2016 has been all about Car Culture over at Hot Wheels, with Japan Historics, Euro Style, Trucks, and the upcoming Track Day demanding the collector's attention.
But Car Culture debuted on the heels of Hot Wheels Heritage, a premium line that alternated between Real Riders and Redline assortments. The castings were diverse, and there were some real gems that came from Heritage, but ultimately it was a very mixed line.
One of our favorite Hot Wheels experts, Derek Albert, aka @doomus_rlc, offers this review.
The Heritage series was one that many approached with some excitement, especially those yearning for a RR series that wasn’t Pop Culture or Entertainment after Cool Classics took over the $3-3.50 price-point series in mid/late 2013. We all hoped it would be strong like the 2013 Boulevard line, and hoping for overall better quality than Boulevard in general (we all know that 2012 Boulevard line had atrocious quality issues, which hurt the series as a whole). I had a grand opening party and took pics with my smart phone on my bed. Pics aren’t perfect as I don’t have my typical pic setup… well, set up, but I think they will do.
Mix 1/A: Real Riders set 1 - Datsun 510, Datsun 240Z, Custom Chevy Greenbrier (new model), Hare Splitter, Bubble Gunner, Altered Ego (new metal base)
Thoughts: a mix that honestly would have been about perfect... Had the original planned truck been made. It was plagued by the revelation that the Bubble Gunner was replacing the '80 Dodge Macho Power Wagon due to an issue with the truck tool. That unfortunate deal took away from what was actually a good mix. The new Greenbrier casting is insane, and in my opinion encompasses what HW stands for, especially vs. Matchbox. The 240Z had a daring execution as a salt flat vehicle and to me has been rather underrated. I know many dislike the moondiscs, but due to the deco on the 240 they were the absolute perfect wheels for it; nothing else would have looked right. The 510 was very nice, and the Altered Ego was actually very well done; it was the surprise of the mix.
Mix 2/B: Redlines set 1 - '70 Chevelle Wagon, '55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser, '68 Dodge Dart, Copper Stopper, Nissan Skyline 2000GTX, '49 Ford F1
Thoughts: while the general collecting community was drooling over the simple look of the 2000GTX and '55 Chevy gasser, for me they weren't the tops of this batch. The '70 Chevelle wagon and '49 Ford truck were the best of the mix. The surf wagon look of the Chevelle plus the first use of wide one piece wheels on the casting. The 49 Ford has some great pin striping on the fenders. On top of that, the Copper Stopper had some great details, and the Dart was definitely era-appropriate. The gasser looked great, though, definitely had the pure gasser look with the deco and windows.
Mix 3/C: Real Riders set 2 - 2007 Silverado 4x4 (new model), Ford Transit MkI Super Van (new model), Backwoods Bomb, '56 Flashsider, BMW 2002 (new metal base), '71 Plymouth Satellite Wagon
Thoughts: this mix contained what has been one of the best casting debuts in a while: Ford Transit MkI Super Van. The 2007 Silverado 4x4 was no slouch, but the van superseded about everything released in 2015. Love the Silverado still, though, always looking for more in-the-air 4x4s, and it's great to see a more modern truck get the treatment in a premium line. Of the 4 wagons released in Heritage, the Satellite here was the only one to receive RRs and looks great with the flames. It was great the Flashsider was the opening hood version but I feel it received the wrong wheels (as the rear wheel tract is narrower than the front with the chosen steelies). The BMW 2002 was welcome but underwhelming (wish it had a racier look to the deco). I have always liked the Backwoods Bomb, and it looked killer here in orange with the flames and black camper.
Mix 4/D: Redline set 2 - Nissan Skyline 2000GTR, '84 Mustang SVO, '70 Camaro Z28 (new metal base), Bone Shaker, '69 Mercury Cyclone, '56 Ford pickup
Thoughts: what should have been a great mix was marred by numerous quality issues. I only came across a few of the Bone Shaker, Mustang, Skyline and Camaro with centered redlines on the wheels. The Mustang was rarely seen with complete tampos, usually the silver lines being incomplete, and the partial paint on the lights make the car look odd (to note: I loved the deco on it, just seemed odd with the lights). The Cyclone was the hardest to find with decent tampos. I must have come across over 30 and only maybe 2 had what I could consider good tampos. A real shame for sure, especially since it is one of the absolute nicest stock muscle car castings HW has. Overall, the ’70 Camaro was the best in this batch, IMO, as the racing deco on it looks fantastic. The Bone Shaker rarely disappoints and this one was no different. The ’56 Ford pickup was underrated and sadly somewhat forgotten, which is a shame as it is one of the nicest releases of that casting.
