2020 was a WILD year. So many things went badly in 2020, but the diecast market was not one of those. From Hot Wheels to Mini GT, from Tarmac Works to Tomica: collectors have never had such a bountiful harvest of new castings to choose from.
While we can’t forget the people we’ve lost in 2020, and those who are still suffering from sickness, job loss, or general uncertainty, I hope I join other collectors in saying that I genuinely get joy from these tiny metal beauties. Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive when so much around us is negative, but there’s just something inherently innocent and delightfully pleasing about getting your hands on a new diecast car.
For many of us that feeling brings with it the memories of a childhood self, playing cars at your grandma’s house or racing them down the steps with your younger brothers. Times were simpler: no bills, no sickness, no worries.
For some, those diecast memories came later in life — busting out your childhood collection of cars to play with your own little ones, making memories that will span generations. While the weight of adulthood lingers, the moment that car leaves the jump ramp heading towards the landing – those worries fade away, and the joy of the race fills your soul. It’s the best therapy session you’ll ever get for $1: and that’s why I collect.
Not to obsess over the latest chase cars, or to get the most rare carded Redline: I collect to enjoy. Obviously there is nothing wrong with collecting chase cars or rare Redlines, but I can’t make memories with those. The fun of cracking open a car with a loved one and playing “police chase”, or racing them through a Criss-Cross-Crash is a feeling that can’t be replaced.
In my opinion, to get the most out of a Hot Wheels (or any diecast car), you need to have a healthy imagination. Imagination is what makes the burnout marks on the couch, gives Twin Mill its engine noise, and the jet turbine sounds blasting from that mini Batmobile. Imagination is what makes play so exciting — and is what gives Hot Wheels designers the insight to create so many amazing castings.
Fantasy castings are among the most imaginative and underrated castings to come from the House of Flame. These castings are usually overlooked and underappreciated — and are often the last left on pegs…but they deserve better, much better.
Fantasy castings allow the designer to make something different, something that most often could never be built in real life. Hot Wheels fantasy castings go back to their earliest days, with some 60’s castings still being used in the 2020 line-up (like Twin Mill). While there are definitely some standout fantasy castings, there are some hated beyond words (looking at you ZOOM IN), but even those castings have their place in Hot Wheels history.
The 2020 mainline gave us 21 brand new fantasy models. We’re going to take a quick look at each one and pick a few standouts while we’re at it. So sit back, grab a Dr. Pepper and a Slim Jim, and enjoy a few castings from the original fantasy factory.
*Note: If video is more your thing, enjoy this hour long unboxing session and review of each of this year’s fantasy castings*
Number 07/250 – Road Bandit
The Road Bandit is Hot Wheels’ take on the popular open-air Jeepney buses used in the Philippines. This casting features a long, low-slung look and is powered by a giant supercharged V8 engine. The Bandit looks great in its Art Cars line liveries too and was released in yellow and red this year.
Number 24/250 – Pixel Shaker
Pixel Shaker is another variation of one of the most popular fantasy castings: Bone Shaker. This version was made to look like an 8-bit video game car, and they nailed the look. It also features spots for Lego mini figs to ride/hold on to. Released in blue and red variations.
Number 26/250 – HW Warp Speeder
Warp Speeder is a hypercar made for the track. It’s futuristic look, coupled with center mounted driver seat, open cockpit, and high rise tail, make it an ideal candidate for your stay-at-home track day champion. It was released in blue and red, with the blue being one of my favorite fantasy casting liveries of the year.
Number 37/250 – RV THERE YET
RV THERE YET is one of the most inventive fantasy castings to be produced this year. It’s a special take on a car/camper combo and uses a single chassis for the whole rig. It also has a simulated rear car axle and is unique in that the camper shell is metal while the “car” is plastic. To me, this signifies a ground-breaking design that pushes the envelope of what a mainline design can be. VERY well done!
