In the late ’90s and early ’00s, several Hot Wheels #Promotional Vehicles were released through the beauty product manufacturer, Avon. An odd pairing indeed between a direct-to-consumer beauty product manufacturer/retailer and Hot Wheels collectors — or even kids, if that was the target demographic. Its possible only the folks involved knew the marketing strategy behind this one.
With that said, this was a great promotion from the aspect that these #Avon Exclusives meant the return of the #Park’n Plates. A line that ran from 1989 to 1991, the Park’N Plates featured an acrylic case with license plate front. The license plate was removable and you could store (or “park”) your car in it. To my recollection, these promotional Avon cars were the last time we saw the Park’N Plates, so it was unfortunate that it was in a limited, promotional form. Avon did release four Park’N Plates vehicles in 1998, followed by an additional four in 2003 and four more in 2004. In 2009, a similar product in the #Connect Cars emerged as these were also acrylic cases that featured a detachable front for storing cars. The only differences were the front, detachable license plates were gone (replaced with just a clear front) and the connect cars featured an interlocking capability so you could combine multiple units to form a display.
While 1998 wasn’t the first time Hot Wheels had an #Avon Exclusive vehicle, it was the first time they had the #Park’N Plates. My aunt at the time worked as an Avon rep and my mother was able to order the set through her to, in turn, give it to me as a gift for Christmas. So that may be the marketing concept right there, a holiday gift giving option? You never know. But one thing I do know for sure … my favorite car in the 4-car set was the #’70 Plymouth Barracuda.
Fresh off what seemed like a limited 1997
First Edition open vamp Hot Wheels release, plenty of mystery surrounded this casting. In the very early days of Hot Wheels on the internet, the potential answers weren’t as available as they are today so this was a very unexpected inclusion into the series that also included the more established #Dodge Viper RT/10, ’68 Mustang and ’80s Firebird.
In addition to the novelty of this new casting, were the details on the front and rear fascias. I always loved looking at this release from behind (shown above) as whoever’s decision it was to paint the rear fascia matte black and have the patented horizontal #Barracuda taillights deserves an award as that was a detail that was left off of the majority of the releases of this casting.
The decision to not go with #Real Riders on a #Promotional Vehicle is a curious one from a collector standpoint, but if that wasn’t an option for whatever reason, the next best thing was the lettering on the tires. It kind of gave this mainline-level release a premium look — in addition to the added benefit that you can actually race this one!
While its not rare or truly anything special from a Hot Wheels collecting standard, especially the one we’re used to, this Avon #Park’N Plates release of the #’70 Plymouth Barracuda is still one of my favorite cars in my collection. The funny thing is, I may not be able to explain exactly why, other than it just looks cool enough for me to want to drive it — which, I guess, is reason enough.