I Had That! #31: Matchbox and Hot Wheels Cars

Does it count as memories if I had to be reminded of it? The other day I was scrolling through Tumblr when a post featuring a bunch of old Hot Wheels cars when by, and that car up there, the Spoiler Sport, jumped out at me. Yes, I had that car. I loved that car. And this made me realize I had to talk about toy cars.

Before action figures, toy cars of the Matchbox and Hot Wheels varieties were right up there with plastic dinosaurs and army men as essential boy toys. Every kid had tons of these, usually from (as with Tonka trucks collections of other kids who had outgrown them. I’m sure some of these were bought off the rack, but I mostly remember just sort of having them.

I can’t really remember how we played with them, but I know we did. They had adventures, I guess? Memories are faint of all but the cars themselves. Going through wikis of both Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, although “Spoiler Sport” (first produced in 1977) above is Hot Wheels, the rest of the ones I remember were Matchbox. Here are some of my favorites:

Planet Scout (1975)

Blaze Buster (1975)

Cosmobile (1975)

Stretcha Fetcha (1972)

What do those all have in common? They’re all science fictiony. Even the fire truck looks like a spaceship, and in fact I know at the time when I drew spaceships they had that angled nose like the Spoiler Sport. The exception that proves the rule was this one:

Piston Popper (1973)

Which is a “normal” car, but when it rolled the pistons moved up and down and that was pretty cool.

I never, even in my teens, got into cars. Back then, when friends of mine could point out a Dodge or a Ford or whatever, I had no idea how they knew the difference. They all looked alike to me. To this day I realize that if I ever witnessed some kind of getaway I’d be useless to the cops. “What kind of car was it?” “Uhh, a sort of gray one?” Even in the case of distinctive models, such as the Corvette/Trans Am rivalry back then, I had no idea how to choose a side and couldn’t be roused to care. Cars as cars held no interest to me. Thus, while my friends might have grabbed some kind of classic model off the Matchbox shelf, I generally went for whatever had the coolest, most futuristic shape.

When did I get it? 1975-1976 seems to be the right time, but the Spoiler Sport coming out in ’77 messes that up. I imagine we played with them until Star Wars figures arrived on the scene in early ’78.

Do I still have it? No, none of them. No idea what ended up happening to them.

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