The Hot Wheels® '57 T-bird Story
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               ------------ From my point of view!

 Part VI  - November 1998

by Dot Lang

Regular line of Models from 1992 to present,
The Gleam Team:

Two gleam team T'birds
A new series of models were produced in 1992 with 4 different models in each series.  The Thunderbird was part of the "gleam team."  Each model in this series was molded with a plastic body - new for the Thunderbird.  The plastic enabled a "turned-metal" design to be used for the body - similar to the turned-metal design on the dash of the real car.  All cars in this series came in a colored chrome.  The T-bird appeared in two different shades of gold.  Since the plastic made the car light-weight, the old metal chassis was used to give the car some weight.  It also had smoke-tinted windows, standard wheels and black wall tires and was made in Malaysia.
Blister pack number: 1760-190


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Yellow & Green T-birds

Ford Gift Pack

By  1996 it was becoming difficult to find the single blister paks of the Thunderbird model.  However, Mattel started issuing the Thunderbird in a "Ford gift-pack" of five cars.  Of course, a new color had to be used and yellow was the color.  Very plain - no tampos, however the Hot Wheels logo started appearing, "stamped" on the cars.  In the case of the yellow T-bird, it was a yellow stamp on the rear window.   The body was again metal and the chassis, a chromed plastic.  The wheels were standard, the tires, black and the windows, clear, but now you needed to keep your eye on the wheels.  In 1996, this car could also be found with the 7-spoke and the 3-spoke wheels.  The date printed on the box is 1993 so don't let that confuse you - box #12404.
 

50's Favorites

During the spring of 1996, a green metallic T-bird was introduced in a "50's Favorites" five-pak.  This car came with green tinted windows and three different wheel styles - 7-spoke, 5-spoke, and 3-spoke.  The Hot Wheels logo was stamped in gold on the rear of the trunk.  The package #15068 is dated 1995.

Update 03/00: The yellow and green models described above have each been found in FOUR wheel styles - standard, 3-spoke, 5-spoke, & 7-spoke. "Happy Hunting"

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The stamped logo continues to appear on most of the H.W. T-bird models up to the present.  It will appear in various spots on the car so its placement has to be watched when a new model comes out.  This became very evident on the next single blister pack T-bird that Mattel came out with.

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Part VIb  - November 1998 , revised 11//6/98, 01/31/99 & 01/07/00.

by A Line of Dot's

Regular line of Models from 1992 to present,

The Flame Thrower

click on image for larger view
The manufacturing plant in Malaysia seemed to have a field day with this model.  Eight variations have been catalogued for this design that first appeared in 1996.  The basic car is painted a pearl white with a hot rod flame tampo on the sides, top, hood, and trunk.  Windows are clear and it has 7-spoke wheels and a chrome plastic chassis.  The collector # is 384 with pkg.# 15223

The flames on all the cars are outlined in green - that doesn't change.  What changes is the color of the flames.  The models first appeared with what some call "brown" or "dark" flames but are actually a pink/orange flame  or "fluorescent orange" that has been overlaid with a gold metallic paint.  Later packages had cars with just the fl. orange flames - no gold metallic.  The fl. orange color gradated from light to dark on the flames - with the light at the base of the flames and dark at the tips.   My latest tip received on color - the last variation of the flame color is a solid fluorescent orange instead of the "fading" color that the others have.

The next variation to note on the cars is the number of flames on the trunk - either four or five.  This variation seems to be found only on the pink/orange (fl. orange) flamed cars.

The third variation is the Hot Wheel logo itself.  The logo can be found in two different spots on various models -either the rear window or the passenger siide rear panel.  A few cars will have the logo in both spots.  The side logo is only found on the pink/orange flamed cars and it is always pink/orange.   The gold logo is found on both the dark and the pink/orange flamed cars.  The cars with two logos are usually found with a yellow logo on the rear window and the hot pink on the side.
update 01/2009 - While photographing my collection, noted that I have a yellow logoed rear window with no pink logo on sides.  I had not noticed that one in the past - that one brings me up to 10 variations and there must be an 11th one to match it as this one has a 4-flame trunk so it means there is probably a 5-flame, yellow logoed model, too.

There is still another variation that occurred for 1996, but this one is not on the car but the package.  In the upper left hand corner, the word "NEW" is used on the earlier versions.  Towards the end of production, the word was changed to "Coolest to Collect."   If you count the package variation, there are a total of nine known variations.  It follows that this later package version should have a four-flame model but none have been brought to my attention yet.  If you should have one, let me know.

And you just thought the only difference was the color of the flames!

Now to add more to your confusion.  This year, 1998, the Flame Thrower surfaced again.  This time on the back of a truck hauler.  Variations of this model have not surfaced yet so I can safely say that the car has solid pink/orange (fl. orange) flames with the side logo, clear windows and 3-spoke wheels.  Package # is 65867-91.  It has also been brought to my attention that this model was found in some 5-paks issued in 1997.

Update 2009 - When this article was originally written, I had only cataloged 8 variations including card variations.  Since then, I've come up with 10 variations (without counting cards) with the most likely possibility of an 11th variation - a yellow logo with 5-flames.

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Tattoo Machine
    Tattoo Machine T-Bird
One of the new series of cars in the individual blister paks for 1998 is the Tatto Machine Series.  Actually the series isn't new but just a new set of cars in the series.  The T-bird is included this year in a blue metallic with a "squiggly" tampo in white with black outlines.  The tampo on the hood looks like a fancy butterfly.  The windows are tinted blue , 3-spoke wheels, and the HW logo is black, placed on the rear passenger side panel .  The only variations found in this car have been in the shade of blue which varies from light to dark and the printing on the package.  Early packages had a red car which was replaced by a blue car later in the year.
Package #18767 and collector #685. Update - there is a variation without the black ouutline of the graphics

1999 update:  The only Hot Wheel Thunderbird to be made this year was issued in a 5 car gift pack labeled 50's Cruisers.  As a marketing ploy, this particular package was limited in quantity and collectors would snap up the box before it even hit the shelves thus making it difficult to find the box at all for the casual collector or those with limited time to search. 99 HW 57 T-birdAll this attention was due to a motorcycle packaged within the box.  During the course of the year, the 57 Tbird had two wheel colors to look for.  Most packages were issued with the gold lace wheels however toward the end of the year, the model was showing up with silver lace wheels.  The model itself is black with orange tint windows and stylized flames on hood and sides.  Flames are white & yellow with red/orange outlines.

Next Month - Part VII - Mattel's Specials



To view the other articles in this series click below:
Part I -  First Tampo Phase  Part II - Cranberry Models
Part III - New Tampo Part IV - Next Tampo
Part V - Promotionals Part VI - Regular issue to present
Part VII - Mattel's Specials Part VIII - Different Molds
Article IX - Thunderbird Anniversary Years
Hot Wheel List UPDATED


I'm always looking for more information on the Thunderbird model.
reach me here

©1998-2009 Dot Lang