You have now seen what the readers had to say, now it is our turn.
Many of our choices in each category mirror the readers, but some were quite different. From our perspective it comes down to how each person interprets a category. As an example, you might remember that we called out the readers for selecting the Max Steele Racer as the Worst New Model of 2014. We eliminated the fantasy models in the New Model category, mainly because the licensed models are what interest us and most of you, but the Max Steele Racer is technically licensed, so we included it. We wish we didn't, as most of you voted for it.
That means that most readers looked at the category of Worst New Model as the model they are least likely to buy. That makes sense. We at Lamley, however, look at it as the model we were most disappointed by. You will see when we unveil our selection below.
So, to make sense of our choices, we will show the category, explain how we interpret that category, and then unveil our choice, with a runner-up or two (if there are any). We hope you read our reasoning for each, and let us know if you agree or disagree.
To refresh, our Model of the Year of 2012 was the Mad Manga, and our Model(s) of the Year for 2013 were all the new 2013 Boulevard castings. What will it be for 2014? Read on...
Best 2014 Hot Wheels Super Treasure Hunt:
How we look at it: We look at it simply as the "Best Super", not "Our Favorite Casting that is a Super". If we picked our favorite casting that is a Super, that would clearly go to the Datsun Wagon, followed by the Greenwood, and so on. But to us, the Best Super is the model that looks the best as a Super, regardless of casting.
Our Choice: 1971 Mustang Mach 1
Runners-up: '55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser, Greenwood Corvette
Why: This was a hard one, and we went back and forth on a few. Of course we love the Datsun Wagon Super, and the initial inclination was to go with it. But then we thought about it a little more. Does the Datsun Wagon Super really stand out over its mainline counterpart more than other Supers in 2014? To us, no. But the Mach 1? Absolutely. The 5-spoke chrome Real Riders, the gold color, the super bright roof stripe? Fantastic. When you put all the 2014 Supers together, the '71 Mach 1 stands out next to the others.
Same goes for the Gasser and Greenwood. Yeah, the Gasser at first glance looks a lot like the mainline version, but once again, a very cool roof stripe alone with killer wheels makes this one a top Super. And the Greenwood? Its all about the 70's, man. The copper color looks so good compared to the mainline orange, and the brownish/orangish rims were a PERFECT choice.
All in all, 2014 was a fantastic year for Supers. There really wasn't a weak one in the bunch. All great casting choices (even the Twin Mill for old-school Hot Wheels fans), including some emerging classics like the Silverado, Datsun, Mach 1, and Gasser.
Our choice for Worst Super Treasure Hunt: None.
Best Hot Wheels New Model (Licensed):
How we look at it: A little more cut-and-dry than Best Super. What new casting did we like the best? Maybe the color and livery weren't our favorite, but the casting stood out.
Our Choice: Porsche 934 Turbo RSR
Runners Up: 1990 Honda Civic EF, Datsun 620
Why: This fell right in line with the readers, although we put the Civic just ahead of the 620. It was hard to pick our favorite from these three, but these three definitely stood out among all the 2014 New Models. We went with the Porsche, because it was the model that impressed us the most. Yeah, there was a ton of excitement when the 620 and Civic were unveiled, and they did not disappoint in the least. But the Porsche IMPRESSED the most.
And that credit goes to Ryu Asada. If we were to pick a Hot Wheels Designer of the Year, Ryu would win hands down. In a heavy JDM year at Hot Wheels, with Jun Imai's classic castings showing up all year in all kinds of cool decos, it was Ryu who made his mark. The Civic scored major buzz, his 2015 Mustang was near flawless, and his 934 instantly became our favorite Hot Wheels Porsche casting. Ryu looks to be setting up a big year in 2015 as well, as he is designing the upcoming 1990 Acura NSX that so many of us are looking forward to.
Our choice for Worst New Model of 2014: BMW E36 M3 Race.
We have described that category as our "Least Favorite Model of our Favorites Released". Remember, to us Hot Wheels can release as many alligators and dragons on wheels as they want. They aren't aimed at us, so there is no reason to have an opinion on them either way. So we worry about the models that we are most looking forward to. And the E36 was definitely one.
