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Sunday, March 7, 2021

This is how a real-life car gets turned into a Hot Wheels die-cast toy


A Hot Wheels toy is designed much like a real car.

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Hot Wheels

For recent years Hot Wheels has held the Legends Tour, which sees owners of modified cars from everywhere compete for the chance to manage to get thier car produced as an actual, purchasable, 1:64-scale Hot Wheels die-cast toy. Last year’s winner was The Nash, an incredible hot rod 1957 Nash Metropolitan built by Greg Salzillo, and we got an inside look at how the toy version is designed and created.

As with a full-size car, the design process starts with sketches. The sketch phase is essential not only to find out how to condense the style to a much smaller size, but in addition to figure out how to break the car into the key parts. Each Hot Wheels die-cast is composed of four parts: the body, the windows, the inside, and the chassis with wheels. Because of The Nash’s strange shape, it was also important to find the right colors for each of the components to preserve the car’s color scheme.

After the sketching phase, the designers move onto digital 3D modeling. Designer Manson Cheung is part of the sculpting department, and he uses a “3D digital sculpting device” called Freeform. It’s basically like virtual clay, allowing him to sculpt a digital clay type of the car just like a designer would for a full-scale “real” car. The 3D modeling process lets the designers really fine-tune the important points of the car and decide how it will actually be put together; at this stage you can make changes and refine the design. They even model how the car is likely to look in the iconic Hot Wheels packaging.

The Nash’s wheels were one of the toughest things to replicate, as the real-life car has these large, narrow tires which are unlike what a regular Metropolitan (or a regular car) uses. The standard Hot Wheels wheels wouldn’t work, so the designers had to utilize “skinny wheels” which are rarely employed by the company. Luckily, those wheels were still available for production and fit perfectly on the new die-cast.


Yes, car designers do still use actual pen and paper!

Hot Wheels

Once the style has been mostly finalized, prototypes are 3D printed to test fit and see how different parts and components get together in true to life. The car will then go through more design changes depending on how it looks as a real toy — as you care able to see from a few of the photos, things such as the engine and hood were modified at this stage. Once the design has been completely locked in, a final 3D model is created and then fully painted preproduction samples are made, followed by the creation of the finished product and the packaging.

Now that the toy is all done, you’ll be able to buy The Nash in shops this December. Building the true car cost Salzillo significantly less than $10,000, including what he covered the car, but the Hot Wheels version will definitely cost quite a bit less: just $1.09.

The 2020 Legends Tour was designed to hit 18 cities through the entire US in 2010, but it must be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Hot Wheels is holding it digitally, allowing people to submit their rides online. There have been three “stops” up to now, with a winner being chosen from each one, and two more to go. Of these finalists, one winner will soon be chosen at the livestreamed grand finale event in November, with that car getting turned into a commercially available toy next year.

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