Inside The Hot Wheels Design Studio: How A Real Car Gets Turned Into A 1:64 Toy – Todayuknews – Todayuknews

For tens of millions of kids, the first and most accessible foray into cars takes the shape of a Hot Wheels. They’re durable and detailed and small enough to pocket; basically, a perfect toy for anyone (of any age) with a love for four wheels. As a result, the company has sold over eight billion cars since its inception in 1968—and while building a tiny die-cast car is not as hard as a real one, the design and manufacturing processes that end with a new Hot Wheels clenched in your sweaty fist are surprisingly complex.
Think about it. Setting aside the ornate and cartoonish fantasy designs, any “real car” Hot Wheels has a pretty distinct look. They all feel well-proportioned, accurately detailed, and styled with a consideration that can only come with a real reverence for the subject—be it a 1979 Ferrari 308 GTS or a 1996 Chevy Lumina APV (yes, they really made a Hot Wheels version of that). Achieving that kind of consistency without a literal shrink ray can only be done when a company has its stuff down to an exact science, and that’s pretty much what a visit to the Hot Wheels Design Studio in southern California last month confirmed. 
Fifty-plus years of know-how are also being applied to the Hot Wheels Legends Tour, a now annual competition where enthusiasts can enter their own project cars to be chosen as a new Hot Wheels design, which is about a close as you can get to achieving immortality. The winning car is then put into production the following year, so Mattel doesn’t have much time to turn around a model that faithfully recreates someone’s singular vision while also hitting all the necessary notes to place it in the greater Hot Wheels canon. 
It just so happens that it recently pulled the 1:64-scale wraps off the 2020 winner—so what went into those nine months of work? Well, here’s how a Hot Wheels is born.
But first: How did a toy become so iconic? How did something so small have the chance to shape future enthusiasm and become part of car culture in its own right? 
Hot Wheels as a brand certainly occupies a unique place in car culture unlike any traditional OEM. When it originally started pumping out diecast toy cars in 1968, it began as a reflection of the custom rides seen on the streets surrounding Mattel’s headquarters in El Segundo, California. Marketed as “California Customs,” the now-iconic 1:64 scale original 16 cars came in an array of reflective neon paints—called “Spectraflame”—and all outfitted with blast pipes and opening hoods that revealed modified V8 model engines. They came perched upon chrome five-spoke mag wheels with redline tires; they were designed to be replicas of the hottest cars that cruised Crenshaw Boulevard every Sunday.
But in the ensuing years since Hot Wheels’ inception, it has shifted from becoming a mirror image of car culture to molding it itself. 
As a child, long before I could imagine earning my driver’s license or modifying my first car, I had an array of Hot Wheels on display, racing around the little city rug paved with carpet roads, or ripping down increasingly elaborate tracks that I designed to instill as much shock and awe as possible. My favorite, in those early years, was a bright orange ‘68 Mercury Cougar; years later it’s still one of my favorite muscle cars to exist. 
And I know my relationship with the cars isn’t a unique one: Hot Wheels are the first contact we have with car culture as a concept. We tested their performance, we modified them to go faster, we ran them through test courses of our own creation, and we traded them with friends. They were the blueprint for future enthusiasm. 

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