T-Hunts, $TH, TH, Supers, Soops, Hunts: no matter what lingo you use, Hot Wheels’ Treasure Hunts are undoubtedly some of the most desirable 1/64th scale diecast vehicles on the planet. Ever since Hot Wheels released those very first Treasure Hunts back in 1995, the collecting world has never been the same. Those 12 cars kicked-off over two decades of special edition vehicles — a tradition that commands collector’s attention to this very day.
While the TH series has gone through several changes over the years, including the addition of the amazing Super Treasure Hunt line, one thing has remained the same: the Hunts have always been exclusive to the standard mainline*.
Until now……..but wait!
UPDATE: Shortly after this article was published, some eagle-eyed Lamley readers brought some fairly obscure, non-mainline Treasure Hunt variants of the past to my attention…meaning the Barbie Vette isn’t the first time TH markings have been used on a non-mainline. However, as far as my research goes, this is the first and only modern (Super Treasure Hunt era) non-mainline car to feature both a logo on the car and card. Certain parts of the article have been adjusted to compensate for this new information, and a post about the older, non-mainline Treasure Hunts is coming soon, so be on the lookout!
Introducing the first Treasure Hunt Monster Truck: the Barbie Monster Vette.
It’s pink. It’s Barbie branded. It’s a genuine Treasure Hunt — and it’s hella rad.
Yup, the first non-mainline Treasure Hunt in the last 15+ years isn’t a Premium Car Culture release, not a Boulevard car, not a Team Transporter, not an ID car, not even a Fast & Furious release: it’s a monster truck…and it’s kind of a big deal. Hot Wheels doesn’t just slap their beloved TH designation on just any car, which makes this Vette even more out-of-the-ordinary. But why choose a monster truck? I think I may have the answer – but first let’s check out the Vette in a little more detail before I give up my full hunt-pothesis.
This may be the first Treasure Hunt monster truck, but it’s not the first Hot Wheels Barbie Vette we’ve seen. Back in 2018, a Barbie branded C7 Corvette was released as part of the mainline — and again in 2019 with a different paint job and a special card to commemorate Barbie’s 60th anniversary. The TH Barbie Vette appears to be modeled after the Power Wheels Barbie Corvette from 1988 and the Barbie Ultra ‘Vette, although that one came in a chrome pink color.
Casting wise, the Barbie Monster ‘Vette is a new addition to the Hot Wheels line-up –and the fourth overall version of an 80’s Corvette Hot Wheels has released. The first was designed by Larry Wood and released in 1983. It had a “glass” roof made from plastic and an opening hood. The casting remained in the mainline until about 1990, when it was then retooled with a fixed hood and a slightly different rear end. Around 1996, Hot Wheels release the Corvette Coupe — a 1984 based Corvette which was originally a Corgi casting and also had an opening hood (and side mirrors too). This new monster C4 Corvette is unique as it is the only Hot Wheels version of an 80’s Vette to have a metal roof. The casting really captures the shape of an ’84 Corvette well and the Barbie deco looks fabulous on those flamingo-hued retro curves. And those huge, chrome pink beadlocks surrounded by a tower of tread means that Barbie can make all those mall-crawling Jeep Wranglers her parking lot peasants.
Super Treasure Hunts, the most coveted of mainline cars, also usually have a standard, non-Treasure Hunt version of the car in order to throw you off the trail — and so does the Barbie Vette. A “standard” ’84 Corvette is also a part of the 2021 Monster Trucks line-up, and when you look at the two side-by-side, you can see how the Barbie Monster Vette is different from a card design standpoint as well.
The Barbie card has special art on the front featuring Barbie driving her Monster Vette and includes the TH symbol hidden behind the Barbie text on the bubble display insert. The back of both cards also signal something special is going on as the Barbie Vette isn’t listed on the checklist of either card.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the car and how it’s special, let’s get into my theory on why this particular truck may been chosen to be a part of Hot Wheels’ famed Treasure Hunt line – and for that we’ll go back to the beginning of 2019.
