Friday Five is a quick list of five things with a common theme, and instead of doing a big write-up, I’m doing it in pictures (or videos) with just a couple of sentences to give context to the picks. You can play along by adding some of your own in the comments.
I spent a lot of time when I was younger playing with Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. Just like with any other toy line, you always have a favorite few that you gravitate to. I was no different when it came to Hot Wheels. I had a ton of them, but there were a few that I would call my favorites. So for this Friday FIve, I’m sharing five of my favorites with you.
Fire Eater Fire Truck
My Dad was a fireman and the Fire Eater looked identical to one of the trucks at the local station where he served. Even though I had most of the Code Red fire trucks produced by Matchbox (which I covered here), the Fire Eater was still my go-to for imaginary fire fighting. That’s a big statement for me since I was such a big fan of the TV show. I had almost every fire truck that was available on store shelves back then, but this one was always the lead truck in the garage. It’s a beautiful representation of a fire truck, except for the blue light. But to be honest, the blue light and the blue accents in the back of the truck are part of what makes it such a great-looking Hot Wheel.
You know by now that The Dukes of Hazzard was my favorite TV show when I was young. I had a lot of merchandise based on the show, but for a while, I lacked a 1:64 scale General Lee to play with. That’s where the Dixie Challenger came in. Up until the point I got my first true General Lee to play with, this filled the role pretty well. It kinda looked like the General Lee, and had a fast enough look that there were never any problems imagining it could outrun whatever police cars were in my collection. Once I got my General Lee, the Dixie Challenger was relegated to being the car driven by Bo & Luke’s cousins, Coy & Vance. I still can’t believe I subjected such a beautiful car to that kind of fate.
When I wasn’t fighting imaginary fires or running from Roscoe and Enos, I was playing in the dirt with construction vehicles. Well, not dirt. Coal dust actually. Which is a really fine black powder that gets into every possible crevice and can create a huge mess. But it was also the best substance on earth for playing with toys like these. I had a whole fleet of construction-type cars. I had regular dozers, cement mixers, scrapers, front-end loaders, and more. But this Cat Bulldozer seemed special because it had actual treads, and those two extra wheels to extend the tread just seemed so cool. It moved a lot of coal dust in its day for sure.
One of the earlier Hot Wheels cars I can remember being fascinated by was this Rambling Wrecker..or as I used to call it…Larry’s tow truck. I mean it’s emblazoned right there on the side of the thing. As a kid, what else would you call it? This was a must-have for someone like me who “wrecked” a lot of cars. I took the whole “wrecked car” thing farther than a lot of kids did though, as I would take some of the older cars I had gotten as hand-me-downs from my brother that I didn’t like very much and beat the snot out of them with hammers. That gave them that realistic feel. Of course, this was before Hot Wheels came out with their “Crack-Ups” line (which I covered here) and did the job for me in a much better manner than I ever could. And I would be failing you all if I did not include the fact that this Rambling Wrecker made a great stand-in for Cooter’s tow truck when playing with the Dixie Challenger as the General Lee.
Fun Fact: The original version of this tow truck had a phone number printed on the side of it. One of the folks at Mattel used their own phone number and ended up getting so many calls at their home they had to change their number.
Masters of the Universe Snake Mountain Challenge Car
So this beautiful work of art came included in the Masters of the Universe Snake Mountain Challenge playset that came out in ’85 or ’86. It was the car with which you attempted to run the course and escape Snake Mountain. I got the playset for Christmas in 1986, and as I’ve detailed before, my brother, my dad, and I spent a significant portion of the afternoon attempting the challenge. Beyond those fond memories though, they couldn’t have done a better job making this car seem like it came from Eternia…if Eternia actually had cars. But the look of it with its color scheme and all, makes it seem like it would have a home among the many various vehicles that inhabited Eternia. Maybe if it had treads instead of tires.