A couple of days ago I posted your choices and mine for the 2016 Lamley Awards. There was one I omitted - Hot Wheels Model of the Year.
It is a little different than the other polls. I consulted with a few other collectors and came up with a list of the 15 Hot Wheels models from all lines (Convention Models and other super low production models excluded) that seemed to be the most significant among collectors.
You voted, and the winners are below, and I added my choices as well.
2016 Hot Wheels Model of the Year:
1. Japan Historics Mazda RX-3
2. Forza Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA
3. Mainline & Forza '17 Ford GT
1. Car Culture Japan Historics
2. Mainline Batmobile (Basic, Zamac, & Super)
3. Forza Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA
So how does the Mazda RX-3 win Model of the Year and not Best New Model? No idea, ask the readers. It could have a little to do with the RX-3 being the new casting in the Japan Historics assortment, which was CLEARLY the most popular Hot Wheels release among collectors this year. The Alfa Romeo following it makes sense, as it was beautifully executed. And once again the Ford GT shows up, being one of the most talked about new models, especially since it debuted as a Super Treasure Hunt.
Of course, my choices are a little different, and I didn't give readers a chance to vote for the Japan Historics in general. But when I think about the most significant element of collecting this year, there is no doubt it is the Japan Historics.
It is significant for so many reasons, but most notably because it marked the debut of what is easily the most collector-friendly line Hot Wheels has done in a long time. It speaks to today's collector, and is also a place for the Hot Wheels Design Team to show off and go in frankly any direction they want. Car Culture is a great name for the line, as it represents what the car world is all about, and having a separate theme for each assortment means the line can go in all kinds of directions.
Plus, the assortments are small, as is the number of assortments, which means pegs won't get super clogged. If you don't like one assortment, there is a good chance you will like the next. I have throughly enjoyed collecting Car Culture, and I plan to keep every release until the line in finished (which is hopefully not soon).
But no matter what the theme of each release moving forward, nothing will ever top its debut, the Japan Historics. Four historically popular models, plus a perfectly chosen fifth to debut with the line. There was no easing in to Car Culture, or saving the best for last. It started with the most popular, and got the folks hooked. I have to guess there are many of you, like me, who after purchasing the Japan Historics, committed yourself to Car Culture no matter what the theme of each release.
Of course the JH also marked the debut of Julian Koiles' Car Culture card art, which I think was the coolest thing about Hot Wheels last year, but we have already covered that.
Obviously it wasn't just the Historics that made 2016 such a good year for Hot Wheels. Designers Mark Jones and Steve Vandervate gave us so much good stuff this year. Mark designed the new castings in Car Culture, as well as the Alfa in Forza and Nissan Vision in Gran Turismo. Oh, and he designed the 2017 Ford GT as well. Steve? Think of all the decos on Car Culture, Entertainment, and RLC, among other premium and convention releases. So much good stuff.
All that work culminates on the Alfa, which follows last year's Ford Supervan (also designed by Mark Jones) as my 2016 Hot Wheels Model of the Year. It came down to the Alfa and the BMW 3.0 CSL, but the Alfa prevailed. I doubt that Forza debut can be topped, but I hope they try. (Car Culture?)
Now look at at my list of three again. The Alfa is my Model of the Year, but it is number three on my list. Number two? Something I would have never thought would make one of my Best of lists. It's a freakin' Batmobile!
I honestly could care less about the Bat cars, and that has probably been made pretty clear throughout my time doing this blog. Entertainment cars that aren't cased on actual cars really don't do anything for me. There is no doubt that TV Series Batmobile is a significantly cool and well-done model, but I have never been that interested in it.
When it debuted in 2010 I believe, it was a HUGE deal. It may have been the first of the "hoard" models, meaning those that collectors love having multiples of. It has since been in the RLC, been a Convention model, and shown up in all kinds of places. It has also returned to the basic range since its debut, with varying differences. One year it was a Faster Than Ever model, for example. But the changes were for changes sake.
The same could be said for the 2016 Basic release. The model is black, it has the red trim and classic Batman logo, but look close. There be ghost flames in there! Doing the model in flat black with gloss black flames was a brilliant idea, but then Hot Wheels took it to two higher levels.
First as a Super TH. The TV Bat had never been a Super, but it obviously deserved to be. What a perfect year to do it too. The black moved to a more spectrflame blackish color, the Real Riders were awesome, and those ghost flames appeared again, only gray.
But the culmination of the ghost flame Batmobile is the Zamac. If the Alfa is the Best Model released this year, the ghost flame Zamac is BY FAR the coolest. Unpainted with ghost flames. It seriously can't be better, and I am so glad Hot Wheels decided to do a Zamac on this release.
I love the Zamacs. I hope Hot Wheels and Walmart never stop doing them. The variety is there, and the look is so unique. The Batmobile, at least for me, as someone who doesn't care that much about the casting, the best Zamac Hot Wheels has ever done. There is no getting around how exciting the model is. Even a high-up at Hot Wheels I happened to be talking to at one point mentioned the ghost flame Zamac as his favorite model of the year.
So there are my three - call it four with Julian's art - "Best things about Hot Wheels" in 2016. The Japan Historics and Car Culture, the brilliant execution of the ghost flame Bat, and the Forza Alfa Romeo. There was a lot more good stuff, but these top the list.
On to 2017...