The 1970 Plymouth Barracuda was released as
a 1997 First Edition collector number #523 in 1997. This was a casting that was slated to be part of the 1997 First Editions but never showed up on such a card. “Cardboard Collectors” went nuts–I know, I was one of them! Back in 1997, First Editions were released sequentially (ie. First Edition #1 came first, followed by #2…). So it was a surprise when #8 of the 1997 First Editions didn’t show up. Hot Wheels collecting on the World Wide Web did not exist yet so there really was no place for answers. Rumors spread like wild fire as local clubs met. I remember hearing things like, “The ‘Cuda isn’t being produced” to “Mattel is being sued by Plymouth”. Fortunately, a few months later, the ’70 Plymouth Barracuda finally showed up…albeit on a standard blister card used for any mainline car that wasn’t part of a specific series. Future case assortments even had the Barracuda showing up on the 1998-style card but still as Collector #523 (not a 1997 First Edition). 18 years later we still don’t have an exact answer but please allow for me to throw my hypothesis into the ring.
Back in the Summer of 1997, Hot Wheels started releasing old Corgi castings as part of their mainline–these were acquired when Mattel purchased Corgi and were released only over a few assortments. These were made at Mattel’s CHINA factory. Since the Barracuda was not yet released, and July/August usually spells the end of cars for that year, Hot Wheels shipped the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda tool to the factory in China to be included in the “Corgi assortments”….hence the only “1997 First Edition” to have “CHINA” on the base. The China factory did not have access to the 1997 First Edition card so they printed regular mainline cards for the Barracuda. Simple as that. While this may seem incredibly precise. Its very plausible considering my background is in Print Advertising so I see this thing happen all the time…even in the internet age.
As to why the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda got delayed in the first place…. its a little unclear but it could have to the with the naming of the casting. The packaging says, “1970 PLYMOUTH BARRACUDA” versus the base which reads, “KING ‘KUDA”. So it very well could have been a licensing debate that tied up the folks at Mattel/Hot Wheels.
Either way, the Hot Wheels 1970 Plymouth Barracuda has been released numerous times over the last 18 years. It have even gone through a few changes to the casting itself. In 1999, the convertible was released with a “soft” top (made of plastic) for the first time. In 2004, this “soft” top was made into a hard top as part of a General Mills Promotion.
UPDATE (1/27/2016): I have recently heard that because the ’70 Plymouth Barracuda was first issued (earlier in 1997) as part of the Hill’s Department Stores “First Edition Set”, Mattel was legally not allowed to distribute the car on a “First Edition” blister card. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but its another rumor that makes sense.
RELEASE DETAILS: Light Green Body (metal). Tinted Windshield. Black Interior. 5-Spoke (5SP) Wheels. Chrome Base (plastic). Made in China. Released in 1997 as part of the
1997 First Editions (#8 of 12) Hot Wheels Mainline, Collector #523. Toy# 16322