With the new Spider-Man film, and the Hot Wheels Spider-Man series, I got to thinking about everyone’s favorite arachnid hero. I lived the dream of many young boys when I went to work for Marvel Comics back in the late 1980s / early 1990s. With great characters like Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Ghost Rider, Captain America, the X-Men, and so many more, it was like a daily fantasy to go to work.

What’s It Like To “Be” Spider-Man?Once I joined the staff and made a few friends, I was introduced one day to Spider-Man himself. He bounced around the office and was gone but, at a later time, joined my co-workers and me after work – and out of costume. He was then introduced as “Spider-Steve.” Actor Stephen Vrattos was Marvel’s own official Spider-Man!

Stephen graduated from Boston University with a BFA in Performance. “BU’s Theatre Arts program was recognized as one of the best in the country,” he recalls, with such notable alumni as Faye Dunaway, Jason Alexander and Gina Davis. “I shared my classes with Marisa Tomei, acted on stage with Michael Chiklis, and watched Julianne Moore in such classics as The Glass Menagerie and Love’s Labors Lost.”

Shortly after graduation, Stephen moved to New York City to find his big break. “I was fortunate enough to get a job as a manager at Serendipity 3 (the same restaurant featured in Serendipity, starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale) a few days after my arrival.” He remembers customers like Tom Cruise, Darryl Hannah and Andy Warhol but, he says, “The proximity to the industry’s A-list did little to further my own dreams of stardom.”

“The restaurant did, however, prove to be the vehicle for my ‘big break’ into the world of superheroes.”

A co-worker, also an aspiring entertainer, was moonlighting as a character actor and approached Stephen about doing the same. “His boss at Marvel was desperate to find an actor to perform as Spider-Man in the annual Halloween parade in Rutland, Vermont a couple of weeks later. He knew I was a trained performer and saw that I had the right body type for the character.”

Already a rabid comic fan at the time, with a large collection of his own, Stephen found himself “suddenly presented with an opportunity to not only work for the company of my passion, but also portray its biggest star.”

SpidermanStory_002_300pxWithin a couple of days, Stephen’s audition went down at the old Marvel offices, 387 Park Avenue South in Manhattan. He recalls being escorted to a supply closet, handed a Spider-Man costume and, after suiting up, sent to perform for the Marvel staff under observation. His performance caught on, and the job stuck like good webbing. Stephen would spend the next 10 years as a Marvel character actor, predominantly portraying Spidey, but other characters as well – including Spider-Man’s nemesis, the Green Goblin.

I asked Stephen to tell us about some of his more memorable appearances. “That first job in Rutland holds a special place in my heart,” he says, “if for no other reason than its being the catalyst for a memorable career. And every appearance no matter how seemingly insignificant stands out, whether on account of the fans I’ve met, the places I’ve visited across North America and Europe or the gig itself. But there are certainly some that stand at the front of the queue.

“My first visit to a children’s hospital occurred in St. John’s Newfoundland. There I met a terminally ill child from Quebec being treated for cancer. He was no more than seven and couldn’t speak or understand any English. I’m willing to bet he was no more aware of what was happening to him, why he was there, why he had to go through such painful treatment, why he lost his hair, etc. I was told his prognosis was not good.

“Ordinarily, the six years of French I studied in school would have helped me stumble through some awkward phrasing, so I could converse with the boy, but I suddenly found myself at a loss to remember any of it. No matter. The smile on the boy’s face and the sudden light in his eyes said more than any spoken word. He was thrilled to meet Spider-Man and couldn’t stop touching the costume as if to reassure himself the moment wasn’t all a dream.

SpidermanStory_003_300px“His mother acted as interpreter. ‘You’re my hero,’ he said. I replied that he was my hero. All at once, a bit of French popped into my head. ‘Je t’aime,’ I told him. He responded with a hug – weak, but it was the most powerful hug I’d ever felt. As I said my good-byes, I recognized why wearing a mask was good for more than just protecting an identity as tears filled my eyes.”

Stephen then changes gears to another recollection. “Then there were the moments which make me breathe a sigh of relief that picture-taking smart phones and social networking didn’t exist back when I wore the red-and-blue…” While performing at a street fair in Houston, Texas, he had a no place to change into costume. “Changing into the costume in a vehicle on the way to an appearance was not unusual.” In this case, many blocks of the city had to be shut down to car traffic due to the fair – so he had to walk about a quarter of a mile to get to the event area.

“It was a beautiful spring day, so I didn’t mind. As was often the case as Spidey, I would hop atop anything in the general vicinity and hunker in a crouch. People loved this, and it further strengthened an appearance beyond simply sitting behind a table signing autographs.”

