Why is the 2016 Hot Wheels Ford Fiesta so special? You have to go back in time with Michael Heralda to 1998…

We have hinted in numerous places that the 2016 version of the Hot Wheels Ford Fiesta is a special model.  Many of you have been guessing why.

Secret Treasure Hunt?  No.

Early run before a running change?  No.

White wheels?  No.

The Ford Fiesta is special because it was designed by Michael Heralda, a longtime graphic designer at Mattel who retired this last summer in June.

“But why would a Heralda design be so special?”, you might ask, “He’s done thousands of designs for Mattel!”  And that is exactly right.  Michael has done thousands of designs for both Matchbox and Hot Wheels.  In fact, by Michael’s count, he retired earlier this year having done just about 5000 designs.

And this Ford Fiesta is special, because it is his final design, and in supercool fashion, it pays homage to his very first design at Mattel, back in 1998.

I will let Michael tell the story in his own words:

My first and last decorations for Hot Wheels! Please note that there is a nineteen-year separation (and 5,000 decorations) between them!

The (#1 of 48) 1998 First Edition Ford Escort Rally was my very first Hot Wheels decoration.  I created this deco in 1997 and since it would be my first decoration I thought it only appropriate to add my name somewhere in the design – after all who wouldn’t want their name on a Hot Wheels model?

Being new to the Design Team, and the only, and first in-house graphic designer, I thought it might be a bit bold to add only my name to a model.  So after much thought and consideration I decided to add, not only my name, but also the name of my boss – Gary Swisher.  It brought a smile to his face when I showed him the E-Sheet concept and it was immediately approved.  It turned out that this model was also the very first model to have his name (SWISHER MOTORS) emblazoned on a model as well!  “Smart move Michael,” I thought to myself. 

With regards to the decoration itself I have a few comments to share.  The number 8 – everyone has a favorite number and at the time “8” was mine.  Under the number 8 can be found my name in very thin type – HERALDA.  My initials appear on both the front quarter panels and on the front fog lamps (MH).  Back in those days we could afford to have side panel deco’s as well as front (or rear deco) on a basic car, even PAINT OPS!!!  The front end is a combination of Paint Op and Tampo!!!!

Many of you may know that two versions of this model exist but actually there are three versions (the third version is very rare).  The third version has 5-Spoke Wheels and like the second version (somewhat rare) it has on the silver grey base the name FORD RALLY.

Now let’s fast forward to 2015 and my early retirement in June of this year.
Knowing that I would soon be leaving one of the best jobs I ever had as a graphic designer I wanted to finish my (Mattel) graphics career with something that made sense and would be remembered (at least by me).  I thought it would be appropriate to make my last Hot Wheels deco similar to my very first one.  I told one of the Hot Wheels graphics gurus, Jerry Thienprasiddhi, about my plan to replicate my first Hot Wheels deco and asked if the Ford Escort Rally was planned for use in the line (2015 or 2016) and he told me it was not.  But then he added, “we will be using the 2012 Ford Fiesta, is that close enough?”  Ahh, the plan is starting to take shape!

But wait, there’s more! Not only would I be replicating the deco but updating it as well!  Instead of my favorite number 8, I changed it to 28 – that’s how many years I am credited with working for Mattel.  I also included my own personal MH HERALDA logo (the one with wings) and a reference to my 5,000 decorations in the form of a “5000 CLUB” logo.  I had hoped to use the same wheels that were used on my first deco but was informed that the Ford Fiesta would be part of a separate series – the Arctic Racer Series so the wheels (as part of that series) needed to be white.  That was one of the compromises I had to accept.  Additionally, I modified the Hot Wheels logo so that instead of carrying the name HOT WHEELS within the flame it would read HERALDA.  That was a big NO-NO and I couldn’t get buy-off from the then Director of Hot Wheels (bummer) – another compromise.  Well, we can all dream, right?

When you finally get the new Hot Wheels Ford Fiesta in your hands, for a side-by-side comparison, you may notice another difference from my first and last design – the Chassis.  In the first design the Chassis is silver grey.  On the Ford Fiesta it is Blue.  Why you may ask?  Well, and here’s my opportunity to tell a more involved story that veers slightly to the “Orange Side” (MATCHBOX).  Hold your horses my friends; don’t stop reading this message just because I mention Matchbox.  Don’t forget I worked on that brand as well for many years.

