There was a time where I didn’t collect premium Hot Wheels — so, I get it. Not all collectors, collect all Hot Wheels lines. Us, as collectors, are a very diverse group ranging from all types of backgrounds and varying levels of collecting. Being as immersed in the hobby as I am, I often forget about what it is like to casually collect. It has been so long since I started collecting, that I can only imagine what the hobby looks like to a newbie these days. Fortunately, that is what makes Hot Wheels great to collect: so many levels at which you can collect.
You have your “Hot Wheels Basics” which are your $1-range cars found in the mainline, 5-packs and themed assortments. You have your ever-expanding “Hot Wheels Premium” which consists of Car Culture, Pop Culture, Replica Entertainment, Fast & Furious Premium and now, Boulevard. Then, you have your “Hot Wheels Collector” or “Ultra-Premium” which are sold through the Red Line Club on HotWheelsCollectors.com. I would be remiss if didn’t mention there are some gray areas between the levels as well.
The Hot Wheels #’17 Ford F-150 Raptor has been released at all three levels in its relatively short time as a Hot Wheels casting, and that has made it a fun casting to chase down and collect.
One of the reasons I am so enamored with multi-tier Hot Wheels collecting is that while a certain casting can be elevated, traditionally, the essence of the casting remains unchanged. For example, the #’17 Ford F-150 Raptor started off in the #2016 Hot Wheels mainline as a #Ryu Asada Design. In 2018, it was “enhanced” as #Brendon Vetuskey Designed — or redesigned — it to have an #Opening Hood, opening tailgate, and reconfiguring the truck bed to do so, using Ryu’s original CAD files. Then, this year (2019), the mainline casting was tooled for premium use as it saw the addition of a metal base.
To the casual eye, spotting the differences between $1, $5 and $20 Hot Wheels may seem like a steep task. Given some time, I am willing to bet that most people would be able to point out the addition of detail and “rubber wheels” as they travel from mainline to premium. From premium to ultra-premium, I venture to guess only the “shiny paint” — known as #Spectraflame Paint to collectors — would stand out, short of spotting the opening features (if the casting has them).
Collecting premium Hot Wheels has vastly changed from when I started collecting in the ’90s. Back then — more so in the late ’90s / early ’00s — premium Hot Wheels were more detailed. The #100% Hot Wheels line consisted of tools that had a couple more pieces than your standard Hot Wheels basic car — even more than today’s premium whose signature attributes include “full-detail, metal base and real riders”. With the growth of digital imagery, premium Hot Wheels have really taken off as there is a greater appreciation within the hobby for the car itself rather than collecting in the package. In addition to that, the Hot Wheels design team has done a remarkable job elevating castings to premium — maintaining the original silhouette — so you can continue collecting the same casting you started collecting in the mainline.
Unfortunately for me, I did not start collecting the #’17 Ford F-150 Raptor from the beginning so I ultimately had to go back and grab a couple of the earlier mainline releases. Since the casting was essentially released three years ago, it wasn’t too hard as they can all pretty much be had for a couple bucks ($1-$3). I am really glad that I started collecting the Raptor when I did. Now that there are “premium” and “ultra-premium” releases of the casting, tracking those down at a later date is likely to be much more expensive of a task.
Speaking of ultra-premium, I just recently received the RLC Exclusive #’17 Ford F-150 Raptor in #Gulf Racing livery a couple weeks ago. Since I was planning on doing the “family photo” for this casting collection, I had to remove it from the acrylic case it came packaged in. Being that it was a piece that was designed for the Hot Wheels collector, it is the ultra-premium version of this casting: complete with #Opening Hood and tailgate. Obviously, most collectors will gravitate to the Gulf livery being their favorite aspect of the release, but I am inclined to mention that I really love how the “FORD” in the grill was highlighted in orange, and the wheels were painted with a silver paint which I believe is referred to internally as, “aluminum”.
Despite receiving the “Gulf Raptor” a couple weeks ago, it isn’t even the newest release of the Hot Wheels #’17 Ford F-150 Raptor. The casting is now coming as part of the #2020 Hot Wheels HW Hot Trucks 5-Pack. Its the first green version of the casting we’ve seen and it has a different take on the “claw slash” deco that appeared on the #First Edition release.
Of all 12 of the Hot Wheels #’17 Ford F-150 Raptor variants that I now have, I am inclined to say the #Replica Entertainment release from 2019 is my favorite. It has a #FORZA Motorsport / #XBOX livery and the graphics are raised off of the matte black surface. The wheels are blacked out, with the exception of the chrome bead lock around the outside of the rims. Plus, I really dig the green headlights and windshield banner. Obviously, I prefer the elevated, “ultra-premium” casting, but as far as deco, this one wins out in my book.
Categories: Collection Update