I normally don’t collect gimmicky DieCast cars. But, I will definitely make an exception for a 2nd Gen Rx7 since it’s one of my favorite automobiles of all time. Back in 1990 the ever-imaginative team at Ertl released a series of cars called “Speed Strips”. The early 90's were an interesting time for entertainment as kids were flocking to their Nintendos and Segas completely unaware that the internet boom was just around the corner (late 90's to early 2000's). What you are looking at here is pretty much the non-internet version of Hotwheels ID. A personalized entertainment device built within a diecast car for hours of entertainment. Pretend the viewfinder represents a Cell Phone, work with me here...
Each Speed Strip car has it’s own story to share. This one is Lucky 7 in Hotdog Day Afternoon (why did they trademark that? Seriously.) If you were a young fan of comics during the 90's I can see how these could be highly appealing to a young shopper. Then again... maybe not. The Toys “R” Us price markdown tells a different story. These cars hit the shelves with a $2.99 price tag ($5.87 in today’s USD) and apparently did not do well. A markdown price bringing it to $1 hotwheels territory is never a sign of success.
Kid’s just didn’t know what they were missing. Just look at the excitement (Bewilderment?) in little Timmy’s face as he gazes upon the same 4 frames of comic over and over. Hours of entertainment I am telling you.
Ertl certainly did strive for variety. If you were a fan of sporty vehicles then you had quite a few choices for Speed Strips with the obvious black sheep being the Ford Bronco and maybe the Police Car. If they are all the same quality as this Rx7 then Ertl really put most of their cards on the table with this series.
The instructions are pretty straight forward. Unpackage car and viewfinder, snap car into place, spin dial to enjoy show.
Ahhh yes. When you were a kid in the 90's then you likely saw the film Smokey and the Bandit. So, your general perception of police officers was that they were glorified clowns with inconvenient amounts of authority. Ertl did not shy away from making the star of the show resemble the Bandit’s famous nemesis.
Moving onto the car itself. It’s quite fantastic really! Nice crisp details with really nice wheels that are different from the traditional ones shown on the back of the package (not complaining here). I love the 2nd Gen Rx7. So, this is a welcome addition to my collection. The ride height on the front is a tad high, but that’s a pretty minor gripe.
On the bottom you can see how the magic happens. The comic is printed on a clear wheel with a toothed edge. Once engaged with the viewfinder you can spin the wheel along to view all the frames. There’s no mention of Mazda or Rx7 on the bottom... So I am going to have to say that actual licensing for this series was zero.
The viewfinder itself is pretty well built. Simple plastic construction that fits the car perfectly. I bet a ton of these got thrown away when they got separated from their cars.
Buddied up, the car and viewfinder are an ideal pair.
So, what happens to Buford T Puckett you ask?
Well, ignoring the best wishes of his wife to watch his weight, he pulls up to a hot dog vendor in his Fox Body Mustang Police Cruiser. Not even bothering to burn a couple calories to GET OUT OF THE CAR, he beckons for a hot dog (or two).
Preparing to have that first savory bite of pre-processed meat goodness, a mighty 2nd Gen Rx7 non turbo speeds/drifts by at breakneck pace. Puckett is certainly alarmed and knows the county speeding ticket quota needs to be met for the month.
Puckett prepares for a chase. Flipping on the siren and lights, he throws the Ford’s shifter into drive and mashes the gas with cat like reflexes. Sadly, he didn’t notice his proximity to the hot dog cart (should have walked) and immediately hit it, sending wieners and condiments in all directions.
Covered in ketchup, mustard, and pickles Sheriff Puckett shut the car off and put his elbow on the windowsill. He nibbles on a hot dog that conveniently landed in his mouth while contemplating if he should take a much needed vacation.
For full effect if you want to simulate what kids would do in 1990 scroll back up to the top frame and repeat the story about 10 times before you get bored and move onto the next website.