It was 1968 and Hot Wheels ® were the hottest new toys for boys. Mattel used all its resources for design, engineering, and tooling and they were looking everywhere especially in the southern California area for vendors and contract people to help them. Why vendors and contract engineers, designer’s etc.? Because they didn’t have the staff for all the help they needed.
At the time, Bob was doing contract engineering on tooling. The company he was working for was one of several that got contracts from Mattel to design the molds for toys and especially Hot Wheels®. He didn’t think much of it at the time but there he was designing a multi-cavity tool for Classic 32 Ford Vicky toy number 6250. This was the first of about 24 different ones that he worked on. He was working in Fullerton CA and would go into Mattel in Hawthorne CA once a week to get approval on the drawings.He was asked to join one of the Mattel Subsidiaries called Optigan and not too long after that he was hired to work at Mattel in Hawthorne. He started out working tooling and then engineering and design for Barbie accessories, preschool toys and Big Jim before he was assigned to the Hot Wheels® group. The first car he worked on was the Baja Bruiser whose concept was by Larry Wood. He continued working on the designs for hundreds of cars over the years. Eventually he managed the design and engineering group for Hot Wheels® and directed many people on cars and sets until he left Mattel in 1989.His group also did Masters of the Universe and Wheeled Warriors.
During those years, some of his biggest endeavors were his involvement in the beginnings of the tampo printing process. Some of the other projects were Sizzlers®, Thunder shift 500, Machine Paks, Thrill Drivers Corkscrew, Mean Machines (motorcycles), The collectors patch series, The Heroes, Scene Machines, Spiderman’s “Web of Terror”, Scorchers, The collector books from 1981 and 1982, Steering rigs, Steering rig cabs, Sto and Go’s, Mega Force, Truck Company, Shift Kickers, Power Devils, Ultra Hots. Real Riders, Metal flake paints, Crack-Ups, Zap ‘N Go, XV Racers and many others.
Larry Wood and Bob Rosas worked together for many years and one of their personal projects was to promote the idea that we should make cars that appealed to an ever-growing collector market. We became aware of the interest in collecting Hot Wheels® by grown men and women probably as far back as the late 70’s. As a result of this he encouraged Mattel to make more classic cars and the cars with the “real rider” tires.
Bob has BS degrees in Engineering and Industrial Design from Cal State University Long Beach California
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In his forty years as Mattel's principal designer of Hot Wheels® vehicles, Larry Wood saw more of his designs produced than any other automobile designer in the world.
Larry graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and headed for Detroit where he worked for the Ford Design Center on the GT 40 project and the '69 Mustang. After the first snow, Larry decided a warmer climate was more to his liking and headed back to Los Angeles. There he signed on with Lockheed, designing aircraft interiors. “The great events of my life have always happened at parties.” Larry has said. It was at a party that Howard Rees (the principal Hot Wheels® designer in '69) told Larry that he was tired of designing toy cars and wanted to move to space toys. Howard promised Larry that he would mention him for the job he was vacating. The rest, as they say, is Hot Wheels® history.
Larry's first design for Mattel was the Tri Baby/Buzz Off. He continued to work on many of the models from 1970 through 1974 and almost all of the vehicles from 1975 through the eighties, retired in 09, and still does a few cars a year.
Two of Larry's favorite Hot Wheels® cars are the Passion and the "Elwoody" ('50 Buick) in 1/64th scale, the 1/24thscale '49 Merc the detailing involved with the Cars he designed include the Tri-Baby®, Bugeye, Bye-Focal®, Classic Cord, Grass Hopper, The Hood, Jet Threat®, Mutt Mobile, Olds 442, Special Delivery®, Strip Teaser, T-4-2, Street Rodder, '31 Doozie, Super Van, Ramblin' Wrecker®, Vega Bomb, Neet Streeter®, '56 Hi-Tail hauler, '57 Chevy, GMC Motor Home, '57 T-Bird, A-OK®, 3-Window '34, '40s Woodie, Greyhound MC-8, Old Number 5, Classic Cobra, ’65 Mustang Convertible, '32 Ford Delivery, Propper Chopper® and the '56 Flashsider®. Some of the cars Larry designed for the collectible line include 1949 Mercury, Dodge Viper GTS,'38 Ford C.O.E., '59 Woodie, '69 Riviera Chevrolet, '53 Bel Air, Chevelle, Olds 442 and the Plymouth Hemi GTX. He also did the HWC Mobil Oil series and both the Preferred line and the Collectible line singles for 2002 and 2003, Classics, Street Show®, RLC & the Ultra Hots™ line.
