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Toy Car Exchange News & Views - 1968: The year Mattel launched the Redline Hot Wheels Era
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      • 1968: The year Mattel launched the Redline Era

        Hot Wheels were introduced commercially by Mattel on September 7th, 1968, launching what is known as the Redline Era (1968-1977).

        There certainly is irony in that name. The struggle against civil rights abuses and the war in Viet Nam pushed the US dangerously close to the redline.

        In looking back, I was struck by the extraordinary number of life changing events of 1968 and the lasting effect they had on our culture and identity. It truly was an amazing year.

        Jan 1 Evel Knievel fell in an attempt to jump Caesar's Palace Fountain.
        Jan 7 First Class Postage rose from 5 to 6 cents.
        Feb 1 Richard Nixon announced his presidential candidacy.
        Feb29 The Beatles' Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band won a Grammy.
        Mar15 Life magazine called Jimi Hendrix the most "spectacular guitarist in the world".
        Mar16 Robert F. Kennedy announced his presidential campaign.
        April 4 Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
        April11 President Johnson signed the 1968 Civil Rights Act.
        May 2 Gold hit a record high - $39.35 per ounce.
        May25 The Rolling Stones released Jumping Jack Flash.
        June 5 Sirhan Sirhan shot Bobby Kennedy. He died the next day.
        Jun26 Iwo Jima and Bonin Islands were returned to Japan.
        Jul 1 USA, Britain, USSR and 58 other nations signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
        Jul18 Intel was incorporated.
        Aug 1 Canada started replacing silver in coins with nickel.
        Aug30 The Beatles released their first album under the Apple label, Hey Jude.
        Sep 7 Hot Wheels were launched by Mattel.
        Sep 7 Jimmy Page's recently formed band — Led Zeppelin — played their first concert in Gladsaxe, Denmark.
        Oct20 Jacqueline Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis.
        Oct31 President Johnson ordered a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam.
        Nov 6 Richard Nixon was elected 37th President of USA.
        Nov11 John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared nude on the cover of "2 Virgins" album.
        Dec12 Arthur Ashe became the first black ranked #1 in tennis.
        Dec28 The Beatles White Album hit #1 where it stayed for nine weeks.
        For any of you that haven't seen it, here is an early Hot Wheels TV Ad from 1968.



        Although Summer of '69 was actually released in 1984, I think it sums up the feelings many people have of the Redline Era. What was Bryan Adams doing in 1968? He was a nine year old kid strumming his 6 string and playing with Hot Wheels!



        I'd love to hear your thoughts on 1968 and Redline Era. Please leave a comment.

        Comments 24 Comments
        1. redlinemanJK's Avatar
          redlinemanJK -
          Donald, thank you for posting this. It is ironic that you mention this:

          Sep 7 Hot Wheels were launched by Mattel.

          Nov 6 Richard Nixon was elected 37th President of USA.

          I have a Sept 1968 issue of LIFE Magazine with Richard Nixon on the cover with a story of him becoming the next president and inside is a Mattel Hot Wheels as that I have always treasured.

          http://images.yuku.com/image/jpeg/c9...157f58330f.jpg
        1. donaldww's Avatar
          donaldww -
          Quote Originally Posted by redlinemanJK View Post
          I have a Sept 1968 issue of LIFE Magazine with Richard Nixon on the cover with a story of him becoming the next president and inside is a Mattel Hot Wheels as that I have always treasured.

          http://images.yuku.com/image/jpeg/c9...157f58330f.jpg
          The picture from LIFE looks like it came straight off the 1968 TV ad.

        1. donaldww's Avatar
          donaldww -
          Thanks for the great photo. I can't believe I missed that one!
        1. Hotwheelz Biker's Avatar
          Hotwheelz Biker -
          You know what they say about getting old.

          First thing to go is...

          what was I saying.
        1. redlinemanJK's Avatar
          redlinemanJK -
          Donald, the LIFE ad very well could have been from a Mattel TV ad, I remember those commercials for HWs, Creep Crawlers, etc., seems like yesterday.

