Collection Reflection

Smoke ‘N Water is a reminder that Hot Wheels made quality, detailed vehicles in the 100% line

There was a little purge in the OTD garage last weekend by getting rid of extras to make room for future purchases. In doing so — in going back through the collection — you can often find a treasured piece from years ago. I often do. The latest to be found? The 1999 #Hot Wheels Collectibles Smoke ‘N Water set featuring the #’59 Chevy Apache Fleetside with trailer and the #Crackerbox Racer boat. I picked it up for less than the set cost at retail 24 years ago over a year ago. As you can see below, the box was a bit tattered but that didn’t matter to me as I had plans to liberate the vehicles.

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1999 Hot Wheels Collectibles Smoke ‘N Water Set

In the rough cardboard was a large acrylic case much like the ones still used today in the RLC and for special editions — just larger. The highly-detailed vehicles were screwed to the plinth and a landscape adorned the rear and base as a setting for the story that was about to be told:

SMOKE ‘N WATER It’s a perfect summer morning. The sky is clear, the lake is glassy and the temperature is already in the high 70’s. A rock ‘n’ roll classic plays on the radio at the marina as you slowly roll into a stop near the launch ramp. Instantly, a crowd gathers to admire your tricked-out tandem. The ’59 Chevy Apache Fleetside pickup has been modified for high performance with a 409 cid engine and dual quad carbs. On your trailer is a classic Crackerbox race boat, powered by a nail-valve Buick mill with six carburetors. Your vehicle and vessel combine to produce nearly 800 horsepower and your fans have come to watch your boat create smoke on the water.

The truth is, #100% Hot Wheels / Hot Wheels Collectibles were ahead of their time. Often, sets like this contained first run, multi-piece tools (as stated on the packaging) from the mind of Larry Wood. These castings are very similar in quality to the #Elite 64 line of today.

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Hot Wheels ’59 Chevy Apache Fleetside from the 1999 Hot Wheels Collectibles Smoke ‘N Water Set pulling trailer with Crackerbox Racer

This set was the debut of the #’59 Chevy Apache Fleetside which would have 10 more variants after this #First Edition release until the demise of the #100% Hot Wheels line in 2008. It was essentially a mainstay of the line and appropriately so as this ornate truck was one of the more memorable truck designs from the ’50s. To top it off, the casting has an #Opening Hood that reveals the separate-piece, 409 cid engine referenced in the description above.

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Hot Wheels ’59 Chevy Apache Fleetside from the 1999 Hot Wheels Collectibles Smoke ‘N Water Set

Designs like this truck and the #Crackerbox Racer boat below demonstrate the affinity Larry Wood had for custom car culture while designing at Hot Wheels. In speaking with him a number of years ago, he mentioned how much work he put into this line and that he built the line specifically for the adult collector. The line changed names and would appear in-and-out at retail before it (and its castings) were scrapped in 2008. Larry would ultimately end up disappointed as the line never was met with the collector response he had hoped for.

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Hot Wheels Crackerbox Racer with Trailer from the 1999 Hot Wheels Collectibles Smoke ‘N Water Set

The #Crackerbox Racer boat is a great example of something I am not into totally capturing my attention. Had this boat been released by itself (or even with the trailer) there is no way I would have ever bought it. Pair it with the #’59 Chevy Apache Fleetside and the story comes alive.

QUICK LINK! Get a smokin’ deal on the Smoke ‘N Water set on eBay now.

The build of this custom speedboat is amazing and it definitely looks fast — even while nestled in the trailer. The back of the boat, along with the engine and interior, have so much detail. You can see where a casting like this separates itself from your standard basic (and even premium) vehicle that only has four parts.

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Hot Wheels ’59 Chevy Apache Fleetside (and Crackerbox Racer w/ Trailer) from the 1999 Hot Wheels Collectibles Smoke ‘N Water Set

If you only saw the picture above, and have to guess the diecast brand (without knowing); I am willing to bet most diecast collectors would not guess Hot Wheels here. As an exclusive Hot Wheels collector, it is kind of refreshing to see the Smoke ‘N Water set be more “other diecast” than “Hot Wheels”. The truck is amazing, the boat is amazing. Put the #Crackerbox Racer on the trailer and tow it with the #’59 Chevy Apache Fleetside, and you have the makings of a great scale model that is fun to look at from every angle. You can seriously enjoy this set in the acrylic case or loose — there is no wrong answer here!

7 replies »

  1. The Crackerbox boats are some of my favorite sets, and I almost have all 180 different 100% castings. The wood grain looks amazing, and you’re right, it looks fast just sitting still.

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