We were very surprised to see this announcement today, wherein Hot Wheels has officially announced that its licensing partnership with Ferrari will come to an end on December 31, 2014. It was accompanied with this statement:
That is the date that Mattel’s current contract with them expires and has been mutually agreed not to renew it.
What does that mean? This announcement was made by Hot Wheels Elite, so we could assume that the relationship with HW Elite, Mattel’s 1:18 scale brand, is the only brand to which this announcement pertains. But in the announcement, Mattel is mentioned, not just Hot Wheels Elite. Could this mean that it will effect the basic range models as well?
If you are not aware, since 1999 Mattel has had exclusive licensing rights to Ferrari cars. No other diecast maker was allowed to produce a Ferrari model. You might be asking, but what about those Kyosho 1:64 Ferraris you show here on Lamley? Those are technically not diecast models. Kyosho found a way to skirt around the agreement by technically making their 1:64 Ferrari “model kits”, meaning they came unassembled, and the buyer is required to put it together. This is how they come:
So with Mattel’s contract expiring, and not being renewed, this could mean that Kyosho could now release Ferraris assembled.
But the bigger question is what will happen to all these Hot Wheels Ferraris? Ferrari has been a signature part of the basic range for years, and it easily a collector fave. Does the end of this contract mean that Hot Wheels will still produce Ferraris, only not exclusively? Or is this the end of Ferraris on a blue card for good?
If this is the end, this is really sad. It will create an enormous gap in the mainline, and could sadly signal Mattel’s push for Hot Wheels to go in a more fantasy direction. That would obviously disappoint quite a few of us.
But thankfully this is all speculation. We don’t know what this means. If it only pertains to Hot Wheels Elite, that is fine by us. If it means the end of any Hot Wheels Ferrari, that will leave us a little sad, as well as incentivized to go grab those Ferraris we have wanted but yet to pick up. What if HW Ferraris started going up in price like the recently retired Bugatti Veyron casting? Ouch…
We will wait to see what Mattel says, but welcome your thoughts. What do you think?