Mix 5/E: Real Rider set 3 - Texas Drive 'Em, Porsche 917k, Neet Streeter, '69 Camaro, '68 Olds Cutlass Convertible, Aston Martin DB5
Thoughts: for most, the TDE and Porsche stole the show, but the Cutlass was the real star here, and one of the best premium releases overall for 2015. The TDE was subdued but in a good way with a creative, simple deco suited to what makes the TDE the TDE. The Neet Streeter has what is one of my favorite decos of all time on any car: black with green flames. The only issue I had was it received a chrome interior (I feel it should have been black). For me, the '69 Camaro and DB5 seemed a little odd, IMO some of the weakest of the line (DB5 would have done better had the gumball number not been there, IMO). The Porsche, while great deco and very well executed, is a castings I just don’t really care for.
Mix 6/F: Redlines set 3 - Long Gone, Blazer 4x4, '64 Nova Wagon, '66 GTO Wagon, Mig Rig, Corvette C6R
Thoughts: This was a great mix that one vehicle sadly overshadowed everything else. The Long Gone and Blazer were huge hits for me. The Long Gone fits in very nicely with the Hot Ones return and Boulevard release. The Blazer will always be welcome from me, and loos sharp in the police deco here. The two wagons look great, especially the GTO wagon, and it was great seeing 4 wagons with different deco style. The C6R is great and my favorite release of the casting (outside of the outstanding yellow Speed Machines release) but looks a bit odd with the BWs (I’ll remedy that at some point, lol). The Mig Rig was cool and happy to see a metal/metal release outside of Pop Culture and the pink look was definitely a bold choice that worked in the end. But like the 56 Flashsider, the lack of wide rear wheels hurt the final result for me.
There were numerous pros and cons for the Heritage line.
- The decos used were generally very appropriate. Very diverse, and some of the best designs since 2010 Garage.
- The casting diversity was also a welcome sight. None of the planned (stress "planned") casting choices were duds. Yes, even the Altered Ego was a good fit in its end result.
- The bouncing around from RRs to RLs kept things interesting.
- The decision to go with the Bubble Gunner as the replacement for the Dodge Macho Power Wagon in the first mix. Yes, everyone would have loved to get the Power Wagon over the Bubble Gunner, and I get they needed to go with an available, non-licensed tool for the last minute change, but really? The Bubble Gunner? There had to be a more collector friendly casting in the list of last minute available cars. Second Wind would have looked killer in the paint deco and RRs used on the Bubble Gunner (seriously, I can picture it in my head and it would have been a favorite of the series). Just saying...
- While I praise the deco style, I did find several with tampo quality issues. Especially the '69 Mercury Cyclone, took me a LONG time to find a good one. If these were done in Thailand and not Malaysia, this would likely not have been a problem. Quality out of the Thailand plant is indeed better than Malaysia in about every aspect. I’m sure the designers and marketing team that pay close attention to things here see this and know it’s a problem, here’s hoping that those that make decisions on where certain lines are made read and actually get that there’s a quality issue at the Malaysia plant. Things like this SHOULD NOT be a concern on these premium lines.
- To the paint/tampo end, the plastic inserts that were with all the Hot Ones and Flying Customs releases should have been used on all releases here as well. The '68 Dart lost some tampo to the card from rubbing, and I know that wasn't the only issue like this.
In the end, the series was well chosen and executed well. Not perfect, but probably the (as a whole) strongest line since 2011 Garage (for the $3-3.50 series price point). And after Cool Classics it was another series where EVERY RELEASE was found at retail with relative ease. With the switch-over to Car Culture now, seeing the mixes already out and what's to come, I like where they are going with this premium-line price-point series.