Loading ...

header graphic

The Otto Files

Trust No Otto

On November 11, the "Lost Redline" from 1968 was finally made available to members of the HotWheelsCollectors.com™ exclusive Red Line Club™. The 40th Anniversary Custom Otto was given "Neo-Classics" wheels— Hot Wheels' modern version of the original red-striped wheels with "torsion" suspension. These modern-era "redline" wheels had even been re-engineered for 2008, due to earlier membership complaints of "wheel wobble". To match the original blisterpack artwork, the car was painted Spectraflame® blue, and was often simply called "the Blue Otto".

As with any HWC™ sale, there were nitpicks, but less than most. Some members found the extreme packaging unnecessary; others decried the fact that the taillights weren't painted red, pointing out that Hot Wheels™ cars in 1968 did have painted taillights. Some even said the Blue Otto was boring, with its lack of wild tampo-printed graphics. But, for the most part, this car was exactly what die-hard Redline fans had always wanted from the Red Line Club™. For years, they had claimed that the RLC's first slogan, "We DO still make 'em like we used to!" had become completely inaccurate. The Blue Otto was, in every way, as close as anyone could come to making a first-year Hot Wheels™ car using modern methods.

Four days after the sale, the 40th Anniversary Ottos began to arrive at collectors' homes. At fifteen minutes after noon (PST), a member posted photos of a 40th Anniversary Otto, asking why it was pink. Even though no Pink Ottos had ever been produced, he claimed it was a Mattel® factory product shipped in the 40th Anniversary package, and he was auctioning it on eBay. This aroused some curiosity, and three hours later, the topic was silently closed by the HWC™ site administrators. By 4:30, another Pink Otto subject "thread" was started in the HWC™ articles. By this time, a second member claimed to have received a Pink Otto, and also had the picture to prove it. While the bidding for the car on eBay was moving past $120, this discussion quickly garnered over 200 replies.

The speculation went unbridled. Many collectible product lines were known to have "chase" items— special low-production items inserted into shipments at random to spur interest and sales. Could the Pink Otto be a "chase" car? If so, why wouldn't the company announce the fact? Could the car be from an upcoming sale, and shipped by accident? Or was it simply a customizer's hoax?

Commissioned by BlueRealRiders.com, the New SouthPark Order digital labs subjected the jpeg of the eBay car to forensic photographic analysis. The nSPo concluded that various reflective and refractive qualities indicated the photo was genuine. The Blue Real Riders Club reasoned that the car was likely real as well, but was only able to theorize on its origin.

The first authoritative response came from HWC Ryan, the "new guy", who perhaps hadn't been paying attention. When posed a question about the Pink Otto, his terse reply was, How'd you guys see this car? We don't have any plans to release it, and we haven't released any images.

At the same time, HWC™ members were engaged in Virtual Rioting. Some loved the idea of "chase" cars, others hated it, and much argument ensued on that topic. Moderators kept themselves busy editing and locking threads that got out of hand.

Queried again on the Pink Otto, HWC Ryan only said, "How did you see that? That's the employee Xmas car."

the Blue Otto

Over the next three days, Pink Ottos continued to surface, while the first one on eBay sold for $325. A few people called Customer Service and were given conflicting stories. Others wondered how informed CSRs would actually be, or how forthcoming. Finally, HWC Ryan revealed a litle more:

This is becoming quite an issue now that we are finding out that multiple cars made it out into the marketplace. There were never plans to have a pink Otto hit the market, so there will not be another. We are working with the plant to make sure that the leak is contained. My understanding for the pink employee car is because we have to make something that will appeal towards people who work on the other half of our business, Barbie.

Apparently this was as close as the HWC™ members would get to an explanation. They were told an "official" line. But was it true?

Amidst the continuing debate, I did some Photoshopping for fun. Now you know the entire story behind it...

Since its creation in 1976, the Neet Streeter has never had windows.

You can change that.

Glass for Streeters
Click here