I’m not a HotWheels collector by definition. I have a number of them, of course, and some in the pack too. I’ve always had “little cars” for toys since I was a kid, and since they still make some that are really cool, it only makes sense I’d pick up the cool ones when I see them.
This one, though, is an oddity. My uncle got this one in a bunch of cars at a thrift store. Some in the bag were cool, some were losers, and then there was this. He didn’t know what it was, and he knows HotWheels. He did notice it said “Bandai” on it, though. Given that Bandai is all around my house in the form of Gundams and other models and figures, it makes sense that he brought it to me.
However, I didn’t know what it was either. At first I thought it might be something from the Speed Racer movie a few years ago, but that wasn’t it.
It looks like a cross between a Batmobile, the old “Cannonade” Hot Wheels (especially in the front) as well as having elements of the Fast 111’s “Shark Shifter” in it. It rolls well, doesn’t weigh much, and has a totally plastic body. The aesthetic is very anime-like, though, so not only do I like it for the mystery it represents, but it jives thematically with my other interests!
What DO We Know?
What I have found out is the following:
1.) The chassis is from the relatively recent, but largely forgotten, “Robo Wheels” series. These were cars that could “transform”. By this, I mean, there were somewhat crappy robots that could wear the halves of cars as armour, and that folded up to form cars. They rode on these chassis like skateboards.
There was supposed to be some kind of story, but it was forced and lame, and I’m sure Hasbro’s lawyers likely took some umbrage to the similarity to the Transformers Franchise.
2.) This body shell is removeable. Yes, the body comes off the chassis, and uses the “foot pegs” at the extreme ends of the “skate chassis” to hold it on. The only ID on the body shell is a big “1” on the inside.
3.) The body was MADE for the chassis. At least I think it was. Some people have suggested that this vehicle is a “Frankenwheels” – something made from different parts. However, I don’t think something like that would end up in a thrift store junk bag, for one thing. For another, the fit of the body, the contouring near the “waist” and the positioning of the clips is too perfect.
4.) This body DOES NOT transform. This is not a Robo Wheels shell with no robot inside. Usually, the Robo Wheels that I’ve seen pics of seem to have some of the robot poking out somewhere. This doesn’t have any holes for that. Also Robo Wheels “car shells” split in half. This does not.
This then begs the question: What in the name of <god of choice> is this thing?
What COULD It Be?
I doubt Hot Wheels would go to the trouble of making expensive Robo Wheels chassis for no reason; They are metal, have several separate pieces, and have no real value other than for Robo Wheels cars. So, then, why did they make a car using this chassis?
Is this from some kind of gift set?
Is it from some kind of track set?
Is it an “extra car” in the line? One that didn’t transform, but that you could swap in if you needed a new chassis?
I have no idea.
If you have an idea, please email me or post it here!
I’ve been on several boards and have found no one who knows.
There you have it, a real thirft shop mystery for you. Sounds like something out of the Hardy Boys, right?