If you're reading this, then it's a safe bet that you have a healthy (more likely unhealthy) love for cars. If that's the case, then I would bet my left ear lobe that at some point during your childhood you played with and/or owned a Hot Wheels die-cast car.
I can make this bold wager with a very important part of my anatomy for two reasons. The first being that Hot Wheels are just a flat-out staple of childhood. Regardless of economic background, gender, or race, we have all had a moment when we've held a Hot Wheels car in our hands and pretended a miniaturized version of ourselves was behind the wheel.
It is practically impossible for me to imagine my life without having had that exact experience. Which brings me to the second reason why I'm so confident the numbers are on my side. Hot Wheels are literally the most sold toy on the planet and that is not hyperbole. In fact, 10 Hot Wheels cars are sold every second.
Imagine if something you created was somehow part of that? Imagine if the passion project in your garage right now was turned into a Hot Wheels car that will be played with by kids around the world? Fabricator and artist, Luis Rodriguez is living that reality as a direct result of his "2JetZ" custom build.
The Hot Wheels team at Mattel chose Luis' car to be immortalized as a 1:64 scale die-cast car. Why was Luis and his 2JetZ chosen for such an honor? Well to answer that, let's start with the obvious part: the car.
Believe it or not, the 2JetZ is not just an art piece. It is a fully functioning, registered, road legal car that Luis does drive. It all started with a bit of ambition and some artistic inspiration. For our full feature on the build, check out its feature from 2018.
Coincidentally, Mattel and Hot Wheel launched the "Legends Tour" also in 2018, which is a series of 15 car shows held across the country. At each stop, Hot Wheels designers chose a best of show.
Luis heard about one of the stops being local to him in New Jersey, although when he saw the date he realized he had missed it. However, fate smiled on him when he later realized the show was pushed back due to rain. This gave him the chance to attend. He showed up before dawn and his patience paid off. The moment the judges saw the 2JetZ their minds were made up. The 2JetZ won best of show and with that, the car was shipped to SEMA to compete against the 14 other best of show winners from across the country. Of that elite 15, the 2JetZ was once again chosen as the best with the top prize being immortalized as a Hot Wheels die cast.
Luis' car is the first "Hot Wheels Legend" and has made history as one of the few people outside of Mattel (that also isn't an OEM) to design a car that would be produced as a Hot Wheels die-cast car. To celebrate the honor, Hot Wheels invited me to their design HQ in El Segundo, Calif. to see the 2JetZ in person, and get a behind the scenes tour of the entire Hot Wheels car design process, culminating in the official presentation of the very first 2JetZ die cast to Luis himself.
The tour was absolutely amazing. As a grownup who isn't totally grown up, I was awestruck to see each part of the Hot Wheels production process from design, to concept, to prototyping. One of the most interesting parts of the tour is when I was taken to what was referred to as "the forest". It was a dark corner of the design building filled with decked out cubicles of artists who are responsible for sculpting 3D digital models of Hot Wheels cars. While there I was allowed to play with a $30,000 virtual sculpting tool that was originally invented to remotely control surgery robots. Luckily, I didn't break it.
Next, we were taken to the prototyping area which is essentially a room filled with top of-the-line rapid 3D printers, all of which were working on early versions of designs that may or may not eventually become full-fledged die-casts. I spotted a few samples that caught my eye, including a widebody 240Z, Honda Civic Type R, and Mercedes AMG GT.
When the tour wrapped up, the group returned to the Hot Wheels garage where Luis was presented with the first official finished 2JetZ die-cast car. Understandably emotional, Luis stated, "To go from a piece of art and creating a car out of it, back to a toy, this is incredible. This is really special."
By the time you read this, Hot Wheels would have officially revealed the 2JetZ die-cast car to the world at a Legends Tour event at their design HQ. After speaking with Luis and seeing the 2JetZ in person, I think it is an honor that is well deserved. If you want your own 1:64 scale version of the 2JetZ, Hot Wheels has said that they expect it to hit store shelves in fall of 2019.