HotBirds

          Original Hot Birds

 

HWC Light My Firebird

        HWC Light My Firebird

 

Sizzlers Firebird Trans Am

        Sizzlers Firebird Trans Am

 

Sizzlers Fire Works

        Sizzlers Fire Works

 

Lost Cars of China Hot Bird

        Lost Cars of China Hot Bird

 

HWC Custom Firebird

        HWC Custom Firebird

 

HWC Hot Bird

        HWC Hot Bird

 

'77 Pontiac Firebird

        ’77 Pontiac Firebird

 

67 Pontiac Firebird 400

        ’67 Pontiac Firebird 400

 

'73 Pontiac Firebirds

        ’73 Pontiac Firebirds

Only three cars can claim to have begun simultaneously as both a life-sized version and an inaugural Hot Wheels version: the Mercury Cougar, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird. Of the three, only one of them is still being produced (the Camaro); Sadly, Pontiac ceased production in 2002.

But years of Firebirds live on in Hot Wheels form! Let’s start this Firebird-palooza with a little basic Firebird background. It begins with the Pontiac Banshee, a line of concept cars that started in the mid-’60s and which John De Lorean originally had a hand in developing. When the Camaro was emerging in 1967, Pontiac wanted to produce the two-seater Banshee, but GM felt it would compete with their Corvette. Instead, GM handed over the F-Body platform (small rear-wheel drive automobile platform) being used on the new Camaro.

About six months after the Camaro’s debut, the Firebird arrived late to market in low production numbers. It shared a few similar design elements with the Camaro, but came with pure Pontiac engine options under the hood. It would become a mainstay of the Pontiac line.

Meanwhile, the inaugural fleet of 16 Hot Wheels editions was set to debut, and the convertible version of the new pony car was honored with a release as one of them. The Custom Firebird would catch fire at 1:64 as well.

Within a couple of years, Hot Wheels would release the “spoilers” Light My Firebird, as well as a Firebird Trans Am version for the Sizzlers series. But when 1970 came along, Pontiac moved the Firebird to its 2nd Generation.

Firebird 2nd Generation

Despite stumbling a bit out of the gate, the 2nd Generation Firebird would become a dominant force throughout the ’70s. After almost being discontinued in 1972, the Firebird would emerge with the now-iconic “screaming chicken” logo on the hood. Also in 1973, Hot Wheels would add the “Fire Works” Pontiac Firebird Trans Am to the Sizzlers line.

After that, things would gradually heat up for the Firebird. By 1976, the T-top would be introduced, as well as the special edition black-and-gold Trans Am. Firebird sales would top 100,000 for the first time.

But 1977 would change the game forever. The 1977 special edition black-and-gold Trans Am starred alongside Burt Reynolds in the film Smokey and The Bandit, and the Firebird would skyrocket in popularity.

Hot Wheels designer and Firebird expert Brendon Vetuskey points out that the Firebird also appeared on other screens, large and small. “There was a movie with John Wayne in the early ’70s – he had like a ’73 Trans Am. And also that movie Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.” And Firebirds would show up on television. “Ponch had one on CHiPs – a gold Trans Am. The Rockford Files had the Firebird Formula. He had multiple Firebirds over the years.”

Striking while the iron was hot, Hot Wheels would release the Larry Wood-designed Hot Bird in 1978. This became one of the most iconic Hot Wheels castings of all time.

The Hot Bird received such prominence that it became a flagship car of the Hot Wheels brand. According to Brendon, the Hot Bird was used in coloring books and McDonald’s Happy Meals and such. “They used it a lot of times to represent Hot Wheels.”

For Pontiac, Brendon says the Firebird reached critical mass in 1979. “It was outselling the Camaro; it was outselling everything else… the peak production was in ’79 for the Trans Am.”

Firebird 3rd Generation, Beyond and Backward

By 1982, Pontiac would introduce the 3rd Generation Firebird. Once again, the car would get a little boost from Hollywood. This time, the small screen was the main generator of interest when the TV show Knight Rider used the Firebird as K.I.T.T. – a talking computerized car. While Hot Wheels wouldn’t release an edition of K.I.T.T. until 2012, it did continue to knock out the ’80s Firebird in 1983.

Pontiac moved on to the 4th Generation of the Firebird in 1993. During this time, the Firebird would come its closest to resembling one of Pontiac’s Banshee concept cars – the Banshee IV they had produced in 1988 (also a Hot Wheels casting). Sadly, this would be the last generation of Firebirds as Pontiac ceased to be a producing line in 2002.

Hot Wheels would produce the IROC Pontiac Firebird in 1998, and look backward with the ’68 Custom Firebird Convertible for the 100% line. Another 100% line release, the 1970 Firebird T/A would show up in 2000.

Several Hot Wheels releases of earlier Pontiac Firebirds were still to come, all gaining popularity with Hot Wheels enthusiasts. Notably, the 1969 Pontiac Firebird T/A came in 2005, the one-time-only Custom Pontiac Firebird was released by HWC in 2007, and the ’67 Pontiac Firebird 400 arrived in 2010. The most recent Hot Wheels editions are the ’73 Pontiac Firebird and K.I.T.T., both from 2012, and the K.I.T.T. Super Pursuit Mode of 2014.

