Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rather amazing Hot Wheels museum exhibit

As you know, gentle readers (reader), I've never been such a fan of the popular 1/64 scale car toy. I had some Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars when I was little, but very few have survived my life's various toy purges. This is largely because my tastes moved away from terrestrial cars to more science-fictiony and fantasy stuff. I will occasionally buy something I find interesting, but even when toymakers furnish 1/64 scale examples of sci-fi, the scale itself doesn't appeal to me and I often get it just so I can make a bigger one out of Lego down the road (whether I get around to doing that is another story).

Zack, on the other hand, LOVES the little cars, and often has one in his hand. I've been meaning to chronicle the growth of his collection (mostly Hot Wheels), but suffice to say, since I've been frequenting that part of the toy store I'm constantly bowled over by the sheer volume of product. Sure they're only a buck, but there seems to be a new batch of stuff every month. I pity the folks who are completists with these; surely their lives are hectic, exhausted affairs.

Since I've only been paying attention a short time, I've also been surprised to notice how many car designs I've already seen cycled through twice with different paint jobs. I'd certainly noticed Hot Wheels repaints in the past (and after all, everybody's doing it), but for the first time I realized how quickly castings were revisited.

Which brings me to the very cool Hot Wheels exhibit I saw last Saturday at the Petersen Car Museum in Hollywood (credit to Julie for the idea, and of course Zack loved it). Like its subject, the exhibition space is not very large, but you do get to it through this wicked cool giant tire.

When you walk through, the strip lights light up and engine noises come out of the speakers. The inner loop is decorated with a ton of Hot Wheels that -- I swear I didn't notice this until I was uploading this picture an hour ago -- seem to be mounted on genuine orange Hot Wheels track (and suddenly I wish I had some now).

Of course the main feature is the dreamy display cases of cars, which I was having a great time gawking at when I read the sign below and my brain really blew a fuse...

Pretty amazing, right? Now look at how big the wall is:

Even with all the repaints, it seemed impossible to me that they could all fit on that one wall. But I guess the math actually works out: if you count rows, you'll get a number around 1,250, which divided by forty years of business comes out to a new car model every 12 days. Multiply that by the number of different color schemes and... whew! I'm glad I don't collect these.

Still, the exhibit was great to see, and I'll probably have to go back.

1 comment:

JPX said...

I love this post and I’m sorry I’ve taken so long to comment on it! It’s funny when your child gets into something you were never really into. Ben has little interest in action figures but he’s fanatical about Legos, which is good because I don’t have to worry about him wanting to play with my action figures! He recently developed a huge interest in fishing, but that’s another story. This Hot Wheels exhibit is amazing. Although toy cars never really appealed to me, I love seeing large collections of ANYTHING. I am a bit surprised by how small the wall appears, but as you note with your excellent math, it makes sense. Whenever I go into the car aisle of Toys R Us it seems like they have as many cars there as they do on that wall, but I suppose that’s because there is more than one brand. That picture of Zach is perfect because it captures the wonderment of a kid in some sort of a toy store. Toys are magic!