Spotting a nearby newspaper vending machine, Stephen sprang into action – but it proved far less stable than he anticipated. “After a moment of trying to balance myself atop the rickety machine, I leapt off — catching the uniform just under my right butt cheek on a sharp corner.” With a ripping sound, he felt a draft in the now-exposed region.

What’s It Like To “Be” Spider-Man?“I stood stock-still, my buttocks pressed against the machine’s Plexiglas front. Fortunately, my host was carrying a light jacket, which I tied around my waste to hide my exposed posterior, and there it stayed for the entire appearance!”

Though he points out that, to most people, just the idea of wearing a skintight spandex costume is terrifying, he can recall a more frightening moment in the suit. At an appearance in Toronto at the city’s Exposition fairgrounds, he was told he’d be bungee-jumping as Spider-Man!

“As the crane inexorably rose to its 300-foot drop height, my heart was pounding. Far below, a huge mass of people awaited Spider-Man’s flight. And because I was everyone’s favorite Web-head, I wasn’t afforded the reactions of an average human to such a hair-raising stunt. I had to display the cool calm of someone who swings from a slender strand of webbing from atop Manhattan skyscrapers on a daily basis.

“When the signal called for my leap, I couldn’t hesitate. Still, I released a blood-curdling scream, exaggerating to the extreme as I fell, as I envisioned the playful superhero doing had he actually been jumping. This evoked a tremendous chuckle and cheer from my fans – while also allowing me to release the fear built up inside. The fall proved exhilarating and fun. But I still wouldn’t be in a hurry to repeat it!”

So when it comes to dream jobs, it’s hard to beat “Spider-Steve.” “I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to be Spider-Man,” he says. “I traveled across the country and Canada, and even Europe, meeting incredible people and being greeted with the biggest smiles anyone could imagine.”

Date posted: April 29, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting Entertainment/Pop Culture Hottest News

Our new Hot Wheels Spider-Man series spins its way into your local Walmart stores now!

Eight cool cars depict various eras in Spider-Man history with the specific event that inspired it. This series won’t be gathering any cobwebs – better wrap ’em up quick!

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Fire-Eater
(Ultimate Spider-Man)
Hammered Coupe
(Civil War Spider-Man)
Evil Twin
(Secret Wars)
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Shredster
(Superior Spider-Man)
I Candy
(Silver Age)
Ettorium
(Birth of Venom)
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Spider Rider
(Amazing Spider-Man Dying Wish)
Street Creeper
(The Origin of Spider-Man)
Date posted: April 24, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting Retail Series

You may have missed the recent Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals – which is a shame, since we previewed a few of the exciting releases coming up in our premium retail series. But we’ve got some good news for you: we’ll share them with you here!

Even if you saw them at the show, you probably want a better look, right?  Take a look at the pictures!

Here’s the list:

Hot Wheels Cool Classics

  • ’65 Volkswagen Fastback
  • ’76 Chevy Chevette
  • Datsun Bluebird 510
  • Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake (New die-cast chassis!)
  • Honda S2000 (New die-cast chassis!)
  • Subaru Brat

Hot Wheels Entertainment Series

  • ’67 Plymouth Belvedere GTX (Tommy Boy) (New tool!)
  • ’70 Dodge Charger RT (Fast & Furious) (New die-cast chassis!)
  • Custom ’77 Dodge Van (Anchorman) (1st use of rack/dish accessory!)
  • Ford Super De Luxe (Back To The Future) (1st use of manure accessory!)
  • The Homer (The Simpsons) (New die-cast chassis!)
  • K.I.T.T. Super Pursuit Mode (Knight Rider) (New tool!)

Hot Wheels Pop Culture Series

  • Dairy Delivery (Grateful Dead)
  • Volkswagen Drag Truck (Grateful Dead)
  • Cool One (Hanna-Barbera – Tom and Jerry)
  • Deco Delivery (Hanna-Barbera – Yogi Bear)
  • ’34 Dodge Delivery (Marvel – Iron Man)
  • A-OK (Marvel – The Incredible Hulk)
Date posted: April 23, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting Conventions/Events Retail Series

It debuted at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964 – and it became an American icon. Now Ford Mustang celebrates 50 years of slick style and awesome automobiles. We join the party with the Hot Wheels Mustang 50 Years series!

Roaring into your local Walmart store, the series consists of eight sweet pony cars with hot deco. Make sure you saddle up and corral the full set!

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’62 Ford Mustang Concept ’67 Mustang
’71 Mustang Mach 1
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’92 Ford Mustang
Custom ’07 Mustang
’13 Ford Mustang GT
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Custom ’12 Ford Mustang
’03 Ford Mustang Cobra
Date posted: April 22, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting Hottest News Retail Series

Right from the beginning, Hot Wheels and Ford Mustang have gone together like speed and power. Like chrome and rubber. Like… well, cool and cars. To celebrate 50 years of Mustang, we asked you to show us your ponies!