Number 53/250 – Rockin’ Santa Sled
Holiday cars can be hit or miss, but this Christmas themed casting is definitely a hit. A new take on the classic Santa sleigh, the Rockin’ Santa Sled incorporates a low-slung hotrod look, and has a moving part: a Santa figure that “rocks” back and forth as you roll it. You’ll be rockin’ around the Christmas tree all season with this one.
Number 55/250 – Total Disposal
There are some vehicles out there you think can’t be cool, but Hot Wheels always has a way of hot rodding cars that have no business being rodded’…and this is one of those. The Total Disposal is an almost tooned-looking custom trash truck that rides on big steel wheels, a metal chassis, and has a big front mounted intercooler. It. Is. AWESOME. I absolutely love the look of this casting and that it was released in trash and recycling liveries.
Number 77/250 – Speed Driver
While most licensed vehicles don’t have moving parts, fantasy castings are some of the few mainlines you can buy that do have moving parts or special actions. Speed Driver is one of those action cars. It’s from the Experimotors line – meaning it has some sort of unique action to it. Speed Driver’s action is that it has a metal chassis and open-end wrench built into the chassis, as well as a standard hex bit opening for loading a drill driver bit in to. The body of the car may look extra fantasy-like, but that’s because the center of the car is hollow so that you can store the drill bit inside it, as well as two smaller bits on each of the side ports. Pretty rad!
Number 82/250 – Manga Tuner
This casting wowed me as soon as I saw it. It’s a custom tooned version of the iconic Japanese Bōsōzoku cars. Bōsōzoku (暴走族, literally “running-out-of-control (as of a vehicle) tribe”) cars are wild customized cars/vans/motorcycles that have exaggerated features, custom paint jobs, and often feature extended exhaust pipes shaped as stars, diamonds, or another geometric gem. I did a Lamley Daily feature on this car earlier in the year if you’d like to read more.
Number 99/250 – Forward Force
Forward Force is an aerodynamic supercar with a see-through body. Part of the Track Stars line, this metal chassis speeder is made to run with the big dogs. It’s has some great track themed art on the body and both of its debut releases came with bright orange wheels. You could slap a Jaguar or Aston Martin badge on this and it could pass as an upcoming prototype of a next-gen supercar. I’m looking forward to seeing this casting released in some different colors.
Number 102/250 – GEOTERRA
GEOTERRA is a rad off-roader/supercar combination ready to tackle the family room carpet or a dirt pile at the local playground. Its metal chassis holds chunky tires riding on 5-spoke wheels, and sits high enough to clear most obstacles put in its way. The body is shaped like that of the finest supercars, including several aero/body modifications, a clear roof canopy, and what I imagine are individual exhaust ports sticking out of the rear engine cover. It’s a great looking off-roader that has potential for a long career as a mainline.
Number 108/250 – Donut Drifter
As soon as the Donut Drifter hit the pegs, it flew right back off. Hot Wheels collectors, kids, and foodies alike all grabbed a handful of the Donut Drifter. This casting looks like an open-wheeled race car with a glossy donut body perched on top. The brightly colored chassis only enhances the bite-sized ride’s looks, and the sprinkles on top are perfection. I expect to see the Donut Drifter used for many years to come.
Number 124/250 – Clip Rod
Some Hot Wheels are “just” cars, but the Clip Rod is more than that. Another member of the Experimotors line, it performs a duty well outside the Hot Wheels norm. On top of Clip Rod sits an actual clip, shaped like and emblazoned with the flame Hot Wheels logo — and it can be used as an actual clip. From holding your weekly allowance to wrangling your car keys, the Clip Rod is a hot rod with function. The metal chassis and low-slung center of gravity should make it stand out on the track as well.
Number 125/250 – Loco Motorin’
While this one is a new fantasy casting for 2020, it also debuted as a licensed Thomas the Train model, so I didn’t include it in the video. It will be released again in 2021, but without the Thomas graphics on it. It’s also the single mainline model I never came across in the “wild” and proved hugely popular in the Thomas livery, but will its success continue as a non-licensed model? Only time will tell! Either way it’s a great looking train casting that follows in the footsteps of another popular train casting: the Rail Rodder.
