The 3-Car Hot Rod Race Team is COMPLETE with the debut of the Hot Wheels MUSCLE AND BLOWN

Back in the fall of 2019, Hot Wheels collectors were greeted by the #Mod Rod — a modern take on the hot rod, designed by Hot Wheels designer, Dmitriy Shakhmatov. That October at the convention in LA, designer Eric Han had his latest creation — the #Erikenstein Rod — on display. It was his take on a modern hot rod truck, and this collector was not shy about naming it as his #1 Hot Wheels design for 2020. The Erikenstein Rod noticeably wore that same moody matte blue with gold graphics paint scheme the Mod Rod wore in 2019. Eric mentioned that the truck was number two (numbered at #52, between #51 & #53) of three new HW original designs that would share this stellar livery created by the graphics team.

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Hot Wheels Muscle and Blown (#53) from the 2021 Rod Squad series (also part of the 2021 New Models) with 2019 Mod Rod (#51) and 2020 Erikenstein Rod (#52)

The #Muscle and Blown was recently released as part of the #2021 Hot Wheels “K” case assortment, during the “53rd Anniversary” year of Hot Wheels — hence the #53. This Hot Wheels original design mashes up classic muscle with modern design, and every bit of hot rod as the previous two designs. As with any realistic #Unlicensed Hot Wheels design, collectors immediately try to understand the inspiration behind the design. Sometimes said inspiration comes from vehicles of years past while other times it comes from other objects in designers’ lives. Projecting what I love onto the car, I immediately see hints of a Dodge Viper, though I know that most likely isn’t the case.

QUICK LINK! Find the Muscle and Blown for sale on eBay.

If there is one thing to admire about the design of the #Muscle and Blown, it’s the curvaceous way the body flows from front to back. The back of the packaging (quote below) states that the “car takes the classic lines of a muscle car”, but I feel as though the design projects forward better than reflecting the past.

Just because muscle cars and hot rods aren’t supposed to go together doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. This car takes the classic lines of a muscle car and rods it out with a velocity stack intake manifold, dual pass radiator, fender flares and racing slicks. Watch it go.

From the back of the 2021 Rod Squad release.
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Hot Wheels Muscle and Blown from the 2021 Rod Squad series (also part of the 2021 New Models) on the orange track

I reached out to the designer — Dima — and asked him what his thoughts were while designing the Hot Wheels #Muscle and Blown. He said that his original idea was to design a front mid-engined car — like a Viper. 😉 To truly be a custom hot rod though, he said he would have to get rid of the bumpers and turn it into a “drift hooligan”. He would ultimately add a large chin spoiler, large intercooler in place of the front bumper, and two large fog lights.

Since Dima was able to route the exhaust to behind the front wheels, he said that made room, “so the rear end is all about [the] rear diffuser”. He added that he didn’t think a big wing was necessary as the “duck tail would do just fine”.

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Hot Wheels Muscle and Blown from the 2021 Rod Squad series (also part of the 2021 New Models)

The fun part about #Unlicensed Hot Wheels — or HW Original Designs — is that they are open for interpretation. Personally, I love finding all the details, like the ones Dima mentioned — even the ones he didn’t. There seems to always be a narrative playing out within the designers’ heads and these castings are often a way of reverse engineering the story to be able to read it.

This collection is now comp— oh wait, what did you say, Dima? There’s more to this series?!?!? Stay tuned…

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Hot Wheels Hot Rod Trio: Muscle and Blown (#53), Erikenstein Rod (#52), and Mod Rod (#51)

The collection may not be complete, but who cares! Between the awesome paint jobs and the spectacular original casting designs, this “moody matte blue” Hot Wheels race team has been great. I can’t wait to see what the design team serves up next!

11 replies »

  1. I really hope there is more to this series – I love the deco and these designs have all been lights out! Well done, Hot Wheels

  2. Good thinking by Dina about a rear wing. With Mattel’s safety rules, the ugly thick wing posts would have ruined the casting (McLaren Senna and many others). I wonder if that weighed on his decision to use a ducktail instead.

  3. Great article OTD! I could see the “Lethal Diesel” by Ryu Asada, being re-colored and being a #53-b”. I mean they have a Hot rod, a truck, and a sports car, so why not an SUV? Lol. Food for thought….

  4. Thank you Brad for this article. I had no idea this was supposed to be a 3 year deal. I hope they continue with this either with a new base color for 3 more years or stick with the same colors. I really dig the matte paint and graphics on these and the choices on all three couldn’t be any better in my opinion.

    • I agree that the series should continue. Do we need to get a a petition? Haha. I wish this livery was on the Aristo Rat and the HW50.

    • Forget to comment on the Viperish body design. To me it looks like it was crossed with the Honda 2000 as well. I also noticed that the interior is set up as LHD racing seat. I also like the opening look in the rear window with the dark chrome fuel filler cap and neck. A nice detail to have included..

  5. Although many collectors would be loath to admit it, there are many unlicensed models whose designs are very good. Many of Mattel’s best designers have executed some stylish and exciting vehicles. There are also some “unlicensed “ models that I can’t believe Mattel didn’t get sued for as their resemblance to actual cars is unmistakable.

  6. I add the first Big-Air Bel Air to the crew (in the same “matte grayish blue”), and I’d be ok for more off-road experimental models.

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