2002 First Editions
The Year in Review
2002 model year again saw a proliferation of new Hot Wheels castings, continuing
the trend started in 1998. Forty-two castings debuted under the First
Editions banner, the largest amount of new models ever. While this year’s
series was an improvement over the 2001 group, it wasn’t the bounce-back year I had
As is the current practice, Mattel began releasing the 2002 First Editions
toward the end of the 2001 summer. Unlike last year, the series did not open
with one of the better castings when Nomadder What began to appear in September
assortments. The Tantrum surfaced next, followed by the all-metal
Midnight Otto and Altered State. After a brief respite, new
castings appeared regularly over the next eleven months, with Sling Shot closing
out the series. All of the models are four-wheel vehicles this year, and almost
all will work with the majority of the track sets.
The `57 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham and Ferrari P4 head the list of the
best castings, with the models being extremely faithful to the full-sized cars.
Even the use of a chromed plastic base on the Brougham can be forgiven here, as
the model was designed to simulate the chromed metal rocker panels of the real Caddy.
The P4 has excellent detail as well. Also among the best are Altered
State, nicely based on a fuel/altered dragster, and the all-metal concept cars
Pony Up, Open Road-ster, Sling Shot and I Candy.
The next tier includes Backdraft, `40 Ford Coupe, Custom `69 Chevy
Truck and Corvette SR2 - all a metal base-or-body short of greatness.
The `57 Caddy and Ferrari P4
(front) headline the group of top castings, which also includes (rear, l-r) Sling Shot,
Pony Up, Open Road-Ster and Altered State.
There always are a handful of castings every year that I don’t care for, and this year
is no exception. The incredibly poor production value of the Hyperliner
does nothing to enhance a so-so design. Jester looks like a relative of
Nomadder What and looks just as ugly. And the Custom Cougar (tuner)
is a mishmash of colors, metal and plastic, with the purple chrome wheels just another
feature to clash with the translucent orange windshield and hood. In addition,
the plastic chassis and innards of Hyperliner and Volkswagen New Beetle Cup
when the bodies are removed have the feel of a toy from a cereal box. When the
Mini Cooper from the 2000 line appeared with this feature, it had a metal chassis
and multi-colored plastic parts, and didn’t look cheap. The two aformentioned
cars from this year are nowhere close to that standard.
Nomadder What (2nd from left) heads
the list of disappointments, which also includes (l-r) Jester, Hyperliner and
The totally off-the-wall casting this year is I Candy in a landslide.
This bug-eyed concept car could have been a disaster if made with a plastic body or
chassis. But with only the fenders and glass made of plastic, and featuring metal
chassis, body and engine – along with some nifty satin-finish pseudo antifreeze paint –
this is one cool casting.
Unfortunately the "lowrider" look has been perpetuated with the models based on cars
from the mid 20th century. `40 Ford Coupe and Super Smooth are well
proportioned, but sit low to the ground. The `64 Riviera looks cartoonish
in its dimensions. The `68 Cougar stands taller but resembles the old
disproportioned Aurora ThunderJet version instead of the real XR7.
Only the Custom `59 Cadillac looks right as a "lowrider" with its all around
The `64 Riviera and `68 Cougar
didn't match the anticipation of their releases, but the `59 Custom Caddy
is a looker (l-r).
Another distressing issue is the dwindling amount of all-metal cars with each passing
year. Only 11 of this year’s First Editions are made in the original
tradition – an anemic 26% - an all-time low for the series. If it wasn’t for
the Series One releases through HWC, it would be an incredibly bad year overall
regarding all-metal releases. The nice thing about the cars that are all-metal
is that there are a number of concepts included. Open Road-ster, Pony
Up and Sling Shot are beautifully executed models, and would not be among
the best of the group if they had plastic bases. Pony Up already is a
favorite of customizers.
The number of all-metal cars reached an
all-time low this year|
with only 11 models.
Fortunately, the one thing that has been kept to a minimum is the number of manufacturing
variations. Tampo modifications were made to Volkswagen New Beetle Cup and
Lancia Stratos. Production modification have included removing the orange
window tint from I Candy and changing the plastic interior color from yellow to black on
Moto-Crossed. As always, wheel variations changed with the weather.
I Candy and Moto-Crossed
(not pictured) had production changes, while VW Beetle Cup and Lancia Stratos
had tampo changes.
The 2002 First Editions series was an improvement over the previous year, but
still did not consistently knock my socks off. This could be because, with the
large amount of castings released in rapid fashion throughout the year, it was hard to
get excited about all of them. The advance pictures of the 2003 line, and the
models that already have been released, suggest that the 35th anniversary year will be
a strong one. We will see.