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Friday, February 1, 2013

Do plastic Hot Wheels bother you? 2013 Hot Wheels Cadillac Escalade in black...


As I was putting together First Looks for Hot Wheels Batch F, I thought I would give this a separate post.

Plastic models have been making their way into both Mattel brands over the last few years.  First the bases went plastic, then large sections of the body, and now we have a few models in both the Matchbox and Hot Wheels lineup that have entire plastic bodies with metal bases.

When Matchbox released the first images of the highly-anticipated Renault Ambulance this year, there was a pretty large outcry regarding the fact that the entire body was plastic.  The reasoning behind the plastic was cost.  That it is too expensive to issue a basic model with that amount of diecast metal and keep it within cost range.

While commenting on the Ambulance, some collectors went as far as to say the abundance of plastic models was a surefire sign that Mattel preferred its blue brand over the orange, and that Matchbox was sure to meet its demise.

Well, here is proof that the plastic problem (if you want to call it that) has infiltrated both brands.  The Escalade has been plastic before, but here it is in the mainline in all plastic with a metal base.  A similar thing goes with the new Custom Cadillac.  While its torso is metal, its fenders and base are plastic.

While I much prefer my favorite models in diecast, having some models in plastic does not really bother me.  But I want to ask you.

What are your feelings about more and more plastic models in the Hot Wheels and Matchbox lines?


Hot Wheels '07 Cadillac Escalade (2013 Mainline):





41 comments:

  1. my son doesn't care one way or the other

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  2. I think it's okay as long as it's just a few here and there.Although I'm afraid the next step is all plastic.Plastic base and plastic body.If it gets to that point I'm done collecting.

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  3. In general, I prefer metal. It's simply more satisfying to play with, and it feels like a higher quality product in your hand. I would prefer everything but the windows and wheels to be metal if I had the option.

    There is one advantage to the metal base and plastic body beyond the cost to the manufacturer: balance. Tall models that are supposed to be off-road capable vehicles (the Road Tripper, for instance) can be played with on steeper ground without rolling over if they have a metal base and a plastic body.

    Despite that fact, I've passed over several new models just because they have the plastic body and metal chassis--even models whose styling I like. I think the trend away from metal in so-called die cast toys is sad.

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  4. Plastic bodies and metal chassis are the way to go on the orange track! Lower center of gravity and all that.

    I'm fine with plastic bodies as long as the chassis are metal and the plastic is painted, not just molded in color.

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  5. I had a Speed Machine Audi R8 which is also plastic. Somehow it is more easier to drill through the rivet for cannibalizing, but for normal display I will much prefer metal body.

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  6. I also collect chess sets - like the diecast versus plastic debate, a 'weighted' chess set, - one which either is made of a heavier material or else has had weight added to the base - is much more satisfying to the feel and touch and collecting sensibilities, whether collecting or playing. I don't think I would find it very satisfying to be collecting something that feels as if it has no substance to it.

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  7. I've seen this when I purchased the HW 1996 Chevy 1500 (http://www.southtexasdiecast.com/hwguide/images/2011/2011_078.jpg), a plastic body over a metal base. Although they make customers jobs easier, I cannot see any future on plastic minis. If I wanted them I would get back to the plastic modeling world.

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    1. Couldn't have said it better!

      Swifty's Philly Wheels

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    2. Just to set things straight on plastic being cheaper than metal. Check out the prices of plastic models. They are through the roof, $15-$18 or more depending on size of the model. So plastic is not cutting costs for any companies!

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  8. Lame,,, Will we start calling the hobby Die Plastic. I will spend my money with the other brands. The plastic makes them seem as if they are meant to be placed into the recycling bin.

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    1. +1 on that! With such full plastic products Mattel makes me to spend my money on other brands, even if they costs more. Also it is a very good question, how long these plastic cars will last. We all have 40, 50 years old toys in our colletions without any sign of degradation of their materials. How does will look after 20 years? I also collect vintage 8 bit computers and the plastic - especially the white ones - are showing their age, changing their color, stated to crack...

