The Mini Cooper is possibly one of the more underrated castings in Hot Wheels history. While its never been a huge money-grabber for Mattel / Hot Wheels, couple of its releases fetch high-dollar. Designed by Hot Wheels designer Phil Riehlman, this Mini Cooper was special from its original #First Edition in 2000 (shown below). While I’m sure designing a Hot Wheels casting from an already iconic car can be a daunting task with huge shoes to fill, Phil knocked this one out of the park. Its custom-stance, hood scoop and roll cage are great features but it was the #Pop-Off Body that truly set it apart.
Designed with a switch in the base, the body can be locked & unlocked when fastened to the base. While in recent years this feature (along with others) have been modified and removed, its this original #First Edition that gave this casting character. Its yellow paint looks great on the casting but its the iconic checkerboard roof that would be used in many succeeding releases for years to come.
While its the switch in the base that can lead to many cool mashups using different Mini Cooper releases, its this very feature that also makes it hard to collect variations of this casting. Since its so easy to swap bases/bodies on this casting, its very easy to fake a potential variation. Fortunately, as a die-hard collector of this casting, I am able to spot an authentic variation but by no means is it easy.
The Hot Wheels Mini Cooper still continues to be released until this day. In fact, its looking like we will see at least two releases of this casting in 2016 — look for it in red as part of the HW Art Cars (in stores now) and also in red as part of the Beatles 6-Car Set (coming soon).