Number 132/250 – Duck N’ Roll
Duck N’ Roll is one of those castings kids will remember well into adulthood. Its classic rubber duck body and simple construction made this one an instant fan-favorite right out of the gate. The first release in yellow is ducking perfection, and the green recolor looks great too. This one should have a long life in the mainline lineup. I wouldn’t turn down a flock of duck 5-packs either!
Number 136/250 – Lindster Prototype
The Lindster Prototype is a sleek looking casting. For its initial release, it was produced in both red and green X-Racers bodies with chrome rear end bits. I’m torn on this one — the casting itself is reminiscent of a factory sponsored Le Mans car, or next-gen electric hypercar with speed and mpg in mind…but the chrome bits and x-ray body make this casting appear cheaper than it is. As a casting I like it, these colors…not so much. Hopefully we’ll see a version without the chrome bits as I think a recolor would take the Lindster to the next level.
Number 165/250 – Erikenstein Rod
The Erikstein Rod is one of the best castings produced this year – fantasy or otherwise. Designed by Eric Han, the Erikstein is an original casting that is part truck, part time attack vehicle, part rat rod — but 100% badass. It’s low stance and aero bits shout track day, while the huge front fenders, giant V8, and mismatched headlights scream rat rod. Combine that with a full race suspension set-up out back and a custom tube structure throughout, the Erikstein Rod is a perfect combination of everything that’s hot right now. But this truck doesn’t follow trends; it takes the best of many automotive art forms and combines them into one amazing machine.
Number 177/250 – Veloci-Racer
*Dinosaur noises intensify*
The Veloci-Racer is a new addition to the Street Beast series and follows in a long line of animal themed vehicles. The Sharkruiser, Speed-a-Saurus, Turboa, Scorpedo – all fantastic creature cars. The Veloci-Racer is a Velociraptor on wheels. Its dino shaped body sits crouched and ready to pounce on its prey – or a Jurassic Park ID Jeep. It was released in two colors, both of which fit the casting well. I think this is one of the better animal castings, but sure wouldn’t want to step on it barefoot.
Number 192/250 – Grand Cross
The Grand Cross is Hot Wheels’ take on a modern performance crossover. This casting is done well, it’s just as exciting as some of the others. The initial paint schemes — both in Hot Wheels Racing livery — look great, but the roundness of an SUV-ish casting doesn’t do much to spice up the Grand Cross. A re-freshened front end with more detail would do this one wonders.
Number 206/250 – Alpha Pursuit
The Alpha Pursuit is now part a long line of Hot Wheels fantasy police cars. Crash Patrol, the Custom Police Cruiser Redline, and the mighty Sheriff Patrol are all classic, memorable Hot Wheels police cars, and the Alpha Pursuit is that car for a new generation. Sleek and low, the Alpha Pursuit sports a built-in lightbar, a front push-bar, and a wide-body rearend to fit those extra fat tires in. This is one of just three new fantasy models for 2020 that did not get a recolor (nor did Loco Motorin and Surf’s Up).
Number 216/250 – Surf’s Up
Now on to the final fantasy casting of 2020: Surf’s Up. Surf’s Up is a part of the never-was 2020 Olympic line that features a custom wave chassis to make it look like the rider is surfing. This casting may not be the typical HWs car, but it is done very well. Much like the Skate Grom casting, Surf’s Up sports a rider (although this figure is much more realistic looking and shaped than the Skate Grom guy) standing on top of a surf board “car” riding waves. The casting looks like it’s moving while sitting still and features a figure, a white surf board with Olympic graphics, a blue plastic water base, and a metal chassis — for a total of four layers of diecast goodness. I’d love to see some more of this casting in other colors and with a female rider on top too (cough Malia Manuel cough).
After all those pics your head may be spinning, but I just wanted to highlight a few of what I consider to be extraordinary standouts this year.