Lately Larry has designed the Bone Shaker®, ’66 Batmobile, Straight Pipes®, Corvette Grand Sport, H2GO,Tri Baby® Too, A-OK®, ’29 Pickup, Cadillac Pickup, ’41 Willys, Haul of Flame (the Hot Wheels® shuttle) and all the Larry’s Garage® cars.
Now he spends his time at his “Elwoods Garage” working on real cars.
Steve Vandervate has been with Hot Wheels® Graphics since 2003, his primary responsibility being the art direction and graphic design of the Premium retail, HWC/RLC, and special event items, prior to working at Mattel, he had been in the commercial sign industry doing lettering, pin striping, design, the whole bit.
Steve, or Van as he is often called, has always been around the car scene, primarily muscle cars and traditional rods and customs. He had been pin striping at California shows for at least ten years or so and had been doing illustration for magazines, record labels, clothing companies, etc. for just about that long, all before he started his career at Mattel.
Brendon joined Mattel, Inc. in 2007, and began working on the Hot Wheels Track & Play Sets team. He developed the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Trick Tracks product lines, as well as the 4-Lane Elimination Race and Super 6-Lane Raceway sets. From that he was the lead designer on Monster Jam for two years developing items like the “Then & Now” series, the “Mighty Minis” line, as well as numerous 1:64, 1:43, and 1:24 scale replica Monster Jam trucks and play sets. Following that he managed a team of designers for a few years working on Monster Jam play sets, as well as licensed Entertainment play sets.Heading back into design, he recently took back the role of lead designer for Monster Jam diecast and has added the Hot Wheels RLC diecast to his role of responsibilities.
Brendon got his start on designing 1:64 Hot Wheels cars for the 2010 Model year with the 1967 Pontiac Firebird 400 and the 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396. He has since worked on other cars including the 1972 Ford Torino Gran Sport, 1969 Shelby Mustang GT500, 1965 Mercury Comet Cyclone, 1967 Olds 442, 1967 Ford Bronco, 1970 Chevy Blazer, 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, 2011 Dodge Charger R/T, 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle SS, 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, 1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SD455, 1981 Chevrolet Camaro, K.I.T.T., 1985Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z, 1984 Hurst/ Olds, Subaru B.R.A.T., 1970 AMC Rebel Machine, Highway Hauler 2, 1955 Chevy Gasser, 1971 Plymouth Satellite, 1958 Plymouth Belvedere, 1976 Chevrolet Chevette, 1988 Jeep Wagoneer, 1980 Dodge Power Wagon, 2014 C.O.P.O. Camaro, K.I.T.T. Super Pursuit Mode, Mountain Mauler, Corvette Grand Sport Roadster, Dodge Challenger Hellcat, Dodge Charger Hellcat, Furious 7 Off Road 1970 Dodge Charger, 2016 Camaro SS,Gotta Go, as well as the Elite K.I.T.T., K.A.R.R., Herbie The Love Bug, and The Fast and the Furious Dodge Charger in 1:18 and 1:43 scales. Brendon has been collecting Hot Wheels and other vehicle related toys since the early 1990's and has been designing vehicle toys throughout his career. When he's not at work he is likely working on his own project cars (a 1967 Pontiac Firebird and a 1955 Chevy Gasser), helping others with their cars or at some car related event.
Chris Walker “Night Stalker” burst onto the die-cast scene customizing cars for competition. After winning multiple awards, he focused his attention towards high-end custom pieces for celebrities and famous designers with his work appearing in the Hot Wheels® exhibit in the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, CA. It was then that he got noticed by a few larger companies and started doing freelance work in packaging and graphics, and event cars for U.S. and International conventions.
Julian Koiles has been with Hot Wheels packaging since 2014, designing and art directing the packaging for the Hot Wheels premium lines, which includes: Pop Culture, Car Culture, and Replica Entertainment. Along with the Premium line, Julian is also responsible for designing and art directing the packaging for RLC, Hot Wheels Core Track Sets and Play Sets, as well as many of the customized lines, such as the Target Retro Nostalgia line. Julian’s passion for cars, design, and serving the packaging needs of the Hot Wheels collector is evident in the painstaking research and development he does in the process of creating each and every package.
Julian graduated from Academy of Art College with a major in illustration, and a minor in 3d modeling. Prior to coming onboard at Mattel as a packaging designer, Julian had worked as an illustrator, and a product designer at various consumer product companies.
