Above is the 1983 Firebird Funny Car - it’s (as far as I can tell) the only Hot Wheels car to survive one of many garage sale purges I had as a kid. (That’s not mine - mine isn’t mint but it’s in slightly better shape.) If memory serves I had something like 20 or fewer cars. Despite Hot Wheels being one of the biggest toy brands for boys, uh, ever and my working in the toy business it’s not one I really dove into until recently. While there are few to no action figures in my toy collection I don’t know a fair amount about, when it comes to cars I don’t know squat. The above car survived not because of any particular love of the design, but I was delighted that it could split open at the middle and you could see the seat and engine underneath the body.
It’s really an odd feeling to look at pages and pages of Hot Wheels cars on a Wiki site and say “I know I had a bunch of these but none of these look familiar.” I assume this is how all the people feel who come up to me and say “I had all of the Star Wars figures as a kid.” It’s like looking at an old class photo and saying “I don’t know who the Hell any of these short people are.” But you know, instead of not seeing human beings I’ve spent a year with as fully-realized people with feelings, it’s toys.
As a kid I would describe my Hot Wheels as a smattering. I had at least one Matchbox car which featured a geared truck bed, which had a lion that paced around the back. It was really cool, it had zebra stripes and purple windows.
I’m pretty sure most/all of my Hot Wheels came out about the same time as a McDonald’s promo (that’s when I asked for them) and I think they were a Christmas gift from relatives - they came in retail packaging so I assume they weren’t from McDonald’s. I only remember a tiny handful of what I had, and I have to assume they were all from 1983 or earlier with very few exceptions. I never had any track, so basically they went in the same box as my Transformers and Go-Bots and didn’t come out much. (They didn’t change into robots, after all.)
Two of those exceptions were “Crack-Ups,”cars designed to get “damaged” on impact. I know I had a green “Smash Hit” which broke over time, and I’m fairly sure I had a yellow Basher too. They were pretty fun - they crash, and the fender gets a dent and the trunk or hood popped open.
Most of the toys I sold growing up were memorable and mildly traumatic experiences. I needed money for another toy or was being pushed to unload stuff from the ‘rents for one reason or another, so a Legions of Power set, or Go-Bots Staxx, or my Construx, or my StarCom, or my Ghostbusters Fire House playset had to go. I have absolutely no memory of when the Hot Wheels all left. I had a really cool storage case you could mount on the wall for them, too, I really would love to get one or more of those again.
Hot Wheels are an area I’ve always meant to do more with and haven’t. I don’t think of myself as a Car Guy, but I picked up odd licensed vehicles here and there because at $1, who wouldn’t? As someone who never stopped reliving his childhood - and other people’s childhoods - it really is strange when you get to a spot where you’re actually sort of cut off. There’s maybe 3 other cars I recognize and I don’t know if I had them or merely wished I had some of them. (I know I had this one. Not so sure about this one.) I assume from here on out there will be a lot more things that are gone, that I can’t remember, that will probably never come back again. I’m also guessing this is what it means to be an adult.