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  9. "While commenting on the Ambulance, some collectors went as far as to say the abundance of plastic models was a surefire sign that Mattel preferred its blue brand over the orange, and that Matchbox was sure to meet its demise."

    ...really? Apparently those MBX collectors don't pay attention to the HW line that well, LOL. Though admittedly, it does seem it's mostly the

    This is the second time that Escalade was released in the mainline w/ the plastic body. The first was in 2010 w/ the taxi-deco (though that was originally released w/ metal body/plastic base, but a few mixes later it was released in the same color but w/ plastic body/metal base. Plus the '77 Dodge van has been released in two 5 packs w/ the plastic/metal version (this casting has been used in the Color Racers line, which are all plastic/metal).

    When I did my sneaks rundown on HWC, I couldn't tell they used the plastic/metal version of the casting.

    But as long as they don't go full plastic/plastic and keep the majority of the mainline realistic vehicles metal/plastic, I'm happy. Though I do love my X-raycer cars, LOL

    -doomus

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  10. And just to note, plastic bases on HWs have been around since the 1970's. Many collectors that claim they love the Flying Colors era say they hate the plastic bases of modern times. Apparently they make exceptions for the Baja Bruiser, '57 Chevy, Super Van, Monte Carlo and Torino Stockers (they shared bases), etc. So I hate that argument as well.

    -doomus

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  11. Plastic base is Ok, but I hate plastic bodies.

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  12. Well, if teh quality of the Caddy above is anything to go by, I wont be buying them, that Escalade looks shoddy, aweful and downright ungainly, also its proportions are not right.

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  13. Plastic bases are around even on the 1/18 models. It's funny this is something that bothers only the 1:64 collectors.

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  14. The Escalade Dose not look to bad but that really isn't the point. I collect DIE CAST! It just dose not make sense to buy something that is not what you want! I don't mind plastic bottoms but that's me. Let me share this;
    When I was a kid I had a plastic Galaxie 500 don't know who made it but it was a dark green police copy of the Lensey one. Once I got a hold of a Lensey the other one disappeared. The key here is I couldn't tell you who made the plastic but I dam sure remember that die cast. Also if I may add this will not make racers happy. A few years ago racing was making an emergence here in Philadelphia. I'm not sure where it is now cause it's not my thing but racers always were after the heaviest models cause they were the fastest. They would allow customs but not just to weigh them down.
    In my opinion this is just a means to find a way to eventually raise prices or move away from blue and orange cards. Most likely seeing more Flying Colors and editions of those sorts, which is ok with me as long as their making models I want!
    HWCs are getting what a lot of collectors want for a price that is ok. The problem is there is a vast amount of what is bought through HWC that end up on eBay and go for double of what they were payed for. Ok for HWC members they end up getting their collectables for nothing in most cases. I'm not a member out of principle, Mattel only cares about their bottom line. However if they just mass produced the models that sold I would think they'd be killing in sales with both brands. I said this before they know what sits cause the chain and big box stores keep track. I don't know what happens to them peg warmers but it's always certain models that sit and sit and all of the sudden their gone. If they go all plastic I'm out for sure, I hate what their doing even with the special editions like Flying Colors, Racing, The Garage series' 60th MB. In most cases you only get batches of the same or they skip so there are models you never see. The marketing department for both HW &MB can't have a clue or Mattel would have no problem with peg warmers. I could go on and on but I feel myself getting more and more frustrated. Message to Mattel, get a clue save the plastic for Disney,DC Comics, Cartoons. They market these series' to adults with Cartoons and Comic book heroes on them with RRs that cost up to 5 bucks. No parent is paying $5 for a small toy. I loved the Flintstones, I was a fan of comic books BUT I don't want die cast emboding them. The wheels would be used for restos or customs when the price is easy to bear. I have a bunch sitting at the local supermarket that the price has been cut in half. I'll wait a little longer and the price of those wheels will be worth the wait.

    Swifty's Philly Wheels
    P.S. Thanks for the post thanks for the outlet for frustration. I love your blog I only wish the powers that be were checking in. Because then maybe we the collector would get what we want in the stores......

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    1. The powers that be are checking in. Mattel reads this blog everyday...

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  15. Plastic sucks man!!

