Adding a #Toy Fair model is often the crowning achievement in any Hot Wheels casting collection. There is typically only one Hot Wheels Toy Fair release per year and, since this is an internal event at Mattel for vendors & employees, these can sell for quite a lot on the open market due to their scarcity. Add in the fact that the Hot Wheels team typically goes all-out on these models — full detail, #Real Riders, etc. — to showcase the brand, and you probably know how desirable these are from a Hot Wheels collector point of view.
In the fall of 2020, Toy Fair 2021 was cancelled at Mattel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The car that was produced for the event debuted earlier in the year as a #2020 New Model: #Big-Air Bel-Air. The casting had already seen retail success as collectors took a liking to this #Brendon Vetuskey Designed tri-five Chevy — his latest since the #’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser had reached super-stardom. This one was going to be hot!
Toy Fair 2021 didn’t happen, nor did 2022 the following year. These #Toy Fair vehicles were ultimately stashed away somewhere at Mattel, until just last week. This means the design team (including Brendon) just got theirs! Coincidentally, my recent Toy Fair Big-Air Bel-Air eBay purchase came last week as well — capping off what has been a stellar collection thus far.
There are 10 variants of the Hot Wheels #Big-Air Bel-Air: 3 releases in each of 2020, 2021, and 2022 and the aforementioned #Toy Fair model. In each of the 3 years the casting has been in the mainline, one of the 3 releases (each year) has been a store exclusive. The gold colorway in 2020 was a #GameStop Exclusive, while the blue (2021) was a #Kroger Exclusive followed by the #ZAMAC (2022) which of course was a #Walmart Exclusive.
From the name to the ingenuity, the #Big-Air Bel-Air represents so many things that make Hot Wheels vehicles great. The name of this casting could have simply been “’56 Off-Road Chevy Bel-Air” and everything would have been just fine, however, Brendon threw it back to the old school Hot Wheels days when casting names had a little more flavor. With “Big-Air” in front of its Bel-Air namesake, the name lends itself to the fact that this is an excellent track car that is made for some of those patented orange track jumps. Every mainline release of the casting thus far has featured the #Baja 5-Spoke Wheels which are the only off-road Hot Wheels wheels designed to work well on track.
What further accentuates this casting’s potential legacy is that its built a tad differently than your standard Hot Wheels basic vehicle. Most basic (mainline) vehicles consist of 4 parts: a body, base, window, and an interior piece. When Brendon designed the #Big-Air Bel-Air, he decided to forego the window piece in order to add an additional “interior” piece. By doing this, he created one heck of a color break by giving the exposed shocks, roll cage, light bars, fuel tank, and exhaust their own piece that weaves in and out of the casting’s body — all while differentiating these pieces from the casting’s interior.
One of the cool things that makes the #2020 New Models / Rod Squad releases stand out to me, is that Brendon included a few nods to his wife in the graphics. Coco “D” (his wife) is listed on the roof as the “driver” which makes perfect sense as marriage is as much of a team sport as baja racing. The car’s number “718” is also a nod to their marriage as it represents their wedding date (July 18th).
The Hot Wheels #Big-Air Bel-Air has already been a fun casting to collect. The three colorways per year in the mainline have really jump-started this collection and the #Toy Fair model is the icing on the cake. I look forward to seeing if this casting endures a similar fate as the #’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser. After having the Toy Fair release in-hand — with full-detail and #Real Riders — you can tell the Big-Air Bel-Air needs to go premium.
Categories: Collection Update