Partially hidden beneath a tarp lies a dark, menacing car. Sparks fly out of the dashboard area as a power sander rips metal into shape. The “helmet” is tipped back and the grille grimaces at me like the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. The Force is strong with this one – the 1:1 Darth Vader car.

DarthCar_004_600px

I’ve been granted entry into the “top secret” Hot Wheels Test Facility and, despite all the Hot Wheels cars and bikes present, it’s the Darth Vader car that grabs my attention like a Sith stranglehold. John Williams’ Imperial March trails off in my head when the mastermind behind this project – Hot Wheels designer Bryan Benedict – strides into the warehouse like Darth Vader boarding a hapless Rebel ship.

DarthCar_0015_600px

The 1:64 Scale Piece

Being the guy with the character car (cars based on specific characters) vision, Bryan took the design lead on the Star Wars 1:64 vehicles. He designed several himself, including the Darth Vader car. He shows me the 1:64 prototype and a handful of drawings.

“A lot of thought went into the vehicle type and how it was executed,” he remembers. “There’s such a following around the world for this property that we really felt like we had to be on top of our game with this. I really wanted to do it right.”

Bryan Benedict

With a team assigned to him for the project, Bryan says there were a lot of different opinions on where to go with it. “Some would have liked to see it more literal to Darth. I think that was definitely not the way to go.” He shows me several drawings that didn’t make the cut – some wild variations, all of them cool concepts in their own right.

One challenge was how to handle the helmet – we didn’t want it to become too prominent, or “bulby.” “So we squished that down to really make it look sinister and foreboding and ominous. I think it works ’cause it’s not just about the visual cues – it’s also about the personality.” Bryan’s philosophy is that a character car is just as much about the personality of that character and who they are and what they’re about and where they’re from as it is about the visual cues of that character. He points out that Darth Vader is scary, too. “A car like this that’s really sinister looking and slammed down to the ground is much more menacing and scary looking.”

DarthCar_009_600px

Having eliminated a lot of what he didn’t want, Bryan focuses on what he did want. “I wanted to really play up on our heritage,” he notes. “In the way I’ve handled the proportions and the surface treatment, I’ve tried to echo some of our heritage from our very beginning – cars like the Twin Mill.”

DarthCar_001_600px

The final look is both familiar and old school, while simultaneously being futuristic and fresh and modern. “Darth Vader himself almost has this presence that is both ancient and futuristic. The Star Wars property as a whole has that vibe. The very introduction of Star WarsA long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… We think of it as the future ’cause it’s in space, but it’s the past. So I wanted to embody that even in the design of the car.”

DarthCar_008_600px

In the end, it had to appeal to adults but still be recognizable to kids. “Take the fact that it’s Darth Vader out of the equation, and it’s still a cool car. And that’s the objective. They have to be a Hot Wheels cool, authentic car – not just a regular cool, authentic car. But they also have to instantly read as the character. And I think we’ve been pretty successful in doing that.”

Bryan notes that the final design is almost identical to the initial sketch he did… in church! Divine inspiration? For a Darth Vader car?!?

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As a fan of Star Wars since it came out in 1977, I just have to ask about the rest of the series for a minute. Like, please tell me there’s a Boba Fett car. “There is a Boba Fett car,” Bryan assures me, “and I’m pretty sure you’re gonna like it. Boba Fett is my personal favorite of all the cars I’ve done. We’re doing a lot of cars. There’s something like 24 or 26 different cars total. There will also be characters from the new movie coming out.” At the time he tells me this, characters from the new movies are not even public knowledge yet. (Keep a lookout at HWC for updates on the rest of the line. – Ed.)

The 1:1 Scale Piece

The choice to use Darth Vader as a 1:1 version of the Hot Wheels Star Wars cars was a logical one. An iconic character, with presence, who won’t take any bull from anyone. A maverick, in a more positive light – that says Hot Wheels. Plus, according to Bryan, “That particular car design lent itself to making a 1:1 version a reality.”

DarthCar_003_600px

“So we decided that we would not only do a 1:64 scale version that we would sell at San Diego Comic-Con, but also create a full-size car based on that 1:64 piece.” Bryan gets an almost evil grin. “Not only that, but take it one step further. Not only is it a full-size build – it’s a running car. It will be an actual driving vehicle, not just a rolling prototype. But not only that, it’s gonna be a high-performance car. So it will actually be able to do drifting, do stunts, and do all kinds of really cool stuff. And it’ll be street legal as well.”

