Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Before the up-sloped chin: Hot Wheels BMW M3 GT2...

Yeah, I don't like the up-sloped chins.  It doesn't mean I think the Mattel team are a bunch of buffoons who don't know what they are doing.  I just disagree with the approach of making licensed race cars "track-ready".

But I get it.  I completely get it.  It is a branding thing.  Hot Wheels has always been about speed and racing, and what works on the track, so why wouldn't a GT car be able to speed through the loops?    Of course there has been a lot of brand confusion between Matchbox and Hot Wheels, and it seems Mattel is always trying to figure it out.  For awhile Matchbox was about realism, Hot Wheels about speed (and whatever comes with that).  Then Matchbox shook things up with their "Unstoppable Heroes" approach that seemed more cartoonish, and from our perspective really hasn't worked.  While that was happening, more realism went to Hot Wheels.

But Matchbox seems to be taking that "Unstoppable Heroes" theme in a more realistic direction, and we continue to watch that evolution very closely.  And with that, maybe it means Hot Wheels pushes the track direction a little more.  They want to sell their track sets, so why not make models that work on the track?  It makes sense.

It is just that it is frustrating that it is being done to licensed models that could have been fantastic and popular racing models.  The Aston Martin Vantage GT3 really doesn't look like an Aston Martin GT3.  Same with a slew of other racing Hot Wheels, like the Corvette and Viper.  It is just too bad.

We get the direction, we just wish it was applied a little differently.  We will see how that goes over time.

So, as a reminder, how about we showcase a model that was released before the "track-ready" trend.  If the BMW M3 GT2 was released today, the chin would surely be sloped up, the body smashed, and the wheels exaggerated.  (Of course if BMW allowed it, which I doubt they would.)  Instead, it was released PUC (Pre Up-sloped Chin) in 2012, and it looks like this:

(Find the BMW M3 GT2 on eBay...)

How great is that model?  It has only been used once, in two colors, and it is just about prefect as far as Hot Wheels goes.  Racing stance, front and rear spoilers, and a really nice design.  The white model is the signature, black is the sharper of the two.  It may not work on the track, but it makes up for it in a million other areas.

There were even some wheel variations.  White showed up with MC5 and J5 wheels (not pictured), and the black appeared at least once in a 9-pack with chrome-lipped PR5 wheels.  That one time happened to be at a rural Kmart where I found it.  Lucky, eh?  It looks even better.

One last comparison.  The BMW E36 M3 has grown on me since its release, and while that chin creeps up a bit, and the proportions are slightly off, I'm a fan.  Still not the M3 GT2, but I like it.  But you can see the difference in direction between the two:

So we will watch and see.  It is clear there is some transition going on at Mattel, with both brands, and we will see if things will be more Aston Vantage or BMW GT2.  Time will tell...


  1. Part of the blame is with the licensors. I think the licensors, especially GM and Chrysler, should stop approving stuff with upsloped chins. The problem is they'll approve anything. Just look at the Fatbax and DropTops from 2004.

    1. Mu opinion is that the licensors want to put their cars as toys anywhere and Hot Wheels is a traditional brand, with millions of consumers.

      If they stop approving, Hot WHeels would just go after a brand that aproves. It's a huge market and no one wants to be out of it after all.

      That said, i think that Hot Wheels should do unlicensed cars as customs of real cars (La Fasta, for exemple) with the slopped chin and save the licensed cars from that track ready demand.

  2. If licensing is such a big expensive deal at Mattel, why don't they make the most of it by having Matchbox and Hot Wheels produce more cars in common, with Matchbox taking on the realistic versions and Hot Wheels taking on the track ready ones?

    They could the get rid of all the Hot Wheels premium and semi premium series, which are mostly crap anyways, and place Matchbox slightly above Hot Wheels to make up for it.

    1. "They could the get rid of all the Hot Wheels premium and semi premium series, which are mostly crap anyways, and place Matchbox slightly above Hot Wheels to make up for it."

      Why would they want to do this? Just because a vocal minority of MB collectors is always upset whenever HW has something?

