Collection Reflection

The cute ’90s convertible turned modded race car: the Hot Wheels take on the MAZDA MIATA subculture phenomenon

Remember the #Mazda #Miata back in the ’90s? The Hot Wheels #Mazda MX-5 Miata came in a variety of colors — some of which were neon-colored like this 1992 mainline release. The real car always seemed to be driven by young women. I can’t for the life of me remember the marketing behind it, but this fun little #Convertible was always the furthest thing from race car. They weren’t fast — and even if they were — I don’t think you would have been taken very seriously if you tried to race another individual.

Orange Track Diecast

Hot Wheels Mazda MX-5 Miata from the 1992 Mainline

It’s all good. I’m not here to rip on the #Miata. Looking back though, it seems to be the epitome of a “fun” ’90s teenagers. Nowadays, these little ’90s Miatas have taken on a new role in car culture thanks to the subculture of young males that have been buying these up, only to mod them into race cars. I won’t pretend like I know what that is about past the point of me seeing them on the road with custom rims and added roll bars.

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The folks at Hot Wheels apparently know all about what’s going on though as the Miata made a comeback to the Hot Wheels mainline last year after a 16-year hiatus. The former casting was last released in 2003. Hot Wheels Designer, Ryu Asada built the new #’91 Mazda MX-5 Miata from the ground-up as it doesn’t share much beyond the name, “Miata” with the 1991 casting designed by Larry Wood.

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Hot Wheels ’91 Mazda MX-5 Miata from the 2020 Target Exclusive Red Edition series with the 1992 Hot Wheels Mazda MX-5 Miata

Larry designing a #Miata may seem silly — and it kind of is — but back then, there were only a few designers at Hot Wheels, with Larry doing a bulk of the designs. Larry’s casting screams California custom. Ryu’s casting embellishes the new subculture. The obvious difference between the two castings is the addition of the roll bar. The execution of it wasn’t that great as safety standards forced Ryu to design one that is more mattress-looking than what resembles an actual bar. Aside from that, the new casting has crisper lines, sun visors on the windshield, mirrors, and a front license plate spot. Gone is the metal base that came up to be the bottom half of the body which never seemed to line up great.

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Hot Wheels ’91 Mazda MX-5 Miata from the 2020 Target Exclusive Red Edition series with the 1992 Hot Wheels Mazda MX-5 Miata (top view)

Hot Wheels has been replacing #Discontinued Castings all across the board, and instead of them just recreating the same designs with better technology, the design team has taken it a step further, by adding more period-correct detail. The ’80s Firebird to ’84 Pontiac Firebird is another example. By designing the “’90s Miata of today”, Ryu has embraced the whole new subculture of young gentlemen that have been modding these small cars out. I don’t understand it — and maybe it’s because I’m getting older — but it isn’t for me to decide what someone can or can’t do to a car. I actually think it’s cool these cars have found new life, and it is cool to see them on the road.

The Hot Wheels #’91 Mazda MX-5 Miata is a great new casting and this latest #Target Exclusive #Red Edition looks nice in white. I almost wish that silly looking roll bar would just be eliminated, but understand completely the importance of it being there and why it was built the way it was. Both #Miatas may look similar in nature, but they are on two completely different ends of car culture, and it’s cool that Hot Wheels has captured both!

9 replies »

  1. You should look into SCCA autocross and road racing. The Miata classes are often the largest. Mazda even made a racing specific R package. There is a spec. Miata class for road racing. The car is known for its light weight, low center of gravity, and great handling.

    • The Miata 1/1 now is highly regarded in the car enthusiast magazines as the perfect embodiment of the British sports car aesthetic. My daughter and her husband have had a number of these cars, (4?) with their newest being the hardtop version and also a highly modded ’97. There is also a company which re-bodies these cars to look like mini Ferraris and Aston Martins! The Hot Wheel versions, both Larry Wood’s and Ryu’s version are worthy cars. I have several of the metal base fluorescent models with the “Screamer” wheels which came in track sets. These would “howl” going down the track. I also dig the new Ryu car, but unfortunately COVID has ended my collecting for now and I only have the blue version. Thanks, Brad, most of my collection is old by many standards but I like when you dig back to some of these forgotten models.

  2. As a 3 generation Miata owner, I’ve been collecting these castings for some time and not surprised Hot Wheels noticed todays car culture interest in the model. I was on a 6 month waiting list in 1990 believing Mazda’s promise of simple top down driving fun. That car was my daily driver for 17 years and my wife and I loved every minute. I’ve owned an NB and now an NC and all generations delivered on the essence of what a traditional sports car is or at least what once was. Some get it, some don’t, some love it, some hate it….the worst take for a car manufacturer is indifference about a model. I have almost 40 different Hot Wheels variations of the models when you take into account color, wheel, and tampo variations, some of which are very difficult to find. I’m still missing a couple so the hunt continues!!

    • The only part of the interior that looks a little like an NB is the passenger side air bag (it’s a little too big for an NA airbag), every other detail of the interior is clearly NA.

  3. I recently got my hands on the first version of the Miata (by Larry Wood) in Reese Peanut Buttercups livery. It is cute as a… buttercup. Surprised at how well it rolled and how hefty it felt in the hand, made back when mainlines had metal bases. Not that it bothers me but the wheels/axels have none of the rattle found in mainlines nowadays. The whole thing is pretty much solid with extremely well-rolling wheels. Happy to have it in my collection.

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