For those Hot Wheels collectors that did not collect back in 2002: there was always the thrill of the hunt, everyone chased the #Treasure Hunts, and thousands of cars sold out on HotWheelsCollectors.com in a matter of minutes. What changed is that the brand itself has evolved since then. This was year one of the Red Line Club — a club that has had its own evolution (multiple times) since then. However, for the sake of narrowing it down, I am going to point to the influx of pop culture licensing. Back in 2002, it really didn’t exist. Collectors were long clamoring for #TV & Movie Cars to be made, but every request seemed to fall on deaf ears. The first domino really didn’t fall until Hot Wheels started with the #Batmobiles in 2004.
In 2000, the remake of Gone in 60 Seconds appeared in theaters, and Hot Wheels subsequently released the 2002 version of the premium box set of it in the #Hot Wheels Collectibles line. Without the box set in hand, I am unable to tell you if it was an officially licensed product, but given the artwork on the box, and 3 of the 4 cars chosen, it would suggest the possibility that it wasn’t. I was a huge fan of the movie at the time and remember being underwhelmed by the set as a whole — even though it did contain a cool Viper. The thing to remember is: there really wasn’t any diecast manufacturer making #TV & Movie Car replicas at the time. I think as long as Hot Wheels stuck to producing generic car designs from the movies, the movie studios didn’t bat an eye. Remember that!
Back in 2002, HotWheelsCollectors.com released a couple “Virtual Convention” vehicles on HWC with RLC members having first shot at them — and if I remember correctly, these were also sold at the convention too. Limited to 10,000 pieces, this #Chevelle was for the #16th Annual Collectors Convention held in the fall of 2002.
Roughly 16 months prior, a not-so-hyped movie by the name of The Fast and the Furious (2001) came out. For years, it didn’t seem like Hot Wheels had any intentions on making the cars from that movie or any of its sequels. Obviously, things have changed since then as we are on #Fast & Furious overload, as the movie franchise even has its own Hot Wheels premium line. But back then, repeated requests of making the cars was one of those that fell on deaf ears at Mattel.
Looking back now, did someone at Mattel secretly sneak in a car from the first movie? I mean, it wasn’t a hero car by any means — though it was driven by Dom — so would anyone even notice? Certainly the licensors wouldn’t notice (or care) if a car from the post credit scene that had a total screen time in the neighborhood of 5 to 10 seconds, and had a factory Chevelle SS paint scheme, got made. Besides, this Hot Wheels #Convention Vehicle was produced in a low run and featured red #Spectraflame Paint which didn’t match the bright red enamel the actual movie car had. You can easily make the case that this is a mere coincidence.
Either way, Hot Wheels eventually did release the red Chevelle from the movie — twice actually, in premium & basic. The premium release officially came first in 2019 on the newer #’70 Chevrolet Chevelle SS casting, while the basic release finally came along at the end of 2020 in the HW Screen Time mini collection as part of the 2020 mainline.
So while this Virtual Convention #’70 Chevelle SS may not officially be a #Fast & Furious vehicle, one could make the case that this HWC release could have secretly been done as a nod to the Chevelle from the first movie. On the other side of things, one could easily argue that it’s not. I’ll leave it at: the similarities are striking, and the timing is coincidentally impeccable!