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...