DarthCar_0012_600px

They’re going to turn this thing loose on the streets? May the Force be with us all.

Enter Billy Hammon and PCW Brands Inc., aka the Hot Wheels Test Facility. Billy, a stuntman and car builder, is responsible for the Hot Wheels 1:1 Bone Shaker and about a dozen others, like the Bad To The Blade used by Team Hot Wheels.

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Speaking of Billy, as I stand gawking at the 1:1 build in progress, he walks up to Bryan and me with a small box. From the small box, he removes a steering wheel shaped about like Darth Vader’s personal TIE. fighter. Both Bryan and I nod in approval.

We watch as Billy and Bryan take the new steering wheel and attempt to position it in the car. They discuss possible modifications and an alternate steering wheel for drifting. Billy also shows Bryan how the exhaust pipes and fittings will work on the sides of the car with red lighting to look like lightsabers.

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Billy tells me that, when building a car like this, he makes sure there are reasons for the details so they serve a purpose as well as looking cool. “But we don’t want to sacrifice the design,” Billy adds.

Between Billy and Bryan, they have come up with some amazing functionality. The mask tips and nose piece will be headlights. The iconic chest plate, positioned as sort of a shaker hood, will feature functional buttons that control sound effects, lighting, fog, and opening the roof. Bryan points out that the roof rises, tips back, and then the windshield tips forward – all meant to mimic the setup in The Empire Strikes Back where Darth’s mask is put on by automated function. “The interior is designed to reflect the inside of his helmet,” Bryan notes. “When he takes his helmet off, there’s all this stuff – the breathing apparatus, the wires, etc.”

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The body of the car sits there suspended without wheels, looking as if it could hover away like a Landspeeder. The suspension is actually F1 A-Arm style, and it will ride on MHT/US Mag custom wheels with custom red line tires. There is a high performance LS3 engine with 526 horsepower to the rear wheels under the hood.

Billy and his team are known for being able to do fast builds. They built the Bone Shaker in 5-1/2 weeks. But with only two weeks left to have this car ready for San Diego, Billy can’t chat anymore – he has to get back to this build. At the moment, there is concern about whether or not Darth Vader can fit in the cockpit if the Dark Lord of the Sith should happen to drive it.

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Bryan is happy with how his design is turning out at 1:1 scale. “When you translate to full scale, some things have to change,” he explains. “Some of the radiuses are a little too tight, or too loose and you need to tighten them up, etc. So we made a few adjustments.” Overall, he feels they have been able to stay true to the 1:64 piece.

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“I want to make sure that when people see this real car sitting there they’re gonna be blown away,” he says. “And Hot Wheels fans and collectors are gonna be excited and feel that it’s Hot Wheels, and Star Wars fans are gonna see it and feel that it’s Star Wars, and even people who don’t know anything about Star Wars or Hot Wheels will think it’s an amazing car. That’s really the objective all along – appealing to all those crowds of people.”

I’ve seen plenty of slick, sinister cars, but this one has galactic appeal. This is the car you’re looking for.

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Just unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con: our 1:1 scale Hot Wheels Darth Vader car! Stop by the Mattel booth and check it out – if you’re not too far, far away.

HWC Darth Car

This slick, sinister machine features a high-performance engine, 526 horsepower, F1 A-arm style suspension, 6-speed manual transmission, mag wheels, and more. Everything needed to crush a rebellion!

Hot Wheels Darth Car

From the floor at SDCC

 
 
 

Check out our Darth Vader car video to see more.

Follow the conversation all weekend long with #DarthCar. Also, make sure you check back here for more updates!

You know you can count on graphic designer Steve “HWC Van” Vandervate when you want a look inside the Mattel Design Center. Upcoming releases? Behind the Hot Wheels scenes? See ’em here first!

Check out these FEPs of some awesome HWC Series 13 vehicles, plus a few other HWC Special Editions. Also on the desk are a couple of 2015 items from the Entertainment series and the Heritage series. Lotsa trucks! Big pieces, big plans. Better be ready!

Vandervate

Date posted: July 21, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: HWC Offers Red Line Club Retail Series RLC Hottest News

Shift your favorite hobby into high gear! Check out the Hot Wheels Pinterest page – we’ve pinned up loads of hot ideas for rooms, road trips and more.