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  16. If indeed, Mattel read this Daily, then can one of teh people that reads please explain to me why the Matchbox website is so awful, why its never updated and there is now no UK matchbox site as it was the UK that gave the world matchbox, why there is no poster, or even option to buy one, or small booklet like in previous years, why is the distribution so poor and why does the UK pay more for teh product than the majority of the rest of the world

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  17. I don't like the plastic bodies. Now I understand the like for metal/metal when the Hot Ones ended up at Dollar Tree at the end of last year and I scooped them up. I don't like the lighter feel of plastic. I had a Matchbox exclusives 9 or 10 pack with the green Speedy Delivery truck. I had taken what I wanted and resealed the green metal body truck with other cars to donate to the Toys for Tots. When Speedy Delivery came back as a plastic bodied Dart and Burrito truck later last year I reopened the box and took the metal body delivery truck. I just prefer it with as much metal as possible. The weight and feel is better.

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  18. Plastic bodies are a step too far. I was a loyal Matchbox collector, but now that there is too much plastic content, I am no longer loyal to the new stuff. I know that Hot Wheels had plastic bodies before Matchbox, but that doesn't make it right. I collect diecast and do not want to collect plastic. This is why my collecting is now focused on pre-Mattel era Matchbox and is why I am looking at other brands such as Majorette and Tomica. Tomica in particular.

    Mattel is taking their cost cutting too far to the point that it is negatively impacting the product. They really need to look at raising the price of the product rather than making it what it's not. Hot Wheels and Matchbox are both diecast toy brands and they should not be mostly plastic. The plastic bodied Matchbox in particular looks cheap and nasty as they ae mould in colour. They do not look like a quality product. This is a race to the bottom which will lose Mattel good loyal customers, including me. It is a big mistake.

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  19. Well, Swifty's Philly Wheels, SeattleO and JonathanC said it all.
    This is the kind of comment Mattel should see in here: "Mattel is taking their cost cutting too far to the point that it is negatively impacting the product."


    Although I prefer metal bases, I don't mind the plastic bases.
    As long as the body is metal.
    What really bothers me is the lack of tampos, LACK OF TAMPOS, on the miniatures.
    And by "tampos" I mean "painted headlights / tail lights"
    Just look at this black Escalade of the photos above. Imagine this model with its headlamps / tail lights tampo'ed properly. It would look very fine to me.

    Mattel should take a look at the miniatures Majorette's selling. Their Dacia Duster, for example, looks terrific! And it costs almsot the same as a HW Mainline model.

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  20. As a collector who bases purchase decisions strictly on aesthetic considerations, weight and feel are very important to me. To give you an example - the HW Gallardo Super Leggera is exactly that - very light - due to its extensive use of plastics. It makes the model feel somewhat cheap. The Aston DBS however is perfect, both in terms of weight, balance and smooth rolling characteristics. What you get is a model car that feels as high-end as the real thing. Plastic reduces he appeal to visual only, but a big part of a Hot Wheels car should be the haptics as well, how it feels, how it rolls - thats my main reason for not collecting display models like Kyosho- they look great but roll nothing like a HW DBS or Infinity G37. To maintain the uniqueness of their product, Mattel should really stick to metal.

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  21. This is great, especially If Mattel is looking in. As far as price going up, I think it's crazy! In most stores prices are up to $1.29ea and supermarkets forget it! The key for Mattel is to stop putting out all the junk designs and only put out what sells! They are losing money with everything they design that sits. Even if I walk into a discount store where HWs or MBs are reduced they still have and end up with the same models sitting. I can not say this enough, put out more of what sells and sales will put Mattel in the black with ease. Someone over there just are not doing their job as far as marketing and not adjusting what is going on in the market. I can go into a store like Target, Wallmart or any other big store and HWs has at least 3 cases on the pegs. In most cases when the FEs or new models are gone the rest sit. Then in about two three weeks another couple cases come into the store. A large majority of what is sent out our sitting. A few years back HWs put out some ridiculous models big wheels in the front just crazy stuff. I'm guessing that didn't go to well, you would have thought they learned something from that.