One of the most recognizable and in-demand automobiles of all time, the Ford Mustang was introduced to the public 50 years ago at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964. The flagship car of its class, it launched the term “pony car” which later came to be applied to any car in that class.

When the inaugural Hot Wheels series launched in 1968, the Custom Mustang was prominent. Mustangs have remained a mainstay of the Hot Wheels mainline ever since. And collectors love Mustangs! So here are a few shots that caught our eye. Enjoy!

Redline era Custom Mustang w/Spectraflame antifreeze finish and collector button. 1998 GT Convertible on the Dearborn assembly line Dec. 22 1997
Redline era Custom Mustang w/Spectraflame antifreeze finish and collector button. – Jeanpaul Ferro “I followed my wife’s 1998 GT Convertible on the Dearborn assembly line Dec. 22 1997.” – Stew Jones
 A rainbow of Mustangs, circled up  Two bosses
A rainbow of Mustangs, circled up. – Ralph Cady Two bosses. – Ed Lansford
 Blue flames  A herd of ’92 Mustangs
Blue flames. – Chris Matson A herd of ’92 Mustangs. – Richard Trujillo
 A blockade on a block  Too cute!
A blockade on a block. – Ryan Cunningham Now that just isn’t fair. Too cute! – James Dean Adams III
 a bitchin’ Larry Wood drawing  Pony in flight
How could we pass up a bitchin’ Larry Wood drawing? – Ralph Cady Pony in flight. – Robert Wasilchak
 And here’s to another 50!
And here’s to another 50! – Ian Weber
Date posted: April 17, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting Hot Wheels History Retail Series

Well, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the first Red Line Club sELECTIONs of 2014 is that you really like the party cars! Given a choice, you pretty much followed that pattern.

By first choosing a classic Redline era casting with opening hood, you picked a good candidate for an RLC Party car. Then you added Neo-Classics Redline wheels and, with many colors to choose from, you opted for the pink. Yep, this could be an RLC Party car. But it won’t – because it’s a sELECTIONs car instead!

Check back next week when we kick off the voting for 2014 RLC sELECTIONs edition #2.

2013 Red Line Club sELECTIONs Car #1

  • Casting: Custom AMC AMX
  • Wheels: Neo-Classics Redline wheels
  • Color: Spectraflame Pink

Note: The images shown are by no means final — they are meant to represent the winning combination of your votes. We will give you a better idea of how the final produced pieces will look when we offer it for sale later.

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Date posted: April 16, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: HWC Offers Red Line Club

You may not want to put all your (Easter) eggs in one basket – but you will want all of the Hot Wheels Happy Easter series in your shopping basket! There are eight great castings for you to find, all brightly decorated in festive spring colors. You can only find them at Walmart. Aren’t you egg-cited?

’32 Ford Vicky ’69 Camaro ’70 Chevy Chevelle Convertible
’32 Ford Vicky ’69 Camaro ’70 Chevy Chevelle Convertible
’32 Ford Vicky
’69 Camaro®
’70 Chevy® Chevelle™ Convertible
Boom Box Metrorail Nash Metropolitan Phaeton
Boom Box Metrorail Nash Metropolitan Phaeton
Boom Box
Metrorail™ Nash Metropolitan
Phaeton
Pro Stock Firebird Toyota Off-Road Truck
Pro Stock Firebird Toyota Off-Road Truck
Pro Stock Firebird®
Toyota Off-Road Truck

Date posted: April 15, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting Hottest News

The RLC sELECTIONs edition of the Custom AMC AMX will feature Neo-Classics Redline wheels! All we have to do now is color in this bad boy.

We have 11 color options this week! The color with the most votes will be used, so decide carefully before placing your vote in the polls on the Message Board.

The color round consists of just one poll — please remember to vote:

  • Spectraflame Aqua
  • Spectraflame Black
  • Spectraflame Brown
  • Spectraflame Ice Blue
  • Spectraflame Dark Green
  • Spectraflame Light Green
  • Spectraflame Orange
  • Spectraflame Dark Orange
  • Spectraflame Pink
  • Spectraflame Yellow
  • Spectraflame Dark Yellow

This poll will open on Thursday, April 10 on the HWC Message Boards within the Red Line Club Exclusive Forums, in the 2014 RLC sELECTIONs Polls forum. The poll will remain open for approximately one week, closing no sooner than Wednesday, April 16.

We urge a vote in each poll from every membership, as the final outcome really is based on your votes. If you’re new to the sELECTIONs process, make sure you read the sections below titled What Are sELECTIONs Cars? and How To Vote for sELECTIONs Cars.

