We had a pretty wet summer, which put a bit of a damper on our garage-saling. One sunny Sunday after a particularly rainy couple of days, I was driving back into the neighborhood after running errands with my wife, son and mother-in-law. We saw a sign advertising a Sunday-only sale and decided to check it out. It was a huge sale, and the nice woman explained to us how she had been thwarted by the rainy weather of the previous few days. There was a table with a few Hot Wheels, and though most of them were uninteresting, there was one that caught my eye. Even my son recognized that it was a Scene Machine and both of us began whispering excitedly. The Incredible Hulk was one of the few 1979 Hot Wheels that I had yet to find at a reasonable price.
Meanwhile, my wife had found some books and my mother-in-law had picked out a bunch of clothes. I handed the car to my son, who set it on the table while the nice woman was totaling up our purchase. She glanced at him and said, “Oh, we’ll just throw that in.”
1979 | 2850 | The Incredible Hulk (Scene Machines) | white with green, red & black trim | HK | blackwalls
The Scene Machines have a lens in the back of the vehicle which allows you to hold it up to the light and peer inside. In this case, the Hulk seems to be causing some commotion in the back of the van. These scenes are a little tricky to photograph, but the following image gives you some idea of the effect.
Other Scene Machines that I have in my collection include Spider-Man, Motocross Team, S.W.A.T. Van and Space Van.
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
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
Inside Story was introduced into the Hot Wheels lineup in 1979. This super-clean example came to me from the collection of Big A. The look of this Larry Wood designed custom van is eerily prescient of the minvans that would start to flood the U.S. car market in the mid 1980s.
1979 | 2510 | Inside Story | gray with black plastic base, blue, red & yellow trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls
Another version of Inside Story was also released in 1979 as the Spider-Man Scene Machine. Looking through the back window of the van, you can see a picture of Spider-Man fighting Doctor Doom. The many Superhero-themed cars are one of the reasons I enjoy the cars from 1979 so much. I picked this one up on eBay.
1979 | 2852 | Spider-Man (Scene Machines) | white with blue, red & black trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls
Photographing the scene in the back is tricky, but here is a shot that captures some of what can be seen when you look through the lens.
1979 was the year that Hot Wheels introduced the Scene Machines. These were a special series of trucks with a magnifying lens embedded in the back window, through which a scene could be viewed. These vehicles tend to be fairly valuable, so finding them in good shape for not a lot of money presents a bit of a challenge.
This Motocross Team van, which I found on eBay, was the first Scene Machine that I added to my collection. When I opened the package and peered into the back window for the first time, I was truly impressed with the effect. In this case, it’s as if you are actually looking into the back of the van. You see a guy in a motocross uniform seated on his motorcycle with another guy crouched next to him and the third guy in the driver’s seat, but turned around to face you and his friends in the van. The scene is illustrated as you would expect in the style and colors of the late 70s, matching the look and feel of the decoration on the outside of the van. I wish I could figure out a way to photograph the view and include it here, but I guess you’ll have to find one for yourself so you can get the real experience! [Edit] I have since figured out how to photograph the scene in the back (see photo below).
The casting of the Motocross Team is identical to the Baja Breaker, which was first released the previous year. As with many of these vans that have been played with, the hood latch has broken off of the plastic hood, which causes it to remain in the open position.
1979 | 2853 | Motocross Team (Scene Machines) | red, with yellow, black & white trim | Hong Kong | blackwalls
Photographing the scene in the back is tricky on this model. The lens in the back is very small and I wasn’t able to capture the entire scene. Still, it gives a fairly good idea what the effect is like.