    I love HWs MBs and I even liked Majorette and JLs when you could get them. A perfect example of what happens when you overwhelm the market with too much of the same or junk is Playing Mantis! PM had a great product, did some great models but too much. Even to much of a good thing can be bad. Mattel is making a lot of bad stuff that just sits that says it all.

    I'm ok with plastic bases, I'd rather they'd be hidden but I can live with a plastic grill and bumper but would prefer metal. A couple of guys mentioned the look and feel. It's true when I was a kid and I first picked up a HW or MB it was like I was a giant and I was holding a car in my hand. I think that has always been the appeal was the realizim of the cars.

    Swifty's Philly Wheels
    Thanks to everyone who has posted their opinion cause maybe if we're heard things may change for the better for both brands. I know this is Lamley's site and thanks to them for proposing this question...

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  22. I always find it somewhat amusing when Americans complain about the price of HW and MB going up over the magical $1.00 mark and up to $1.29 as being crazy. In Australia the price hasn't been $1.00 for probably 30 years. The average price in Kmart, Target etc is around $2.20 and in smaller stores up around the $3.50 mark. This is with the Australian dollar currently being on par with the US dollar. Going from other posters comments, UK and other nationality collectors also appear to be paying a similar comparative price to Australia. It appears that non-US buyers, both children and collectors, are subsiding US buyers. If US buyers were to pay the same price as the rest of the world then Mattel would have no excuse for not returning both brands to proper, full diecast, fully licenced products, with decent marketing for BOTH brands.

    If Mattel can bring out so many small runs for Kmart day, Walmart Exclusive, Target Exclusive,Easter, Clover, Hot Ones, Racing, Boulevard, Retro, Classic, etc, etc, etc, then there is NO reason why they can't bring out a decent MB 60th Anniversary line.

    Whist the US buyers insist on a $1.00 car it will continue to be subsidised by the the rest of the world and be of lower quality. Therefore parents will naturally pay 60 cents or 80 cents for a homebrand car as opposed to a $1.00 Mattel with only slightly better quality and similar play value.

    Matchbox became the world power that it was, and beat off many competitors, because of it's insistence on quality. That quality has been eroded over the years due to cost cutting to keep the price for US buyers at $1.00.

    If US buyers, parents and collectors, ever decide to join the rest of the world and pay a decent price for a quality product, then, and only then, are they likely to get a decent diecast for a realistic price (like the rest of the world pay).

    I know the US economy has been bad lately. It has been for the rest of the world as well. It is called the GLOBAL financial crisis. During all of this the non-US buyers have still had to pay the far higher prices than the US buyers.

    Basically it is a case of "you get what you pay for" - if you want a $1.00 car then that is what you will get. If you want to get a real diecast car with play value then you will need to pay more and not be subsidised by the rest of the world.

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    1. Let me just say I do not ask anyone across the globe to subsidise my prices! I will not go into how I feel about the global finacial crisis cause this isn't the place! I had no idea what other countries were paying, with that said that is even more ridiculous than what we are paying! I would stop collecting the moment that they announced a price like that. It sounds as though you don't care for it so I'm guessing you don't! Mattel is a US company yes but most of it's product is made over seas where thousands of jobs went from the US. I agree 100% even with every country paying the same price Mattel should be able to put out a better product for every line that it rolls out! I absolutely disagree with what Mattel charges across the globe. I have said I have no problem paying more for better product by both brands. However I will not accept to be what seems to be an attack on my opinion. Listen I feel your pain, they are taking advantage of other countries if they are charging what their charging your countries. I also 100% agree to the fact that Mattel has disgraced the MB brand. It seems to me our opinions are very similar and our frustration should be aimed at the same place! MATTEL!

      Swifty's Philly Wheels
      I apologize if my comments offended, I was venting displeasure with the product. I don't agree with pricing ANYWHERE! if Mattel is subsidizing our price here across the world let me make this clear THAT IS 1000% WRONG!

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    2. Hi Swifty's Philly Wheels. I am sorry if my post came across as an attack on your opinion, that was definitely not the intention.

      I agree that we have many thoughts in common.

