Model: Hot Wheels Blazer 4×4
Line: Hot Wheels “Lost Cars of China”
eBay link: Hot Wheels Blazer 4×4, Lost Cars of China
Why I’m featuring it: this casting is a childhood favorite, and this was a really nice send-off for the original design (as well as the wheels).
Hot Wheels as a brand started to grow immensely in the 1990s, bigger than it had ever been. While main production was in Hong Kong through the 1970s and moved to Malaysia for the early-mid 1980s through the 1990s, I assume Mattel had to find other means to help produce everything. In the early 1990s, Hot Wheels started to source some of its production to China. Quite a few tools were sent off to China, including a number of the Corgi re-casts they had obtained. Many castings that went to China found their last uses there, or at least weren’t done for a LONG time after. Peugeot 405, Peugeot 205 Rallye, Buick Stocker, Nissan 300ZX (both the 1980s version and early 1990s “Custom Z” version), Camaro Wind (*cough* FIREBIRD *cough*); they all went to China to never be seen again. Many others yet took years to get a proper retool, including the Thunderbird Stocker (Thunderburner/Velocitor), Pontiac Fiero, BMW M1, VW Golf, Classic Packard and Thunder Roller.
And then you have the Hot Bird and Blazer 4×4. Both had, at the time, not seen the light of day for a few years. But in the early 2000s, I believe with the start of the HWC cars, some of the old China tools were “re-discovered”, and the idea for the Lost Cars of China was born. Released in 2004, the Lost Cars of China line was started, I believe released exclusively online, with the Hot Bird and Blazer 4×4. The Hot Bird was done in a candy red, while the Blazer was done in a metallic purple and the nostalgic “CTS” wheels, with the deco a resurrection of the original release in black. The Blazer was complete with its opening doors still in tact, and a nostalgic deco to boot.
Unfortunately for the line, it either didn’t take off like the HW team had hoped, or the other tools were just that far gone and unusable, and plans for further releases were dropped. I wish I was involved on the HWC boards at the time, or even still had the old board so I could search up old discussions, but sadly all that material has been lost to cyberspace.
While the Hot Bird didn’t take long to transition to normal use again, showing up in the mainline a couple years later as well as being used for the Classics line, the Blazer was left to rot (along with the wheels used here, as this was the last time that design was used). It returned in 2012 for Hot Ones in a complete retool, but it just wasn’t the same without the opening doors. It’s even so much as found new life in the basic lines as well, with a vastly different tool. But the original Blazer 4×4 tooling will always have a place in my heart, with the purple beacon being its last hurrah.