Hot Wheels loops

Hall Of Flames: Hot Wheels In The Diecast Hall of Fame

DHOF has had a long love-relationship with Hot Wheels.

The Diecast Hall of Fame is dedicated to the people and products that make diecast vehicle collecting so special, but no brand has a bigger representation in the DHOF than Hot Wheels. Someday, when an actual museum is built, there should probably be a strip of orange track that leads to a dedicated Hot Wheels room.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Hot Wheels completely turned an industry upside down and altered the meaning of what a toy car could be. Playing with miniature cars changed from slowly scooting them around by hand to letting them rip down the track at scale speeds that real cars could only dream of. Hot Wheels’ designs were wilder and more colorful than anything seen before. And they ushered in the idea of “collecting” like no one else (It even says “Matching Collector’s Button” right there on the original packages).

hot wheels snake mongoose
Every kid wanted to be either Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen or Don “The Snake” Prudhomme.

Since 2011, the DHOF awards have added more categories and honors for specific scales, opening up more space to recognize other diecast brands. In the early days, proceedings were dominated by 1/64 cars, and Hot Wheels garnered several accolades for Casting of the Year.

Early awards were like a traditional Hall of Fame, recognizing older models such as the 1940 Woodie (whatever name you choose to call it), the Custom Corvette, and the Custom Camaro. Later classics were honored as well, including the Volkswagen Drag Bus. Last year the award has changed to honor a new casting from the current year and Hot Wheels promptly won the 1/64 Scale category with the Fiat 500D Modificado, which, honestly, would have fit in perfectly as an original Redline. The same could be said for the ’55 Chevy Panel, the 2105 winner.

Hot Wheels Redline
Larry Wood, Otto Kuhni, and Ira Gilford were among those who contributed to the early success of Hot Wheels.

The people behind those designs are well represented in the DHOF, too. Anyone who has spent any time in the hobby knows the names of Ira Gilford, Howard Rees, Bob Rosas and Larry Wood. All four were vital to the original look and feel of the early Redlines. Hot Wheels simply would not exist without their wild imaginations.

Otto Kuhni is in the Hall, as well. He is only credited with one actual car design, the Custom Otto, but he’s as responsible for the early images of the brand as anyone else. Kuhni was the artist who illustrated the early blister cards, advertisements, carrying cases, and lunchboxes that fueled the imagination of kids around the world. The Custom Otto, by the way, is the blue coupe shown on the very first Redline cards… it wasn’t based on any particular car or any Hot Wheels car, but was eventually commemorated in diecast form in his honor.

jimmy Boxman Chavez
Many diecast customizers, such as Jimmy “Boxman” Chavez, have worked for Hot Wheels over the years.

Several other inductees have worked at Mattel in other capacities.  Amy Boylan was the Marketing Director for the entire brand, which is a pretty huge task. Chris Parker kept Hot Wheels collectors informed (and entertained). Many of our inducted diecast customizers such as Dave Chang, Jimmy “Boxman” Chavez and Luis Tanahara worked for Hot Wheels at some point. Tom McEwen had maybe the wildest job of all, driving the Mongoose funny car that inspired dragstrip rivalries in basements and rec rooms everywhere.

Hot Wheels didn’t end with the Redline era, of course. More recent contributors are in the Hall as well. Michael Heralda, Mark Jones, Carson Lev, Phil Riehlman, Eric Tscherne, Steve Vandervate, and MiQ Willmott all played a huge a part in moving the brand forward and upward and through all kinds of loop-de-loops, over the last couple of decades, taking advantage of new casting technology and improved graphics possibilities.

Bruce Pascal office
Bruce Pascal is one of many authors who knows a thing or two about Hot Wheels.

It’s not just employees of Mattel who are honored in the DHOF. A side industry of books, websites, conventions and diecast sales has sprouted over the years, many of them solely based on Hot Wheels. Diecast historians are honored by the Hall each year for their contributions to the hobby. Jim Garbaczewski, Rob Graves, Bob Parker, Bruce Pascal, Chris Walker, Joe Wiggins, and Mike Zarnock (whose Altered Dragster even got its own 1/64 version) have all authored histories, price guides, or directories of Hot Wheels cars.

