Another wave of Hot Wheels #Car Culture has dropped, and this time its the #Tuners turn. Import tuning really took off in the 1990s in America as it was the latest generation’s hot rod culture. It was the one time the Hot Wheels brand was behind the curve as we didn’t see the first Hot Wheels tuner until 2000, with the first licensed model coming in 2001. Since then — over the past 18 years — Hot Wheels collectors have seen an explosion of tuners from the brand. Some collectors think “tuners” and “JDM” are synonymous, but tuning is not limited to Japanese cars. Any vehicle can be tuned as the culture is really about improving the vehicle’s handling and performance, while ultimately increasing the experience for the owner/driver.
The Hot Wheels #Car Culture / Street Tuners series consists of four classic late ’90s / early ’00s #Tuners that have become tuning favorites over the years and combines them with the “still-in-production” Subaru BRZ with Pandem body kit.
The #Nissan Silvia S15 just came out at the end of 2018, and we are already seeing its third premium release. Hot Wheels essentially gave the S15 a redo as the prior S15 casting would have never been as successful in Hot Wheels premium lines due to its exaggerated G-Machines body styling. This new S15 casting has been met with collector acclaim as it is a well-proportioned, well-designed casting.
Dressed in all-white — with contrasting all-black #RR6SPMag Wheels — this #Car Culture / Street Tuners release will appease the “clean-car” crowd as its devoid of any tampos beyond the headlights, taillights, badges, and the slick California license plate that reads “5TEEN”.
Next up is the #Honda S2000. It gets released in silver as part of the #Car Culture / Street Tuners series. Its another “clean car” as that is the underlying theme of this series. Collectors of this casting have been spoiled as the S2000 has had several decent premium releases — all with metal base. Even the early mainline releases of the S2000 were great as the 2011 New Models releases feature front and rear detail, as well as the “clean car” approach.
I thought the windshield banner on the 2011 New Models release was a nice touch for added detail. Its something that I kind of wish the #Car Culture / Street Tuners release had, instead of the ultra-clean look they were going for — or maybe something as simple as side marker lights to give this premium model a true leg up on its mainline counterpart in the detail department. Where this Street Tuners release does exceed its mainline counterpart is the addition of the metal base. It may be hard to tell visually, but two-seconds after picking this one up, and you’ll feel the premium difference. All #Car Culture vehicles are metal-on-metal, so don’t let anyone convince you that this has a plastic base.
So despite the detail-level that is basically on par with its first mainline release, and a metal base that I hear some collectors calling plastic, one area of this #Car Culture / Street Tuners #Honda S2000 release that I really like is the wheel choice. The #Real Riders Modern Concave Wheels give this release a very sleek look which is perfect for the “clean car” approach this series takes. I don’t think it’s possible on this particular #Real Riders wheel, but some tire lettering would have been next-level for me. As it stands though, its probably my second least-favorite car in this batch… mostly because I really love the Silvia, RX-7 and BRZ.
So what about the #’96 Nissan 180SX Type X? Well, let’s just say I have a little bit of bias because I was never a fan of this particular car. The Hot Wheels casting was designed by Hot Wheels Designer, Dmitriy Shakhmatov and he knocked the design out of the park considering my disdain for the actual car. I actually really like the red paint that was chosen for its first release back in 2015, but you have to really like the jet-black approach here, with full-detail, and a newly-tooled metal base. The gold #Real Riders Exotic Wheels are a nice touch as well. It’s a very understated look in a series that calls for the “clean car” approach.
The 2015 New Models / Nightburnerz release evaded me in my search to include it in the photo below, so I pulled the 2018 Nightburnerz release instead. Since both are black, you can see the subtle approach the #Car Culture / Street Tuners release takes, and how full-detail and deep-lipped #Real Riders make a world of difference. Take my $5.49 any day as though I may not collect the #’96 Nissan 180SX Type X, this premium Street Tuners release is a welcomed addition to my collection.
The lone #First Edition of the bunch is the #Pandem Subaru BRZ. Like you, I had seen pictures of this release online before I had it in-hand and the pictures haven’t done it much justice. Shortly after taking the photographs below, I was taken back by the level of design that went into every curve of the Pandem body kit. Kudos to Hot Wheels Designer, Mark Jones for capturing this complex kit in 1:64 diecast form, and to Hot Wheels Graphic Designer, Steve “Van” Vandervate for choosing a paint that accentuates these features. The only thing that disappoints about this initial release of the BRZ is that the wing tends to lean to one side due to the pliable plastic it is constructed of, and the way the packaging presses on it. Still though, with a little adjustment by hand — or maybe even some warm water — the rear spoiler caps off that distinct Pandem look.
I saved the best for last: the #’95 Mazda RX-7. Yellow seemed like a popular color choice for exotic ’90s cars. I remember going to local car shows and many of the tuned cars (even some mini trucks) were painted yellow. For this casting, rear-detail is a must for me as that iconic rear of the RX-7 should not go undefined. The full-detail of the #Car Culture line allows for this release to have those ultra-cool taillights. Bonus points to Van for his ability to capture the third ring in orange, something that prior releases (with rear detail) haven’t had.
With having just made its debut in 2017, the #Jun Imai Designed #’95 Mazda RX-7 is already up to nine variants — with four of them coming this year alone. Its certainly a favorite casting of mine and this #Car Culture / Street Tuners release is clearly the best. I may prefer the color on the original dark blue and red variants of the Then & Now release from 2017, but overall, this Street Tuners release is a cut above the rest.
So there you have it: the 2019 Hot Wheels #Car Culture / Street Tuners series. After a long summer void of #Car Culture, this series is hitting stores (and hobby dealers) now. The Desert Rally series shouldn’t be far behind. Which Street Tuner is your favorite? Let us know yours in the comments below!
Categories: Series Profile
Thanks for the insightful read! I like the Nissan 180SX casting (maybe not 100% on the wheel color). You also got me thinking about Hot Wheels in early-’00s. I remember searching for import tuners only to find the 2001 variant of Sho-Stopper at a N. Scottsdale Walmart. At the time I wondered if Hot Wheels would ever get on trend. Now, I see posts commenting on too many tuners and JDMs. Ah, progress…
I was very excited for this set but now that I’ve seen these in detail, I’m having slightly mixed feelings. Yes I love the clean approach but I think it’s too clean. Since these don’t have any graphics whatsoever, a couple of sponsor decals or the window banner on the S2000 would’ve taken these to the next level. Nonetheless, I still like this set. My favourites are the RX-7 and the S2000. I wish the latter had gold or silver wheels but I’ll take it. Hope to find this set soon.
S2000 and BRZ for me. BRZ is a nice surprise to me, as I am not a fan of it, but it looks stunning.
i got the s2000 and the RX7