Brendon Vetuskey has designed several of the Firebirds for Hot Wheels. The ’67 Pontiac Firebird 400, the ’73 Pontiac Firebird, and “Every version of the Knight Rider car we’ve done but one.” Knight Rider‘s K.I.T.T. was based on the 1982 Trans Am. “Even though that show went from ’82 to ’86,” Brendon says, “they still kept all the Trans Am details ’82-specific.”

If he could, Brendon says he would love to do a 4th Generation Trans Am for Hot Wheels, such as the LS1 Ram Air. “The only 4th gens that have been done have all been LT1 based. I’m talking ’93 through ’97. We had that IROC Firebird and two different Firebird Funny Cars, but they’re all the older styles; they’re not LS1 based. We haven’t done any LS1 based Camaros or Firebirds yet.”

Will Brendon get his wish? Here’s hoping we see more Firebirds in the Hot Wheels line, even though production of the real car is long over.

1:64 Hot Wheels Firebirds

  • Custom Firebird (1968 O16 – convertible)
  • Light My Firebird (1970 – Spoilers)
  • Firebird Trans Am (1970 – Sizzlers)
  • Fire Works (Pontiac Firebird Trans Am) (1973 – Sizzlers)
  • Hot Bird (1978)
  • Firebird Funny Car (1978 – Human Torch in ’79)
  • ’80s Firebird (1983)
  • Firebird Funny Car (1997)
  • IROC Pontiac Firebird (1998)
  • ’68 Custom Firebird Convertible (100%) (1998)
  • Pro Stock Firebird (2000)
  • 1970 Firebird T/A (100%) (2000)
  • Pontiac Funny Car (100%) (2000)
  • 1969 Pontiac Firebird T/A (2005)
  • ’70 Pontiac Firebird (2007)
  • Custom Pontiac Firebird (HWC) (2007)
  • ’69 Pontiac Firebird (2007 – Sizzlers)
  • ’77 Pontiac Firebird (2008)
  • ’67 Pontiac Firebird 400 (2010)
  • ’73 Pontiac Firebird (2012)
  • K.I.T.T. (2012)
  • K.I.T.T. Super Pursuit Mode (2014)
Date posted: April 28, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Entertainment/Pop Culture Hot Wheels History

It’s the most anticipated new Hot Wheels collector line of the year! Our Heritage series honors the true spirit of the brand with two segments: Real Riders and Redlines. Featuring the coolest castings in all die-cast releases, these editions will take the front seat in your collection.

Please note the casting changes to Mixes 1, 3 and 5.

Mix 1 (Real Riders):

  • Altered Ego
  • Bubble Gunner (Formerly 1980 Dodge Macho Power Wagon)
  • Custom Chevy Greenbrier Sports Wagon (New tool!)
  • Datsun 240Z
  • Datsun Bluebird 510
  • Hare Splitter


Mix 2 (Redlines):

  • ’49 Ford F1
  • ’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser
  • ’68 Dodge Dart
  • ’70 Chevelle SS Wagon
  • Copper Stopper
  • Nissan Skyline HT 2000GT-X
  • Estimated availability: July 2015


Mix 3 (Real Riders):

  • ’56 Flashsider
  • ’71 Plymouth Satellite
  • ’07 Chevy Silverado Off-Road
  • Backwoods Bomb (Formerly Porsche 917-K)
  • BMW 2002
  • Ford Transit MK1 Supervan (New tool!)


Mix 4 (Redlines):

  • ’56 Custom Ford Pickup
  • ’69 Mercury Cyclone
  • ’70 Camaro Z28
  • ’84 Mustang SVO
  • Bone Shaker
  • Nissan Skyline 2000GT-R
  • Estimated availability: November 2015


Mix 5 (Real Riders):

  • ’68 Olds Cutlass Convertible
  • ’69 Chevy Camaro Coupe
  • Aston Martin 1963 DB5
  • Neet Streeter
  • Porsche 917K (Formerly Backwoods Bomb)
  • Texas Drive ’Em


Mix 6 (Redlines):

  • ’64 Chevy Nova Wagon
  • Chevy Blazer 4×4
  • Corvette C6R
  • Custom ’66 GTO Wagon
  • Long Gone
  • Mig Rig
  • Estimated availability: March 2016

Items and dates subject to change.

Mix 1 Package Front

Real Riders Package Front

 

 

Mix 1 Package Back

Real Riders Package Back

 

 

Altered Ego

Altered Ego

 

 

Datsun Bluebird 510

Datsun Bluebird 510

 

 

Custom Chevy Greenbrier Sports Wagon

Custom Chevy Greenbrier Sports Wagon

Date posted: April 23, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting Hottest News Retail Series

In 1931, Austrian Ferdinand Porsche founded the company whose name would eventually become synonymous with style and status. Pick up our Hot Wheels Porsche series and get some status of your own!

Porsche 914-6

Porsche 917K

Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche 914-6 Porsche 917K Porsche 918 Spyder
NewsSpacer_25px

Porsche 935-78

Porsche 959

Porsche 993 GT2

Porsche 935-78 Porsche 959 Porsche 993 GT2
NewsSpacer_25px

Porsche Boxster Spyder

Porsche Carrera GT

Porsche Boxster Spyder Porsche Carrera GT

Items and dates subject to change.

Date posted: April 7, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Collecting Retail Series