2017 Hot Wheels Spy vs. Spy ’66 Dodge A100

MAD’s Spy vs. Spy, which first appeared in 1961, is one of my favorite things ever. The premise of the comic strip by Antonio Prohias is genius. In a sort of James Bond meets Heckle and Jeckle, two rival agents – one dressed in black, the other in white, but otherwise identical – take turns trying to eliminate each other. The futility of this ongoing battle only heightens the comedy, as, with each new episode, they come up with more inventive and varied ways to try to cause the others’ demise. All of this is masterfully rendered in only black and white and with no dialogue.

I’ve been eagerly hoping to find these ever since I saw them in the Sneak Peeks last year as a sub-series of MAD magazine models in the 2017 Hot Wheels Pop Culture line. Initially, I found only the Don Martin cars, which are great in their own way. But while I was looking through the mainlines the other day at Target, my son – who is a second-generation Spy vs. Spy fan – spotted these hanging nearby.

I love the simplicity of the packaging and the decorations on these models. I don’t mind so much that they cheated and used some red highlights, since it ties in nicely with the MAD logo and the redlines on the tires. The ’66 Dodge A100, with it’s fairly extreme square features, seems an appropriate Cold War era vehicle for this particular mission.

Hot Wheels DWH40 | 2017 Pop Culture MAD #2/5 | ’66 Dodge A100 | micron black with Spy vs Spy trim | RLDDRR

Hot Wheels DWH37 | 2017 Pop Culture MAD #3/5 | ’66 Dodge A100 | pearl white with Spy vs Spy trim | RLDDRR

Antonio Prohias was born in Cuba in 1921. He was an experienced, prolific and award-winning cartoonist by the time he arrived in New York in 1960 – forced to flee his homeland after angering Fidel Castro with his anti-Communist drawings. When he took his portfolio to the MAD offices, he was immediately hired and his black and white Spies became an integral part of the magazine. Of his wordless style, Prohias has said (as quoted in Spy vs. Spy: the Complete Casebook), “As far as I’m concerned, drawing is a language in itself. I feel words are superfluous. In fact, even in Cuba I used Spanish as little as possible. All the power was in the drawings.”

My library of vintage Spy vs. Spy books.

As a youngster who loved to draw, I paid close attention to what Prohias was doing. He brought life to a spare palette with textures; endless varieties of brick and stone, clouds and smoke, tree bark and woodgrain. His skillful use of the brush tied together the page while adding and drama and tension. Prohias’ compositions defied two dimensions and his smart construction of the panels told the story fluidly.

My all-time favorite spread.

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2017 Hot Wheels Pop Culture MAD Don Martin Models

I’ve been holding off showing these, hoping I might still find the rest of the Hot Wheels MAD series. In fact, I really wanted the Alfred E. Neuman ’64 Nova panel and the Spy vs. Spy ’66 Dodge vans. But, considering how scarce these have been on the pegs and how much I loved Don Martin when I was a kid, I’m glad I landed these two.

MAD was scarce in our house. The irreverent and sometimes racy satirical compilation was frowned upon by my fairly straight-laced parents. But they couldn’t shield me forever from my older brothers’ library, and I quickly became a fan of the magazine, which was founded by Harvey Kurtzman in 1952.

Don Martin was one of the artists brought to the magazine by Al Feldstein when he took over the editorial reigns in 1956. Martin’s immediately recognizable style and beautifully designed cartoons were often the highlight of the magazine, and he continued working for MAD up until 1988. Martin was famous for his particular brand of bizarre slapstick humor, punctuated by unique sound effects, which feature prominently in the decoration of both the cars and the packages of these Hot Wheels.

DWH25-4B10 | 2017 Pop Culture MAD #4/5 | ’55 Chevy Panel | pale green with Don Martin SPLITCH trim | RLRR5SP

DWH36-4B10 | 2017 Pop Culture MAD #5/5 | Haulin’ Gas | sky blue with Don Martin SHTOINK | RR10SP

The ’55 Chevy Panel – with its broad billboard surfaces – is a staple in the Pop Culture series, having made previous appearances decorated with 3 Musketeers (2015 M&M Mars) and Ghost Rider (2016 Marvel) branding. Haulin’ Gas is another Pop Culture regular, and I happen to have the Green Giant version from the 2013 General Mills series.