Hot Wheels books
Here are just a few of the Hot Wheels publications from DHOF inductees!

There are several websites allowing collectors, to research, deal or just connect with one another. Paul Biddle, Charles Kitson, Michael Otte, Anita Smith are all pioneers of the online Hot Wheels world.

And speaking of connecting, Mike Strauss was one of the founders of the National Hot Wheels Collectors Conventions. Think about how many people have met at these events to share their hobby. Speaking of whom, let’s not forget that the Hall recognizes customizers and collectors as well.  Folks like Sherry Abbey, Joe Alvarado, Kevan Bence, Chojiro, Rick Early, Jay Holt, Dino Laspada, Kazy, Lee Pearlman, Vince Mosley, Bryan Pope, Paul Spradlin and Chris and Marcia Walker based their work extensively or even exclusively on Hot Wheel castings creating beautiful diecast art.  And many of our Collectors of the Year or R.A.O.K award winners are Hot Wheels collectors – as none of all of this would matter if not for the folks who hunt the pegs and dig through bins to collect them all!

Hot Wheels 50th
Hot Wheels’ 50th Anniversary is an occasion to look back fondly at the brand’s history.

As Hot Wheels celebrates its 50th anniversary, their freewheeling cars show no signs of slowing down. It’s a certainty that the Diecast Hall of Fame will continue to recognize how cool Hot Wheels can be.


You will be able to find profiles with more information on each of the individuals or models
mentioned here on the Hall’s Official Archive page on hobbyDB.


Albert “Kool51” Avila joins DHOF Selection Committee

The 2017 Diecast Hall of Fame Awards are barely over, and we’re already looking towards 2018. Albert “Kool51” Avila has joined the DHOF Selection Committee and will lend his expertise to the event.

Albert Avila
Avila is best known as a model car customizer, creating wild, often strange 3D modifications to his vehicles. A drooling Homer Simpson head on wheels might not make a lot of sense when you hear about it, but he makes it work. His work includes elaborate one of a kind hand painted designs as well. He often works under his online handle “Kool51Designs”. Aliva also creates custom action figures and vinyl art toys.
Albert Avila Drag Bus customs
He was awarded the Diecast Hall of Fame Diecast Designers Award when he was inducted into our 2014 class.
Albert Avila Homer Simpson
Schuco VW Camper

A Huge Thank You from the Diecast Hall of Fame Team!

It’s been five days since the big event in Las Vegas and we are still beaming 🙂 We could not be more grateful for the outpouring of support from the diecast community. Folks from all around the world came to celebrate their fellow nominees on Thursday night, which helped make the evening even more special.

Proudly displayed at the front of the House of Blues were the 20 models nominated as Model of the Year for the different scales  –

As well as work by the nominated customizers  –

From the top John Cobb’s Railton Special by Bannarit, middle row on the left the Next Project by Steve Hamm and on the right Bobba Fett by Kraut Custom and on the bottom The Lunch Box by =Joe Alvarado (2017 Inductee)

And design sheets from the nominated diecast designers –

Design Sheet by 2017 Diecast Designer Inductee Tony Karamitsos

And don’t forget the awesome M2 Machines that were part of the attendee goody bag –

If you didn’t get one, there are still a few left for sale at the new Diecast Hall of Fame store.

At a little past 10pm, Christian Braun (DHOF Chairman) kicked off the ceremony by explaining the exciting changes that the Diecast Hall of Fame underwent this year including –

  • The addition of three new scales –  1:43, 1:24, and 1:18
  • New groups of awards – Models of the Year and Brands of the Year
  • Greater international presence – 1/3 of the selection committee and 20% of the nominees were from outside of the United States
  • More community support – the event now has 65 new community supporters including Diecast Society, Diecast X, HobbyTalk, and
  • The largest voter turnout yet – With 2,381 votes in 2017, the Diecast Hall of Fame vote count grew by 150% percent over 2016

Christian then handed the mic off to event MC Andy Goodman, who announced the official inductees to this year’s Diecast Hall of Fame. See the 2017 Class list here.

