My grandfather used to have a study. More like a converted bedroom/study. My grandparents were born in the early 20th Century, my grandfather a WWII vet, the “Greatest Generation”. In so, very old school, traditional, he used to warn about the “laying on of hands”, his way of saying “shake my hand but don't hug me.” He was born in Columbia, Tennessee, not far from Nashville. My father was born in Nashville, and lived in a house, which was eventually knocked down, now occupied by Vanderbilt University. Irish, Southern, traditional. Hardworking men, serious men, they enjoyed a good handshake, some arms length, a rustling about purveying the “grounds”, but not the hugging type, all the same very loving. Both grandparents were traditional, conservative. My grandmother had a vanity mirror, an iridescent seashell comb, and a velvet finished bench tucked in the corner of their bedroom. A clamshell picture frame lay on the corner of the lightly distressed (by time) painted dresser/vanity mirror. On the left side of the clamshell picture frame my grandmother in a bathing suit, she couldn’t be much more than 18 years old, hair pulled up in the curls on both sides, the style at the time, tall, lean, showing off like a long legged fawn. The other side of the picture frame was my grandfather, a handsome young man, suit, slacks, a tie, and a fedora. Time captured their brightest, the glow of their youth; strong, optimistic, waiting to take on all that life could bring. The picture frame was made out of sterling silver, ornate, must have been expensive. At a certain point, they had two beds in the same room, like “I Love Lucy”. Old school. Eventually, well into his 70’s, my grandfather settled into the converted study, and he had a bed. In his study he had a shoebox filled with Hot Wheels. He loved cars, my dad loves cars, actually has a rebuilt Model T he drives to carshows, showing off the candy teal paint job, the cherrywood runner boards, a gorgeous car. He used to have a ’64 Buick Skylark, burgundy with muffler packs, sounded like a river boat “bumbla bumbla bumpla boom!” When I was a teenager I used to ask for the keys, I would take the burgundy boat, lap up and down 2nd Street in Belmont Shore, Long Beach, right hand launched over the back of the white leather bench seats with burgundy leather piping, the static crisp and sizzle burning off the old radio, thinking I was cool, at least in my movie. Showing off in front of the girls walking the strip, so I thought, not sure it made much of an impression. My father was always into cars. He was born in 1940, a teenager in the 50’s, the height of hotrods, homecomings, and rockabilly. He could take cars apart, put them back together, but they never worked the same (chuckle). He did it for kicks, he was a true greaser, I suppose. My grandfather, and my dad, two car buffs, and they both loved miniatures, especially if they had some great details.
My grandfather had a green shoebox filled with Hot Wheels, located in the top drawer of his dark stained cedar chest, in his study. If I close my eyes I can still picture the cars in the box, the smell of the cedar chest, the aftershave still filling the bathroom, with it's door usually open, adjascent to his study, more his bedroom later in life. These are good memories. I loved going through that drawer, checking out the Hot Wheels – a metallic chrome Charger with the American Flag print, the Fire Truck, the lime green station wagon…I can see it in my mind’s eye, like it was yesterday. He wasn’t much for the laying on of hands but this is how he would relate, relate to a young kid, his grandson, by sharing his Hot Wheels collection, kept in a green shoe box. Hot Wheels transcended generations, and I suppose, the way he and my dad related too; a common interest, some innocuous fun, pleasant, imaginative…marveling at the small details on these die-cast cars. These Hot Wheels meant a lot. It was a time during our visits where we could relate to one another, where he could share, where we could enjoy each other’s company, as do Irish southerners, with shared interests, point to the shared interest as a way of connecting rather than mushy, smoochie kissie, huggie, type stuff. My dad would join in, checking out the Hot Wheels; three generations, a bit of joy, a bit of quiet, their way of sharing, not just to me, but also my dad with his dad. Sounds very simple, perhaps inconsequential, but it was nice. Thank you Hot Wheels.
Cut to 2018, The Loyal Subjects partners with Mattel to make Hot Wheels, like, thee Hot Wheels! There are a couple points in my career where I’ve highlighted the “TLS Timeline” – signing a contract with Hasbro, signing a contract with my partner, and signing a contract to make Hot Wheels. We set out last year to make Mattel proud, to make the Hot Wheels fans proud, and to make the best darned Hot Wheels collectibles which fit The Loyal Subjects persona; a bit fatter, a bit bigger, some bold call outs, a fast racing car, with the aim to please, to have fun, to race like mad men and women, to honor the Hot Wheels faithful, the TLS Action Vinyls enthusiasts, and revel in the fact, that holy cow, TLS makes Hot Wheels! How did this happen? Is this real?! Launching TLS x Hot Wheels, undoubtedly, one of my proudest moments in owning this Company. We poured a tremendous amount of love and care into the Hot Wheels line, and more than anything we hope you have as much fun playing as we have had test-driving! Vroom! Vroom! Vroom! These suckers fly! The light chassis, the larger size, the bigger surface area with the tires, a perfect recipe to make these mighty motors split the lanes like Shirley Muldowney on a three count!
The Hot Wheels collection is a collector’s paradise; double the chases, literally 12 chase cars to collect, including THREE Gold cars (different unique styles), THREE Club 28’s (different unique styles), and six killer commons. Packed in with these awesome fast racing street machines are rare chase cards, amongst the common cards (when assembled create Hot Wheels “Orange” track, a nice little Easter egg), a Club 28 which houses a miniature “JC” and my dog “Roxie”, and timely for July some great SDCC exclusives, and TLS 10 Year Anniversary pieces! We made a very boutique run, and you can find these fast fellers at Hot Topic, soon to be Target, and a host of other great retailers! Don’t walk, run to the finishline, hopefully you enjoy these masterful machines as much as we do! Quick note regarding SDCC - when you buy one of the Hot Wheels SDCC collectibles at the TLS Booth (2544) you'll get a free "peel and stick" license plate sticker pack feauturing all 50 States, and then some. Customize your Hot Wheels, switch out your plates!
Bring the generations together, like it did for myself, my grandfather, and my father. In the below picture gallery is a gouache I had painted, inspired by an old picture (I think) taken by my mother, of myself as a toddler, and my grandfather walking on the beach in Oxnard or Ventura, CA. Heartstrings abound, Hot Wheels are not just toys, a life experience. My experience? It helped three generations of Cathey men, 2 of stoic sorts, bond over a common interest.