“Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso
Imagination: the core of every great play session. Whether you’re blasting Hot Wheels down a make-believe Main Street made of dirt and pebbles, or having Batman fight the Joker on your own Gotham City rooftops comprised of carpeted basement steps, imagination is what powers play — and it’s also what’s behind some of Hot Wheels most iconic original castings.
Love them or hate them, Hot Wheels original castings (often referred to as fantasy castings) are an integral part of the brand. From cars shaped like cupcakes to pouncing dinosaurs on wheels, Hot Wheels originals span the proverbial kaleidoscopic of design concepts. These designs aren’t held back by the various automotive licensing restraints or traditional vehicle styling guides either – which is also another reason why they are so unique. Hot Wheels designers can let their imaginations run wild as they shape a one-of-a-kind, never before seen vehicle. It’s imagination that brings these wonderfully fantastic castings to life!
Most collectors I know scoff at the sight of pegs filled with fantasy castings, but it’s past time to change that. 2022 saw some of the freshest new original designs released into the mainline — plenty of which were well worth adding to your collection. Were there more food-based castings released? Sure – but there was also a groundbreaking key-chain car, a few building block cars, and some other designs released that teetered on being true works of automotive art.
In all, Hot Wheels released 17 new original castings in 2022: 16 to the mainline and a single car launched straight to premium. Let’s take a look at each casting and break-down some of their design elements…and hopefully in the end you’ll want to add more fantasy castings to your collection.
Note: I also did a giant unboxing video that’s a companion to this article, so if you prefer video over reading, or just want a closer look at a certain casting, you can see more here:
- Bricking Speed
Bricking Speed is a building brick version of an open-wheeled style race car. It features removable rear spoiler and engine/driver “bricks” that can be attached to the car using the various studs around the body. Hot Wheels started releasing original castings that are Mega Block/Mega Construx (and Lego, but Mattel doesn’t own Lego so they aren’t advertised as such) brick compatible a few years ago, and the designs have been popular with brickheads and motorheads alike.
The car was released in two colors with contrasting-colored bricks on each. The body is plastic and the chassis are metal, making them feel like that could do great on some orange track too.
For me, the highlight of this release is the excellent vintage-looking rear wing art. Ah, so good!
2. Bricking Trails
Much like Bricking Speed, Bricking Trails is a brick-based car — but rather than track duty, Trails is all about that off-road life. Sporting big knobby tires and open passenger compartment, this 4×4 is ready to tackle the living room rug or the sandbox outside.
The truck has a plastic body, metal chassis, and two removable brick parts: the window/roof and spare tire. Released in both red and aqua colorways, the white bead-lock style wheels on the aqua truck really complete the Trails look for me!
3. Count Muscula
Count Muscula is one part muscle car, one part GT3-style race car, and all parts badass. Its low stance and sleek, widened body make the car look aggressive from almost every angle. It’s a metal body, plastic chassis design that features a giant plastic wing outback and adjustable splitter up front. The chrome-accented side skirts really help bring the angular shape of the profile together too. This casting had a gloss red version and a killer matte green release — both adorned with near full-length body flames.
I’m not a huge fan of flames and the trapezoid 5-spoke wheels aren’t my favorite either, but I am really looking forward to future releases of this casting as its has a great shape to it. Some aero disc or retro slotted mags coupled with a Team Hot Wheels paint job would look amazing on this car!
4. Coupe Clip
Coupe Clip is truly a Hot Wheels anomaly. It has no wheels or tires, no windows, no interior, and is a full metal casting — but it was by far one of the most popular fantasy castings in years.
Even before Coupe Clip first starting hitting pegs it was hoarded — largely because of its utility: it’s a working keychain casting. Much like Carbonator (working bottle opener casting), Clip Rod or Fast Cash (both working money clip cars), or Tooligan (working mini tool/wrench), collectors of all sorts rushed to find the Coupe Clip in order to use it as a keychain. It was also the sole metal over metal casting in the entire mainline this past year. Simple, yet very well designed, Coupe Clip has a vintage race car shape that is appealing to almost any collector, no matter what they typically collect.
As a fantasy casting collector, it was really great to see so many non-fantasy casting collectors going after Coupe Clip — and shout-out to the Hot Wheels design team for releasing such a “thinking-outside-of-the-box” style casting!
5. Drone Duty
Drone Duty is one of the coolest original castings of the year. It’s a rescue rig that was designed to ignite the imagination – it was made for play. Drone Duty is a unique two-piece casting that is half truck, half rescue drone. The top half of the vehicle can separate from the chassis and reveals a metal inner structure, while the chassis is plastic. I don’t recall seeing a metal inner structure on a casting quite like this before, but if I’m missing any I’m sure the comments will let me know.