As part of my overall farewell deco plan, I decided to also replicate my first Hot Wheels deco on a Matchbox vehicle as well – you know, my way of connecting both brands that I worked on.  The Matchbox model is the QUICK SANDER (2015 #121 of 125).  And, since I spent more time as a Matchbox graphics designer I decided to also create a support team all carrying the same (similar) graphics.  My rational was that this is an opportunity for collectors of die cast models to support both brands – to acquire the full series of my last deco’s you will need to buy from the Blue and Orange aisles!  Don’t hate me for that.  Embrace the idea! Ha!  Since the support team will not make an appearance until 2016 I will keep the names of those models a secret.  Eventually they all will show up and I hope my small attempt at bringing collectors together, from both sides of the Blue and Orange brands, will be successful.

Thank you for your interest in my work and supporting Hot Wheels & Matchbox! 

Your friend, 
Michael Heralda

How cool is that?  In order to have the whole Heralda First-and-Last collection, the Escort can be found on eBay (a cool model no matter what), the Fiesta in stores, and the Matchbox Quicksander late this year or early next.  You can see what it looks like thanks to this photo taken by Michael himself:
Michael has always been about adding a little more creativity and meaning to his designs, so it is very appropriate he is going out with a model that pays homage to his first.  In fact, there is a countdown of sorts, so start looking for Matchbox models with numbers like 4991 and 4992 in the deco.  Those are his final designs leading up to the last.

Michael was a busy man while at Mattel, and that hasn’t changed in retirement.  He is traveling the country presenting his Aztec Stories, a combination of narratives and music (much of it with instruments that he has made) that highlights the culture of ancient Mexico.  You can learn about it on Michael’s Facebook Page.
And we aren’t done with Michael either.  We asked him if he would share his favorite designs from his time at Mattel, and he obliged.  Look for those features soon.

If you are a Hot Wheels and/or Matchbox collector, there is no doubt you have a ton of Heralda designs in your collection.  Looks like we have a couple more to add…

(Thanks Michael.)

Before we go, I promised on my YouTube video about the Fiesta that I would show off some of Michael’s talent, and there is no better way than showcasing some of his Matchbox Gathering Event models.  Enjoy:

22 Replies to “Why is the 2016 Hot Wheels Ford Fiesta so special? You have to go back in time with Michael Heralda to 1998…”

  1. Cool detail! Something most collectors wouldn't know about if you didn't tell us, thanks! I'm going to buy these new models, something I wouldn't likely do if it wasn't for this interesting background.

    Also, first time a Matchbox and a Hot Wheels model have a matching deco (Fiesta and Quicksander)?

  2. What a great story! I saw the Fiesta on the pegs and almost bought it because I liked the deco. I can't believe it was based off one of my favorite mainline decos ever! I remember finding that Escort Rally in '98 and loving it but was let down with all the subsequent releases as they just didn't have that level of detail.

  3. Awesome story! Also, a great send off to Michael! That Escort is epic! Detailing level over 9000! Even the Fiesta had great detailing! I am going to collect the Fiesta for these two reasons. Which brings me to my second point. Those white wheels are awful! Just useless. Not only unrealistic but they actually look bad. I understand Michael's pain. Hot Wheels, Y U DO THIS??

    Anyway, Onwards with the hunting!

  4. I hope he is having a great retirement!

    I must admit, the white wheels do not bother me at all, as I think of an ice or snow rally. The Quick Sander is one of my favorite Matchbox models (I have a yellow one, somewhere).

    I've wanted an Escort for a little while now, and I didn't know it was his first design ever!

  5. Very nice ! I just can't wait to find it !
    I'm just asking myself “does that model would have double color plastic injection chassis like the Ken Block Version does ?”, 'cause that's the only one Hotwheels using this kind of technology which was a Bandai Plastic Model exclusive until the Fiesta came out.
    Do you have any idea about why and how ?

  6. I picked up one of these fiestas and mine has like a rolled up sticker in the package on the car. Now that I know this piece of history I'll be on the lookout and hopefully get lucky for the first of his cars

  7. Hi, i am from South Africa and we are seeing this model in our shops now, but with a difference, the body of the car is baby blue and the bottom white but with all the same deco. Very cool looking car. Thank you. Gideon

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