By Raymond McKee (The Southern Gent)
During the Redline Era from 1968 to 1977, the designer at Mattel created a number of side lines to complement their highly successful diecast vehicles. Some of these would be released under the Hot Wheels Umbrella, others would be stand-alone toy lines that would borrow heavily from the popular hot rod toys. In their previous book, Jack Clark and Robert Wicker did not mention any of these side attractions. Fortunately they have amended for this with their new publication, volume 2 of the Ultimate Redline Guide, which covers Sizzlers, Rrumblers, and all the other toys that belong to the Hot Wheels Family.
With this second book, I am rapidly falling in love with their format. Once again we have a colorful hardback book, and different colored end-pages to make differentiation between the chapters easier. Each chapter covering a different toy line opens with a "class picture", and each vehicle gets its own page with four and sometimes five photographs presenting the toy from all angles, and where applicable, in different colors. Values are given for mint specimens and includes all colors used, and such materials as sticker sheets where appropriate. The text give excellent background information on what to look for, what factor can affect value of different models, and in some cases, restoration help.
All the vehicles using rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries are included, Chopcycles, Earthshakers, the Hot Line and of course, Sizzlers. The authors extend the Redline era by a year to cover the last iteration of sizzlers in 1978. The book also covers the sizzlers track sets and power chargers, and such oddities as the Steering Trailer. There are some very good photos illustrating the damage that can be done over time by deteriorating ni-cad batteries. As an added plus, the authors include contact information for Mike Grove's Sizzlers restoration service.
Among the non-powered and differently powered vehicles you will find chapters covering Hot Shots, (rip cord powered), and Revvers (rubber band powered), Rrumbler motorcycles and Hot Bird planes, with all their associated gear. And for the first time in any guide I've seen the vehicles that never wore the flame swoosh like farbs and Zowies. You might be surprised to see a chapter on a line of roller-skating dolls called Small Shots until you notice the wheels on their skates look very familiar, as do their track sets. A separate chapter on the Rrumblers riders also comes in handy. Finally, tying the book together is an easy-to-read index that makes finding a particular item that much quicker.
As the hobby of collecting Hot Wheels has grown, the Mattel side line toys have always been a presence, but have never received the attention lavished on the redlines. Now, at last, there is a guide for these toys as well, and in a format that is so user-friendly it should be a hobby standard. I do hope Mrs. Clark and Wicker will now give a thought to continuing through the early Blackwall years.
Hot Wheels, the Ultimate redline guide Volume 2, by Jack Clark and Robert P. Wicker is published by Collector Books, ISBN 1574323253, and retails for $24.95.