The drone portion of Drone Duty is a fairly detailed plastic part that features molded rotors in each corner, a large air intake in the center, and “passenger” compartments on each side. It’s tough to tell if the passengers are actually passengers or if they are pilots of the drone, but I’m leaning towards passengers as most traditional “drones” are unmanned i.e. no operator on board. Along with collecting diecast, I also like flying drones and have my FAA Part 107 license, so this is an extra rad casting in my book.
The red and yellow rescue scheme looks great and it’ll be interesting to see what other kind of livery variations we get of this casting in the future. It’s also fun to note that Drone Duty is one of about six Hot Wheels castings that uses Duty as part of its name as Hot Wheels has designated that naming convention for its line of special utilitarian vehicles (Rescue Duty, Repo Duty, etc.).
6. Glory Chaser
I’m going to start out by saying the Glory Chaser is FANTASTIC. It’s one of those castings that transcends traditional fantasy casting naysayers and goes straight into their shopping carts. It’s that good.
The Glory Chaser is Hot Wheels take on a 60s era Le Mans style spyder. From the sweeping body lines to the low-cut windshield, the Glory Chaser oozes coolness. It has elements of Ferrari 250, 330 P4, Jaguar D-Type, Maserati 300s, but still maintains its own distinct look.
Eight chrome injection stacks tower above the hood cutout, but don’t throw off the aerodynamic look. The chrome on the car is interesting as it extends from the front splitter to the dash and roll bars, then all the way back into the rear tail panel/exhaust (also peep that fuel cap cutout)…but the seats aren’t chrome. The seats themselves are molded into the same piece as the lightly-tinted windscreen, which sits on top of the chrome insert — giving them an almost sheer leather type look. Odd, but it works pretty well as the interior not being totally chrome adds some more realness to the car. It’s the little changes like that that end up making a big difference in how real the cars look and I appreciate Hot Wheels taking the time to design that extra element.
The car debuted in a glossy pastel green with yellow accents and was followed-up by a bright red version. The big door gumball with sans serif numbers looks like the style used during the era the car is representing, and the big SF on the front fenders is the car designer’s (Sonny Fisher) initials.
The Glory Chaser can turn any play surface into a 1960s race course, or it can stun in a display case — all more the reason to pick up multiples of this amazing casting.
7. Hot Wired
Hot Wired may look like a modern take on the classic nitro-powered dragster, but it’s actually Hot Wheels first all-electric dragster design.
According to the back of the card, Hot Wired (which is an incredibly clever name for this car) is powered by “massive E motors” rather than the monstrous internal combustion unit the NHRA cars of today have — and you can see those E motors mounted under the wing between the rear axles.
Hot Wired doesn’t need any flashy chrome or moving parts – its sleek design and super skinny wheels up front means this ev wasn’t built to hold still: it was built for the track. Those matte black wheels look great with the rest of the livery too. In my opinion, the green and orange they chose for this car’s initial release was going to be hard to beat – but it didn’t have any competition for 2022 as it did not receive a recolor. But fear not! Hot Wired is among the first cars of the 2023 mainline to be released, so you’ll soon have two e-dragsters to race down that orange track with.
8. Layin’ Lowrider
2022 was a big year for lowriders. Greenlight, AutoWorld, even Maisto got in the game by releasing new lines of lowriders. So it makes sense that we saw Hot Wheels release their own version of a lowrider.
Layin’ Lowrider takes all the classic lowrider traits and combines them into a single casting. Candy metallic paint, small wheels on a big car, elegantly shaved and smoothed bumpers and lights, what appears to be a chopped roofline, a hydraulically-raised front end, and of course, miles of crisp pin-striping. The pin-striping on this car is very well done and covers basically every panel but the roof.
The huge blown motor sticking out of the hood is a bit of a different look from the traditionally smooth lines of a lowrider, but it works for the casting. The cool part about the motor is that its a moving part and rocks back and forth via tabs molded into the front tires (you can see one of them on the blue version’s passenger’s side front tire in the third photo).
Overall, Layin’ Lowrider is a great take on the classic lowrider design and will hopefully make the mainline line-up for years to come.
9. Lightnin’ Bug
The Lightnin’ Bug is a new take on the classic dune buggy design, but with a twist. This mini sand slayer has a see-through body and it glows in the dark!
The casting utilizes a clear front end and roof portion – which helps gives the clear “bug eye” style headlights a cool magnified look, almost like an insect eye looks under a microscope. The car also uses tampos to separate the roof from the window and hood, which is a unique way of using a single part for the window/hood/roof.
