#36 Toyota Celica, black plastic front grille and vents, (not paint).
At the end of the year 2000, Hot Wheels collectors were wondering if the 2001 main line cars were going to continue on with collector numbers from the previous year, as they had since 1989. Since Mattel had started over at “1” in 2000, there was a thought among collectors that that the number cards would continue sequentially into 2001. The thought was erroneous; when the first few cards for ‘01 came out, we quickly saw that Mattel had decided to reset the ticker each year. This started a lot of discussions; some collectors liked it, and some didn’t. Either way, that’s what we got — and we’ve gotten used to it.
It seemed that a lot of changes were taking place for the new millennium. The 1957 Roadster and the “Go-Kart” were the first to get the new style mini 5-spoke wheel, and there was also a change in the Hot Wheels logo that was tampo’d on the body. A good example of that is the black “Muscle Tone.” It has the logo in orange, on the front fender. Both wheel variations have both logos, making a total of four different variations.
There were also a number of 5-spoke variations that were keeping collectors very busy. The “Shredster”, Dodge Charger R/T, Mustang Mach 1, “Shoe Box,” “Muscle Tone,” “Hammered Coupe,” 1932 Ford Vicky, “Greased Lightnin’,” Ferrari F355 and the Ford Stake Bed were in short supply. Each of them were commanding $10 to $15 apiece ... if you could find them.
There was also a card variation on the “Rod Squadron” series or would that be the “Rod Squardron” series? That’s right, they spelled “Squadron” wrong on the packaging of all four cars in the series. It got to the point that collectors were chasing after both the incorrect, and the later, corrected pieces, so they could complete a set.
Less easy to spot was the color of the “peace signs” on the hoods of the “Hippie Series” 1968 Mustangs. The first round of cars had three silver peace signs on the hood; not too long after, they were changed to white. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this was a running change, and that the numbers on the silver ones are quite low. Not too many collectors knew about them, and I’m sure that there are some of the silver ones in collectors’ “extras” boxes. I run into them from time to time, so if you don’t already have one, keep your eyes open.
All in all, 2001 was a pretty good year for variation collectors. From wheel changes to interior colors, misspelled cards and tampo changes, there were many different types of variations to look for. Let’s take a look at my Top 10 Variation Picks for the year.