My Personal Favorite Fantasy Casting of 2020: Total Disposal
Why: it’s an example of what Hot Wheels does best: turn a regular car into a literal set of hot wheels. Trash trucks have no business looking this cool, and the designer, Ryu Asada, did a killer job turning a stinky, utilitarian beast into a lowered, track ready tarmac terror. I love the colors and logos on both trucks, the overall look of each, and it holds well in your hand — perfect for play and track time. Total Disposal looks good and plays even better — everything a proper Hot Wheels should be.
Best Overall Fantasy Casting of 2020: Erikenstein Rod
Why: It was hard to choose between the Total Disposal and the Erikenstein Rod as my personal favorite, but the Erikenstein Rod needed to be given a shout-out either way. It’s probably the best overall fantasy casting of the year. The designer, Eric Han, combined the creative freedom of a fantasy design with the function and dimensions of a real-world vehicle — it’s a truck you could *imagine* being built, it just hasn’t yet. It looks like a home-built Frankenstein build (get it!?) using parts the owner had laying around, coupled with the intense fabrication only a true metal artist could whip up. It’s seriously good and deserves a premium version. Make it happen Hot Wheels!
Most Groundbreaking Fantasy Casting of 2020: RV THERE YET
Why: RV THERE YET is my pick for the most groundbreaking fantasy casting of the year due to the inventive way that plastic and zamac were used to make the casting. Designer Lindsey Lee took a new approach to casting design when she designed half of the vehicle’s body (and chassis) in plastic, and the back half of the vehicle in zamac. This allows for a Hot Wheels casting like no other – where the single casting appears to be two vehicles: a car and trailer. The special design also gives RV THERE YET a unique weight balance on the track. As far as I know this is the first time something like this has been attempted, and it works — and it works well. I hope we see more releases of the RV THERE YET as well as more new takes on the traditional plastic/zamac design.
Now on to something a bit different: My Top 10 Collection Additions in 2020.
This top 10 list contains ten stand-out vehicles I added to my collection in 2020. Some old, some new, but all pretty rad — and I’m excited to be sharing them with you! So here they are in no particular order:
- Pilen Starsky and Hutch Torino
This is one I didn’t think I would ever own. It was the missing piece to my Starsky and Hutch Torino collection and it’s a fairly rare car. It was made in Spain in the late 70’s and features something no other 1/64th scale Starsky Torino has: opening doors. I was lucky to score one off eBay earlier in the year and it has been a showcase piece ever since.
2. Ertl Snowman’s Rig from Smokey and the Bandit II
This is one that eluded me for a while and I finally ended up pulling the trigger this year. This is the only 1/64th scale Smokey and the Bandit semi with cab and trailer, and is less common than many of the other Ertl products of the late 70’s to early 80’s. It’s a solid rig with decals on both the cab and trailer and features opening swing doors out back. It’s a great looking truck and I’m happy to have it in my collection.
3. Greenlight Dukes of Hazzard 1974 AMC Matador Hazzard County Sheriff
This has been a bucket list car for so many Dukes of Hazzard fans, including myself, and I personally never thought it would be produced. Oddball and a bit ugly, the Hazzard Matador is a highlight of the hobby-exclusive Hazzardous line from Greenlight. This car looks great and will get a full Lamley Daily feature here soon – so BOLO!
4. M2 Machines 1985 Camaro IROC – Twin Turbo LSX car
M2 debuted their third generation Camaro casting this year to great fanfare, and the car looks awesome. This particular version was released in the Wal-Mart exclusive three pack along with two other custom IROCs. I have an unboxing video posted already, and a daily feature on the way, but quality control issues almost kept this one off the list…but it just looks too badass to not include. Stay tuned for the full write-up and feature on the triple IROC set soon.
