I recently found this great original Hot Wheels advertisement from the back cover of the Brave and the Bold No. 79 (featuring Batman and Deadman) dated Sept. 1968, which actually makes the ad somewhat older as comic book publications are anywhere from three to six months pushed forward. I believe the comic book dates are out of sequence with reality in order to ensure a book doesn’t hit the stands seemingly out of date. The original line of Hot Wheels were designed in 1967 and released in 1968. So, a few of the original “red lines” carry a 1967 copyright on the undercarriage.
Anyway, this is a really neat advert because it shows the premiere line of (red line) Hot Wheels, the cars now known as the “sweet sixteen.”
I found it very interesting to note that the “Python” car designed by Dean Jeffries is actually listed as “Cheetah.” This is of course due to the fact that Dean Jeffries based his design on Bill Cushenberry’s Cheetah show car. It also looks as if, in this early ad, that Dean wasn’t quite finished with his take on the car. The finished product had a little more of a Jeffries twist.
Dean Jeffries is of course the auto-design genius who gave us: the bubble-topped Mantaray from Bikini Beach, the Black Beauty from the Green Hornet, the Monkeemobile from the Monkees, the moon buggy James Bond drives in Diamonds Are Forever, the trolley from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and more super fun vehicles along the road.
I just received an original red line (metallic green) Python (dated 1967) for Father’s Day, (shown above) which prompted this article. Check it out! Thanks, kids!
Mattel brought in custom designers, showing a strong commitment to creating a really special and timeless toy-line. Harry Bentley Bradley designed 11 of the original 16. Ed Roth designed "the Beatnik Bandit." The Custom Volkswagen was designed by Ira Gilford and of course the Python from Dean Jeffries. Elliot Handler, co-founder of Mattel, came up with the idea for Hot Wheels, and despite others telling him it wasn’t such a hot idea, (they didn’t want to compete with Matchbox) he pushed forward and carved out a legendary piece of toy history.
My brother and I, along with the neighbor kids in our apartment complex in northeast Los Angeles spent endless summers racing those cars down that classic orange track. It’s almost impossible to know why, but those carefree days of laughing and cheering as the cars raced each other remain some of my fondest memories of childhood, and that my friends is what great toys are all about.
Bradley Mason Hamlin, Mystery Island, June 19, 2007.