DEARBORN - Thousands of Hot Wheels collectors and enthusiasts descended on the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn for their annual convention April 18 - 22. One of the featured items at the 12th Annual Hot Wheels Collectors National Convention was a life-size Ford Fiesta designed with Hot Wheels’ graphics including the iconic flames and skull-and-crossbones.
“Mattel wanted the Ford Fiesta on the Hot Wheels racing team due to our experience at places like the X-Games,” explained Sherryl Brightwell, manager, Fiesta Marketing. “So the toy company got together with our vehicle personalization designers and came up with these wild and funky graphics for the car.”
The 2012 Ford Fiesta is a sporty and fun toy for drivers. And this Fiesta SES Hatchback concept shows that playful can be functional. With excellent fuel economy and standard 1.6L Duratec I-4 engine, electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) and AdvanceTrac electronic stability control along with chassis upgrades this car is enough to rejuvenate even the most cynical automobile nostalgic.
The interior of the car is every bit as cool as the exterior. The Headliner Fabric supplied by Freudenberg Vitech features new printed non-woven technology. Freudenberg – one of the first to introduce non-woven fabrics to the automotive market – is the world’s largest and most diverse manufacturer of the cutting edge fabric. Sitting in the vehicle, drivers feel a throwback sporty excitement combined with all the modern luxuries of a trendy stylish car.
Team Hot Wheels is a racing team of four race car drivers that push their vehicles to the limit. Each driver specializes in a different skill set, be it jumps, perfection, stunts, or speed. The team offers a great way for Hot Wheels’ fans to interact with the cars. Fans can go to the team’s website, watch videos of the drivers in the real cars, and use what they see to help them determine which toy cars they would like to purchase.
Brightwell added, “We have privacy agreements, and we give Hot Wheels our car schematics a year out, so they can release the toys when the real car comes out. The toys are a 1/64 replica of the real thing.”
Ford has a long history appealing to the hearts of toy buffs. Former Ford Designer Howard Rees – who helped design the 1967 Mustang – left the company to design cars for a younger consumer.
“I have many fond memories of my time at Ford, and I’m still very proud to have been a part of that ‘’67 Mustang,” said Rees, who went to work for Mattel. “But I wanted to design toys. I was responsible for the ‘’68 and ‘’69 Ford Mustang Hot Wheels.”
Moen's Mustang garage
Rees sat at a table with a few other toy designers and signed autographs for flocks of adoring fans, who literary grew up with his work.
Beyond the signing room, the convention felt more like an open house. Collectors from the first to the 11th floors propped open their hotel room doors and invited anyone to wander in and check out their toys.
The most expensive Ford replica was a 1974 Mustang Stocker, valued at $5,000. The gold Hot Wheels car with orange and purple stripes and “450 HP” stenciled on the hood was a prize piece of Woody Itson, a collector from Texas.
“The guys that collect really determine the market,” Itson explained. “You never know how much a car is going to be worth until you put it for sale and see how much people are willing to spend on it.”
But most people at the convention were not there to drop a few grand.
“I love Mustangs,” said Scott Moen of Oconomowoc, Wis., who displayed 600 toy Mustangs on his bed. “I was even married on April 17, the day the Mustang was introduced. It’s great to be here right next to Ford World Headquarters. I may have to do a few laps around the building just to get my fix of it.”
Moen went on to explain that he cannot put his finger on why he loves the Mustang so much, it has just always been something that has been apart of him.
While people around the country may wish to have an endless garage filled with their own personal dream cruise, the reality is that it is just much easier to collect toys.
“This is a way to collect cars that anyone can afford,” Brightwell said. “People have grown up with cars. It is part of our national culture.”