 

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Spectraflame Aqua
Spectraflame Black
Spectraflame Brown
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Spectraflame Ice Blue
Spectraflame Dark Green
Spectraflame Light Green
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Spectraflame Orange
Spectraflame Dark Orange
Spectraflame Pink
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Spectraflame Yellow
Spectraflame Dark Yellow

2014 RLC sELECTIONs #1

Voting Polls Schedule

Round:

Opens:

Closes:

5th Round, Color

4/10

4/16

What Are sELECTIONs Cars?

HotWheelsCollectors.com will manufacture and offer the RLC sELECTIONs series of two online Hot Wheels releases this year which are chosen in part by the votes of Red Line Club members. Only RLC members are allowed to participate, and we will only offer these editions to RLC members.

For each of the releases, we will conduct a series of polls lasting a few weeks (rounds) in which RLC members may vote for their preference of the offered choices. These polls are held on the HWC Message Boards, within the Red Line Club Exclusive Forums, in the 2014 RLC sELECTIONs Polls forum. Each poll in each round will remain open for approximately a week. Whenever there are multiple polls in a round, members are encouraged to place their vote in EACH poll.

When the final round of voting for both of the editions has been concluded, the winning choices will be used to manufacture that edition. Placing your votes is not a commitment to purchase the resulting edition, and voting in the polls is not required to purchase the resulting edition (but you must be a Red Line Club member to purchase these editions).

At later dates, we will offer each of the two winning sELECTIONs editions to RLC members only. Orders will be taken on each car for approximately one week, and we will produce enough quantities to match the number of orders we receive — every RLC member should have the opportunity to order and receive one. Further details will be available when the item is offered.

 

How To Vote for sELECTIONs Cars

  1. Sign in with your Red Line Club membership at HotWheelsCollectors.com. Check the RLC Only area of the site for the latest sELECTIONs updates. These updates will include information such as when voting will open and close for each round, as well as the results from the previous voting round(s).
  2. Next, head over to the HWC Message Boards, within the Red Line Club Exclusive Forums, in the 2014 RLC sELECTIONs Polls forum. Look for the most recently posted sELECTIONs poll or polls that are open for voting.
  3. Place your vote(s). You can vote the same as with any other board poll. Again, remember that there will be multiple polls in some rounds — so be sure to cast your vote in each open poll. NOTE: Once cast, your vote cannot be changed — so consider carefully before placing your vote!
  4. There are multiple rounds of voting for each sELECTIONs edition. Check in at HWC frequently during the sELECTIONs season, and don’t miss your chance to be a part of Hot Wheels creation!
Date posted: April 8, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: HWC Offers Red Line Club

Since 2005, charity events at Hot Wheels Collectors Conventions and Nationals have raised over half a million dollars for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals! Mattel is proud to partner with Collector Events Unlimited in these ongoing efforts, so we thought you’d like a preview of items we’ll be making available at the charity auction for the 14th Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals in Oak Brook, IL.

These items are EPs (Engineering Pilots), early proofs of castings used by Hot Wheel’s® designer and engineers when finalizing the design for a new Hot Wheels®. Hard to come by, this is a great opportunity to get one of the earliest versions of your favorite Hot Wheels® vehicle.

What: Charity Auction
When: Friday, April 4, 2014
Where: 14th Annual Hot Wheels® Collectors Nationals
Doubletree by Hilton – Oak Brook, IL

 

 40 Ford Convertible  63 Chevy Nova  64 Ford Falcon Sprint
’40 Ford Convertible ’63 Chevy Nova ’64 Ford Falcon Sprint
 66 Super Nova 70 Camaro  2010 Chevy Impala
’66 Super Nova ’70 Camaro 2010 Chevy Impala
 14 Corvette Stingray  Drift Rod  Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
’14 Corvette Stingray Drift Rod Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
 Ford Super De Luxe  HW Poppa Wheelie  K.I.T.T.
Ford Super De Luxe HW Poppa Wheelie K.I.T.T.
 Penguin  Repo Duty  So Plowed
Penguin Repo Duty So Plowed
Volkswagen Beetle (Tooned)  Wheel Loader  Woody (Toy Story)
Volkswagen Beetle (Tooned) Wheel Loader Woody (Toy Story)
Date posted: April 3, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting Conventions/Events Hottest News

When we offered the Hot Wheels Atari Beach Bomb Pickup at Comic-Con last year, we found a few error versions. So… April Fools — this version comes packaged without the surfboards!

A stellar creation, this edition of the Beach Bomb Pickup features a Spectraflame-over-chrome finish (one of the last such editions) with Atari’s Asteroids deco! With Real Riders wheels and full-metal chassis, this should make a landing in your collection.

There are only a very few of these, and we’ve discounted them to $19.99. You can find them in the Hot Wheels Shop April 1, 2014.

Production car may vary from the photo shown. Mattel reserves the right to modify the color, decorations and wheel type.

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Date posted: April 1, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting HWC Offers