Andy Goodman announcing the 2017 Class

The rest of the evening was spent toasting and celebrating another exciting and successful year of the DHOF.

It was awesome to see industry people from both the hobby and full scale automotive at this year’s event!
Event MC Andy Goodman talking with fellow Diecast Hall of Fame inductee Albert Avila
M2 Machines designer Sean Taylor with fellow Diecast Hall of Fame inductee, Hot Wheels Collector Bruce Pascal
Diecast Hall of Fame Inductee Tony Karamitsos with Selection Committee member (and Inductee) Mac Ragan

We couldn’t have done this event without the support of our amazing sponsors –


Until next time, cheers to a fabulous event and thank you again to everyone for all the love! We hope to see you next year.

2017 Diecast Hall of Fame Inductees Announced in Las Vegas

Diecast Hall of Famediecast hall of fame awardThe Diecast Hall of Fame held its 2017 induction ceremonies in Las Vegas, Thursday, November 2. The awards honor not only the best model vehicles of the past year, but the people who made them as well as those who are inspirational to car culture and collecting in general. 70 awards were given to nominees and new inductees.

Here are the 2017 Diecast Hall of Fame Inductees:

tim allen carsAutomotive Legend – Tim Allen

Best known for his starring role in “Home Improvement” and as Buzz Lightyear in the “Toy Story” movies, Tim has built an extensive collection of American classic cars. Inspired by the toys he played with as a child, his collection includes a mix of Detroit iron, European Sports cars, and classic customs.

Joe Alvorado Diecast Hall of FameDiecast Customizer – Joe Alvarado

Joe “LoRide57 began dabbling in custom models about 10 years ago and is willing to experiment with anything that inspires him.  “Never stop learning and try anything,” he said. About 90 percent of his work is Hot Wheels. He has also been working with old Matchbox and new Jada models. “I’ve made the leap into 1/24 and 1/18 in the last few years. But my passion if the 1/64 Hot Wheels.”

Tony KaramitsosDiecast Designer – Tony Karamitsos

Tony is known for his attention to detail having designed thousands of highly detailed die-cast replicas for numerous scales for Johnny Lightning, Auto World, Racing Champions, American Muscle, Legends of the Quarter Mile, Silver Screen Machines. He currently serves as Brand Manager and senior designer for Round2 as head of all of the die-cast and slot car brands.

Paul LangDiecast Entrepreneur – Paul Lang

Paul is the founder of Minichamps, which was originally founded as Paul’s Model Art GmbH in 1990 in Aachen, Germany. With of their incredible attention to detail, Minichamps has produced official promotional replicas for the likes of Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche.

Bob FellowsDiecast Historian – Robert Fellows

Bob has pioneered the use of employing various social media platforms to research and share diecast history. He specializes in Auto Word and Johnny Lightning, creating widely followed Facebook pages for both brands. He is currently working with Playing Mantis era designers to document Johnny Lightning pre-production ad prototypes online at

Woody ItsonCollector of the Year – Woody Itson

Itson has more than 30 years experience when it comes to collecting original  Redline Hot Wheels. His Facebook page the Redline Trading Company is a go-to place for collectors to research, learn, share, and just chat about early Hot Wheels as well as Johnny Lightning models. He also has an extensive history as a BMX rider.

As a first, the Diecast Hall of Fame now also honors the best new models in the most popular scales. They can range from cars that only cost a few dollars at the toy store to limited editions that run hundreds of times those prices. Here are the 2017 winners.