      I have read many posts on a number of forums where American contributors complain about the quality of the Mattel product (and rightfully so) yet insist that the price should remain at $1.00 like it was so many years ago. I am sure that many non-USA readers like me just shake their heads and think "If only we could get the mainlines for US$1.00 (or even US$1.50, or US$1.75) and the many USA specialty lines but instead we have to pay far greater prices for the mainlines and buy any specialties through USA dealers or ebay etc. This also means we need to allow for the considerable postage costs that will be incurred.

      I have wanted to make a post similar to the one I made above but figured "What's the point? Mattel will never read it."

      Your post, plus the comment further up the page by jtl on February 2, 2013 at 12:02 PM

      The powers that be are checking in. Mattel reads this blog everyday...

      gave me the lead in to do my post in the hope that Mattel will actually read it.

      I have collected Matchbox for most of my 50 years and would love to see it regain it's position in the diecast market but I think this will never happen as I truly believe that Mattel purchased it only to "buy out the competition" and only do enough with the brand at present to stop someone-else from being able to use the Matchbox name. Whilst I also have quite a few Hot Wheels, most of my funds are being spent on the secondary market buying older, better quality diecast.

      Matchbox built it's reputation on quality and realisim. Hot Wheels built it's reputation on quality. Hot Wheels is now bringing in the realism of Matchbox but the quality (and quality control) of both is going downhill rapidly. Note the number of "error cars" around now. I believe error cars were originally collected because they were a rarity. Now they are so common they have become their own collecting genre. Why should Mattel care about quality if the "duds" are so sought after.

      I have spent 30 years in accountancy have have seen many examples of higher priced, quality products, out performing and being more profitable, than similar styled, lower quality and lower priced products. If only the Mattel bean counters believed in their product, it's heritage (both MB and HW), and focused on quality first.

      Have fun

      rastus115


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    3. 100% agreed! I also have collected both brands for most well all my life but my childhood collection was lost in moves unfortunately. I said this a ton, I thought Mattel buying the MB brand was going to be a great move. It seems to be the total opposite. You would think they would use the brands against one another to compete for sales numbers. Competition is great for business even if it is the same company with both brands.

      It stinks that other countries have to Pay more than we do here. I understand shipping costs but you are right prices here should help offset shipping to others. I would have no problem putting out a little more for a better product BUT they also have to market better than their doing now. I believe most of their losses are left on the pegs.

      Errors do not interest me at all, for me it's not what the collecting is about. Scalpers hurt the hobby enough. They made their money off of collectors that had to have the Treasue Hunts and now they are flipping the older models on eBay like crazy. I see models on there won and then put back up and resold for more. I like to have the models that I had when I was a kid but I'll get the junk and restore it just to have it in my collection.

      I think our common interest is the same, in hindsite I see where your coming from. Hopefully the powers that be get the message. I hate to bombard anyone with negativity but Mattel irritates me so much when it come to MB. Their ruining it, MBs competition in the 60s and 70s was what catapulted the HWs name. To buy a company just to destroy it for s lack of a better word pisses me off.

      So let's aim our anger and frustration at the powers that control quality and pricing. I don't even think Mattel knows who their main consumers are when it comes to their die casts!

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    4. Part 1

      It is interesting noting the court battles between Mattel and MGA Entertainment over the ownership of the Bratz dolls. Not only because of the $100 million to $1 Billion fines etc being fought over but also who ultimately gains ownership of the brand. The battle has been going on since around 2001.


      A Mattel icon, Barbie, is a children’s toy, a fashion doll, about 12 inches tall, made of plastic, moving features, etc that appeals to both children and also to adult collectors. It reigned supreme for many years.


      Along came the Bratz dolls, a children’s toy, a fashion doll, about 12 inches tall, made of plastic, moving features, etc that appeals to both children and adult collectors.

      Two brands, similar, yet different.


      Between the two of them they virtually monopolise the world fashion doll market and both appear to be very profitable. Both also have huge secondary marketing through extra accessories, animated movies and TV shows, licenced merchandise galore, etc.

      If they are not so profitable, why is Mattel willing to spend so much money in legal challenges to own Bratz?

