Each second, approximately 16 of these 1:64 scale automobiles are manufactured.
Since 1968, when the company opened its doors, more than eight billion Hot Wheels toys have been produced. Currently, the rate is around 500 million per year…or slightly more than 16 per second.
And if you think Audi has an absurd number of product models each year, consider the 200-odd model refreshes carried out annually from the Hot Wheels headquarters in Los Angeles. One of which could be a 1:64 scale replica of your car, courtesy of the Hot Wheels Legends Tour.
It’s time to speak with Ted Wu, the company’s head of design, to learn more about the process of shrinking a real-world automobile into a tiny toy.
How is a licensed Hot Wheels vehicle created?
We’ve developed long-standing relationships with automakers, which enables us to preview models before they’re released to the public. As a result, we frequently obtain extremely sensitive CAD data and information in order to begin modeling in order to release our vehicles with them. – Ted Wu
There is a lot of back and forth with them to ensure the design is accurate on a 1:64 scale. One of the misconceptions about Hot Wheels is that you shrink a car and then sell it.
However, there is a great deal of design work that goes into creating a small vehicle. Because when you compare a car that fits in the palm of your hand to a vehicle that fits in the palm of your hand, things may not come out correctly if you scale it down 64 times.
As a result, our designers place a premium on capturing the essence of the automobile. What is the vehicle’s personality? What is going to give that car its correct appearance on a smaller scale?
And what about Hot Wheels-exclusive designs?
We have a team of over 40 designers from a variety of disciplines. We have transportation, industrial, graphic, and toy designers…the design community here is extremely diverse.
However, a substantial amount comes from the automotive industry.
As a result, they’ve gained experience working at actual automobile manufacturers.
We take very seriously ensuring that each car we produce, regardless of its silliness—we have vehicles that resemble rubber duckies and cars that are toilets on wheels—is rooted in genuine automotive authenticity.
For anyone who has worked in the confines of real cars, this is undoubtedly a new sense of freedom
Without a doubt. Often, when you work for a genuine auto manufacturer, your job responsibilities are pretty limited.
You’re probably designing a door handle or a component for the dash, correct? Here, teams prepare complete automobiles, from interiors to exteriors.
And they’re designing quite a few cars. They are not concentrating their efforts on a single vehicle for two to three years.
They’re constantly churning out new designs, ranging from fantastical dragons on wheels to the next generation of American muscle cars to exotic automobiles.
As a result, I believe the team has some nice leeway.
How long does the procedure take?
From concept to manufacturing, the process takes approximately 18 months. And the pace has accelerated with the release of licensed vehicles in sync with the actual car.
In 1968, Hot Wheels was born out of the American custom-car culture.
Our first vehicle was a Chevrolet Camaro. These long-standing relationships have aided us in establishing trust with a variety of manufacturers, allowing us to obtain an early sneak peek.
Another highly beneficial factor is technology. Our team used to make molds out of wood and then clay, but now, by sketching something on a piece of paper, you can have it coming out of a 3D printer within a matter of days to hold what you were modeling physically.
And how do you decide which automobiles to convert into toys?
Each year, we have over 450 cars in our ‘basics’ assortment—the type of one-dollar car that you might see in a grocery store.
And nearly half of those 450 are new for that year, whether it’s an entirely new model or, as we like to call them, a redeco,’ a new paint job.
Over the last 50 years, we’ve developed a pretty good sense of the right mix of vehicles that we believe will resonate with our consumers, including children and adults.
We make an effort to select cars that will appeal to a broad audience.
However, if you are a car enthusiast, you would think, ‘Oh, they chose that car! As an example, that is the type of car that is currently available. That is admirable. I’ll take care of that.’
The big one: Which Hot Wheels vehicle is your favorite?
I’ve never had one because I feel like we’re constantly releasing new material, and every time I see something new, I’m like, ‘Oh man, that one’s great.’
From the currently available ones, I believe the Nash Metropolitan, the winner of the 2019 Hot Wheels Legends Tour (pictured above), came out exceptionally well.
It is a Greg Sazillow-designed Metropolitan. He dismembered the body completely. He yanked the wheels and tires from the vehicle.
The hood has an engine protruding from it. It has a genuinely hostile stance.
When the team won the Legends Tour, they were nervous, thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, this will be a difficult vehicle to create.’ And it turned out magnificently.