Hot Wheels Official Pinterest

If you don’t know about Pinterest, well, here’s your chance to dive in. On Pinterest, you create and share collections (called “Boards”) of visual bookmarks (called “Pins”) for virtually any interest or hobby. Tens of millions have jumped onto Pinterest since it launched in 2010 — plus it’s free.

Cruise over to our Pinterest page and take a peep at our rad Hot Wheels Boards, including New Hot Wheels ToysStorage and Decoration IdeasRev Up Your Road Trip and more.

You’ll find such cool pins on our Boards as:

Hot Wheels Patriotic Display
Pin

Hot Wheels Jump Angles
Pin

Hot Wheels Hanna-Barbera Cars
Pin

There’s an endless supply of great ideas, so check it out and start pinning!

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

Categories: Collecting Entertainment/Pop Culture

All of the segments in this series are as much a part of pop culture as Hot Wheels themselves! The Hot Wheels Pop Culture series is packed with eight mixes of some of your most favorite things.

Pairing Hot Wheels with must-see decos of other popular brands loved the world over, this 1:64 series features Real Riders wheels and full-metal castings. Put some pop in your collection! (Scroll down to see a complete list of expected castings for each Mix in this series.)

 52 Chevy Ice Cream 49 Ford COE Midnight Otto ®
52 Chevy Ice Cream
Star Trek Comics
49 Ford COE
Star Trek Comics
Midnight Otto ®
Star Trek Comics
38 Dodge Airflow 59 Chevy ® Delivery 1988 Jeep ® Wagoneer
38 Dodge Airflow
Star Trek Comics
59 Chevy ® Delivery
Star Trek Comics
1988 Jeep ® Wagoneer
Star Trek Comics
8 Crate 1967 Ford Bronco 56 Ford Panel
8 Crate
Marvel (U.S./Canada only)
1967 Ford Bronco
Marvel (U.S./Canada only)
56 Ford Panel
Just Born
 Custom '69 Volkswagon Squareback 56 Chevy ® Nomad ™ Delivery 1985 Chevrolet ® Astro Van
  Custom ’69 Volkswagon Squareback
Just Born
56 Chevy ® Nomad ™ Delivery
Just Born
1985 Chevrolet ® Astro Van
Just Born
 71 El Camino  70 Chevelle ™ Panel
Dairy Delivery  ™
71 El Camino
Just Born
70 Chevelle ™ Panel
Hanna-Barbera
 Dairy Delivery  ™
Grateful Dead
Cool One 
Deco Delivery ™  
Cool One
Hanna-Barbera
Deco Delivery ™
Hanna-Barbera

 

Looney Tunes:

  • 40 Ford Convertible
  • 71 Plymouth Satellite
  • 85 Ford Bronco
  • Customized C3500
  • Kenworth W900
  • Volkswagen T1 Drag Bus
Hanna-Barbera:

  • ’65 Ford Ranchero
  • ’70 Chevelle Delivery
  • Anglia Panel
  • Cool-One
  • Deco Delivery
  • Hiway Hauler

Just Born:

  • 56 Chevy Nomad Delivery
  • 56 Ford Panel
  • 71 El Camino
  • 1985 Chevrolet Astro Van
  • Custom 69 Volkswagen Squareback
  • Long Gone
Marvel: (U.S./Canada only):

  • ’34 Dodge Delivery
  • ’40 Ford Coupe
  • 1967 Ford Bronco
  • 1970 Chevy Blazer
  • 8 Crate
  • A-OK
Star Trek Comics:

  • ’38 Dodge Airflow
  • ’49 Ford COE
  • ’59 Chevy Delivery
  • 1988 Jeep Wagoneer
  • Custom ’52 Chevy
  • Midnight Otto
General Mills:

  • ’59 Chevy Delivery
  • Custom ’62 Chevy — 1st time w/die-cast chassis!
  • Ford F-150 — New tooling!
  • Mig Rig — New tooling!
  • Smokin’ Grille
  • Texas Drive ‘Em
Grateful Dead:

  • Dairy Delivery
  • Dream Van XGW Panel
  • Grateful Dead Truck
  • Volkswagen Drag Truck
  • Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus
  • Volkswagen Baja Beetle
Muppets:

  • 1934 Chrysler Airflow
  • ’34 Ford Sedan Delivery
  • ’52 Chevy Truck
  • Baja Breaker
  • Fat Fendered ’40
  • Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus

All Trademarks not owned by Mattel are the property of their respective owners, and are used with permission.

