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 is awkward, and if 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 It is outdated, and there are some great models ready to replace it.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...)