        1. scull31's Avatar
          scull31 -
          In 1968 I was 7. Too young to fully understand the radical political climate that was that was unfolding all around me. I do remember my parents being glued to the T.V. (black & white with no remote) looking for news about the Vietnam War & other current news. The Appollo space missions were of great importance to me. Our school would bring in a T.V. for us to watch the ones that happened during school hours. My parents owned a 1967 Delta 88 Oldsmobile with power windows, my brother and I would have window races as we drove down the road!! I received my first Hot Wheel track set but I don't recall the cars at this time, 1 was green. I dreamed of owning a schwinn "krate" bike with it's harley style springer front fork. The $50.00 price tag was a lot out of my parents affordability at that time!! As you can tell the 1960's are a very fond period for me. Thanks for taking me back!!
        1. mymo's Avatar
          mymo -
          Sept 7 ... Why do you believe that this was the date of the release? Have any documentation supporting this?
        1. donaldww's Avatar
          donaldww -
          There has been an entry on Wikipedia since September 27, 2004 showing Sept 7 as the release date. I do not know who wrote the original entry and where they got their information. However, there are numerous sites that have used that date on their websites, and they may or may not have used Wikipedia as their source.

          I see no reason to question the date. It has been in a Wiki article for the past eight years and no one challenged it, including Mattel.

          If someone could have provided evidence that Sept. 7 is incorrect, there was nothing stopping them from coming forward and having the date changed.

          Wikipedia Article

          Facebook Hot Wheels Page

          Hot Wheels Clubs in Ohio

          Diecast Collector & Restoration

          etc.

          DW
        1. Ferrari512s's Avatar
          Ferrari512s -
          Do you have any supporting documentation or evidence for September 7th release date. This doesn't appear to be accurate.

          Thus far my research indicates a release date of the first week of May , 1968.

          Do you have a timeline history from when Harry Bradley was contracted for Mattel in 1966?

          Have you had the opportunity to interview Harry Bradley?
        1. PeepingScott's Avatar
          PeepingScott -
          As I recall, they first came out in the summer time, one of the best summers ever!!! Set aside Matchbox, Tonka's and the Dinkies, and break out the coolest toy cars ever made...The hysteria in the neighborhood amongst us little kids was THE thing!!!
        1. 1968rt's Avatar
          1968rt -
          I have to agree with Ferrari512s on the release date. I have an 8MM home movie shot on my 10th birthday, it was August 68 . On the film I am receiving redlines as a present. These were NOT my first redlines. I got my first at least a month or 2 earlier. is there any way to confirm that date? It would only make sense that if the LIFE ad was in Sept and copied off of a commercial, then they had to come out earlier.
        1. donaldww's Avatar
          donaldww -
          If anyone can present definitive evidence showing the official release date was not Sept. 7th, 1968, then by all means, let's publish it!

          As I mentioned above, Sep. 7, 1968 has been on Wikipedia since 2004 with no challenge.

          Proving that Wikipedia's date is wrong would amount to 'Breaking News' as far as redline collecting is concerned and I'd love to have that scoop on the Toy Car Exchange forum!

          I also agree with Peeping Scott that 1968 was a great summer! But I don't remember seeing any Hot Wheels until Dec. 25.

          DW
        1. 1968rt's Avatar
          1968rt -
          I did a little research. The LIFE magazine article is dated November15,1968...which moves it back more. I do however have that home movie as proof they were out earlier. It was filmed on my birthday ..... August 26th .

          Take a look http://oldlifemagazines.com/the-1960...-magazine.html
        1. redlinemanJK's Avatar
          redlinemanJK -
          Yes, it was Nov 15, 1968 with Dick Nixon large on the cover, not Sept '68, that was my error, it makes sense because the Mattel ad that I posted is "Select the Christmas toys you want" ad. However, I do remember getting Hot Wheels for my birthday in early Sept '68, but can not confirm getting any before that, if it was earlier then Sept. 7, 1968 as Wiki has for the date......far out, right on, neato, boss....
        1. BugNut.redlineshoptalk's Avatar
          BugNut.redlineshoptalk -
          I do remember the first day I saw one, but not the time of year, except it was warm day when my friend Tony showed us all his Aqua T-Bird. In 10 seconds we were all headed for the store!
        1. mymo's Avatar
          mymo -
          Thats kind of amazing... all of your references are hearsay. Wiki is nothing but one persons opinion who also presents no facts. Quoting Wiki for anything has no value.

          Then you go on to ask that someone show evidence that its not... huh?? I think you have it backwords... its not about proving a date pulled out of a hat is wrong... show that the date you picked is correct.