Diecast Model of the Year, 1/64 Scale – Hot Wheels Fiat 500 Modificado

Hot Wheels Fiat

Diecast Model of the Year, 1/43 Scale – Schuco VW Beetle “Lil Bugger” Camper Van

Schuco VW Camper

Diecast Model of the Year, 1/24 Scale – Bburago 2016 Alfa Romeo Giulia

Bburago Alfa Romeo

Diecast Model of the Year, 1/18 and Larger Scales –  AUTOart Mercedes-AMG GTS


New Model Maker of the Year – AutoCult


The Diecast Hall of Fame also recognizes companies and brands that serve and inspire the model vehicle community.

Automotive Brand of the Year – BMW

bmw m series

Supplier Brand of the Year – Falken Tires

Falken Tire

Diecast Dealer of the Year – Diecast Models Wholesale

Diecast Models Wholesale

On a sad note, we recently said goodbye to one of our dear friends, Tiny Wonzniak (below), who died just as we were finalizing our nominations for the year. Wozniak was a Hot Wheels collector (he really loved the Heavyweights!) and enjoyed sharing his knowledge with other collectors. You can read a full tribute to him here.

Tiny WozniakFinally, the Diecast Hall of Fame would like to thank our sponsors and supporters for a great event. And congratulations to the inductees and winners! Watch for announcements regarding nominations and event details coming next year!

Jimmy “Boxman” Chavez Joins DHOF Selection Committee

Jimmy Boxman ChavezOne of the most prolific and innovative diecast customizers has joined the Diecast Hall of Fame Selection Committee. Jimmy “Boxman” Chavez has come on board to help make the Diecast Hall even more spectacular. Even though the 2017 Induction Ceremony is only weeks away, Chavez has an eye on ramping things up for 2018’s event.

Jimmy Boxman Chavez evel knievel drag bus
The graphics and shapes of the card and blister tie in perfectly with these Hot Wheels Drag Bus models.

The work Chavez performs on his vehicles is extraordinary, but he is perhaps best known for the his packaging that incorporates the design theme into the graphics, card shape and even 3D blister form. Standard blister packs simply won’t do for Chavez. His vehicle and card graphics are spot-on designs that look professionally produced. And then he takes things way further with innovative combinations of card shapes and blister forms that reflect the theme of the car.

Jimmy Boxman Chavez house of kolor drag bus
Chavez considers this House of Kolor package one of his most difficult.

Chavez has been at this game for about 20 years, he said. “I started out turning Hot Wheels Highway Haulers into beer trucks.”  All of this precision and creativity looks like it should take crazy amounts of time. Nope. He said his projects run “a couple days including design” in most cases. Even when the case itself might be the most ambitious part of the project.

Jimmy Boxman Chavez Energizer drag bus
Batteries are included on this Energizer Bunny design.

Chavez is quite familiar with the Diecast Hall of Fame, as he himself was inducted in 2009 for his custom work. In addition to numerous awards and honors for his work, his work has been shown at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

The Diecast Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is just around the corner, November 2, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. Tickets are on sale now, and limited seating is still available for the event. And all net proceeds will be donated to There With Care, a charity that helps families who have children battling critical illnesses.

Here’s A Better Look at the Diecast Hall of Fame Econoline Vans

Diecast Hall of Fame Econoline VansDiecast Hall of FameWe recently teased you with images of the designs for the two M2 Ford Econoline Vans being produced for the 2017 Diecast Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in November. The reaction from collectors has been nothing short of fantastic.

And those were just the drawings… now, we have the first photos of the models!

The blue van, you may recall, will be included in the goody bag given to every ticket holder at the event. It has a metallic blue body and silver rims along with colorful sponsor decals. (And the rear license plate is callout to the event, “reading DHOF.”) There will 750 produced in all.

Diecast Hall of Fame Econoline VanThen there’s the black version, an even more Limited Edition variant. It has a matte black body set off by gold rims, with identical graphics. There will only be 250 of this version.

Diecast Hall of Fame Econoline VanAs you can see, both will come attached to a base with a diamond tread surface. Of course, there’s more to the packaging… you’ll just have to wait to see what the rest of it looks like!

