The 2019 RLC Membership goes on sale Tuesday. This year’s #RLC Membership car is the Custom Camaro in spectraflame black. Its a retool of the classic 1968 Custom Camaro casting. Before that we had the #’67 Camaro which was based off of that original Custom Camaro when it made its debut in 1983, before ultimately becoming arguably the most popular Hot Wheels car of all-time. In 2002, it was the casting that was chosen to kick off Mattel’s brand-new club for Hot Wheels collectors: the Red Line Club.
The idea was to give Hot Wheels Collectors an exclusive #RLC Membership vehicle when they signed up for the club that gave them access to exclusive content on HotWheelsCollectors.com, as well as a 24-hour priority window on sales through the site. There would be racing stripe #Variations as collectors signed up, with the most limited one, the “red stripe” #’67 Camaro being limited to the first 5,000 club members. The “blue stripe” ’67 Camaro was next, and was limited to the next 10,000 club members. Ultimately, if I recall correctly, the blue-stripe either didn’t sell out, or took a long time to do so, so the HWC team decided to release the third variation — the “black stripe” ’67 Camaro — as a standard #HWC Series 1 vehicle (ie. not a RLC Membership car).
The Red Line Club’s original slogan was, “we make them like we used to”, and it was advertised in publications like Lee’s Toy Review. When the club kicked off in 2002, there was a plan to bring back the original #Redline wheels — later dubbed the “Neo-Classic Redline Wheels” — along with bent-axle suspension. Since the wheels (and suspension) weren’t ready in time for the first #RLC Membership sale on March 12, 2002, these #’67 Camaros ended up wearing chrome #Real Riders Deep-Dish Wheels with Red Line tampos on them.
The debut of the neo-classic redline wheels was delayed for about seven more months. The first car to go on sale with them was the #HWC Series 1: Nitty Gritty Kitty on October 8, 2002. The next year, the wheels would ultimately find their way onto the 2003 RLC Membership: Custom Mustang (shown below).
It was the first evolution of the #RLC, and my-oh-my has the Red Line Club progressed over the last 17 years. Neo-classic redline wheels were worn by every #RLC Membership car from 2003 to 2017, with the lone exception being the Volkswagen Drag Truck in 2007 — because the large neo-classic redline wheel wasn’t developed yet. And just last year, the 2018 RLC Membership: #Datsun Bluebird 510 wore the first (and only so far) release of the #Real Riders neo-classic redline wheel.
I’ve been a member of the #RLC since I originally scored these #’67 Camaros in 2002 — rejoining the club (through thick & thin) every year. Below are the three ’67 Camaro #Variations along with my collection of #RLC Membership cars. NOTE: I excluded the color variations so you could see the extent of the castings that have been chosen to represent the club.
The rules may have changed along the way as to how a #RLC Membership car looks, and the quantities have certainly shifted over the years. Collectors have come and gone, and the club now has more of a feeling of a family with many estranged relatives who will often step on your toes; BUT I will never forget the initial excitement behind the club, and the vehicle that kicked it off: the #’67 Camaro.
The “red stripe” #’67 Camaro was the initial “hype-beast” as it has commanded prices between $50 & $100 over the last 17 years. At the time, it was kind of unheard of for a new release to command that kind of money. However, it should come as no surprise that the car that was limited to 5,000 pieces — half of the quantity of the 1995 Treasure Hunt: ’67 Camaro (10,000), which sold for north of $100 at the time — would cost an ultra-premium before limited, ultra-premium cars were really a thing in the Hot Wheels world. By today’s standards, its relatively tame considering this release still sells in that range while other, more recent HWC/RLC releases have eclipsed the $500 mark (ie. Candy Striper). Before social media, sharing photos of your “red stripe” #HWC Series 1: ’67 Camaro to the HWC message boards was last decades “humble brag” in the Hot Wheels collecting world. It was a car many sought out to have, and less than 5,000 ultimately owned.
The “blue stripe” #’67 Camaro was the car I initially got for signing up for the #RLC in 2002 as my RLC number is in the 6000s. So while I had to pony-up some cash to later purchase the “red stripe”, this “blue stripe” ’67 Camaro is my original car. I just opened its yellowing-blister a couple days ago so I could further enjoy its chrome finish. This car was limited to 10,000 pieces — capping the 2002 RLC Membership at 15,000 members all-together. Like I said earlier, I don’t think they ended up selling out, as I believe some of these were later sold in an alternative way.
The “black stripe” #’67 Camaro is the sole reason I couldn’t title these cars as “RLC Membership” cars. Just like the “blue stripe” it was limited to 10,000; BUT it was sold as a normal #HWC Series 1 release versus being a “free car” with the purchase of a RLC Membership. Its cool because it adds a third stripe #Variation into the mix, but it is definitely not a RLC Membership car — though you will hear others call it that, and I do display it with my other RLC Membership cars. The red/blue/black stripe motif would continue for three more years (a “white stripe” car was added in 2005), before ultimately coming to an end in 2006 when the four RLC membership cars started to come in different spectraflame color variations (chrome/red/blue/purple), instead of having colored stripe variations.
Best wishes to those that will be joining the RLC next Tuesday, and enjoy your new Custom Camaro. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as its great to finally look back at this classic release. Look for the feature on ALL the RLC Membership cars in my collection on the OTD YouTube channel in the coming days!
UPDATE 2/24/2019 — The video showcasing all the RLC Membership cars from 2002 to 2018 is now live. Enjoy!
Im only one car away from a complete collection of 67 camaros. Missing about 5 variations. I need the 08 1/500 japanese 2 car set. And some 5 pack cars and a race team car wash china base car. I have all the “custom camaro” cars from original 16 and the prototype
Thats awesome, Corey! I am much further behind in my pursuit of ’67 Camaros.
Fingers crossed getting into the Redline Club. This will be my first year joining as I just started back up collecting a lot the middle of last year. I have always had Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars amongst other brands since I was real young but never got too serious especially the last several years where I really only looked for cars at yard sales, flea markets and the like. I’m 24 now and wish I would have payed more attention over the last several years as it seems I missed on a lot of cool stuff but I have no regrets. GL to everyone on Tuesday! 😀
Nice article Brad! Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Looking forward to the excitement of Tuesdays sign-up.
i sure hope they keep a cap on memberships to 15000 or less this year , 17500 was too big , but knowing how corporations work they will prolly up it to 20K only for the increased revenue, we shall see
The remember hearing about the redline club while looking at the kids Hotwheels site when my son was little. I didn’t understand what it was. I thought it was for vintage redline cars and they were too rich for my blood. So I didn’t join the first year. Joined year 2 and never looked back. I have gotten nearly every great casting they offered including the BRE Datsun signed by John Morton. 1 of 46