hot wheels highway
by mike zarnock
One Of the mOre interesting hOt Wheels series to come
out in the 1980s was the “Crack-Ups.” The preliminary design
group at Mattel was looking for something new to add to its higher
price point line, like the Scene Machines, which would add “play value”
to the Hot Wheels line. Making their debut in 1984 and running until 1988,
originally called “Crash and Fix Cars,“ the Crack-Ups were quite unique
because of their dual play role. The idea was to manufacture vehicles that
could not only be raced by kids, but also mimic an accident upon impact with
one another. The secondary involvement would also incorporate play sets
and other vehicles from the Mainline.
With the help of now-legendary Hot Wheels designers Bob Rosas and
Larry Wood, these cars soon had body panels that would spin and reveal a
dented section when it came in contact with another vehicle. Here we have
kids trying to keep their toys nice and scratch-free, and Mattel comes out with
a car that you’re supposed to smash together and dent up.
Bob and Larry took bodies of Hot Wheels cars that were already in
production and modified them so they could use the rotating parts. Bob
recalls the Hiway Patrol being the first casting that he pulled apart. As with
many prototypes at that time, testing required them to make brass models
before the production tools were ready so they could make sure that what
they were doing would actually work before investing in costly tooling.
Duplicating the castings was done with the “lost-wax process.”
After all was said and done, there were nine different castings released
with three separate countries of origin: Hong Kong, Malaysia, and France,
with the French cars being released in the Mexican and European packages.
The packaging for the U. S. market received the Hong Kong and Malaysia
cars. As for the packaging itself, there were many different card styles
rendered for worldwide distribution, with the U.S. having three of its own.
There are nine different castings that make up a total of 36 different
names and colors within the total run, with 11 of them being front-crashers,
10 side-crashers, 10 rear-crashers, and five top-crashers. The odd front-crasher is the Crash Master Car from the Crack-Ups Crash Course play set.
All of the vehicles can be found carded separately except for the six cars
released on the “Crack-Ups Special Pack with Stamper” two-pack cards
and the Crash Master Car that came in a baggie in the set.
Including the colors, tampo variations, and country of origin bases, it’s
been said that there are a total of 73 different variations of the Crack-Ups
vehicles. Here is a list of the names, production numbers, and colors of the
vehicles including special packs and play sets that have been released for
the Hot Wheels Crack-Ups.
2-07573 Basher (yellow)
2-07577 Blind Sider (white)
2-07578 Back Biter (red metallic)
2-07580 Sidebanger (yellow)
2-09331 Exploder (black)
2-09332 Rear Ender (metallic blue)
(Photo courtesy of Bob
Packaged Production Crack-Ups “Back Biter” — one of the more popular castings.
Crack-Ups “Fire Smasher” production release made of diecast metal.