Q&A With Hot Wheels Designer And Hot Wheels Legends Tour Returns For 2023

Ever wanted to know how Hot Wheels car are designed? We interviewed Hot Wheels' head designer to find out...
Q&A With Hot Wheels Designer And Hot Wheels Legends Tour Returns For 2023

The Hot Wheels Legends Tour has returned to the UK for 2023, giving owners the chance to have their car recreated as a die-cast model. Entries are now open, all you need to do is upload short video and description of the build. The judges are looking for creativity and ‘garage spirit’. Ten UK finalists will be displayed at Bicester Heritage during RADwood where the judges will decide the winner.

Ted Wu, Global Head of Vehicle Design at Mattel, Inc says, “The UK consistently delivers a group of incredible finalists, each worthy of becoming a Legend. That makes it one of the closest fought competitions in our growing Tour. From EVs to classic drag racers, the diversity, creativity and passion from the UK entries ensures it’s always an inspiring group for our designers to check out. And it keeps getting bigger and better each year. Bringing Hot Wheels Legends to RADwood is an exciting new addition, enabling fans of all ages to get involved and be a part of our global car culture community.”

Q&A With Hot Wheels Designer And Hot Wheels Legends Tour Returns For 2023

To find out more about how Hot Wheels cars are designed we did an exclusive interview with Ted Wu.

What’s the design and approval process for creating original Hot Wheels cars?

After the fun part of deciding what vehicle we are going to reproduce in 1:64 scale, we start the design process by creating some 2D sketches or renders here at Hot Wheels’ Design Centre in California.

Next comes sculpting. This is all done in CAD now and this stage takes our specialist sculptors around 40 hours. It’s just like having a digital ball of clay on their screen. Once this is completed, we move to the design itself. That includes ‘parting out’, the process of designing how the toy will come together with chassis, interior, body etc. There are usually four parts on a mainline car, and this can take up to 80 hours. This is where a lot of creativity comes into the design.

We are trying to inject as much detail and realism as we can into a toy. For our premium cars, such as the Car Culture models you can now find in the UK, we can add more parts and details, but it’s fun to extract as much realism for our mainline die-cast.

We then move to 3D printing the model. Now we can see how it will look and what the stance like. It’s at this point we get the sign-off from the manufacturer of the real car if it isn’t a Hot Wheels original design. If this is OK, we’ll work with our manufacturing team to commission the tooling and then produce prototypes before moving on to mass production, and then shipping them out to the stores.

Q&A With Hot Wheels Designer And Hot Wheels Legends Tour Returns For 2023

What are the key considerations for designing Hot Wheels?

It has to look like and feel like a Hot Wheels model. For some series such as Track Stars, they also have to work on our famous orange track systems. We test all our cars and have the best test track in our Design Centre with loops, curves and boosters. It’s work really!

For our Legends Tour competition where we ask fans to suggest real-life cars they own, we are looking for garage spirit – built not bought, authenticity and originality. If you look at the last couple of finalists from the UK, ‘Ain’t no Saint’ and ‘The Misfit,’ you’ll see what we mean!

See also: This Ultra-Rare Lamborghini Countach Is Not Your Average Hot Wheels

How many Hot Wheels designs actually go to production?

Each year there are 130 variations and since 1968 there have been over 25,000. With 16.5 sold every second, we want to keep coming up with cool new ones! Some are rejected and actually, some of those can create iconic moments in Hot Wheels history. For example, the Beach Bomb design was rejected because the original design had the surfboards poking out of the rear of the Microbus. This made it unstable for kids to play with, so the design saw the boards moved to the sides. The original one, in pink, is said to be worth $150,000 now!

Q&A With Hot Wheels Designer And Hot Wheels Legends Tour Returns For 2023

What’s your favourite Hot Wheels?

It’s so hard to pick a favorite car among the 25,000 unique designs within the Hot Wheels world. One of my favourite recent cars is the Volkswagen Kafer Racer. This car was designed by legendary Hot Wheels designer, Mark Jones. The Kafer Racer answers the question of: what if VW entered the Beetle into Le Mans in the 70s? Essentially, it’s a VW Beetle designed to be the ultimate race car with aggressive fenders and a giant rear wing. Like some of the best Hot Wheels vehicles, it combines real automotive design with a bit of outrageousness.

Q&A With Hot Wheels Designer And Hot Wheels Legends Tour Returns For 2023

How do you redesign the proportions of existing life-size cars into Hot Wheels?

It’s not a case of just shrinking the design. One of our limitations is we must keep to the constraints of our wheel size. We have a lot of options, but this is a key factor for the scale of the whole vehicle. We are really careful to adjust elements to ensure we capture the essence of the real car and make it look right at 1:64 scale. And because they are toys, we have to modify some delicate elements. Recently we made a Pagani Huayra and tweaked the wing mirrors to be suitable for a toy that kids are going to be playing with. For our Car Culture and new Elite 64 products, we can get closer to the real car as ranges such as Elite 64 are intended for adult collectors. They still roll though!

What was the most expensive Hot Wheels ever designed?

The most detailed model was the Mercedes Benz 300SL that came as part of an IWC set. Revealed at Goodwood, this “Racing Works Edition” box set, together with a special-edition Pilot’s Watch Chronograph sold out in hours. The sets were offered at nearly £10,000.

Q&A With Hot Wheels Designer And Hot Wheels Legends Tour Returns For 2023

For 2023, Hot Wheels has partnered with Falken Tyres and Castrol Oils so the 10 finalists will win a bundle of Castrol Oils merchandise and the overall UK winner will get a set of Falken tyres. If you think your car is the stuff of legend, don’t forget to enter at www.hotwheelsuklegendstour.co.uk before 4th August 2023. The UK champion will go up against winners from nearly 20 other countries and the global winner will be announced in America in November.


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