In May of 1968, 16 models of the original Hot Wheels were released. The brainchild of Elliot Handler (founder of Mattel and husband to Ruth Handler, inventor of the Barbie doll), the first series came to be known as the “Original Sweet Sixteen” and the first of the Red Line series, with 11 of them designed by Harry Bentley Bradley, who was an automotive designer working for Detroit at the time. Designed to be hot rod alternatives to the more realistic Matchbox cars of the time, Hot Wheels became a cultural phenomenon, gaining a significant adult collector following alongside the millions of children worldwide who would play with them as toys. As a manufacturer of toys, HW provided a dizzying array of tracks, gear and merchandise to its younger customers, while catering to the collector crowd through limited edition models with realistic details, rubber tyres, larger scales and special packaging that paid tribute to everything from movies to comic books and car cultures. From the first purchase for as low as 99 cents (about 130-150 Taka in Bangladesh), kids and collectors alike are hooked – numerous automotive enthusiasts get their first taste of the love for cars through this tiny metal toy, and it stays with them for life. From letting kids play out their hot-rodding and home-making fantasies to building a global empire that brought smiles to the faces of millions of children, Elliot and Ruth Handler made a cultural phenomenon out of the toy industry, and we have to thank them for it.
The collectors speak up
S.M. Intisab Shahriyar
“To bump up from nameless and utilitarian die-casts to a sleek green Callaway C7 by Hot Wheels conjures feelings similar to love at first sight, or more realistically, getting paid during the holidays. If playing with a Hot Wheels can replace a trip out of the city, you know it's special.”
“Got my first Hot Wheels more than a decade ago when I asked my father to bring me a Hot Wheels racetrack and he ended up buying me a 1:64 fantasy model. In 2013 I saw Z Rahman Milky posting pictures of his cars after he customized them and after seeing them, it inspired me to buy my own Hot Wheels and customise them as well.”
Ehsanur Raza Ronny
“Very first one was the Dixie Challenger in orange way back in the early 80's. Being a 2 or 3 year old, I smashed, chewed and stepped on it. Surprisingly, it survived and then went through a slight custom phase where I brush painted flames on it, followed by a wheel swap back when i was 14/15. More than a decade later, I found it in an old box."
“The first Hot Wheels I had came all the way from America – my aunt brought back an American Muscle 5-pack with the Dodge Viper, Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Ford GT40 and Shelby Cobra. Played with it till they broke axles and chipped off paint – still have the Viper and the Stang. Who knew my destructive child self would go on to be an anti-muscle car fanatic? Probably my mom, who was left to pick up the pieces.”