 

 

 

Date posted: July 7, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting Retail Series

These are vehicles you’ve seen in your favorite scenes on the small or large screen! The Hot Wheels Entertainment series continues with a total of five mixes planned for this year, and we’ve got the complete list of expected castings.

From some of our favorite films and television shows, this 1:64 line features authentic details, Real Riders wheels and full-metal castings. Having these famous editions in your collection will make you a star! (Scroll down to see a complete list of expected castings for each Mix in this series.)

1980 Dodge Macho Power Wagon 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Flintmobile

1980 Dodge Macho Power Wagon
Simon & Simon
New tooling!

 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
Fast and Furious
Flintmobile
Flintstones
 USS Enterprise Volkwagon Beetle 67 GTO
U.S.S. Enterprise
Star Trek
Volkswagen Beetle
Herbie the Love Bug
67 Pontiac® GTO®
Need for Speed
72 Ferrari Dino Custom '77 Dodge Van GMC Motorhome
Ferrari Dino 246 GT
Hart to Hart
Custom 77 Dodge Van
Old School
GMC® Motorhome
Stripes
Jetsons Capsule 87 Toyota Truck 2014 Custom Mustang
Jetsons Capsule
Jetsons
New tooling!
1987 Toyota Pickup
Back to the Future
2014 Custom Mustang
Need for Speed
New tooling!
 Koenigsegg Agera R
67 Plymouth Belvedere GTX 70 Dodge Charger RT
Koenigsegg Agera R
Need for Speed
New tooling!
’67 Plymouth Belvedere GTX
Tommy Boy
New tooling!
’70 Dodge Charger R/T
Fast and Furious
Modified tooling!
48 Ford Super De Luxe K.I.T.T. Super Pursuit Mode
Ford Super De Luxe
Karate Kid
New tooling!
K.I.T.T. Super Pursuit Mode
Knight Rider
New tooling!

 

Mix 1:

  • 1980 Dodge Macho Power Wagon — New tooling!
    Simon & Simon
  • 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
    Fast and Furious
  • Flintmobile
    Flintstones
  • U.S.S. Enterprise
    Star Trek
  • Volkswagen Beetle
    Herbie the Love Bug
Mix 4:

  • ’67 Plymouth Belvedere GTX — New tooling!
    Tommy Boy 
  • ’70 Dodge Charger R/T — Modified tooling!
    Fast and Furious
  • Aston Martin DBS — Modified tooling!
    James Bond 
  • Ford Super De Luxe — New tooling!
    Karate Kid
  • K.I.T.T. Super Pursuit Mode — New tooling!
    Knight Rider 

Mix 2:

  • 67 Pontiac® GTO®
    Need for Speed
  • Ferrari Dino 246 GT
    Hart to Hart
  • Custom 77 Dodge Van
    Old School
  • GMC® Motorhome
    Stripes
  • Jetsons Capsule — New tooling!
    Jetsons
Mix 5:

  • ’65 Mustang Convertible
    Beverly Hills, 90210
  • ’67 Ford Bronco Roadster — New tooling!
    Zoolander 
  • Custom ’77 Dodge Van — Modified tooling!
    Anchorman 
  • The Homer — Modified tooling!
    Simpsons 
  • Lotus Esprit S1 — New tooling!
    James Bond
Mix 3:

  • ’57 Chevy® Bel Air® Convertible
    Simon & Simon
  • ’71 Mustang Mach I
    James Bond
  • 1987 Toyota Pickup
    Back to the Future
  • 2014 Custom Mustang — New tooling!
    Need for Speed 
  • Koenigsegg Agera R — New tooling!
    Need for Speed 


Mix 6:

  • Aston Martin 1963 DB5 — Modified tooling!
    James Bond
  • Batmobile Modified tooling!
    Batman
  • Ecto-1A New tooling!
    Ghostbusters II
  • Ford Super De Luxe — Modified tooling!
    Back to the Future
  • Thunder Roller
    BJ & The Bear

All Trademarks not owned by Mattel are the property of their respective owners, and are used with permission.

Date posted: July 2, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting Retail Series