By Michael Baadke
The Mattel toy company is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its famous Hot Wheels die-cast model cars, and the United States Postal Service is joining in with a set of 10 different Hot Wheels forever stamps.
The nondenominated (50¢) offset-printed stamps will be issued Sept. 29 in a set of 10, sold in a pane of 20.
Each stamp features one of 10 cars from the past half-century of Hot Wheels, including the 1969 Twin Mill (“one of the most iconic Hot Wheels cars of all-time,” according to the Postal Service), and the 2018 Mach Speeder (“built to look like a predatory fish”). The name of the respective car model is printed on each stamp.
Photographed by Len Rizzi, each car is shown positioned on an orange Hot Wheels plastic track. The stamps are designed by Greg Breeding working with USPS art director William J. Gicker.
The stamps are arranged on the pane in four diagonal rows of five stamps each, with narrow selvage separating the die-cut edges of each stamp. The Hot Wheels flames logo is prominent in the upper right corner of the pane selvage.
Apparently anticipating high demand for these stamps from stamp collectors, postal customers and Hot Wheels fans, the Postal Service has ordered a printing of 100 million stamps, more than twice the average of 40.76 million for U.S. forever commemorative stamps issued to date in 2018.
Only the Scooby-Doo forever commemorative (Scott 5299), issued July 14 with a print run of 252 million, was printed in larger numbers.
The Hot Wheels stamps first-day ceremony is taking place at 10 a.m. CDT during the Goodguys 26th Summit Racing Lone Star Nationals at Texas Motor Speedway, 3545 Lone Star Circle, Fort Worth, Texas.
The Postal Service did not provide any additional ceremony details prior to this issue of Linn’s going to press, including whether or not ceremony attendance requires a ticket purchase for the Nationals event at the speedway.
The Postal Service noted that collectors can view the ceremony live online at www.facebook.com/USPS.
“Hot Wheels was born when Mattel co-founder Elliot Handler challenged his design team, which included a General Motors car designer and a rocket scientist, to create a toy car that was cooler and performed better than anything on the market,” according to the Postal Service.
“Mattel soon introduced its iconic orange tracks, which provided children unlimited ways to test out stunts and racing skills. The Hot Wheels toy line expanded rapidly.
“Since the inception of Hot Wheels, Mattel has produced thousands of varieties of cars. In 2011, Hot Wheels was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. Today, children and their parents still love racing the eye-poppin’, colorful, lightning-fast cars.”
Hot Wheels were introduced in May 1968 with a Custom Camaro model, followed soon after by 15 additional vehicles, a group known to collectors as the “original sweet 16.”
New models are introduced each year, including variations for licensed comic book and action film character cars, limited edition collector vehicles and much more.
The cars are scaled at roughly 1:64, though the ratio varies with individual models.
Hot Wheels are readily available in a wide range of retail stores, most often in hanging packaging that encases the vehicle in a compartment of clear plastic affixed to a colorfully printed card backing.
Hot Wheels cars today are identified by subcategories and numbering, as well as distinctive names for each model. Cars in the standard line usually sell for $1 or less in retail stores, though certain coveted varieties increase in value in the aftermarket.
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The Postal Service provided descriptions of each vehicle featured on the new stamps.
“The aptly named Purple Passion (1990), a super sleek metallic purple and green model. The car remains a favorite of collectors.
“Equipped with a roof-mounted rocket, the Rocket-Bye-Baby (1971) is one of the most aggressive racers in Hot Wheels history.
“Perfect for Halloween, the spooky Rigor Motor (1994) is a coffin-shaped hot rod that is powered by a huge engine adorned with two skulls.
“A spectacularly powerful version of a classic muscle car, the Rodger Dodger (1974) has a giant engine bursting out of its hood.
“With a twin turbo V6 hybrid engine and wide front air intakes built to look like a predatory fish, the Mach Speeder (2018) is a true 21st-century racer.
“The Twin Mill (1969) is one of the most iconic Hot Wheels cars of all-time. The speed machine features dual big-block engines.
“The distinctive Bone Shaker (2006) is a hot rod with a fierce-looking skull for a grille. The car has a massive short-block engine made to rattle your bones.
“The HW40 (2008), a car introduced to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Hot Wheels, features a jet turbine engine. The space-age vehicle features a futuristic glass hood.
“The original surfboard-toting Deora (1968) was included in the first Hot Wheels line. The souped up Deora II, showcased on the stamp, came out in 2000.
“The Sharkruiser (1987) is a carnivore on wheels. The completely unique design features fins, a tail, a sharp-toothed grille, and a roaring V8 engine.”
The Postal Service revealed two pictorial cancels available for first-day covers, both featuring variations of the Hot Wheels flames logo.
The black postmark shows an iteration of the 50th anniversary logo, with the numerals composed to look like Hot Wheels track.
The color postmark includes the standard Hot Wheels logo in color, along with the image of an orange muscle car with painted flames on the side, an exposed engine and rear spoiler.