Collection Update – Hot Wheels Subaru WRX STI

Collectors often have a soft spot for models of cars they’ve owned in real life. So it is with the 2011 Subaru Impreza, a World Rally Blue example of which we’ve owned since 2018. No, its WRC kudos doesn’t stretch much further than the colour (although we do run a nice set of gold STI rims on it in summer). But it’s a fun car to own all the same, especially as I was fortunate to visit Prodrive to write about the WRC2008 back in the day.

The Hot Wheels Subaru WRX STI is as close as it gets in pocket-money form to the car we own. I have the Tomica one as well, first issued in 2008, but those are harder to come by. I didn’t plan to collect every version of the Hot Wheels but once I had picked up a small loose collection from a guy in Edmonton who had the early wheel variations, it didn’t seem much of a stretch to complete the set.

Except that every time I got close, Hot Wheels kept putting out another one. The planners in El Segundo know that suckers like me like their Subies, so the WRX STI has now appeared in 21 versions across three different casting variations. I finally caught up a couple of months ago when I tracked down the Fast Off-Road premium issue through The Toy Peddler.

(find Hot Wheels Subaru WRX STI on eBay)

I’d love to delve into the design of the WRX STI casting at this point, but I’ve been unable to track down the original designer. It’s listed on Fandom as Leeway Chang’s baby. He assures me it wasn’t his creation, although as a Subie fan and a rally fan he’s enjoyed doing decos for it over the years! Looks like the design story will have to wait for another day.

Of course, there are more releases coming this year, including a white-tired winter rally one, but for the purposes of this article we’re good to go. Let’s get started!

1) 2012 New Models – blue

The OG of the nearly two-dozen editions that we’ve seen to date. The STI made its debut as #33 in the 2012 mainline. The blue hints at the car’s rally pedigree and there’s an appropriate #12 on the door. I don’t mind the deco or the white 10SPs, but better liveries would come later.

2) 2012 New Models – red

The recolour of the first release was in metalflake red.

3) 2012 New Models – red (wheel variation)

Things get more interesting with the appearance of the first wheel variation on the WRX STI. Personally, I think the redline 5SPs look way better on the car than the standard white rims.

4) 2013 mainline – white

Our Impreza was back in the mainline the following year in the Night Burnerz series. As on the subsequent blue release, the deco is notable for being asymmetric.

5) 2013 mainline – blue

Recolour in blue – probably the closest the Hot Wheels has come to the real car’s World Rally Blue. It was only when taking photos for this feature that I noticed the tampo error on my car!

6) 2013 mainline – blue (wheel variation)

A second wheel variation in two years, but I’m not sure the gold MC5s add anything over the yellow 10SPs.

(find Hot Wheels Subaru WRX STI on eBay)

7) 2014 basics – grey

Time for a Treasure Hunt! We’ve yet to see the Subaru as a Super TH but this regular TH came out in 2014. I like the look of this one – wacky colours, TRAP5s and all.

8) 2015 Fast & Furious – grey

It wouldn’t be Hot Wheels if they couldn’t squeeze some F&F mileage out of a casting! Bur before we go any further, I am not a Fast & Furious expert. Any info cited here is researched; if it’s wrong, please tell me in the comments below.

In 2015 we saw the first of three movie-tie-in WRX STI releases so far. I believe a VeilSide bodykit-equipped, silver-grey and black car was driven by Brian O’Conner and Dominic Toretto in the original The Fast and the Furious (2011). The model was released in a non-premium Fast & Furious assortment that hit my local Walmart by the pre-Christmas binload, so I had no trouble tracking this one down!

(find Fast & Furious Subaru WRX STI on eBay)

9) 2016 mainline – red

Another year, another mainline. Possibly the least appealing of all!

10) 2016 mainline – black

The recolour is nicer though, with matt-black paint and pink-and-blue stripes. Realistic? Maybe not…

11) 2017 Fast & Furious – blue

The second F&F release depicts the 2012 WRX STI that parachutes out of a plane in Furious 7 (2015).

I’ve seen the real car in the Volo Auto Museum in Illinois (well worth a visit!). Apparently, the museum purchased this STI directly from Universal Studios, where it had been restored for display after filming. The car is the only survivor of six that were provided by Subaru for use in Furious 7.

(find Fast & Furious Subaru WRX STI on eBay)

12) 2019 Backroad Rally – black

From a Walmart exclusive series, this ‘Rally El Segundo’ release is pretty cool.

13) 2019 Furious Off-Road (premium) – blue

Seven years into its life, the Subaru finally got the premium treatment with the second release of the blue Furious 7 car. It came as part of the Furious Off-Road set – presumably parachuting counts as off-road!

You can see that the darker shade of blue here is much closer to the real car’s than the previous, non-premium release, and the absence of a huge trademark blurb on the side is welcome. Riding on Real Rider 10SPs, this is a great release.

The base lettering is different on this matt-black metal version from the original plastic, although the mainline’s 2011 copyright date remains.

14) 2021 mainline – yellow

The colours may be spurious but now we come to what I think are the best mainline graphics of any of these STI models. In 2021, Hot Wheels released three similarly tampo’d versions of the car, beginning with this bright yellow one.