Julian was introduced to the world of cars when he bought his first car; a 1966 Chevy Caprice Coupe. From that moment on cars would become an important part of his life, first personally, and then later professionally. Julian continues to be a “car guy” currently driving a “modded” 2012 Ford Mustang GT.
Steve is a long-time collector who has taken the Hot Wheels® hobby to a new dimension. He is a collector, hobbyist, and painter of LOTS of Code 3 Hot Wheels®.
Steve’s passion for customizing Hot Wheels® began in the mid 90’s, and he is known to some as the “Grandfather of Die-Cast Customizers” as he was one of the first to bring full scale customizing detail to a 1:64th scale car.
He has painted Code 3 cars for the Hot Wheels® Conventions and Nationals for 20 years, painting more Hot Wheels® than anyone else, next to Mattel.
He also shares his talent with local clubs and other organization across the country by painting or customizing Hot Wheels® for fundraisers, sales awards or charitable events.
Some of the top awards that Steve has received are the Boyd Coddington award in 1996 and a Mattel Choice Award in 1998. It is estimated that he has painted 100,000 Hot Wheels® over the last 20 years.
Michael is an American author and columnist, who writes collector guides and articles about Mattel “Hot Wheels®” toy cars and accessories.
Michael’s knowledge along with his massive Hot Wheels® collection has earned him notoriety around the world. Whether it be because of the 14 books he has written on the subject, the numerous chapters in other books and countless magazine articles that he has written about Hot Wheels® toys or just the sheer size and diversity of his die cast vehicle collection, this extensive knowledge has earned him the label, “One of the world’s leading Hot Wheels® Historians.”
Did you know?Michael’s collection has earned him 2 Guinness World Records!
Michael was born April 21, 1958 in Utica, New York into a working class family. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School, Utica, New York in 1976.
Some of Michael’s other accomplishments over the years include racing Moto Cross as a teenager to building and driving many Drag Race and Show Cars. Some of which ended up being Street Racers for other people. Michael has many stories about those Street Racing days including the time he was kidnapped for not giving up the money. That story made its way across the country to Hollywood where he was asked to write a screenplay about it for Actor/Producer Christopher Titus. He has also rewritten that script to be published as a novel titled as “Once Upon A Street Race”
Michael has had a passion for Hot Wheels® toy cars and their accessories ever since their release in 1968 when he was 10 years old and has collected them whenever he could find them. It’s come to be that Michael has spent so much time and effort on his collection that he’s become one of the world’s most respected Historians on Hot Wheels® and their variations. So much so, that it prompted him to write a best-selling Collector Guide called “The Ultimate Guide to Hot Wheels® Variations”, first published in 2002 by Krause Publications. That book sold out almost instantly and went into a second printing in less than a year after its release. Since then Michael has written 13 more books, was under contract with “Toy Cars & Models Magazine” for 6 years where he wrote a monthly Hot Wheels® column and price guide, written numerous chapters in many other die cast books and countless articles for magazines such as “The Car Room” and “Die Cast X ”. He is currently Senior Contributing Editor at “Die Cast X Magazine” where he has had his Hot Wheels® column since 2011.
Michael also provides Hot Wheels® Collection Appraisal services for Insurance Riders, Insurance Claims, EBay Fraud Claims, US Postal Damage Claims and Court Cases including Estate and Divorce Settlements, including services to authenticate or disprove fraudulent Hot Wheels® product including issuing Certificates of Authenticity when needed.
Michael makes his home in the small upstate New York town of Deerfield with his wife Tina along with his youngest son Cody and his wife Joanna. His oldest son Christopher makes his home in Conway, South Carolina and is an avid Hot Wheels® collector himself. Michael makes appearances at Schools, Conventions, Toy Shows and Hot
Wheels® Club functions across the United States and Canada. You never know where you’ll find him. He has been featured in many Television shows about collecting, been featured in many magazines and he’s even made a few appearances in the movies.He made his screen debut playing “Artie, the sleazy comic book publisher”, in the “Catch Your Breath Productions” film “Detour”. He returned to take on the role of “Freddy Grecko, talk show host extraordinaire” in “The Death of Daniel Whately” and also played “Chester Greenfield II,” the wealthy father of the main character in the movie “Anchor Eddy’s”.
For more information about Michael Zarnock, his latest books and appearances go to his official website www.MikeZarnock.com
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