers peeled off 

Unlike most badge engineering exercises, where a person knows that the Lexcen is in fact a Commodore, these 1/64 badge engineered cars are a mystery. My favourite Hot Wheels reference site makes no reference to them at all. They are collectible though - to both Happy Meal Toy collectors (yep, they exist) and Hot Wheels collectors.

As far as I can tell, the differences are these:
  • stickers used instead of tampo printing
  • mono paint schemes
  • plastic bases (see picture below)
  • no hotwheels reference on base plates (see picture below)

Every other aspect of them screams 'I am a Hot Wheels car' and so, I have a few in my collection. However, as I am redefining my collection I have gone through and selected six that must leave the garage and find new homes. On the Ebay listings I have used the Hot Wheels names (see the photos here for the real Hot Wheels names) but I have no idea how they come out of the Happy Meal box. The plastic base plates say nothing of any real use, apart from a year, Mattel and McDonalds.

On a Hot Wheels car, this sticker would be tampo printed

One is a complete mystery. It looks like a Hot Wheels car, and is constructed in that way, but I cant find any references to it. It even has a small Hotwheels sticker on it. It is a little go kart with a rider. The Hotwheels range does have a go kart, but this one is different to the Hot Wheels go kart, in design and also in having a small person driving it - the Hot Wheels go kart does not have a rider. It doesn't fit in my collection, so it is leaving the garage as well, hopefully to fill a gap in someone elses collection.

If you know more about these Happy Meals Hot Wheels, or anything about the mystery go kart, please leave a message in the comments. All these cars are leaving the Capital Diecast Garage via my Ebay store of the same name. I will ask the purchasers whether they are Hotwheels or Happy Meal Collectors.


Update 28/10/09 - Some of these little cars sold, I was curious about the go kart so i asked the buyer what he knew about it, and why he bought it. His reply: hi damien its a toy from maccas i collect anything different from all types of cars to motorbikes i have a large collection and just keep adding thanks.

So there you go - it went to happy Happy Meal Collector!

1 comment:

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