2020 has been a crazy year. Personally, mine was great — pandemic aside — as it was one that allowed for me to start several new opportunities including a new career. There have certainly been some adjustments that have allowed for less time hunting and to spend on my collection, but I am optimistic that 2021 will be another stellar year.
The #2020 Hot Wheels year has netted us collectors more awesome vehicles and we also saw some pretty epic releases. I wanted to share mine as I haven’t had a lot of time to #Showcase them all this year. Also, I wanted to share some of my top moments of 2020. So, without further ado, I present my top Hot Wheels (vehicles & moments) of 2020:
Best New Licensed Casting (Basic)
’98 Subaru Impreza 22B STi-Version
There were so many great #2020 New Models so it is hard to select one. The Big-Air Bel Air, Land Rover Defender 90, #’20 Jeep Wrangler, and ’99 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning all rank among my favorites as I venture to guess that I will be trying to assemble casting collections of each of these as time goes on. Heck, I’ll even throw the ’69 COPO Camaro from Hot Wheels iD into the mix as that one has me thinking I may want to go back and collect the ’68 COPO Camaro.
What it all boils down to is, which new casting was “hoard-worthy”… which casting could I not stop buying… If I am using that as a measurement device to narrow it down to my favorite basic-level #2020 New Model, it would be the #’98 Subaru Impreza 22B STi-Version. I simply could not stop buying the first release in blue with gold #10-Spoke Wheels. Had I found the #ZAMAC release, I would have not been able to stop buying that as well. The red release was okay but the first #HW Turbo release in blue screams #Subaru.
For fans of this casting, we were fortunate to also have the premium version debut in 2020 as the Car Culture / Modern Classics release could have easily been my favorite premium casting for the year. It also hit on that classic “blue with gold wheels” #Subaru look and was not easy for me to find on the pegs. Instead, however, I am going to give the premium award to a casting that I did not think I would end up liking nearly as much…
Best New Licensed Casting (Premium)
’72 Mercedes-Benz 280 SEL 4.5
This selection surprises me. I think that says a lot. I did not think that I would like this ’72 Benz as much as I did, as my appreciation for the casting continues to grow months after it’s initial (and only) release as part of Car Culture / Modern Classics.
Still, I am shocked that I picked this one. I don’t even know if I will collect it. There were so many awesome premium castings to debut that I assume I will be collecting. The ’87 Buick Regal GNX, ’86 Porshe 959 Rally, ’03 Honda NSX Type-R, Ford F-150 SVT Lightning, and ’16 Subaru WRX STi are all castings that I think I will collect going forward, and I really liked the initial releases of the ’69 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale and ’66 Pontiac GTO — as evidenced by my features on them. But there is something about this Mercedes-Benz casting that I really, really like. I can’t wait to see what the sophomore release of it will entail.
Best OVERALL New Casting
Words cannot describe how cool I think the #Erikenstein Rod is. It is easily the best new #Unlicensed Hot Wheels (Fantasy) casting to debut in 2020, but honestly, I am fairly certain that it is my favorite casting to debut in all of 2020. I know in most years, I would be hard-pressed to find myself choosing an unlicensed fantasy casting over the top licensed casting, but this is one year where I did. The Erikenstein Rod is instantly collectible in my book as I will be collecting every release of it going forward.
I featured it on HotWheelsCollectors.com back in July but never on OTD, so I am glad to finally share my love for it here. What was even cooler was to talk to Hot Wheels Designer, Eric Han about his design. When Eric sought out to design what would become the #Erikenstein Rod, he pulled inspiration from fellow designer Dima Shakhmatov‘s #Mod Rod design and combined that with personal flare from his days in Detroit and his affinity for the TV show, Roadkill.
Eric’s personality really came through in this design. He shared that he approached the build with a “to-do list” much like you would for a 1:1 build. Putting blown, supercharged engine was a must along with bulging fenders, rear-mounted radiator, some nitrous, as well as giving the ’50s/’60s truck a “Detroit drop”. He even included a rat on the seat as a nod to Dima’s design — a casting that also shares the matte steel blue and gold color scheme. There will apparently be a third rat rod to wear it in 2021 so look for that news to come soon.