15) 2021 mainline – Zamac

Next up, the Subaru finally got the Zamac treatment. The turquoise Y5s are a nice change, too.

16) 2021 mainline – white

The year was then rounded out with a recolour in white, inspired perhaps by the 2010 NBR Challenge racer (below). It featured a return to the yellow car’s PR5 rims and completes a great trio.

(find Hot Wheels Subaru WRX STI on eBay)

17) 2022 mainline – blue

For 2022, we returned to blue, albeit a very, very dark shade. Again, it was the first of three colours with similar designs issued in this year. This release also marked the debut of an updated mainline tooling ­– more on that in a minute.

18) 2022 mainline – red

That was followed by another red one. Is it me or does bright red look wrong on a Subaru? I’ll always associate that colour with the WRC Mitsubishis!

19) 2022 Red Edition – black

2022’s third release was then a Target-exclusive Red Edition in, er, black. This is one of the best of all, in my view, especially with those red wheels.

20) 2023 mainline – blue

And just like that, it’s 2023 and our faithful WRX STI is now celebrating 10 years in the Hot Wheels mainline! To celebrate, we’re back to a more Subaru-like shade of blue – although the white side stripe and wheels make the car look like a Focus RS at first glance. At least we get some lights and a grille badge, for the first time in the mainline.

Time for some more on 2022’s updated tooling. I used this blue car for comparison photos with the similarly shaded debut release.

As you can see, the original design used a single rivet at the front of the car with a tab-and-slot rear licence plate to marry the body and chassis at the rear.

The new version permits drop-in assembly, with the rear slot filled in and a spin post through the rear seats. A second rivet secures the two halves of the car. I always find these cost-saving but interior-destroying spin posts irritating, but that’s life.

We get a third version of the base, too, with the date now updated to 2021.

21) 2023 mainline – white

Finally…the 2023 recolour in white. For me this is not one of the better releases and as you can see, they made a hash of the headlight printing on my model!

That’s it, for now. Having completed the releases this far I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll carry on collecting the WRX STI. If you want to keep going, then the next two releases are a blue one in the 2023 Japanese car culture multipack (a repeat of the 2012 New Models deco) and a version in the HW Winter special series with white tires.

Looking further ahead, I would love Hot Wheels to produce another Premium version of the Subaru, I’m sure collectors would lap them up. Not sure why we never got beyond one.

There’s also a third F&F car that hasn’t been done yet – a silver one with STI logos that has a cameo in Fast & Furious 6 (2016). Incidentally, if you’re an F&F fan, don’t miss my Lamley colleague Reece’s fantastic articles on Hot Wheels versions of the movie cars.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this walk through the first 21 versions of this awesome casting. You’ll doubtless be able to fill any gaps on eBay, where most of these STIs are still pretty cheap. Happy collecting!

(find Hot Wheels Subaru WRX STI on eBay)

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One Reply to “Collection Update – Hot Wheels Subaru WRX STI”

  1. Excellent article, Graham! I had no idea you owned an Impreza in real life! Maybe it’s not a WRX or STI, but I’m an Impreza fan and I appreciate any and all!

    Speak of, many collectors usually tend to have a genre of cars they persuasively collect (like Land Cruisers, Skylines, Camaros etc.) and for me, I genuinely started enjoying collecting Subaru Imprezas. I’ve got at least one version of every Impreza Hot Wheels has made (bar the white Fast and Furious 2016 WRX STI in premium, but then Subaru don’t call it an Impreza) and I was lucky to be on the train from the start with the 2011 WRX STI hatchback, getting the New Models blue edition in 2012 and then getting a few releases here and there and finally earlier this year, the premium F&F Off-Road version (which for some reason was very hard to get, despite it being largely unpopular and the “peg warmer” of the set). On that note, I’m not only baffled that they never, ever repeated it in future F&F sets, seeing how they love repeating models again and again but they’ve used this casting only once in premium. This would make such a great model in Car Culture in a “factory fresh” look, and I feel it’s a missed opportunity as they had 4 years to do it (and I’d say the same thing for the bugeye Impreza WRX). Btw, a slight correction – the F&F silver/black car appeared in Fast & Furious 4 (2009), not the original movie (whose year also isn’t 2011, that was Fast 5 which had a same model silver WRX STI saloon). Just thought I’d mention it. (and I’m again left wondering why they didn’t do this release in premium.. but anyway)

    Fun fact #1 – the “Gravel Rally Crew” deco you see on the 2016 release seems a bit of a running theme, as this deco has also been given on the 2018 5-pack and again on the 2019 5-pack release of the 2004 Impreza WRC casting (I have the Car Meet version already – and the 2016 red hatchback – and was tempted to get the latter one but the white painted tyres put me off).

    Fun Fact #2 – also relating to the Impreza WRC casting, the latest 2023 release in white w/ gold 10sp and pink stripes is very similar to 2022’s Japanese Car Culture 6-car multipack version, also in white w/ gold 10sp and pink stripes, almost forming an unofficial Then & Now pair. Would be a fun pair to have if you get them both.

    Anyway, I apologize for blabbering on so much. Thanks for the quick rundown of this casting, a small trip down memory lane and doing an almost-old-school Hot Wheels article on the blog again! I love reading them and I’ve been missing them quite a bit as time goes on.

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