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

 Part IX  - January 2009

The Thunderbird Anniversary Years
by Dot Lang

Ten years have gone by since my last Hot Wheels article.  A number of 57 Tbird color variations have come out of Mattel since then plus a new size, the 1/18th scale. Ford has introduced a Retro model of the Thunderbird to the public, celebrated their 100th Anniversary in 2003 and the Thunderbird celebrated it's 50th Anniversary in this time period.  Did Mattel respond with matching models for all those events?

During the past 20 years that I've been actively cataloging the Hot Wheels T-bird, a pattern was noticed.  One year, Mattel would issue the T-bird in a 5-pak and the next year it would be in a single pak. Then the specials started appearing and changes made to that pattern in the late 90s. Since 2003 though, Mattel has introduced the Tbird much less frequently than in the 90s.  In 2004, it came out in a single pak early in the year and then no other '57 Tbird appeared until late 2005 -- from their 2006 lineup.  I was really worried in 2005, that Mattel was dropping the Thunderbird from their line. 2006 saw a total of 6 color variations in the same spectraflame series - the closest thing to an anniversary model for the Thunderbird, but none in other tampos.    2007 was essentially skipped like 2005 other than the 2008 Mystery Car that was released just before Christmas 2007 - in a single pak.  For 2009, it has been introduced again in a single pak, but in a large "State" series - Connect Cars.  I did notice a change with the 2009 model, the package has been labeled '57 Thunderbird instead of '57 T-bird.  I don't recall if that's been done previously or if this is new - will have to sift through my packages for that.

 The years with the most color/tampo  introductions for the Hot Wheel would have to be 2001 and 2002  - 8 each.   These years also coincide with the introduction of Ford's retro Thunderbird in 2001 to the buying public so on to my little soapbox.  From what I have gleaned off the internet over the years, Ford was rather picky about the detailing in any models released depicting the retro, so you were unable to find really cheap (affordable  & "safe" to give to young kids) models of the retro from any of the major "players" in children's diecast toys - essentially keeping this diecast out of the Hot Wheels basic line, the Matchbox basic line, the Johnny Lightning basic line and the Maisto basic line.   I would have loved to have had the retro included in Johnny Lightning's Thunderbird series as that was their plan, yet Ford kept it from happening.  I've picked up a Matchbox preproduction resin model of the Retro that would have been included in the basic Matchbox line but apparently it did not get the approval it needed from Ford to be released and was dropped - probably because it lacked the interior--(and it was better shaped than the one that was released by Matchbox in their collector's line).  Thought you'd like to know why you didn't see the retro come out in the Hot Wheels line-up during these anniversary years.  Maybe someday Mattel will rectify that as Maisto just asked Ford and received approval to do the retro in their basic line.

Back to the subject as the closest to an anniversary commemorative to the Thunderbird from Hot Wheels came out for the 2006 model year as 6 different color phases of the 57 using the 1968 style paint called "Spectraflame" on the 1977 mold.  Series was called the Classics and the T-bird was #11 in the 2 series.
Here's a couple of examples pictured with their counterparts from 1969.  Of the 6 colors used for 2006, there were 4 that matched the colors of the past.  At right are blue and lime green.  Red and Green were also used, I just haven't released one from the package yet.


Matchbox Article - 1999

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.
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©1998-2009 Dot Lang