5. Hot Wheels Bigfoot Volume 1 VHS/ Truck combo + Hot Wheels 45th Anniversary Bigfoot
As a life-long Bigfoot fan, I was working endlessly to complete the Hot Wheels Bigfoot Champions line for what seemed like forever — but was finally able to find the VHS set I was missing to complete the line. I had the Vol. 2 Snake Bite version of the VHS set, but the Bigfoot version always managed to sneak away from me. Bonus Bigfoot in the form of the Hot Wheels 45th Anniversary truck. This is a new version of Bigfoot for 2020 and features killer 45th anniversary graphics and multi-colored wheels. One of my favorite monster truck releases to date and a daily on this one is in the works as well.
6. AutoWorld Burnt Christine 1958 Plymouth Fury
I did a whole write-up on this model because I thought its paint job alone was worth the feature. You can read more about it in the feature article, but this is one version of Christine fans should not pass up!
7. Greenlight 1973/1975 Ford F-100 – Hazzardous and CHP versions
I can’t stress this enough: I literally cannot buy enough Greenlights. They make so many castings I HAVE to have that it’s almost overwhelming to think about them all. One of those castings is the 1973/1975 Ford F-100.
First, a proper Uncle Jesse’s pick-up is something I’ve wanted for years — and now a company that doesn’t even have a license for Dukes cars makes the best version of the truck in diecast history….because that’s how 2020 goes, ha. Ertl and Johnny Lightning couldn’t even pull it off when they had the proper the license, so this truck is ultra special to us Dukes fans. It’s dirty appearance and base trim make it a spot on match for the Duke family truck too.
It also looks spectacular in the classic black and white CHP paint scheme as well. I did a write-up on it earlier this year and still think it’s one of the best looking police trucks of all time.
8. Hot Wheels 2018 COPO Camaro (Boulevard Line)
If I could design the perfect modern Camaro, this would be it. This thing is straight FIRE.
The stance is perfect, the orange paint with Hot Wheels 50th anniversary graphics is perfect, the Hoosiers out back are perfect — I can’t find a flaw on this thing. I got the chance to shoot the real COPO at SEMA in 2017 (bonus photos of the real car and the car with the Force family included), and Hot Wheels absolutely nailed the look. One of my favorite Camaro releases to date.
9. Hot Wheels Honky Tonk Hot Rod
This is the most badass Hot Wheels casting no one is talking about. Released only twice via the RLC, the Honky Tonk Hot Rod is the outlaw country cousin of the Bone Shaker. It features a bright red Spectraflame paint job, huge white-wall tires on classic Redline-style wheels, a cowboy behind the driver’s seat with his arm out the window shifting gears, four individual tractor-style metal bucket seats, a straight-piped 4-cylinder engine, and a steer skull mounted to the front.
I cannot stress how much I like this casting — and it’s one of the best investments I made in 2020….with a total build total of under 9,000 cars between its two releases, this one is definitely running towards being a future classic.
10. Matchbox 1962 Mercedes-Benz 220 SE Sedan – Ewy Rosqvist Special Edition
“They said I could never finish, so I finished first.” – Ewy Rosqvist
I picked this car for two reasons: one for being an absolutely stunning mainline vehicle, and the second being the fact it carries a significant historical weight.
The car is a replica of Ewy Rosqvist’s winning 1962 Argentinian Touring Car Grand Prix race car. Ewy, along side co-driver Ursula Wirth, was the first female to win a Grand Prix race. That was — and still is — a pretty big deal. While predominantly men’s sports have shied away from welcoming women, Ewy drove the factory sponsored 220 into the history books by not only winning the race, but being the first female to enter, won all six stages of the race, and was close to setting a new speed record for the race.
To say this is just another race car is a huge understatement. This Mercedes represents an important milestone in motorsports history and Matchbox did an amazing job of replicating all the edges of the large 220. The car’s signature spotlight was cast into the grille, and the car wears its simple yet effective gray and black race livery like a true champion.
I would love to see a “race-used” version of this car with rubber wheels on it too!
Well, that’s it folks! it was a long article but had a TON of great info in it…and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed collecting all these models over the past year. I hope you have a great 2021 and wish you much luck in your diecast hunting and collecting in the coming months. Stay well and we’ll see you in ’21 🏁