Thursday, 3 November 2016
Track Day: Best Hot Wheels Premium Mix Since 2013 Boulevard?
I think so. Track Day is good. So good, in fact, that it feels like we're back in 2013 but with better card art. I've been enthusiastic about Car Culture from the word go. Sometimes it wasn't warranted, like when I called Euro Style 'better' than Japan Historics in a frenzy of diecast nerd enthusiasm. Other times, like now, I can safely say Track Day is brilliant. Like the first and final cases of the 2013 Boulevard line (think 510 Wagon, Hakosuka, 993, Renault 5 Turbo and 1985 Ford Bronco), Track Day is a fantastically faultless set with perhaps the best card art Hot Wheels have ever seen.
Before we go on, let's quickly recap Car Culture so far. With Mix 5 featuring 'Redliners', and haziness as to whether the Redliners will represent the final case of 2016 or the first of 2017, let's recap year one of car culture. Each series name will hyperlink to my past features on each set, so do check those out!
1. Track Day
2. Japan Historics
4. Euro Style
Euro Style wasn't bad, but with weak card art, lack of front/rear detailing, mediocre casting choice and questionable wheel selection, it wasn't superb either. Trucks was exceptional. It didn't knock my socks off, but there were some remarkable inclusions. Japan Historics remains the most hyped set in Hot Wheels history, and featured great casting choice, tampo work and card art. For many it remains as the best Car Culture set to date. For me, it's second best to Track Day.
So what makes Track Day 'better' than Japan Historics? In other words, what makes a set of premium Hot Wheels so perfect it outdoes an already legendary mix of cars? Casting choice, card artwork, wheel choice, decoration and theme. Track Day does all of those things perfectly.
Perhaps the best thing about Track Day is casting variety. Okay, 3 of the cars are German, but the Porsches are customized by a British dude. And there's an American muscle car and an obligatory JDM car. It's not just any JDM car either. It's the legendary 510. The JDM to defeat all JDMs.
The casting variety Track Day features is welcome, but the card art is even more noteworthy. I don't collect cardboard, but this one time I had to pick up 2 sets. The artwork is that beautiful. If I could get framed prints, I would. Outside of a few obscure RLC releases, Track Day has the best artwork a Hot Wheels packaging has ever seen.
Let's talk execution. The 964 wins. It's a new casting, it's a nice casting and the color combo is magnificently unique. The surprise of the mix, and perhaps the most brilliantly executed of the bunch is the VW Karmann Ghia. While the bright blue isn't for everyone, but it really pops and is set off by big, fat rubber rolling on shimmering chrome. The Hoosier tampos are perfect and the 'ghia-teen' theme is great. Plus it gets an opening feature in matte black. It's an easy second favorite for me. The Bluebird features a great, if predictable, racing deco on red paint and grey rims. It cruises into 3rd for me. In 4th is the white Chevelle. It's excellently executed and the perfect combo of American Muscle and racing car. I also dig the white/silver contrast on black dubs. Last place, and perhaps the best 'last place car' ever, is the Porsche 935/78. It's great. There's really nothing to complain about. The rest of the set is just that good. Plus the Road Racing 935/78 makes it hard for the casting to get a better livery.
This post is getting rather lengthy, so feel free to skip the text and look at the photos. I'm sure you'll infer everything I've just said. Pure brilliance. Enjoy...