As a collector of Hot Wheels for over 20 years, its easy to look back and reminisce how the hobby has changed — and how is hasn’t — over that time period. It seems like just yesterday I was writing down my cars that I had accumulated in a spiral notebook — tracking things like name, number and series. Back then, the internet was in its infancy and all those Hot Wheels databases we have come to love (and sometimes hate on) didn’t exist. So at the end of 1998, Mattel put out an interactive CD-ROM that served as the Official Collector’s Guide. To jump start the sales of the software, they included the hottest Hot Wheels casting at the time, the #Volkswagen Drag Bus.
Dressed in spectraflame purple & black enamel paint and featuring a “Hot Wheels 30 years” graphic, this #Volkswagen Drag Bus was certainly one of my favorites at the time as then Hot Wheels graphic designer Michael Heralda absolutely nailed the execution on this one.
Since Hot Wheels historians are certainly a small niche group, Mattel relied on most collectors buying the software for the bus, which ended up being a great call because as soon as the novelty of this VW Bus release wore off, these CD-ROMs sat on shelves until they could be clearanced out. I remember finding these as late as 2001.
The guide itself was clunky but did feature a pretty comprehensive database of prior Hot Wheels released dating back to 1968. As with any guide however, this one was outdated the day it was published. Leaving newer collectors thirsty for a revamped guide with updated castings — which never happened.
The rest is history as this “Official Guide” database was rolled into the original one at HotWheelsCollectors.com (HWC) in 2001. That eventually became outdated as Mattel historians were pulled in different directions when business required them to — prompting the start of the Mattel-sponsored, collector-sourced Hot Wheels Wiki database in 2006. While that database is routinely updated by a handful of collectors, its merely a free-for-all when it comes to information so its hard to rely on it — but its a great starting point. Without going too far off topic, try out HobbyDB.com as it was Rob Graves’ former SouthTexasDiecast.com site (a collector favorite!) that populated the bulk of the Hot Wheels portion of that site. Back to the bus…
Suffice to say, the only thing remaining from those Official Collector’s Guide days is this #Volkswagen Drag Bus. Twenty years later, the #Spectraflame Paint still looks brilliant and its a piece that serves as a reminder of how far we have come in Hot Wheels databases (and collecting), despite the last twenty years flying by.