From 9 pm to midnight, ticketholders at the event will have first rights to purchase additional copies of the blue version for $25.00 (12 piece maximum) and the black version for $50 (6 piece maximum). When the event opens to the public after the induction ceremony, the same purchasing structure will be maintained from 11 pm till midnight. If there are any left after the event, they will be available on the Diecast Hall of Fame website, but at a higher price ($35 and $60, respectively) plus shipping.

The Diecast Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is rapidly approaching, November 2, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. Tickets are on sale now, and limited seating is still available for the event. And all net proceeds will be donated to There With Care, a charity that helps families who have children battling critical illnesses.

13 Things To Do In Las Vegas Before You Diecast

If you’re planning to come to Las Vegas for the Diecast Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, you’re probably going to stay an extra day or two, right? The event is November 2, a Thursday night, so you might as well stick around for the weekend. Hey, why not come early and make it a long week?

So what’s there to do for a diecast collector on those other days? (Things that don’t involve gambling or burlesque shows, that is…) Turns out there are plenty of activities and attractions for anyone interested in car culture, museums, and good old family fun.


linq auto collections
Just a few of the cars at the LINQ.

For many years, there’s been a huge automotive museum at the Imperial Palace. We’re happy to report that after remodeling and rebranding, it’s still there in what is now called The LINQ Hotel. Situated in the upper levels of the parking garage, the museum contains race cars, rare classics, and other vehicles of historical significance. The Auto Collections at the LINQ is at 3535 S Las Vegas Blvd., in the heart of the Strip.


liberace museum
Liberace’s tastefully modified rides.

Ever seen that classic photo of young Elvis Presley in the gold jacket? Did you know he borrowed it from Liberace? There are two museums of Liberace’s memorablia in Las Vegas. The Liberace Garage (115 Dean Martin Drive, Suite 905, Las Vegas) focuses on his cars and automobilia, as well as other larger items, such as his pianos, and is located not too far from the action in Vegas.

Or for a more complete expierience, you can tour The Liberace Museum Collection, located in Michael Jackson’s former home. Items include outfits, jewelry and other shiny things. That location is only available for small private tours, so book well in advance. The full tour package includes shuttle service from the Strip, a stop at the Garage, and a champagne lunch.


Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie and Clyde Movie car at the Hollywood Cars Museum.

As long as you’re visiting the Liberace Garage, there are other automotive attractions close by. The Hollywood Cars Museum features James Bond’s Lotus submarine, Herbie the Love Bug, and various Fast and Furious cars. It’s at 5115 Dean Martin Drive #905, just around the corner from Liberace’s place.

Shelby CGT40
Instead of a T-shirt, order a Continuation GT40 at the Shelby Heritage Center.

You could also visit the Shelby Heritage Center, 6405 Ensworth St., a museum of some vintage and a lot of modern Shelby tuned cars. While you’re shopping there, you can order a “Continuation” series GT40, because of course you want one.

neon museum2
Elegant junk at the Neon Museum.

For a different kind of collection, visit the Neon Museum. Originally, it was just a junkyard for the signs that were torn down to make way for bigger, glitzier ones. Luckily, the proprietors realized they had some amazing history on their hands and turned it into a museum. The outdoor space, known as the Boneyard, shows off strategically piled, unrestored signage, while the indoor visitor center has additional restored examples. Nighttime tours are available as well. It’s not too far from the main Strip at 770 N Las Vegas Blvd.

Mob Museum
The Mob Museum is always a hit.

It’s no secret that Las Vegas was built in part on some “extra-legal” activities, so the Mob Museum celebrates the rich, unsavory history of organized crime in America. If you’re into that sort of thing. No one’s asking. But it’s located at 300 Stewart Ave., just in case.

avengers station
The evolution of Iron Man.

You like comic books and action figures too, don’t you? The Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. is an interactive exhibit of costumes, props, sets, and other goodies from the world of Marvel Comics. This should keep the kids occupied for a few hours. And yourself too, right? It’s inside the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, at 3300 S Las Vegas Blvd., on the Strip.

