Hooray for Hot Wheels!

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Toni Rahn

About Toni Rahn

Antoinette (Toni) Rahn is the online editor and content manager for Antique Trader. She has a penchant for collecting petroliana, vintage advertising items, Irish collectibles and general Americana. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Tom.

  • Hot Wheels 40th Anniversary Road Trip wraps up
  • Guinness World Record holder at Hot Wheels tour stop
  • Thousands turn out along Road Trip

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What do Mary Lou Retton, Lisa Marie Presley (Elvis’ darling daughter), Sammy Sosa, members of the infamous 1980s Hollywood Brat Pack, and Hot Wheels have in common? They’re all crossing the threshold of 40 this year!

Even with their star-studded glory, the celebrities in this list can’t compare with the overall appeal of Hot Wheels. Plus, if public response to the Hot Wheels 40th Anniversary Road Trip is any indication, wherever Hot Wheels® is headed, collectors and toy enthusiasts are sure to follow.

"Over the past 40 years, Hot Wheels has been a part of children’s lives around the world, creating a tremendous, passionate fan base," said Geoff Walker, vice president, Wheels and Games Marketing, Mattel Brands, in company press release.  "We wanted to be able to celebrate this milestone with our fans and bring a unique experience to their neighborhoods”

Throughout the month of August, tens of thousands turned out for the Hot Wheels 40th Anniversary Road Trip. This weekend concludes the six-city tour, with the final stop at Watkins Glen, NY. Each event featured an impressive display of various Hot Wheels items, appearances by Hot Wheels® designers, Hot Wheels® races, and life size Hot Wheels® cars – built by Chevy, Ford, Honda and Mitsubishi. Another highlight is the display of a one-of-a-kind, 23-carat jeweled Hot Wheels® car, designed by noted jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills.

Big cars, bling cars, Hot Wheels® stars, and cars upon cars, it sounds like a collectors’ dream. But of course, Hot Wheels collectors are always living the dream.

“I bought most all the cars the first year (they came out), when I was about 8 or 9 years old,” said Tom Michael of Iola, WI, long-time fan and collector. “For me, it’s the speed and style. Matchbox cars you moved by hand. It was a manual playtime, good for the imagination, but not too thrilling. Hot Wheels®  and Johnny Lightning, those cars were made for racing.
“For a kid in the 60’s this was the next best thing to US 30 Dragstrip.”

 For Mike Zarnock, today’s last tour stop in Watkins Glen, NY is a dream come true. Zarnock, who started collecting Hot Wheels® the first year they were released, is the two-time Guinness World Record holder of the largest collection of different Hot Wheels (8,128). This is part of his overall collection of 25,000+ die-cast cars.

“My saying is ‘preserve the toy, preserve the boy,’” said Zarnock, whose collection is on display at the Children’s Museum in Utica, NY. "What gets me going is finding a really rare variation, something that I have been looking for for some time."
Zarnock, author of three Hot Wheels® books by Krause Publications,will help draw to a close the 40th Anniversary Road Trip with a special signing event at Storylines Bookstore & Café today, during the Grand Prix Fextival, the last stop on the Hot Wheels® 40th Anniversary Road Trip. 

Even if you didn’t make it to a Road Trip stop you can still celebrate when you shop at www.krausebooks.com. Every order that includes a toy book qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and 10% OFF from now until September 11. Include Coupon Code ATBART48 to receive your savings.
(Free shipping available to U.S.addresses only).

More Images:

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This aqua 1969 Volkswagen Beach Bomb, known as a "side loader", is valued at approximately $150 - $450. (Photo courtesey of Hot Wheels Spectraflame)
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This photo of a 1969 Classic '32 Ford Vicky illustrates the subtle difference between the same type of Hot Wheels car. The car with the smooth roof (at right) is valued at $50 - $150, while the textured-roof version (at left) ranges in value from $300 - $700. (Photo courtesy of Hot Wheels Spectraflame)
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Hot Wheels Spectraflame, by Edward Wershbale, is the newest addition to Krause Publications' line of Hot Wheels references.

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