The inside of the Classic Car Club Manhattan garage was full of orange and blue, whimsical cars both big and small, and the iconic fiery red Hot Wheels logo this week, as Mattel’s Hot Wheels team transformed the space for a brand preview event ahead of the Hot Wheels 2022 Legends Tour. At the event, the passionate, knowledgeable Hot Wheels crew gave select fans (including the Pop Insider!) an exclusive look at some of Hot Wheels’ most recent endeavors — including a fashion line, NFTs, and a video game — and a behind-the-scenes look at its production process.
A major highlight of the event was the unveiling of the official Hot Wheels 1:64-scale die-cast of the 2021 Hot Wheels Legends Tour-winning 1969 Volvo P1800 Gasser. This winning vehicle was designed by Lee Johnstone who was present with his daughter, Victoria Upham, for the car’s debut. The winning design was based on a car Johnstone and his family all took part in creating in their home in BridgeWater, Somerset, UK. As he unveiled the miniature version of his life-sized 1969 Volvo P1800 Gasser, the look on Johnstone’s face was undeniable — He was visibly moved by all the replicated characteristics that came together in the final design. Johnstone, a 71-year-old retired motor mechanic, is now a part of Hot Wheels history as his car joins the previous three Legends Garage winners in being made into a collectible, which will be available for sale in more than 150 countries.
Some of Hot Wheels’ newest collaborations were on display, too, as the brand continues to expand with video games, collectible NFTs, and a new fashion line. The newest video game, Hot Wheels Unleashed, is an interactive racing game in which players can choose their own cars and compete alone or with others. Hot Wheels is also releasing an ongoing “Hot Wheels Garage” NFT line so collectors can exclusively own a digital Hot Wheels car. The brand’s new motorcycle fashion line is a collaboration with Fasthouse, which includes knee pads, jerseys, gloves, and more.
Of course, Hot Wheels’ die-cast cars were also on display, including the latest from the Red Line, a long-standing line that caters to collectors who care about the details and materials used to create these display pieces. Collections like the Red Line focus on using quality die-cast metal, rubber tires, and hand sprayed details. These cars also feature storytelling elements in their packaging to attract collectors. Fans can even join Hot Wheel’s Red Line club to get exclusive access to the Red Line collection.
Finally, the Hot Wheels event offered a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to create their designs and produce the racing power behind these iconic mini cars. When making a Hot Wheels car, the designer begins by using software programs Geometric Touch X and Freeform Plus to carve out a design from a digital, clay-like sphere. We got to try out the program and it was oddly satisfying to do: Just grip the pen attachment and drive the cursor into the digital 3D sphere to break its “skin” and create depth and form. The process to complete a single digital 3D design takes about 20 to 50 hours.
Then, the car materializes in the 3D printer where the parts are broken down and printed separately, then those pieces are put into a tumbler to smooth out any rough edges. The team pieces those components together to form the pre-production sample. Hot Wheels then takes that sample and sends it — along with manufacturing details — to their manufacturers in Malaysia, where they complete the car with plastics, metals, and rubbers. All the cars go through rigorous durability tests, including drop tests, UV testing, paint testing, and more. The entire design process averages around 18 months.
Hot Wheels fans and car lovers can register now to create their own Hot Wheels Legends Garage entry for a chance to become the fifth fan-designed, custom car to get the Hot Wheels die-cast treatment. This year’s Hot Wheels Legends Tour kicks off virtually on April 14 in New Zealand and it will visit 10 cities in person before its livestreamed Global Grand Finale in November. The tour is a search for a custom vehicle worthy of the ultimate claim to fame: becoming a Hot Wheels die-cast car. The Hot Wheels design team, joined by celebrity judges, will select the finalists from a fresh crop of builds. In addition to hosting custom car shows around the world, the Hot Wheels Legends Tour also brings new and rare collectibles only available to virtual and live event attendees. Fans can learn more here.