Tomorrow I will list off the Lamley Awards Readers Choices, along with my choices for Best and Worst Super, Best New Model, etc. Not that any of you are holding your breath on my choices, but it is always interesting to think about what models ended up making the list.
I have my choice for Hot Wheels Model of the Year, but when I think about the most significant elements of the year with Hot Wheels collecting, there are two things that surpass any one model: One, how spot on the Japan Historics were, launching the best premium Hot Wheels line in years, Car Culture. And two, how Julian Koiles took Hot Wheels card art to a completely new level.
You may not know Julian, but you know his work. For the last while he has been in charge of the card art on Hot Wheels premium lines, most notably Car Culture and Entertainment. I have never had too much of a hard time opening models, but Julian’s work is making it much more difficult. From concept to execution, there has never been better art on a Hot Wheels package.
Let’s look at Entertainment first, specifically the Gran Turismo and Forza assortments. Almost all the HW Entertainment packaging has been art pulled from the movie or TV show. Obviously much more goes into that, as Julian would attest, but when it came to GT and Forza, Julian worked his magic. Two completely different takes, and equally stunning. I don’t play either game, but the show model quality and simple clarity of the bird’s eye view of the GT art is beautiful. But so is the upgraded Racing/Superfast-style of the Forza art. I honestly can’t pick a favorite.
As great as those are, it is Car Culture that is Julian’s signature work this year. I don’t know who came up with the idea of using completely different packaging looks for each assortment, but it was a brilliant idea and most welcome. Compare Car Culture – from Japan Historics to Trucks to Track Day – to something like Boulevard. Boulevard was a great series despite the card art. Car Culture is enhanced by the art. In many cases the art surpasses the actual model.
In each assortment, Julian not only depicts the deco of each model, but does it from a different perspective and in completely different styles. Go from the cherry blossom beauty of Japan Historics to the car show quality of Euro Style, then to the utility-focused art of Trucks, to finally the hand-drawn style of Track Day. It continues into 2017 with Redliners and Air-Cooled. The only similarity in each assortment is the Hot Wheels and Car Culture logos.
I have no idea how to write about art, or obviously review it. And there is so much to Julian’s influences that I should try to get his thoughts on the art each time a new assortment is released. All I can say is this art is so far ahead of anything else previous. If I think of great packaging, I think of the Superfast box art of Matchbox in the 70’s, some of the RLC art like the Candy Striper, and the significant move by both Mattel brands when they created individual artwork for each basic release. But this is better than all of it.
The variety, the movement, the wide spectrum of styles. To me this should be called art. It’s obvious purpose is to be put on the card and convince each of us to buy the product inside, but it is so beyond that I hope Mattel will provide other ways to enjoy it. Maybe in the form of downloadable hi-res PDF’s to print and put on our walls?
I’d buy. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about ripping right through the art every time I removed that glob of metal that is annoying attached to it.
I can’t wait to see what Julian has up his sleeve in 2017…