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The Truth is Otto There

In January, 2007, armataz, a HotWheelsCollectors.com member since its inception, posted a message to the site's exclusive Red Line Club™ articles:

Reply here if you would like to have the Otto Kuhni concept car art work, used on the original red line packs, as an actual Hot Wheels™ vehicle.

**As a note! Regardless of the outcome of this poll, we do not promise to make this tool. There are a lot of variables when it comes to creating new tools (beyond whether people will buy it). It's just investigatory at this point. Thanks!

Question: If Mattel tooled up the vehicle featured on the original Hot Wheels package, would you be interested? We're talking about the vehicle illustration here. This is not a tool that has ever existed.

The answer was a resounding "Yes". Over the next few months, RLC™ members received "Sneak Peeks" at the 3-D computer model, the Final Engineering Prototype, and its public debut: at New York's Toy Fair 2008, to celebrate Hot Wheels'™ 40th Anniversary.

First conceived 40 years ago, and appearing on every single original Hot Wheels® blister in 1968, the "lost Redline®" era car has been tooled up for 2008 and dubbed the Custom Otto in honor of its original designer, packaging artist Otto Kuhni!

One of the challenges facing Larry Wood and the design team was creating a 3-dimensional version of the car, which was initially only seen in the original low-angle illustration done by Otto Kuhni for the 1968 blister package.

Some RLC™ members were miffed; this was the car they had been requesting, and they felt Hot Wheels™ had created it due to those requests, and therefore they should be given "first crack" at it. They were mollified somewhat when told, "the most accurate version should be available to the collector faithful, for whom the car was designed -- and it will be."

Then Hot Wheels™ put on its 40th Anniversary Road Trip. This was a traveling Hot Wheels™ show put on by the company with stops at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah as well as the town of Speed, Kansas; the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan; and the Grand Prix Festival in Watkins Glen, New York.

At each of these stops (as well as an employee-only picnic kickoff party), a special limited-edition Custom Otto was given to attendees. RLC™ members became even more irritated; there were now 7 variations of the car prancing about on eBay, and still the RLC™ membership had not been offered one.

Out on the road, some people who had driven hundreds of miles to attend one of the tour stops left empty-handed when the company reps ran out of cars. They were not happy.

Soon it became known that some of the cars had been held back. About a month later, a set of all six Road Trip Ottos was made available online. RLC™ members could simply buy all six with a few well-times mouse clicks. Now the crowd was really getting riled up; on the one hand, a car that had been given away free, was now being sold for about $25. What a rip-off! And you couldn't pick just one, you had to get them all.

Meanwhile, other people felt one of the cars had cost them hundreds of dollars in lost pay, fuel and hotel costs, and were irked that they could have just stayed home and bought an entire set, cheaper. Nobody was pleased with this development except Mattel® — The set sold out in less than an hour.

Finally, in the middle of November, HotWheelsCollectors.com offered the RLC™ faithful the exclusive edition for which they had clamored all year. It was officially called the 40th Anniversary Custom Otto, but collectors immediately knew it as simply the "Blue Otto". The car was packaged with a stamped-metal collector's button on a special blistercard, painstakingly duplicating the original 1968-vintage Hot Wheels™ packaging. The "retro" card was then encased in a specially-designed "shadowbox". Generally, hardcore "redliners" loved the offering.

But this sale led to the biggest controversy of all...

the Blue Otto

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