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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Is it time to retire the HW Drag Bus? We have two very worthy replacements...


Yeah, probably a dumb question.

The Hot Wheels Drag Bus is practically a religious movement for many collectors.  It is also an instant sale for Hot Wheels.  Put a Drag Bus on a card, on a peg, in a store, and it will sell.

So suggesting its best days are in the past is true Hot Wheels blasphemy.  But let's be honest.  It's a very.....tired....casting.  It belongs in a resting home, enjoying retirement, alongside the T1 and Drag Truck versions.  In the pharmaceutical world, drug companies can only hold onto a patent for 14 years.  Maybe that should apply to the Drag Bus.  It doesn't share the great detailing that current Hot Wheels models have.  The front in awkward, and it you are bold enough to open one, don't pull it apart.  It will never fully go back together again.  It is already a legend, and it doesn't need to be released anymore.  It is outdated, and there are some great models ready to replace it.

The obvious model most will think of as a replacement is the Blown Delivery.  Big, heavy, and it turns tough-guy collectors into fluffy cloud muffins as they dream about it.  Like the Drag Bus, it was designed by the great Phil Riehlman, and it truly is a step above the standard Hot Wheels car.  I don't know many people who dislike it.  Even my true of true JDM friends ogle over it.  Frankly, it is so unique, it stands on its own.  It replaces nothing.

So we have two other ideas.  One is big, heavy, and likes to be dressed in drag, like the Bus, and one is a VW, also drags, and happily is a Bus.

Let's start with that heavy casting, the '85 Chevy Astro Drag Van.  City Market in Moab, Utah, yielded the Just Born Mike & Ike version.  While we normally pass over these types of series, the Van begged to be picked up, and we obliged:








This is the second version of this casting, after last year's debut in Boulevard.  It is a great model, partly because it is so well done, partly because it is so over-the-top ridiculous.  The actual Chevy Astro is a bore-fest.  You had to have a screw loose to buy one.  (Then again, Ford had the horrible Aerostar, so options were slim.)  The Astro was ready to vanish into history when some designer at Mattel went on some wicked hallucinatory trip, was told by a three-headed unicorn not only to make the Astro in small-scale, but to make it a drag van.  He returned and shared his enlightenment.  And Mattel said yes!

How great is that?  And they did it right.  Doesn't open, because it doesn't need to.  You can display it without worrying that someone will pick it up, only to watch half of it drop to the ground.

Plus, customizers should a field day with this one.  Yes, the Boulevard was near impossible to find, and the Just Born isn't too easy either, and that is probably the only reason we haven't seen more customs.  But they are sure to come.

Two BITCHIN versions so far:




The other option is the Drag Bus's Mini-Me, the Kool Kombi.  This is an obvious choice.  VW, Bus, Dragster.  But a helluva lot cuter than the Drag Bus.  As obvious a choice as the Kool Kombi is, we see this model having a long and prosperous life in the mainline.  At least we hope it does.

We have already seen it in the mainline in both 2013 and 2014, as well as the Toy Fair model and an RLC exclusive.  It is only a matter of time before it gets the Super TH treatment (our prediction is 2015), and it will always be popular:







We love the Kool Kombi here at Lamley.  It is obvious since we shelled out a few pretty pennies to get the premium versions.  It is truly one of the great Hot Wheels creations.  But you already knew that.

What hasn't gotten its due is the Astro Van.  So yes, it is stupid to ask if the Drag Bus should be retired.  It isn't doing anywhere, nor should it.  But if asking the question highlights how great the Drag Astro Van is, then we did our job.

Count us the premiere members of the Chevy Astro Drag Van Fan Club.  Who else is in?

(Find the Astro Van on ebay...)



17 comments:

  1. I like a lot the KK, but the astro van?? seriously?? Such a ugly casting... Anyway the DB is not the best casting too xD

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  2. Agree about the Astro Van, it's awesome and would be a great replacement for the drag bus!

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  3. I'm missing the part where the Drag Bus is in any way outdated...

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  4. While I appreciate they did something fun with an otherwise mundane van, I still don't care for the Astro, and I passed up quite a few on the pegs at TRU; and that's from someone that loves Chevy's, AND vans! Now if they had made a drag version of the 90's-early 00's Dodge 3500 16 passenger or panel van with a huge engine sticking out of it's hood; then I might be on board!

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  5. What? No mention of the Drag Dairy? I have a few DB's, but this new Dairy is SIC and is an opening flopper like the DB.

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  6. Astro pile no thx let it be the drag dairy

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  7. The Astro is not a very good casting. It'd be hard to tell what it was if it didn't say so on the package. Yes, I know it's customize but the front end is pretty poorly done. The engine is pretty ugly too.

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  8. Well I for one like the Astro. Honestly I wasn't sure I would like it. My first casting of it is the Mike and Ike. The casting is great and the wing molded as part of the body makes it exceptional. As for the original Astro Van it was sold and ran for 20 years. Sure it's not a luxury vehicle but our sheriffs department is still driving great and it's old. But seriously. I love the Drag Bus, Truck and 18 window T-1 but I'm in agreement. Not to retire it but we need our next Blown Delivery. Love the Kombi bus though. Give me an RLC Kombi.

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  9. Personally I think the VW drag bus/trucks are ugly. I only have three versions, the mail in from last year(only reason I'm keeping it) the color shifter and the Looney Tunes Foghorn Leghorn(only that one because I love the looney tunes and grew watching them. The Astro Van is awesome, I'm sure that when more can get their hands on them we'll see lots more customs of it. As for the Kool Kombi, it's cute, cool and fun to customize, but think they need to cut down on the graphics, it's to small to have that much on it like the latest two versions. Someone mentioned the drag dairy, sorry, that's just as ugly as the VW drag bus. I'm not of a fan of the Blown Delivery either, even though I love the old styling of it, just think the cargo box is to big and looks like it'll pop a wheelie by barely touching the gas pedal. I think they should bring back the 57 Chevy Nomad that was part of the rubber tire Cool Collectibles Series.

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  10. The Kombi is great but cute, and that is something the DB can not be called. Astrovan? Sure, love it since day one.
    But like some other commenters, the Drag Dairy is it. It has the legacy of the Dairy Delivery, is designed by Phil and is just so bitching! So let's do a second post with the Drag Dairy and a poll:D

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  11. I'm not what you consider as a van guy. But I really don't have a problem with the Drag Bus; I just never got out of my way to get one. Yeah, it is kinda played out, but I believe there are other castings that are even worse. Let's put a can on some of that goofy stuff Hot Wheels makes.

    But I like the Astro Van, it is pretty cool. I still don't like the Kombi though, but to each their own.

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  12. I like this idea with the Astro Van. I think once we see more versions it will grow on others.

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  13. The Astro Van is awesome and i'd include the Smokin Grille on this list instead of the Kool Kombi.

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  14. Dragbus, Blown Delivery, Drag Dairy, Kool Kombi, Astro Van.... meh. Smokin' Grille is my casting of choice!

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  15. No.

    The Drag Bus is pretty under-utilised in the premium lines right now. There are a few other castins, such as the Dream Van, that have shown up in practically every line, but recently we've only had the Flash Gordon bus.

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  16. No way.The Drag Bus is here to stay.It is hotwheels history.

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