A casting, aka a tooling, is the structural design for each Hot Wheels car. The casting will be given a name and bear that name through each release of the casting over the period of its usage. Occasionally, a casting name will change and use the new name going forward. Sometimes, castings stop being used for a number of years and return later. When a casting returns after a long absence, it is usually retooled (i.e. a new tool is created for making the car).
Each time a casting is issued with a new deco, it is a new edition (or "release.") A casting may be issued in several editions over a period of years, and sometimes in more than one edition in a given year.
Deco is short for decoration. Each time a casting is released, it will feature a color and perhaps other decorations such as stripes, flames, etc. Deco is sometimes referred to as "tampo," but in fact tampo is just one process (of many) for applying deco to a car.
ZAMAC is the metal used for Hot Wheels cars. The name ZAMAC is an acronym for "Zinc Aluminum MAgnesium and Copper" or "Zinc Aluminum Metal Alloy Casting." Sometimes, a Hot Wheels car will be released with no deco, and that is called a ZAMAC edition, often highly sought by some collectors.
Spectraflame is the shiny metallic finish used on the original Hot Wheels editions from 1968 – 1972. The process disappeared in 1973, but returned via HotWheelsCollectors.com (HWC) for special online editions beginning in 2002. While the process has changed at times, we still use a version of the Spectraflame process for most of our online editions.
During the first few years of Hot Wheels, from 1968 to 1977, the wheels on the cars featured a red line. Cars from this era are known as "Redlines." These wheels disappeared sometime between 1976 and 1977, but returned years later in one form or another (such as on our HWC Neo-Classics series cars). Today, Neo-Classics Redline wheels are predominantly used on HWC online editions.
When the original Redline wheels were phased out, Blackwall wheels were phased in. They looked like the Redline wheels, but without any red lines. The "Blackwall era" is the period of time right after the Redline era when these wheels were used before other types of wheels began to appear. Blackwall wheels are still used today.
Introduced in 1983, Real Riders wheels feature a plastic hub and rubber-like tires. There are many different hub types for Real Riders wheels, but only a handful of tire types (including "Knobby" or "Off-Road" tires).
The Mainline is the "basic" series where the most Hot Wheels editions are released each year. Today, the Mainline consists of a few categories, such as HW Workshop or HW Race. Each category then features a number of segments, such as Heat Fleet and Track Aces.
In 1995, Hot Wheels began to issue a segment of the Mainline called Treasure Hunts. These few cars would be released in lower production numbers each year, with the result that they were harder to find. Today, Treasure Hunts are not a separate segment of the Mainline, but are scattered throughout the Mainline segments. There are also now Super Treasure Hunts, produced in even lower quantities and typically featuring Real Riders wheels.
A variation occurs when a single Hot Wheels edition has a change of color, or of wheels, etc. over a number of pieces within the same edition. Variations are usually intentional, such as "re-colors," where the same edition is released in more than one color, but with the same deco scheme. Other times, variations may occur when a decision is made for one reason or another to switch to a different wheel for the rest of the run of that edition, for example. Some collectors enjoy tracking down all the variations of their favorite editions.
An error is an unintentional variation, or a mistake. Sometimes the tampo/deco is left off some cars by accident. Sometimes the windshield is left out of some cars by accident. Sometimes the name on the blister pack is not the casting that is contained within. There are many types of errors. Some collectors have fun trying to find these rare and unusual pieces.
Some collectors enjoy the hobby of customizing. Customizing Hot Wheels can be anything from painting a Hot Wheels car in a different color, swapping one type of wheels for another, or it can be more elaborate work such as intricate deco or even the cutting and reshaping of a casting.
A Code 3 car is a run or series of identically customized Hot Wheels cars, usually created for an event or a show or to commemorate something special. They aren’t made by Mattel; they’re made by customizers. (It should be noted, however, that Mattel does make special cars for certain shows or events.)
The Hot Wheels® Red Line Club® (RLC) is an annual premium membership for members of HotWheelsCollectors.com (HWC). For a membership fee, RLC members enjoy valuable features and exclusive products not available to other HWC members. For all the details about the Red Line Club, see the RLC Membership Summary.
HWC cars are offered by HWC to anyone who comes to the site. They are often, however, offered to RLC members first for a 24-hour Priority Window (and sometimes sell out during that time). RLC cars are cars we only offer from HWC to RLC members. These include the exclusive membership car and the RLC sELECTIONs cars, as well as other occasional RLC Exclusive offerings. The Red Line Club Party cars from the Collectors Nationals and Collectors Conventions are considered RLC cars, because you have to be a Red Line Club member to get into the RLC Party where those cars are offered.
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