      If they got rid of a HW adult collector line it would get replaced with another HW adult collector line.

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    3. Thank you Tim, you said it nicer than I would, hahaha.

      The Heritage line is going to be really nice. I can'can't wait for it to start.

      But it is a shame that Mattel doesn't utilize Matchbox for these GT cars as well. Would be cool to have the track set castings for HW and the normal looking ones for Matchbox. I bet if it was just a couple years ago, that might have been a possibility.

    4. But Hot Wheels always gets everything! Ok, there are some adult lines that make complete sense. Classics, Since 68, Hot Ones, Cool Classics, those were all great adult lines that drew from Hot Wheels history and couldn't be anything else. But then you have Retro Entertainment, which would be just as good as a Matchbox line (they were among the first to have movie and TV cars though, even though they kinda sucked), and the whole Pop Culture ensemble, which could just go away altogether.

      Anyways, my actual point was that, once one of those oh so expensive licensing deals has been acquired, both brands should get to work on it, a more realistic version for Matchbox, and a track ready version for Hot Wheels. They already have to tool up separate models for each brand, so why not make better use of the licensing instead of tooling up a fantasy construction vehicle for one brand and the licensed car for the other?

    5. I might buy just 2-3 MBX per year. So far it's been 2 different BMW 1M and a Dodge A100. I don't even follow the MBX stuff. So, no....lets not do that.

    6. "so why not make better use of the licensing"

      Haha. You're funny. They're using the licensing on the brand that sells more and has more brand recognition. If that isn't making better use of the licensing, then I don't know what is.

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    8. I think that's a pretty good idea. We all know that if Matchbox makes a model it'll be ten times better if Hot Wheels made the same model. Why not let each brand make something that plays to their strengths? Matchbox can make the real looking car and Hot Wheels can make their supped up, big wheeled track version?

      Of course hot wheels is going to sell more when they have a bigger isle section, end caps and dump bins, it's not because they're better than matchbox, it's because stores just put out more, maybe if stores would put out more than a couple pegs worth of Matchbox, they just might sell better. I've always preferred Matchbox over hot wheels, even their unlicensed "fantasy" vehicles are so much better than hot wheels. Hopefully with all this attention being brought up about bringing matchbox back to where they used to be will get things rolling.

      Why is it that when people talk about die cast cars they call them Matchbox, no matter what brand they are? Talk about brand recognition.

  3. Mattel will NEVER let MB compete on the same level. I collect both brands and up until recently they trashed MB. It is getting better but lets see how long it lasts.

  4. It'll go down to the marques methinks. Take Porsche. They've got the 991 GT3 RS, 991 RSR and the Cayman GT4 now, and they're pretty damn strict when it comes to the representations, so my guess is the castings will be accurate and swell just like the old GT3 RS.

    Mind you, I'm just guessing the quality, but expect the Cayman GT4 and the new 911 GT3 RS to show up next year or in 2017, and who knows, maybe the 991 RSR would join the fray (the real car has been around since 2012) later. We're gonna take the eventual announcements with lots of salt until the First Look articles, But I think they'll come out fine and to our tastes.

  5. It's really a clash between those after realism and those after looping the loop etc.

    It's interesting to se which 1:1 manufacturers aren't keen on this - ever seen a HW Lamborghini with a lifted nose?

    Some slightly older Matchboxes achieved this by having 4x4 ride heights on cars. look at the Jaguar XK220 on spiral wheels for example.

    There is another way of doing this - an adjustable ride height. One plastic insert between the seat unit and base could do this. I've a Norev mini jet Porsche Cayenne that does this.

    The downside is that it might cost an extra penny and might not fit into existing designs.

    Probably worth a thought though?


  6. As a huge Aston Martin fan, I was very disappointed with how the GT3 came out. But when I looked at the silver lining, it helped me save some money by not buying it.

    The BMW M3 GT2 took some time to grow on me, because I preferred the stock 2010 M3. But now, I can fully appreciate the genius of the GT2. Especially with the advent of the stiff upper lips of Hot Wheels' other race cars.

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