Yes, that’s not a typographical error. What you see isn’t necessarily what you get...

Because you see, not many things defy convention anymore - more so in our big world of little cars. You could be paying more for the same (at least here in Malaysia), and creativity gives way to child-friendliness and a host of other reasons.

Cars with original designs are still present and correct - but where’s the cars with original ideas? Toys that you and me and your son/daughter can do all they want to? Where you didn’t require a Dremel to make things your own...

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It seems that they’re stuck in the early noughties. Enter Hot Wheels’ Mechanix, a line that remains one of the company’s best efforts.

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There were six cars and a motorcycle in this series, released in 2001. There were more over the years, including one with all licensed cars. Alas, I only have one to show, and here she is - the Tuner Melt.

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What the name is supposed to say, I don’t know but I do know this - it just screams ‘90's - ‘00's, with its silver taillights aping clear ones - a hugely popular modification in its time. Personally, it looks like a typical Japanese econobox that tries to be sporty. I imagine there’s not more than a 160bhp 4-banger driving the front wheels.

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But hold on! What’s this?

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I think we’re on to something...

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And off comes the front bumper!

Thanks Brian, thanks Dom...

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Actually, that’s not quite enough.

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That’s better!

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Surprise, surprise! That’s not a puny engine. It’s huge! Way more than a straight-four I say! Pretty spartan interior, so this car could be more serious than the exterior suggests. I might add the quality is typical Hot Wheels. Nothing feels fragile. My example was bought new 15 years ago.

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While the car lies in disrepair, the parts truck swung by with a full load. Only the best parts will do - overnight ones from Japan!

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A short while later....

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...it has transformed!!! The HUGE mouth is ready to swallow any other ricers daring to come in its way.

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Hot Wheels, the airport called. Stealing wings to fit onto your car is not cool.

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Even with its new parts, it’s still unhappy about something. Its as if it’s shouting “You FOOL! This isn’t even my final form!”

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Unlike Freiza, it needs help before it can morph into its next incarnation.

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Which happens to be a monster truck! Out of nowhere it has grown a blower, and the straight four has morphed into a big-block V8.

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Slightly bigger than the Silverado truck, but the anger has been turned all the way to 11. It’s ready to eat lesser cars alive. Again.

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Sensing danger, the Chevy made a beeline for the door. A lone 356 was at the wrong place at the wrong time and...you get the picture. Hello darkness my old friend...

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The complete set - 27 parts in total. Bang for your buck right there.

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My favourite configuration. Stock front bumper, aftermarket side skirts, that huge rear wing and a roof intake. This combo makes it look ready to set a new Pikes Peak record!

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So there you have it, if there was a Hot Wheels Hall of Fame, this one deserves a spot - right up there with their best. And if you were asking why I titled my post as such - it’s because there simply won’t be anything else that will match Hot Wheels of this era.

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And it’s not just about the cars. Stay tuned!

As always, thank you very, very much for sharing your time with me and if you want one, you know where to look...