          There is also alot of confusion betwen when they started pitching the product publicly vs actually shipping product.

          As to the real date, its something that the community has been in the process of pinning down. there is some level of documentation built up already to narrow that down. I know I have provided documentation for several of the tools which we provided to A&A diecast. Obviously castings could not have been released until after they had the tooling in their hands to run some parts.

          These discussions occurred before you joined the boards here. I would suggest you review some of the discussion that have occurred here which I beleive are still posted in the Greatest Hits forum. There were some hard documented dates in there.
        1. donaldww's Avatar
          donaldww -
          September 7, 1968 is cited on numerous websites in addition to Wikipedia and is the only date I have found documented in multiple locations. Since I have checked more than one source and book on the subject, my research does not qualify as hearsay.

          Furthermore, I read the old 'discussion' threads regarding the original date in the Greatest Hits forum. Other than some super pictures of Hot Wheels memorabilia, no hard dates given there disprove Sep. 7, 1968. In fact, the two most relevant posts show comic book advertisements from August and September 1968 that bolster support for Sep. 7 rather than refute it.

          Contrary to your negative view of Wiki, their entries are not pulled out of hats nor are they one man's opinion. As is typical of a Wikipedia entry, the Hot Wheels article has had 500 revisions since it was first published in 2004 and there have been over 50 authors involved in its creation. That amounts to seven years of collaborative effort to get the facts straight, with an ongoing opportunity for anyone to make changes or challenge any of the information contained therein.

          So, until someone disproves Sep. 7, 1968 and follows through with the effort to get the date changed everywhere, that is the date the world will continue to use as the de-facto standard.

          Incidentally, the Hot Wheels date thread has not had a new post since 2006. The process of pinning it down ground to a halt about 5 years ago. However, if and when the community does "pin it down", that will be the perfect time to publish the revised date far and wide.

          And of course, make sure Wikipedia gets it right.
        1. Ferrari512s's Avatar
          Ferrari512s -
          Mattel is a Corporate Company and any official new or release dates are made on Tuesdays by all Corporations.

          The date September 7th falls on a Saturday in 1968. This was the weekend for Mattel employees.

          Mind you Saturdays in the 60's and 70's especially in September were great days to launch new Cartoon Shows. However to launch a new produce line, I don't think so.

          Wiki just took a random day in 1968 and ran with it. Since nobody questioned this then heck, it has to be right. Let's go make or rewrite history....nobody is paying attention anyway...

          The Hot Wheels line was launched in Feb '68 at NY Toy Show. Three months after this it was launched to retailers. Probably the first week in May, May 7th falls on a Corporate Tuesday.




          Quote Originally Posted by donaldww View Post
          If anyone can present definitive evidence showing the official release date was not Sept. 7th, 1968, then by all means, let's publish it!

          As I mentioned above, Sep. 7, 1968 has been on Wikipedia since 2004 with no challenge.

          Proving that Wikipedia's date is wrong would amount to 'Breaking News' as far as redline collecting is concerned and I'd love to have that scoop on the Toy Car Exchange forum!

          I also agree with Peeping Scott that 1968 was a great summer! But I don't remember seeing any Hot Wheels until Dec. 25.

          DW
        1. 1968rt's Avatar
          1968rt -
          Quote Originally Posted by Ferrari512s View Post
          Mattel is a Corporate Company and any official new or release dates are made on Tuesdays by all Corporations.

          The date September 7th falls on a Saturday in 1968. This was the weekend for Mattel employees.

          Mind you Saturdays in the 60's and 70's especially in September were great days to launch new Cartoon Shows. However to launch a new produce line, I don't think so.

          Wiki just took a random day in 1968 and ran with it. Since nobody questioned this then heck, it has to be right. Let's go make or rewrite history....nobody is paying attention anyway...

          The Hot Wheels line was launched in Feb '68 at NY Toy Show. Three months after this it was launched to retailers. Probably the first week in May, May 7th falls on a Corporate Tuesday.

          May 7th makes a lot of sense. Back in 68 I used to visit my grandparents a few times a year. We would go to their house on my grandfathers birthday, which was July 15th. This is most likely the time my grandmother gave me my first two Hotwheels! Like I explained earlier, on my birthday, August 26th I have documented proof (8mm movie) of me receiving a few more.
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