The back half and interior of the car is a single piece and is made of the glow-in-the-dark plastic. It’s actually pretty detailed and includes molded door bars, interior bits, and rear mounted shocks or intakes, it’s a bit hard to tell which, but the detail on them is good either way.
I know this casting will probably get passed over by most collectors just because of the x-ray body and bright colors, but it’s done well and deserves a second look.
*Taking a good photo of it glowing was a bit tough, but check out the video link below to see it in all of its glowing-glory.
Lolux is one of my favorite 2022 original castings. A play on the Toyota Hilux pickup truck name, Lolux is a lowered aero monster with a supercharged engine mounted in the bed..er, at least it’s where the bed would usually be. Lolux has been wildly-customized with a back-half tube chassis, dual chrome exhaust stacks, a giant chassis mounted rear wing, and a spare tire — no bed here! A giant downforce and cooling scoop is mounted to the roof and swoops down the entire length of the rear of the truck.
The metal cab is also highly customized with cut-out door frames, a high-mounted LED light bar on the window, and no front fenders. The “stock” headlights have been replaced by two grille-width light bars and a huge chrome bumper with downforce ducts cut into it, rounds out the front end.
One of the reasons I like this casting so much is because it can be so many things – drift, drag, time attack, hill climber — this is one truck that begs you to use your imagination and does a damn good job of convincing you to pick it up.
11. Mach It Go
Sleek, low, and ready for the track – what else could you ask for? Mach it Go was made to go fast. This Hot Wheels original has a plastic “x-ray” body that allows you to see almost every inch of this jet-powered race car.
It features a single seat cockpit tucked behind a low-rise windscreen, aero disc wheels up-front, and a flat drag-style spoiler out back. The car was released in both blue and clear, but I prefer the clear version because it allows you to see more of the great interior detail. The metal chassis and low center of gravity should mean Mach It Go will do great on the downhill orange track too.
This is another casting that will be cool to see in different liveries over the coming years.
12. Max Steel
If there is one design area that Hot Wheels excels at, it’s making killer custom hot rods. Max Steel continues that 54-year long legacy with a fresh take on an all-steel, ’32 Ford inspired build.
This classically-styled single-seat speedster has all the elements of a good hot rod design. It has no fenders, no front window or frame to stop that smooth speedster airflow, big chrome exhaust pipes, and a rear-mounted fuel tank. Although it may appear to be “just” another ’32 Ford, this one is powered by an air-cooled flat six. Now I’m admittedly not a big air-cooled guru, but a quick Google would lead you to assume Max Steel is powered by a Porsche motor as there isn’t an overabundance of other air-cooled flat sixes on the market. I mean a Porsche-powered ’32 Ford? Hell yeah.
It’s also noteworthy that Max Steel is a member of the Hot Wheels yearly customs that have been adorned in that matte blue color with the age of Hot Wheels in gold on the side. This is now the fourth year in a row we’ve gotten a casting in this style, with the others being Mod Rod (2019), Erikenstein Rod (2020), and Muscle and Blown (2021).
13. Roadster Bite
I know animal-themed castings aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but animal inspired castings can be a different story — Roadster Bite is one of those castings.
Inspired by a “viper snake”, this original casting has an edgy design that uses its front fenders to replicate a snake’s venomous fangs. The rest of the body is plastic and could be the snakes head I guess? It’s a bit hard to tell. In my eyes, it’s a bit of a loose interpretation of a viper themed car, but it’s still a cool design nonetheless.
It was released in gray and green, with both versions riding on the same orange wheels and tires. While the green and yellow version is probably more snake-like, I think I prefer the gray over aqua version. The car has a great profile with the quad exhaust pipes slithering their way out through the side of the body too.
14. Sweet Driver
CUPCAKE TIME! I know, I know, another food based casting — but it don’t want to hear complaining because these cars are pretty rad. Shaped like a cupcake, Sweet Driver has all the right accoutrements of a delicious cupcake: a fluffy top covered in icing, sprinkles, and a cherry on top? Well it’s not a cherry, or a piece of candy, but the driver’s head sticking out of the center – at least that’s what it looks like to me.
The ridges on the side perfectly replicate the classic cupcake wrapper and to literally top off the design, the sprinkles up top are a mixture of regular sprinkles tampos, the Hot Wheels flame logo, and the RYU logo as this is one of the Ryu Asada designed “Ryu’s Rides” cars for this year. The Ryu logo is such an awesome little addition and is another way the design team is paying tribute to their friend Ryu.
The car has a metal base that features the flame logo outline on the side, with plastic front and rear ends shaped almost like a ’32 Ford.
Overall this is a very well done casting and seems to already be a favorite with kids and foodies alike.
