We continue with our presentation of the Lamley Awards by profiling the Lamley Group's choice for Best Hot Wheels New Model of 2012. The readers spoke, and KITT was their choice, narrowly beating out the Mazda RX-7.
Choosing a Best New Model this year was difficult. Hot Wheels (kind of) made it easy in 2011, releasing not one, but TWO nostalgic Skylines, and one of them was the Kenmeri. Done. Best New Model. Best Mainline. Model of the Year. That was very easy.
For 2012, Hot Wheels gave us another JDM classic (the RX-7), some European flair (3 BMW's, a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, a Porsche), some great current cars (Vette Z06, Subaru WRX STI), a beautiful classic ('61 Impala), and of course some fantastic versions of HW collector's faves, Mustangs and Camaros. And don't forget the entertainment cars (KITT, Mystery Machine, Angry Birds), and maybe the coolest non-licensed model ever (in our opinion), the indelible Mad Manga (you will hear more about this one in a future post).
Now that we have gotten that parenthesis-filled paragraph over, let's get to our choice. It came down to two - the BMW 2002 and the 2013 Dodge Viper SRT. And they became finalists for two different reasons.
Starting with the 2002. The "cool factor" is through the roof. To me the 2002 is one of the coolest cars ever made. It was cool when it came out, and it is even cooler today. When I was young, the kids I looked up to the most wore pegged pants, military boots, bomber jackets with U2 patches ("War"-era U2 - there is a big difference), and always looked like they knew something important that I didn't. Man, I thought they were the coolest. And I associated two vehicles with them - Vespas and BMW 2002's.
So I have ALWAYS had "a thing" for 2002's, and it was always near the top of models that I wanted to see done. I always assumed that Matchbox would be the brand to take it on, but I obviously won't complain that Hot Wheels did it, and it did it magnificently.
Like Hot Wheels does, they created a slightly modified version, with flared wheel wells and a low racing stance. I love it. And while I really like the two 2012 versions, in signature BMW orange and white, it is what this model is bound to be soon that excites me most. Isn't this model a perfect candidate for HW Premium treatment? The casting is so nicely detailed on the front and back, and will look so nice with some of the recently created real riders and 4-sided deco. I don't know when we will see it in a premium line, but it is bound to happen, and I cannot wait.
And there is one other reason. It is part of a great reconciliation. Mattel and BMW had what must have been a bitter breakup, and they needed some time alone. But alas, they saw that they were better off together, so one showed up at the other's door, teary-eyed, with a dozen roses, and they made up. And make up they did. With the license back in their hands, Hot Wheels introduced FIVE new BMW castings this year, if you count the reintroduction of the Hot Ones M1. That is productive! Three in the basic range, one in Hot Ones, and that elusive beauty in the Racing line. They made up, and we all benefit.
So because of its immense coolness, the personal nostalgia factor, its flawless execution by the Hot Wheels team, and because it is part of this BMW resurgence at Mattel, the BMW 2002 is the Lamley Group's choice for Hot Wheels Best New Model....
Hot Wheels BMW 2002 (2012 New Models):
The 2012 HW BMW Army, wearing their white formal attire:
And that leads to the runner-up. I said earlier that these two models were considered for two totally different reasons. While the BMW got the nod for a myriad of factors, the Viper is here because it shocked me how much I liked it.
While I know there is an almost religious following of the Viper by many car enthusiasts, I don't share it. Since its introduction in the 90's, I have always thought the Vipers were way too over-the-top. They were too wide, lacked grace and refinement, and to me were just ugly. So while so many were going crazy for the Viper, and Mattel was reflecting that with all kinds of Viper castings, I was ignoring them. Until the ACR, I didn't have one Viper in the collection.
Then it was announced that the Viper would be no more. Good. No Vipers and no Hummers. I liked that. Then it was announced that a new Viper was in development. Bleh. You get the picture.
And finally the Viper was unveiled at the New York Auto Show. I was shocked at how good it looked. Gone were the harsh lines and styling. The growl was still there, but it was much more refined. And the Hot Wheels replica reflects that as well. I was completely caught off guard at how much I liked the real car, and the model.
I liked it so much in fact, that I dropped more than a few dollars to get the NY Auto Show exclusive that Hot Wheels distributed to attendees. While it shares the same color as the basic release, it was made to look just like the car at the show, complete with front and rear detailing. The model is a beauty, and well worth getting, if you can find one.
So while I still won't call myself a Viper fan, I can't deny that the Viper was one of my favorite models in 2012. It would have taken a lot for me to not like the BMW 2002, or Mazda RX-7, but the Viper had a lot of ground to cover. I assumed I wouldn't care one bit about it. Well, it surprised me, and therefore passes quite a few models I love to take the runner up spot.
One other odd reason? Outside of the Ferrari 599XX Super Treasure Hunt, I don't think any model this year photographed as well as the NY Viper (funny they are almost the same color)...
Hot Wheels 2013 Viper SRT (2012 New Models):