On January 1, 2019, Spin Master officially took over the Monster Jam licensing. Hot Wheels had the license for nearly two decades, making Monster Jam trucks from 2000 until 2018…so the loss of the license left a big hole in their retail line-up. Hot Wheels had 1/87, 1/64, 1/43, and 1/24 scale trucks, some larger scale trucks, as well as playsets, RC trucks, storage cases, and more. It was not only a huge loss for Hot Wheels, but for monster truck fans as well.
Spin Master trucks hit stores with a fury and quickly became a favorite with collectors. They had a different feel than the Hot Wheels trucks and a more realistic look than the Monster Jam trucks of the past. To sum it up, they were a hit. I have dozens of Hot Wheels Monster Jam trucks in various scales, but I’ll give credit to Spin Master for shaking up the market with their fresh castings, detailed tampos, and authentic looking chassis. They make nice trucks — and they also had a secret weapon: chase trucks.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Spin Master family of toys, they release chases (limited release, short-packed, and special edition toys) in nearly all of their collectable lines. From Batman figures to Tech Deck skateboards, there are chases and limited editions abound. The first Spin Master Monster Jam chase was released in the 3B case that hit stores around April of 2019, and the chases were GOBBLED up…and they continue to get gobbled up to this day.
Hot Wheels wasn’t going to let Spin Master have all the fun, so they spent 2018 readying a monster truck line of their own. While Spin Master launched the Monster Jam line on January 1, 2019, Hot Wheels released their own Monster Truck line the same day. It was a hit in its own right, and included the KING of monster truck licenses: Bigfoot (more on that in a future post).
They had new castings, new wheels and tires, and a new Monster Truck Live show touring the country too. But one thing that was missing from Hot Wheels Monster Truck line was the “chase” factor. They knew Spin Master had the jump on the monster truck chase game, but Hot Wheels had the ace of chases up their sleeve: Treasure Hunts. But the first Treasure Hunt in the Monster Truck line couldn’t just be some random casting – nope, it had to be big.
To quote Doc Brown, if my calculations are correct, this is how we ended up with the triple-threat of Monster Trucks: A licensed car body, a Mattel family branding cross-over, and the Treasure Hunt designation.
Boom: the Barbie Monster Vette was born.
But what does this mean going forward? How is this Vette game-changing?
For starters, it means we may see more Treasure Hunts hitting the Monster Truck line — which would obviously be pretty dope. It also means Hot Wheels is taking competition from brands like Spin Master more serious than ever, which could lead to more changes in their other lines. Competition is what spices up the market, and we’re definitely seeing the effects of that now. Could this be an early signal that Treasure Hunts may be appearing more often outside the mainline? Could you imagine what a Treasure Hunt Gasser Team Transport set or a randomly inserted Treasure Hunt RLC release would do?!?! Is the Hot Wheels Team even capable of releasing such diecast chaos into the world of collecting? Man, I sure hope so. That would be the biggest shake-up to Hot Wheels collecting since the introduction of the Super Treasure Hunt line…but the question remains: are collectors ready to see more Treasure Hunts?
Either way we have to agree the Barbie Monster Vette is a pretty smart way to launch a new TH line. It gets monster truck collectors excited about the new Monster Truck line and attracts people who usually wouldn’t add a monster truck to their collection. As a monster truck collector myself, I was absolutely stoked to see a monster truck be thrust into the spotlight with the TH designation.
Will we see more different Treasure Hunts? Only time will tell. Now to see what the rest of the 2021 line up brings us 😎🏁
WATCH: Unboxing and turn-table review of the Vette:
*While this is the first time we’ve seen a true limited release Treasure Hunt outside the mainline, there were several Treasure Hunt branded Pavement Pounder truck and car sets released in 2001 that had “TH” or “Treasure Hunt” written on the side. I tried to research to see if those sets were actually true THs in that they were a limited release (rather than just having a Treasure Hunt livery) but no luck with that info yet. Thanks to Lamley Facebook user Joshua Kemmerly for pointing the Pavement Pounders out!
We have also seen the circle TH flame logo used on several cars and trucks outside the mainline, but as far as I know those cars never received official Treasure Hunt status, so they weren’t considered for this article.