HotWheelsCollectors.com - Series One
have past since the last diecast vehicle with transparent paint applied over
nickel-plated metal and red wall tires with "torsion bar suspension" rolled off
the toy car assembly line. And it has been decades because the process to
produce these vehicles became too expensive to justify, and was abandoned. But
those vehicles were a special breed with collectors, whom repeatedly made their
desires known to Mattel over the years. With the success the toy manufacturer
had enjoyed in the collectible market in general, and with its HotWheelsCollectors.com
website in particular, it was decided to create a series of limited edition vehicles
made in the same fashion as the original product that became a cultural phenomenon.
The same paint and finish. The same wheels and suspension. Produced to
standards and tolerances even tougher than the original cars were. The people
at HWC listened to the collectors throughout the development process, making tweaks
and adjustments along the way. The cars were delayed, to insure that everything
was produced as designed. The first car to debut in this retrofitted look is King
Kuda, the second generation casting from the 30th Anniversary limited edition set
reconstructed here in first generation style.
I have to say that Mattel has done an OUTSTANDING job on these cars. The entire
engine compartment of the casting was retooled to closely resemble the original 1970
release. The entire body and chassis are metal, including the separate engine
compartment and motor, which gives the car some heft at 2ľ ounces. All metal
components are zinc plated, and the body plating has a mirror finish. The
chassis tooling is unchanged, with the exception of the replacement of the 30-A logo
with the 2002 version and the car name being changed to "Plymouth Barracuda."
In addition to bringing back many of the old colors, some new hues of Spectraflame
paint have been created. King Kuda wears a color HWC calls "Midnight Blue."
This color is close to the original Spectraflame Purple, second generation (circa 1970)
-- it has just a touch more blue in the pigment. The front grill is masked in
black paint with the headlights left unpainted. The wide taillight is rimmed in
red. The paint is evenly applied, and appears to be protected with a clear
overcoat. The interior is light ivory plastic and the glass is clear plastic,
with all parts fitting together quite well.
Instead of stickers and decals as on the original Spoilers, this model has all of the
markings tamped in multiple colors. In Spoilers fashion, black numbers centered
in a white circle bordered in black adorn each door. Unlike the old cars, these
new models sport the number "02," designating the 2002 model year. The remaining
tampos reflect "Old School" decorations with a modern twist. Tiny intricate
Barracuda and Chrysler pentagon emblems sit on the side fenders just behind the wheel
well, and subtle dark purple "shadow flames" decorate the upper front and rear
fenders. Not only does the car sport these shadow flames introduced on the Wild
Weekend III limiteds, but even the Chrysler pentagon has an offset purple shadow, as
if the emblem is next to the car surface and not on it. As is the practice
with HWC releases, a California vanity license plate is tamped in the appropriate
spot and reads "HWC BRETT." The vanity plate is tamped onto the zinc-plated
chassis, so it is not as durable as the rest of the car, as I found out.
This is a minor concern, and since the license plate is not on a high point, it
should survive the rigors of track use.
The red sidewall wheel, or RSW, appears to be dead on, with the back matching the
1968-style wheel and the face matching the 1970-style wheel. I believe the
chrome wheel itself sits out slightly more than the original (which is one way to
distinguish it from the old wheels), but this is not noticeable in the slightest.
The edges of the nylon bushing are more rounded than the original, and I am assuming
that the diameter of the bushing is different to keep people from putting these wheels
on original vehicles, but I'm not going to pull the wheels off to find out at this
point. When the wheels are offered separately next year, I will check then.
Of course, the thin red sidewall is tamped instead of embossed, but it is the best
one done to date -- by any manufacturer, any era. The wheels press fit tightly
onto the bushings, which are permanently attached to the axle. HWC calls this a
"bent wire axle," but long-time collectors know this as "torsion bar suspension."
Whatever Mattel calls it today, it works as well as the original version introduced 35
years ago. Place the car on a flat surface and press on the air intake of the
motor, and it feels as if the model is equipped with a miniature set of shocks and
struts. This car FEELS as if it belongs to an earlier era.
I havenít yet had the opportunity to test run this King Kuda, but I am pleased by what
I have seen so far. My example rolls forever. If I put the car on a table
that is not level, the car starts to roll. That's impressive. Although I
haven't track-tested it yet, it sure seems as if it will at least hold its own against
anything made in the last 35 years.
The car is packaged on the standard HWC "retro" red and orange flame blister card,
which itself is fitted into a Protecto-Pak. A nice touch is that the blister
on the card was formed to fit snugly around the car to hold it firmly in place and
reduce the chance of damage in shipping. The car is one 10,000 pieces and was
manufactured in China. The blister cards are individually numbered on the back.
Overall, the King Kuda is an outstanding piece of craftsmanship. I am very much
looking forward to reviewing the remaining cars following in this series in the future.