(Exhibit items and schedules at museums may change, so make sure you check ahead for all of these attractions.)


Fast Times at SpeedVegas.

If you want to do more than just look at cars, you can take a Ferrari, Lamborghini or other exotic car for spin on the race track at SpeedVegas. It’s not too far out of town, and they’re open seven days a week. Some age restrictions apply, so check for details if you have kids with you.

Maybe you’d rather watch fast cars in action instead of getting behind the wheel. The NHRA Toyota Nationals will be taking place at the Las Vegas Speedway Oct 26-29. That’s the weekend before the Diecast Hall of Fame event, Thursday through Sunday! Sunday! SUNDAY!


pbr bull riding
Yeeeeeeeeeeeeha! It’s rodeo time!

Speaking of spectator sports, the new Vegas Golden Kinghts hockey team will unfortunately be on a road trip around the time of the event. Instead, their arena will be the home of the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour of the PBR – That’s Professional Bull Riders – October 28-30 at the T-Mobile Arena. There might even be some mutton bustin’!

Finally, since you’re in town for diecast related purposes, you could always shop for some in person… The Toy Shack (450 Fremont St.) is located on Fremont, aka the original strip, and there’s also Rogue Toys & Collectibles, located just nort of the end of the modern strip at 616 S Las Vegas Blvd. Both shops offer a mix of new and vintage collectibles. You can also shop at Brad’s Toys and Collectibles in Henderson, just little further from the Strip, at 1433 N. Boulder Hwy.

That’s a lot to squeeze in, so don’t forget to leave time for the Diecast Hall of Fame Ceremony. Tickets are on sale now, and limited seating is still available for the event. And remember, all net proceeds will go to There With Care, a charity that helps families who have children with critical illnesses.

Diecast Hall of Fame Presents the Limited Edition Econoline Variant

As the Diecast Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony gets closer, we want to share another great detail about the event.

diecast hall of fame m2 econoline vanA few weeks ago, we presented images of the promotional model for the The Diecast Hall of Fame Ceremony, a blue 1963 Ford Econoline Van decked out in honor of S&S Speed Shop. Today, we’re excited to show you the limited version of the van!

Instead of the blue metallic scheme announced previously, the limited variant will feature a flat black finish. As before, the graphics for 1/64 M2 “Auto-Thentics” van were designed by our Class of 2011 Inductee Sean Taylor. There will only be 250 of this alternate variant made, and it will be for sale exclusively at the event.

Diecast Hall of Fame 2017 Chase car
The flat black chase version will be available for purchase in limited quantities during the event.

One blue van will be included as part of the “goody bag” handed out to all registered attendees. Additional blue and black vans will also be on sale at the ceremony in Las Vegas.

The casting combines parts from different versions of the M2 Econoline. It features the lowered chassis comes from the “Van Go” version, but the body uses the “stock” Econoline casting that has details that are normally smoothed out for the Van Go. The interior is the basic cargo version with front seats.

S&S Speed Shop has been in business since 1946. They have been at the same location in Rochester, New York, since the late ’50s. The company was started by John Stampfl and passed onto his sons, Richard, John, and Robert. In its early days George Hurst would personally visit to sell his shifters, and Joe Hrudka, aka Mr. Gasket, also dropped by to sell parts in his ’59 Thunderbird.

diecast hall of fame m2 econoline van
The metallic blue version will be given to all ticketholders at the event.

From 9 pm to midnight, ticketholders at the event will have first rights to purchase additional copies of the blue version for $25.00 (12 piece maximum) and the black version for $50 (6 piece maximum). When the event opens to the public after the induction ceremony, the same purchasing structure will be maintained from 11 pm till midnight. If there are any left after the event, they will be available on the Diecast Hall of Fame website, but at a higher price ($35 and $60, respectively) plus shipping.

The Diecast Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, November 2, 2017. Tickets are on sale now, and limited seating is still available for the event. And remember, all net proceeds will be going to There With Care, a charity that helps families who have children with critical illness.