Hot Wheels toys are classics that have stood the test of time. Die-cast car models in 1:64 scale were created based on real prototypes. Moreover, experienced auto designers who once collaborated with General Motors (Harry Bentley Bradley), Chrysler (Ira Gilford), and other giants of the car market were involved in the work. The brand belongs to the industry leader – the American corporation Mattel. The parent company makes various baby products, so Hot Wheels is just a small fraction of a large entertainment empire on par with other brands such as the UNO card game, Monster High fashion dolls, and the famous Barbie series.
Meaning and History
Many generations of Americans have grown up on Hot Wheels cars. The first toys appeared in 1968 when the inventor of the Elliot Handler decided to please his son with new car figures. He noticed his child’s passion for playing with Matchbox cars and decided that this was a great base for business. True, neither his wife nor Mattel supported the voiced idea. But this did not stop Elliot, and he enthusiastically took up the development of models such as the hot rod with the help of John W. Ryan.
Now Hot Wheels is not just toys, but the dream of many collectors. Hard-to-find and rare examples such as the Beach Bomb Bus ($ 150,000), the purple Olds 442 muscle car ($ 12,000), and the brown ’31 Ford Woody sedan ($ 8,000) are particularly prized. These are representatives of the elite segment – the best of the best, which are no longer sold anywhere. Modern models are available in stores based on real and fictional cars (for example, video games).
But there is one common element that unites both old vintage cars for thousands of dollars and new low-price toys. This is the iconic logo created by Otto Kuhni in the late 1960s. It changed several times but always remained within the same concept. Kuhni worked for Mattel Corporation and was appointed packaging designer for Hot Wheels when the first car models appeared. The emblem he invented is remembered by millions of children because it is simple, stylish, bright, and dynamic.
The company recognized the merits of its irreplaceable employee because it was Kuhni who promoted the brand and laid the foundation for the old-school style. The unique Custom Otto car, released on the Hot Wheels anniversary and covered with Swarovski diamonds on all sides, was named after him.
1968 – 1969
Wanting to compete with Matchbox, Mattel founded the Hot Wheels brand of die-cast toy cars. Elliot Handler is considered the “father” of the project because he promoted the original business idea and developed it himself without finding support from his inner circle. The first series of sixteen cars came out in 1968. The boxes were decorated with an emblem depicting a long line of fire. Otto Kuhni made the flame-red but added orange splashes to make the drawing more realistic. Inside was the brand name, written in white letters of a non-standard shape, and the advertising slogan “HOTTEST METAL CARS IN THE WORLD!” black in color.
1969 – 1970
The debut lineup was so successful that Matchbox had to re-conceptualize it to match up with Hot Wheels. The next series of toys also made a splash. It aimed to update the lineup, so the designers needed to change the logo to emphasize this.
The classic structure of the badge has been preserved, but the fire stripe has become completely red and reduced in size. It looked like an uneven curving ribbon. The white inscription “HOT WHEELS ” occupied the entire interior space,” and under the bottom, the new brand slogan was written in small print: “FASTEST METAL CARS IN THE WORLD!” red color.
On the right side, just below the lowered corner of the flame, was the Mattel Corporation logo. It was a jagged circle containing a large “M,” a picture of a cheerful little boy, the name of the company, and the word “TOYMAKERS.”
1970 – 1973
In 1970, the manufacturer came up with a new advertising slogan, “Go With the Winner,” but decided not to include it in the logo. The old motto has disappeared, making the symbol more minimalistic. In addition, the designers have removed all elements from the red circle and replaced them with the diagonal inscription “MATTEL.” The shape of the flame has changed slightly, and the color has become darker.
1973 – 1990
In the early 1970s, the company began to ink toys onto toys using pad printing. Thanks to the vast palette of colors, this technology allows the new orange logo was very vibrant. The structure of the corporate badge has not changed, but the designers have increased the flame and the inscription inside it. The modified version was relevant until 1990. During this time, Hot Wheels released cars with reflective stickers and toys that change color when the temperature changes.
1990 – 2000
The emblem of 1990 has become a landmark. Firstly, it has a white outline with a black border around the edge, which was not observed before. Secondly, the company’s name was painted not in one but two colors for the first time. The combination of a yellow top and white bottom gave the letters dynamics.
In 1994, the manufacturer began to decorate all toy cars with a logo. In doing so, he experimented with colors and used the pad printing method. However, on some models, the badge was molded onto the glass (Corvette 97).
2000 – 2004
Entering the new millennium, the Hot Wheels brand ditched the round Mattel symbol and introduced an emblem with only aflame with the inscription. But this was not considered oversimplification because the design became three-dimensional with shadows and gradients. In addition, on the right side, right in front of the letter “H,” a small orange light appeared, similar to a current discharge.
2004 – 2010
The designers straightened the logo a little, but at the same time, made it thinner and added a white line on top. The shape of the letters also changed since the inscription had to occupy the space allotted to it within the strip. The red has taken on a burgundy hue, and the top of the words “HOT WHEELS” has been dyed lemon yellow. The light next to the “H” now looks much more realistic.
2010 – 2014
In 2010, a retro-styled 2D logo was introduced. It resembled the 1969 version, only without the round Mattel symbol and advertising slogan. The writing was yellow.
2014 – present
The brand now adheres to the classic design because its new name is similar to the previous one. The shape of the flame has changed insignificantly, and the letters have become slightly smaller.
Font and Colors of the Emblem
Otto Kuhni depicted in the emblem a dynamic stream of fire, which, in his view, should burst out from under hot car tires. This is the personification of prohibitive speed and sports excitement because Hot Wheels toy cars were conceived as mini-versions of real models.
The letters look like they are small wriggling tongues of flame. Although it is more of an individual style, the font is very reminiscent of Heavy Heap from Typodermic Fonts. The colors correspond to the logo’s shape: red and yellow can be called quite “fiery.”