We were so excited to hear another classic BMW was hitting the lineup. We have gotten the 2002 and E30 in the last few years, and the E36 seemed a logical choice. But the casting just didn't come out right. It sits too high, is too long, and something happened to the front. That said, we like it enough to collect it, but it just didn't bring it like the other castings we were looking forward to.
Best Hot Wheels Regular Treasure Hunt:
How we look at it: We don't, really. The Regular TH's are not meant for us, so we will consider any that stood out. In this case, it was...
Our Choice: La Fasta
Why: It looked the best of all the Regs, especially in light blue with the gold rims.
Our Choice for Worst Regular TH: None. There is no reason to pick a worst.
Hot Wheels Model of the Year:
How we look at it: You say "Model of the Year", we think "____________". Could be buzz, could be design, could be casting. What model created the most buzz in 2014? Yeah, this is probably the most subjective of all the subjective Lamley Award categories.
Our Choice: '71 Datsun Bluebird 510 Wagon Super Treasure Hunt
Runner Up: 1990 Honda Civic EF
Why: Is there any other choice for Model of the Year? Hell no! The Datsun Wagon Super TH was the perfect storm of hype. And well-deserved hype at that.
Look at it this way. As has been said by many inside Mattel and out, 2014 was the year of JDM at Hot Wheels. It was everywhere. The mainline was littered with them - Celica, 2000GT, R34, Hakosuka, Kenmeri, Hachiroku, 240Z, 620, EF, Mad Manga, and RX-7. And while the release of each one pushed JDM more and more into the forefront of the Hot Wheels collector community, it was the Jun Imai's Datsun Wagon that put it over the top. Not only was it the last JDM release of the year, it was also a Super, AND it was the first accessible version of the casting, after the Boulevard release was so difficult to get. When Jun unveiled the Wagon Super on Speedhunters, he said it might melt down the internet. In our little world, it came darn close. Love it or hate it, we think most of you agree that the Datsun Wagon Super should be the Model of the Year.
And if excitement is what we are going on to choose the Model of the Year, the EF Civic is an obvious runner-up. Yes, many US collectors are quick to point out that a few of these hung on the pegs for awhile, but from a worldwide perspective, the release of the Civic was huge. And again, for many US collectors there was confusion as to why people would be excited for bland hatchback that was a common gift for college graduates. All it took was a google dive and the term "kanjo racer" would quickly emerge. First you learn about what that means, and then you learn that it all happens on a highway loop around Osaka, Japan, and how the deep passion of those in the scene is to pass the true definition of "JDM" to the next generation. Then you learn that the Hot Wheels version's designer is Ryu Asada, who is a native of Osaka. Then it makes sense. There is a lot of love for that Civic.
Lastly, because we don't know where else to put it, we wanted to throw out an honorable mention to a model we seemed to like a lot more than most of you. The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento in white with light green trim:
We have made it clear we are not into supercars like many of you are, but this specific model stood out to us. And after seeing how many folks expressed their hatred for this color combo, we decided we needed to give it a little love.
Usually Hot Wheels will release the first version of a model in a color or design scheme that is as close to the signature design and color of the real car. So it seemed logical that gunmetal grey with red trim should have been the first color. But since the Sesto Elemento was made to help promote the Need for Speed movie, the signature color, which was being used in the movie, was not released until closer to the movie's release date. At least that is our theory.
Instead, Hot Wheels released this white version first, which completely changes the look of the car. And we loved it right from the beginning. But it seems many of you didn't. This color is so unique on a Hot Wheels car, and we want to sing the praises of whoever at Mattel decided to do it. So it isn't our Model of the Year, or our Best New Model, but we wanted to give it a special mention. Maybe we can call it the "Most Surprisingly Cool" winner.
So there it is. Our choices. Do you agree? Are we off our rockers? Let us know.
We have two more posts to close out 2014 - a recap of our Super TH Experiment, and our unveiling of the Best of Diecast in 2014. Both are coming later this week. Then we can completely immerse ourselves in 2015 (outside of Matchbox. Come on guys.)...