2009 HWC Neo-Classics Olds 442 Security Car

The Hot Wheels Olds 442 Police Cruiser from my childhood was a favorite. Despite lots of playtime, it survived in reasonably good shape. It’s always fun to find variations of the cars I had when I was a kid (you can see some other Olds 442s here). So, a few months back, when I saw that the Hot Wheels Collectors website was offering the 2009 Neo-Classics Olds 442 Security Car at half price, I ordered one.

This recent version has had its light bar retooled, but the 442 is pretty striking in this Spectraflame red and chrome combo. And though a security car seems a step down from the Police Cruiser of my youth, you have to admit working security for Mattel would be a pretty cool job!

P2139 | 2009 HWC Series 8 Neo-Classics | Olds 442 Security Car | 3882/10,000 | Spectraflame red and chrome with white, red and black Mattel Security trim | Neo-Classic RL

I also have HWC variations of my childhood Super Van, Heavy Chevy and Ford J-Car.

M2 Machines Auto-Drivers and Detroit Muscle 1967 Chevy Nova SS

I remember being impressed when, about a year ago, I first saw a preview on Facebook of this M2 Machines Special Edition Auto-Drivers release of the 1967 Chevrolet Nova SS. And I was not disappointed when I eventually found one in the store last fall. The “frozen black pearl” paint is really striking against the black interior, black wheels with redlines, and blacked-out grill and bumpers. Unfortunately, my photos don’t do it justice.

img_9203 img_92102016 Auto-Drivers R35 Special Edition | 1967 Chevrolet Nova SS 15-28 | frozen black pearl | 1:64

I also found the Detroit-Muscle R34 ’67 Nova in “emerald turquoise”, which also sports redlines.

img_9207img_92062016 Detroit Muscle R34 | 1967 Chevrolet Nova SS | emerald turquoise with black top | 1:64

I have many M2 Machines 1967 Novas. My favorites include the Target Exclusive version and the 60 Years of Turbo Fire release.

2015 Spider-Man ’64 Chevy Nova Delivery

Hot Wheels has teamed up with Marvel since the Heroes series was released in 1979. The success of all the recent Marvel movies seems to have strengthened that relationship. When this Pop Culture Marvel Comics series came out last year, I barely even saw it in the stores. I was never able to find the Spider-Man ’64 Chevy Nova Delivery on the pegs, so I had to go after it on eBay. This was the first Delivery version of the ’64 Nova Wagon, with the rear windows filled in to allow a nice space for the Spider-Man graphics.

IMG_7796IMG_7798CFP60 | 2015 Pop Culture Marvel Comics | ’64 Chevy Nova Delivery | metallic gold with Spider-Man trim | chrome and goldenrod RLRRLW5SP

2015 Redline ’64 Chevy Nova Station Wagon

I searched a long time for the ’64 Chevy Nova Station Wagon starting when I first saw the Redline series was out in stores. Just when I was starting to think it would elude me, I finally found it at the Super Target across town. Since then, of course, I’ve seen it at the Walgreens just down the street. The Hot Wheels ’64 Nova Wagon first showed up in the 2013 HW Showroom series, then was found in the 2014 HW Workshop offering. There is also a delivery version that has the rear windows filled in.

IMG_7795IMG_7797CFN65 | 2015 Heritage Series – Redline | ’64 Chevy Nova Station Wagon | metallic black with red & gold trim | redlines

Hot Wheels ’58 Impala

The Hot Wheels ’58 Impala made its first appearance in 2007 in the Hot Wheels Classics Series 3. There were 5 color variations, of which I have the Spectraflame Gold and Spectraflame Purple versions. With their white tops, chrome trim and whiteline tires, these are some pretty sharp models.

IMG_7783IMG_7789L0732 | 2007 Hot Wheels Classics Series 3 | ’58 Impala 4/30 | Spectraflame gold with white top | whiteline 5SP

IMG_7784IMG_7788L0732 | 2007 Hot Wheels Classics Series 3 | ’58 Impala 4/30 | Spectraflame purple with white top | whiteline 5SP

The following year, the ’58 Impala was included in the Since ’68 Hot Rods series wearing distinctive Metalflake Grey paint with red tampos.

IMG_7785 IMG_7787M1573 | 2008 Hot Wheels Since 1968 Hot Rods | ’58 Impala 5/10 | Metalflake gray with red trim | redlines