The Thunder Trucks 4-Pack was one of those sets that seem to be on the shelf forever and you keep telling yourself that you will pick it up the “next time”. Then one day you go to buy and its finally sold out. Originally released in 1996, I could have sworn my Kmart had these in stock until 1998. Then one day I went in, and they were all gone. At the time I was disappointed, because you couldn’t just pop onto the internet and order one from a secondary site.
Long story short, a couple years ago, I was able to secure the set for $10-shipped. This was an awesome deal because the set originally retailed for that much and it probably cost the seller a good majority of that just to ship the boxed, 4-car set. The set contained 4 cars, but only 2 castings: Dodge Ram 1500 (x2) and the ’96 Chevy 1500 (x2). While I needed the other ’96 Chevy 1500 for my race team collection, this one (shown below) intrigued me.
At first glance, this ’96 Chevy 1500 shares a striking resemblance to the NASCAR driven by Dale Earnhardt Sr. at the time–who was also known to participate in the NASCAR Truck Series as well. Its presumed that there was no deal between Mattel and Dale Earnhardt’s Race Team to produce a replica race truck so this one must have been done in a matter that it avoided any kind of copyright infringement.
In terms of the ’96 Chevy 1500 casting, it was originally released as part of the 1996 First Editions in gray. The casting’s plastic body coupled with its metal base makes it a great track car and has even been featured as a Track Aces/Stars vehicle in 2006 & 2011 and had nickle-plated axles in the short-lived Race Aces line at Target in 2008.
RELEASE DETAILS: Gloss Black Body (plastic). Clear Windows. Red Interior. Black 7-Spoke (7SP) Wheels w/ Goodyear Eagle Tampos. Unpainted Metal Base. Made in Malaysia. Toy# 16323. Released in 1996 as part of the Thunder Trucks 4-Pack which was exclusive to Kmart stores.