The S.W.A.T. van is another of the Hot Wheels Scene Machines from 1979. The casting is a reworking of the Letter Getter from 1977, made more imposing with the dark blue paint and the bold lettering and shield on the sides. The effect is supported with the image inside; heavily-armed officers and a vicious, fang-baring German shepherd look ready to take any measures necessary to keep order.
1979 | 2854 | S.W.A.T. Van (Scene Machines) | dark enamel blue with white & orange trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls
The Hot Wheels Super Van – one of the castings I’ve owned one since I was a kid – is a favorite of mine. Introduced in 1975, the original tool was used until 1985. It was retooled in 2003 and is continuing to enjoy another long run. The chrome metalflake 1979 version shown here is from the cars I bought from The Dealer. The hot rod painted on the side appears to share the same back wheel as the van itself.
1979 | 9205 | California Cruisin’ (Super Van) | chrome metalflake with orange, yellow & black trim | Malaysia | blackwalls
Other Super Vans I have in my collection include Thor, and Paramedic. I also have two of the retooled versions, one from the General Mills series and the other features an Archie Comics theme.
In 1979, Hot Wheels created a special series of vehicles called Scene Machines. Each model had a lens on the back, through which a picture inside the vehicle could be viewed. I was at first skeptical of what seemed like a gimmick, until I took ownership of the Motocross Team and became an instant fan. I have since acquired Spider Man, S.W.A.T. Van and now, the Space Van.
Space Van is an imposing, 6-wheeled wedge in metallic gray, white and silver. Peek through the porthole in the back and you’ll get a glimpse of the exciting adventures of its occupants. A similar casting appeared again in 1981 as Rescue Squad, in red and red plastic. The casting was reworked another time for 1982’s Tac-Com.
1979 | 285 | Space Van (Scene Machines) | gray with white plastic top | Hong Kong | blackwalls
During his later years, my friend Van was part of a camping club, a group of friends who would caravan around the country in motorhomes. Van was the fix-it guy in the club, always happy to help his camping club friends with mechanical or maintenance issues, or even cosmetic improvements to their motor homes. Even after they were too old to drive these cumbersome vehicles around the country, the camping club continued to meet once a month at a local restaurant for lunch. At some point, one of his beloved camping club friends gave Van this Hot Wheels Motor Home, hand-painted to match his own rig.
I have to admit, when Van first gave me his Hot Wheels Motor Home, I was a little disappointed that it had been painted over. But since Van has been gone a few years, I’m appreciating his customized version a lot more. Besides, based on the chrome plastic base, the blackwall tires, and the bits of original orange paint still peeking out under the wheel wells, I’m pretty sure Van’s Hot Wheels Motor Home was the same 1979 variation of which I also have a really nice example.
1979 | 9645 | GMC Motor Home | orange, chrome plastic base | Hong Kong | blackwalls
When I bought a few cases of Hot Wheels from The Dealer a few years back, this ’56 Hi-Tail Hauler was the car he pulled out to show me that some of the cars were “worth a lot of money!” I’m not sure how much he knew about the values of Hot Wheels, but he did have good taste. The sight of this near-mint blue and yellow Ford F-150 helped seal the deal.
As it turns out, this light blue variation from 1979 is one of the least valuable of the 10 or so versions that were made since the casting’s debut in 1977. But I’m not complaining. I also have the metalflake blue model from 1982.
1979 | 9647 | ‘56 Hi-Tail Hauler | blue with red & yellow flames, yellow plastic motorcycles | Hong Kong | blackwalls
When I was a kid, I really enjoyed the magazine CARtoons. Produced by Petersen Publishing between 1959 and 1991, the magazine featured art by talented illustrators such as Pete Millar, George Trosley, Dave Deal and many others. The cars in the magazine were like caricatures, with exaggerated features, monstrous blown engines and impossibly fat tires.
The Muscle Machines series continues the spirit of those CARtoons cars. Muscle Machines were created in 1999 as a collaboration between 3-D artist Bruce Schultz and the Australian illustrator Rohan Day, whose art is featured on a trading card that comes with each model. Muscle Machines were eventually acquired by Maisto in 2012.
Curiously, even thought this black and orange 1958 Chevy Impala is a 2012 release, I found it few weeks ago on the pegs of a Walmart store.
2012 Release 12.3 1958 Chevy Impala black/orange
I have two other Muscle Machines 1958 Impalas from before the company was bought by Maisto. This white and brown model from 2007 is contained in a unique package with a window on the back that allows you to see the detail on the bottom of the car.
2007 Series 2 1958 Chevy Impala white/brown
My other Muscle Machines 1958 Impala is a silver and blue version that dates back to 2004, when I was still liberating my cars from their packaging. The collector card that came with it (shown below) has identical art on both the front and the back side.
2004 RC 04-17 1958 Chevy Impala silver/blue