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Hi, my name’s Andrew, I’m a grown man and I play with toy cars. With that out of the way, let’s get into a long overdue review and discussion of Hot Wheels Premium.

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Hot Wheels Premium has been around for some time, and it’s pretty much exactly what you think it is: like every other Hot Wheels but a little nicer. Which really means the models are just a little more detailed. The car’s features, like painted headlights and aero pieces, more pronounced than most Hot Wheels products. But more than that: there’s little decorative dressing like license plates and “decals” that make these toys look more finished than their 99-cent counterparts.

These toys are the same size as standard Hot Wheels cars, the build quality is pretty much the same, but the designs are more nuanced and the packaging has cleaner styling with unique art on it.

Cars you can currently buy as Hot Wheels Premiums range from a Gulf-liveried ’60s Fiat 500 to race car/transporter pairings like a Porsche Speedster on a VW truck and a bunch of movie homage models including Star Wars vehicles. Orange Track Diecast has a pretty complete rundown with Amazon links if you want to cop one. I recommend the Fast & Furious “Original Fast” pack, which I got for Christmas this year because, well, do we really need to revisit the first sentence of this post?

Illustration for article titled Hot Wheels Premium Toys Are More Fun The Closer You Look

Pricing

At $42 for a five-pack, for example, these Premium jobs are obviously a lot more expensive than standard Hot Wheels, which run from $0.99 to $2.49 depending on how spendy of a store you’re in. (Though I just dropped three bucks on one at Von’s grocery the other day because I had to have the stupid Dodge Demon. It had the fat rear wheels, I couldn’t help myself.)

So, are Premiums seven times as nice as a regular-ass Hot Wheel? Upon close inspection... yeah, kind of?

Part of the fun of Hot Wheels hunting in regular store racks is finding realistic ones with cool details, but those are rare. The cars in this Premium F&F pack are all intricately decorated, down to license plates and bumper stickers. Did you see the “Free Tibet” emblem on the back of Leon’s Skyline? Just like in the movie! Most regular Hot Wheels toys don’t even have their headlights painted.

Considering the quality of execution and factoring in the coolness of having this group bundled, this pack feels appropriately priced at about $50. If you can find it cheaper, all the better.

Enhance

Here, have some close-ups of each car so you know what we’re working with.

Dom’s Mazda RX-7:

Brian’s Eclipse:

Letty’s S14/240SX:

Leon’s Skyline R33:

Jessie’s Jetta:

What’s Missing

Notably absent are Vince’s Maxima (I haven’t seen a toy of this ever) and the famous Orange MKIV Supra (Hot Wheels makes that one, but not as sharp as this batch.) Reddit has had the same complaint. And I guess we could also kvetch about the lack of The Racer’s Edge F-150 Lightning, Johnny Tran’s S2000, Mia’s blue Integra, and Dom’s Charger, too.

If we really want to get granular, where are the heist Civics and black Ferrari droptop, too?

On the cars themselves, they’re pretty completely decorated, but not completely complete. There were way more stickers and brands on the movie cars, but more markings would be pretty tough to make out and find room for on models this 1:64 scale.

Details

The wings and body kits on these models are impressive. Obviously, accessorization is critical to achieving the look of these particular movie cars, and the designers did a good job. These aren’t just generic tuner car models rehashed in Fast & Furious colors, the bumpers and spoilers look very directly drawn off the “real” things.

Illustration for article titled Hot Wheels Premium Toys Are More Fun The Closer You Look

I appreciate that the model interiors are matched to their movie-car counterparts, too. I would have liked to have seen a little red in the inside of the Jetta, but I don’t think it’s possible to do multiple colors in the cabin of these without significantly raising the price. The RX-7’s tan cabin is something Hot Wheels could have easily missed but didn’t, so I’m happy.

The underbellies of these cars aren’t deeply detailed but they do have big fart-can mufflers, which are an essential touch.

Illustration for article titled Hot Wheels Premium Toys Are More Fun The Closer You Look

But my favorite details on these toys are the wheels. The wheels on the Fast & Furious Original Fast entourage Hot Wheels cars are movie-accurate in shape and color, and, they have depth. There’s a real lip on some of them, which is somewhat unusual to see in a toy of this scale. At any rate the wheels look great and go a long way in elevating these models to a quality tier above standard Hot Wheels cars.

Packaging

The packaging on these Premium toys is also on another level. That’s probably important to you hardcore curators out there who keep these things in their cases like artifacts. I prefer to pop my toys out and place them on my desk, but even so, I can appreciate the detail work that went into making the disposable displays for these, and most importantly, the master box that held all five in the pack.

Check out the cover of this box – you can even see the floor pan ejecting from Brian O’Conner’s Eclipse.

I junked the little boxes the individual cars came in so I could inspect the toys closely, but I’ll be keeping the big cigar-box for the pack because it’s so cool. (In fact, I’m actually going to modify it for display later by getting some of that foam packing material normally used for gun and camera cases, but that’s a level of dorkiness I’m not sure I’m ready to get into with you people yet.)

Illustration for article titled Hot Wheels Premium Toys Are More Fun The Closer You Look

The only major discrepancy – and I only mention this because I know it’s going to be in the comments – is that this kit is branded “Fast & Furious” when the movie these cars are from was called “The Fast And The Furious.” Hmph. I don’t really care, but, it’s a thing.

Verdict

I feel like there tend to be two kinds of people, who are not children, who get toy cars: capital-C Collectors who buy the nicest stuff and keep it in boxes, and casual enthusiasts who grab Good Ones off the rack at the grocery once in a while to plop on their desk for a bit.

Illustration for article titled Hot Wheels Premium Toys Are More Fun The Closer You Look

I have to admit though, I am sort of an outlier in my own example. I have a big collection at home, including a lot of ancient hand-me-downs from dad and other relatives, but I generally only cop one-dollar ones when I happen to see a realistic-ish model of a car I really like.

My point though –I know, we’re finally getting there – is that Hot Wheels Premium is kind of the perfect bridge between “I casually appreciate toy cars” and “I want a model car that actually looks nice.” At least, based on my experience with the Fast & Furious pack.

Illustration for article titled Hot Wheels Premium Toys Are More Fun The Closer You Look

I haven’t bothered with Premium in my years of Hot Wheels hunting because I never saw one I had to have before this particular bundle came out. But now that I’ve seen how nice they are up close, I’m going to be watching for new releases in this line for sure.

If you dig these but not the movie tie-in the Hot Wheels Premium Street Tuners set looks pretty fresh, too. I will probably start looking around for vehicles from the Desert Rally set next, myself.

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik | 1975 International Scout, 1984 Nissan 300ZX, 1991 Suzuki GSXR, 1998 Mitsubishi Montero, 2005 Acura TL

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