The Case of the Sad Dad includes several Racing Champions NASCAR models from 1989-1991. I used Bill Kingsley’s impressive diecastcrazy.com survey of 1/64th NASCAR body styles to help identify each of these.
Last summer, my wife and son and I stopped at a garage sale at the home of a 30-something couple. I saw this well-used 48-car case on a table of assorted goods. Expecting it to be empty, I picked it up to look it over and was surprised and excited by the heft of it. I flipped open the lid and a quick glance at the 2/3-full contents told me I had a good find, especially for the price on the sticker affixed to the lid.
My son found a book he wanted and, as I usually do, I handed my purchase to my wife so she could pay for it. Now, my wife is a very committed haggler, but knowing what I had, I was a little surprised when she began to negotiate for a lower price.
“But they were my childhood cars,” protested the man, and with a glance at my son he added, “and we only have a girl.”
My heart broke for the man just then. I’m sure the man loves his daughter, but I could understand his disappointment at having a kid who doesn’t appreciate his childhood toys. So I knew it was up to me to make a good home for his car collection. My wife glanced at me and I gave here a little nod. She paid the man and we were on our way.
The cars in the case range from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s. Most are Hot Wheels but there is also a nice assortment of Racing Champions stock cars. A single Matchbox, a lone Pit Row and one nice old Yatming model make up the balance of the 32 cars. I’ll show the most of the Hot Wheels here and save the rest for later posts.
The Hot Wheels Speed Demons series was introduced in 1986 and brought us classic creature-based castings such as Fangster and Sharkruiser. The Sad Dad’s toys include the original Turboa from 1986 and a 1992 variation of Zombot.
Another popular Hot Wheels series from the 1980s is the Crack-Ups. These cars have spring-loaded panels that switch from clean to damaged on impact. As the Sad Dad’s example shows, they were generally smacked around a lot, so these cars are hard to find in good shape. This is the 1986 Side Grinder.
In 1988, Hot Wheels brought us the Color Changers, and their sporty brothers the Color Racers. When run under hot water, the characteristically thick and glossy paint on this Lamborghini Countach changes from pink to off-white as it gets warmer.
You’ll notice several of the Sad Dad’s Hot Wheels have Ultra Hot wheels, which were first introduced in 1984 for the series of the same name and were used up until 1995. The rear wheels on Alien from 1990 are almost entirely shrouded inside its metalflake silver body.
The Hot Wheels Nissan Custom “Z”, with its opening doors and clear plastic headlights, debuted in 1990. Sad Dad’s collection includes the metallic dark red version from the first year and another light blue variation from 1997.
The Larry Wood designed Shadow Jet was first cast in 1988. Here are two identical metallic purple versions from 1990 and a green variation from 1992.
This Lamborghini Diablo has very unusual blue-with-red-glitter paint.
This is one of two wheel variations on the 1992 first casting of Flashfire – the other being gold Hot Ones.
My favorite car of Sad Dad’s collection, this coffin-shaped dragster is the 1994 first casting of Rigor Motor. When Hot Wheels released their 30th Anniversary collection in 1998, Rigor Motor was chosen as the model to represent 1994.
The original much-loved Hot Wheels Twin Mill was designed by Ira Gilford and was released in 1969 in all of your favorite Spectraflame colors. Twin Mill II was released in 1993 and, although this 1995 variation from the Dark Riders series does have nice metallic black paint, I’m not really sure why they felt the need to mess with a good thing. I’m not even going to mention Twin Mill III.
The GT Racer came out in 1989 and has seen many fun variations since then. This orange and black variation is from 1996.
Sad Dad had two Hot Wheels Dodge Viper RT/10s in his collection. First cast in 1993, both the yellow and green variations are from 1996.
Finally, the collection includes a single McDonald’s promotional Hot Wheel from 1996, the Flames Series Funny Car.