15. Turbine Sublime
A turbine-powered race car? What’s not to like about that?!
Turbine Sublime is a futuristic “cyber style speedster” that packs a lot of detail under an aerodynamic x-ray body. While the car’s design is rather realistic, I think some collectors passed on picking it up due to the brightly colored tires and glow elements — but for 2023, the car has already been released with a solid-color body and aero disc wheels — and it looks excellent.
Detail wise the car features a Gran Turismo Vision-ish looking body with an open space below the driver’s cockpit. Futuristic, yet something you could see a prototype of running at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The inner glow element is a nice touch — it makes the car look almost TRON-like when “lit” — and the adjustable front splitter is always welcomed. This is also the second time we’ve seen the design team use tampos to separate body lines from window elements this year, so this might be something that’s utilized more heavily in the future.
There were so many good original castings this year – hot rods, race cars, trucks – that it was hard to pick a favorite…but this next car is not only brilliantly designed, it entices you to pick it up and actually play with it — and it is so much fun to play with.
Now without further jibber-jabber because I’m sure you’re already tired of reading, my personal pick for the best original mainline casting of 2022 is:
The Dimachinni Veloce
The Veloce was named after its designer Dmitriy Shakhmatov, or Dima for short, and was introduced with this casting description on the back of the card:
Our own take on the ’70s Italian grand tourer, this four-seater coupe would have been seen slaying the turns of the Rallye Sanremo. It’s ready to shred asphalt or gravel.
The Veloce is the perfect blend of realism and imagination — it’s a design so good that you might think it’s a real car — but you can also see some of the fantasy elements if you crack one open.
The car looks muscular yet it still has elements of wedge-era Italian exotic mixed in. Those bold, widened rear fenders have aggressively-angled wheel arches, as does the front. From the side, the Dimachinni looks like a mix of Pantera, Lamborghini Jarama and Urraco, but is still unique enough to be a design of its own. Chrome-lipped steelies are fitted to the car and are stationed just right in the wheel wells. The stance isn’t too low or too high, it’s just right for rally car work.
Racing tampos are stamped on the sides and hood, but placed tastefully as to not overwhelm you with them. Sometimes I feel that when it comes to tampos the “less is more” rule works well, but they really got it right on the Dimachinni. I also think the graphics chosen look “period correct” for the decade the car is supposed to be representing, so chalk up another W for the design team.
The front end view is one of my favorite angles of the car. The slopping nose houses a bulging hood, signifying that there is probably some extra equipment hidden below it. It also raises the question of whether the Veloce is front engine or mid engine. Most of the similarly shaped Italian cars from the ’70s are mid engine, but being a four-seater and having a viewable spare tire mounted flat behind the back seats, there’s not a lot of room for a mid-mounted motor. Flipping the car over reveals a mid-engine style transaxle detail molded into the base, so that makes me lean towards it being mid-engine. One of the cool things about Hot Wheels and your imagination is that one day the car could be mid-engine and the next front engine — it’s your world, we’re just playing in it.
Getting back to the front end, you can see those four giant rally-style driving lights dominating the view. The car also has a lower splitter for tarmac duty and a set of pop-up headlights that really complete the look of the front end, in my opinion at least.
The rear of the car houses several rows of window louvers that are made of the same smoked-plastic as the windshield. It’s a bit difficult to see the dash detail, but you can see that spare tire I referred to earlier through the louvers. Another great feature on the car is the clear rear tail panel. The squared off panel makes the rear end look aggressive, especially as that long rear spoiler is towering over it. The big exhaust outlets’ setup would also lead me towards it being mid-engine, but they fit the car’s look regardless.
Remember earlier when I said the Veloce entices you to play with it? That’s where those huge mud flaps come into play. I know this may sound weird, but if you play with or roll your cars on any type of fabric-covered surface, like a couch cushion or one of the signature Lamley Group x Dream Customs collab playmats, the mudflaps gently glide across the surface and collect dust — meaning the longer you roll it, the more dust it collects and the more “rally car” it looks. It’s simple, but just another small feature that you can run wild with — especially with an active imagination. Another reason why the Dimachinni Veloce is such a great “play” casting!
Well, we’ve made it to the end. You’ve seen the pics, read about the details, and possibly watched the video — are you a fantasy casting fan yet? Let me know what you thought of the 2022 Hot Wheels originals in the comments below and what your favorite casting of the bunch is as well 🏁
**You may be wondering what happened to the only premium original of 2022 – the Aero Sculpt. I definitely didn’t forget about it — in fact, I think it’s such a beautiful design that I’d like to dedicate an entire post to it, so be on the lookout for that feature soon. **