Best Collection Crossover Moment
HW Race Team: Dodge Viper RT/10
I have to admit that back in April when I showcased the No. 210 Dodge Viper RT/10s from 1993-1996 that I had heard a rumor that the RT/10 would be in the HW Race Team mini collection for 2020. Being that I am both a collector of the #Dodge Viper RT/10 casting and the #Hot Wheels Race Team, it was a cool crossover moment to see the casting — which has been out since 1993 — finally wear my favorite toy car livery. And, despite it being a #Treasure Hunt, I knew I would have to have multiples to appease both collections.
Best Personal Moment
With both the nationals and collectors conventions being canceled in Charlotte and Los Angeles respectively, and there being no Legends Tour events outside of the first one in Miami, there wasn’t a lot of room for cool personal moments. I do exchange messages occasionally with Mattel staff from time to time and that is always a treat as hearing — and relaying — the inspiration behind designs/releases is among my favorite things to do. Suffice to say, I had two inspirational meetings that were above the usual encounters:
Phone Call with Larry Wood
Earlier this year, I was writing a piece on the history of the Purple Passion which unceremoniously had its 30th Anniversary in 2020. I thought it would be cool to get a hold of Larry and get some more details behind his 1990 design of the #Purple Passion. Thankfully, he obliged beyond the usual email back, as he told me to call his home. We chatted for an hour about the Purple Passion and some other things Hot Wheels — it was so cool to have Larry’s 1:1 attention. I tried to professionally interview him but it was super hard to not geek out. It went way beyond my usual 5- to 10-minute conversations at conventions with him so that made for a really cool moment — and ultimately a really cool article for Red Line Club members.
Breakfast with Eric Tscherne
Hot Wheels introduced “tuner culture” to collectors in 2000 echoing a movement that had been taking place several years prior in car culture. A young designer by the name of Eric Tshcherne started as an intern in 1998 before designing full-time in 1999. Some of Eric’s designs were my favorite castings — namely the #Sho-Stopper, Muscle Tone and #Switchback — and I had longed sought out to meet him to ask him what it was like to bring Hot Wheels into “tuner culture”.
I was vacationing in Encinitas, California over the summer and reached out to Eric for an interview pandemic-style. We agreed on having an outdoor breakfast — masked up — at Swami’s cafe which overlooks the Pacific Coast Highway. After breakfast, we talked for hours, and upon parting ways, I hustled back to my AirBnB to begin writing what would become, “The Debut of Hot Wheels Tuners” article for HWC. It was a terrific experience and I look forward to talking with him again, post-pandemic.
Hot Wheels Race Team Ferrari 355 Challenge
We all have different definitions of “grail pieces” as they pertain to Hot Wheels. If asked to define, I would say that a grail piece in Hot Wheels collecting is any piece you’re looking to add, that requires some due diligence to find — meaning, you can’t just go online to obtain.
I have been looking for a certain #Ferrari F355 Challenge for my #Hot Wheels Race Team collection for years. It came as part of an international Ferrari 5-Pack in 2002 and has proven quite difficult to acquire. I had seen the 5-Pack appear online for $100 a couple years ago, but decided to pass at the time. As time wore on, I justified that $100 price tag more and more, just so I could end the agonizing search. I figured in order to get the next one I saw, I would have to be willing to pay — fast! — as there is no telling what other Hot Wheels Race Team (or Ferrari) collectors were also looking for this one to complete collections. It is one of the last few HW Race Team vehicles I was looking for, so it was obviously hard to find — a grail piece of sorts.
I stopped in at a local diecast store on my lunch break and was taken back when I saw the rare 5-pack just sitting in one of the display cases, at a fraction of the amount I was willing to ultimately spend (if I had to). I was relieved to finally cross this one off the list. Between the chance spotting and the exceptional price, this made the Hot Wheels Race Team #Ferrari 355 Challenge my top find for 2020.
Categories: Collection Reflection