      If Mattel eventually wins ownership of Bratz, will they do to Bratz what they are currently doing to Matchbox, on the premise that two similar, yet different products, owned by the same controlling company, cannot be profitable?


      Will Mattel destroy Bratz to ensure that Barbie reigns supreme? Or will they continue to market Bratz as a similar, yet different product to Barbie and continue to market both products profitably on the basis that each can control a certain segment of the market and between them, dominate all other fashion dolls. It appears Barbie is more popular in the USA whereas Bratz is more popular in the UK and some other non-USA markets.

      If Mattel were to choose the second option, why then can’t it do the same with Matchbox and Hot Wheels, the two biggest names in diecast?

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    5. Part 2

      Let Hot Wheels reign supreme in the USA with its series containing a majority of USA muscle cars (with a few foreign cars), and its fantasy designs. These can still be available in all non-USA markets but the USA market will be its powerbase.

      Let Matchbox cover the rest of the world with its series containing a majority of non-USA cars (with a few USA muscle cars), commercial, farm and construction vehicles. These can still be available in the USA markets but the rest of the world market will be its powerbase.

      Market both brands as equal products.

      Two brands, similar, yet different.

      Why not restore the quality (more diecast, less plastic) to Matchbox and Hot Wheels at a manufacturing cost of a few cents per car? If a diecast, MB or HW, can be designed in the USA or where-ever, manufactured in Asia, shipped around the world, stored, freighted, stored, freighted and finally sold by a retailer for $1.00 (in the USA), with everyone making a profit in the process – then the cost of the diecast components can’t be too much. If Mattel spends maybe 5 cents or 10 cents extra per car on more diecast and increase the retail price by 10 cents or 20 cents then Mattel is ahead. If the retail price is only increased by the extra cost of the diecast then Mattel is not out of pocket but the cars are of better quality, have better play value, and set them apart from the slightly cheaper “homebrand” models.


      (This is why I get upset at Americans insisting “the cars remain at $1.00 or I’ll never buy them again!”)


      Shoppers – collectors and more importantly, parents will try out the better looking cars (a bit of marketing to showcase the improved quality wouldn’t go astray), appreciate the quality and better play value and buy more and more of them, making them a more profitable line to Mattel.


      Whilst the majority of the cars may be purchased for children to play with, they are paid for by adults - parents or grandparents. Many of whom grew up with Matchbox cars, recognise the name and associate it with quality and fond childhood memories that they would like to pass on to the younger generation. It is these parents and grandparents who still do, and always will, refer to this size car as a Matchbox car, regardless of brand. For Hot Wheels to attain this status (if at all) will probably take another 50 years until all these older generations have died off.


      Why not embrace the name and legacy of Matchbox and allow it to flourish alongside Hot Wheels, to the benefit of Mattel?

      Two brands, similar, yet different.

      Have fun

      rastus115

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  23. To save money, I think that Mattel should ditch the Matchbox toy lines such as Power Shifters and Big Boots, and concentrate their resources on the vehicles such as the mainline and Real Working Rigs. Money is the main reason that so much plastic is used today. It is cheaper to make than with zinc and is lighter, thus cheaper to ship.

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  24. Can't help but felt cheated when I realised the Cadillac Escalade I bought was a PLASTIC diecast....
    Comparing the weight for custom chevy, combat medic, sweet street and etc, it makes me wonder exactly how much cost Mattel could save on those plastic models.

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  25. As a slot car guy I love the plastic bodies to re-purpose for slot cars. Thanks for the heads-up on some models to check out. As a kid I much preferred die-cast to be metal, much more substantial!

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    1. I agree w. slot conversion ease of plastic

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  26. I've been upset with Matchbox for years. Mattel has made the brand a complete joke, and I'm sick about it because Superfast was my thing when I was a kid. Now when I go to the store, I can't even find a Hot Wheels car worth looking at. ( Outside of the three and four dollar models. ) Raise the price if need be but quit making garbage I'll never even buy my kids.

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  27. I thought only cheap cars were made of plastic. That's why everyone was buying real die cast. Someone needs to create a company where they sell die cast cars again to put Hot Wheels out of business.

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