Hot Wheels is a brand of miniature diecast toy cars produced by the toy company Mattel. The series began in 1968 with the release of 16 cars (known as the "Sweet 16") and quickly became a massive success.
The toy cars are often based off of real life cars, but there are several completely original designs as well. A lot of variants and subseries of Hot Wheels cars have been released, which tend to have a particular gimmick not found in the main series' toy cars (for example, one common type of Hot Wheels car is one that changes color when submerged in hot or cold water). Many racetracks and similar playsets have also been released which are intended for use with the toy cars; the racetracks are assembled via snap-together pieces and tend to contain a motorized speed booster piece which allows cars placed through them to speed through the track.
The franchise's popularity has led to it being adapted into animated form several times. For tropes from the animated films and TV shows, as well as adaptations in other media, refer to the franchise index here.
The Hot Wheels toy series provides examples of:
- Animal-Vehicle Hybrid: Several series have cars or other vehicles that are half-animal. For example, the Attack Pack and most of the Street Beasts series consists of vehicles that are also wild animals (such as cars and trucks resembling wild cats, planes resembling birds, etc.).
- Artifact Title:
- "Purple Passion", a Hot Wheels car introduced in the 90's, was indeed purple when it was originally released. It's been reissued several times since, but not always in purple.
- A similar issue exists with the cars RD 01 through 10. They were first released under the Accleracers line with the RD standing for Racing Drones the faction they were a part of. But now with Accleracers over the names don't make as much sense.
- Artistic License – Cars: A constant when it comes to the more out-there Hot Wheels designs.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Although Matchbox came up with even more outlandish designs than Hot Wheels in order to compete with them, some of Hot Wheels' own designs are this if you imagine what they'd be if built in full scale—or if you actually build them in full scale like the Twin Mill. It's one of Hot Wheels' coolest and most popular designs, and the full-size Twin Mill is a street-legal monster with at least 1,400hp. But if you drive it, you can't see what's ahead of you because there are a huge air scoop and a blower right in front of you. And as awesome as those chrome-plated scoops are, you don't want the sun to shine on them from behind you at the wrong angle because then you won't see anything.
- Cool Car: The toy cars run the entire gamut from being pretty generic-looking cars no different than the ones you'd see on the street on a regular basis, to cars tricked out with some pretty snazzy designs. They're usually the latter, though.
- Cool Garage: A few Hot Wheels playsets feature these.
- Double Entendre: In 1971, Mattel introduced a Hot Wheels car called the "Strip Teaser". They've had several more questionable names over the years, including but not limited to Sixy Beast, Bad Mudder and Haulin' Gas. Subverted with The Nash, as it was bowdlerised to abbreviate the original "Nashole" name to prevent any assocation with a swear word.
- Enormous Engine: Expected, but averted in a sometimes spectacular way. Whereas Matchbox sometimes went Ed "Big Daddy" Roth or even further with their designs, Hot Wheels always tried to stick with at least halfway realistic engines, mostly US V8 power plants—but they would occasionally install two or even more engines.
- Expy: The Modifighters are a set of Hot Wheels cars that can transform into a robot and back. The only thing really setting them apart from Transformers is that the car mode is their default mode, whereas in the Transformers' case it's the other way around.
- Goofy Print Underwear: The 2023 Monster Trucks Mega-Wrex vs. Crushzilla Takedown set features Crushzilla having heart-shaped underwear under the tire he resides in. When you're able to defeat the monster, he undergoes Comedic Underwear Exposure.
- Killer Gorilla: Several of the playsets involve a giant gorilla terrorizing the cars.
- "King Kong" Climb: The Super Ultimate Garage playset features a giant gorilla which climbs up the side of the garage, similar to the famous scene in King Kong.
- Made of Indestructium: These small 1:64 scale model cars that typically run for slightly less than $1 USD (although the rare collectible cars are another story) are deliberately designed to take a beating. No matter how many times you crash them, the most damage they'll receive is a few barely noticeable paint scratches.
- No Plot? No Problem!: The toy series as a whole completely lacks any specific plots; for the most part, it's just cars racing around racetracks or whatever.
- Palette Swap: Hot Wheels at least acknowledges its recolors for different model years are the same cars, but one can pinpoint which model year a certain car comes from by the paint job.
- Sentient Vehicle: The stop-motion animations on Hot Wheel's Youtube channel use this trope, though usually without dialogue.
- Sinister Car: Some Hot Wheels, such as Bone Shaker or Rigor Motor are themed after death and monsters, and can count under this trope.
- Skull for a Head: The aforementioned Bone Shaker is one of the most famous Hot Wheels designs, known for having a skull design and skeletal hands on the front of the car. Of course, there are several alternate versions that keep this trait as well.
- Theme Naming: The "Spoilers" series of cars names are all either rhymes, puns, alliteration or other wordplay relating to the car it's based on, like Heavy Chevy, Light my Firebird, Nitty Gritty Kitty (a Mercury Cougar), King 'Kuda, TNT Bird and Sugar Caddy. There were even some more recent cars done in the same style featuring similar names, like SS Express, Large and in Charger and Duster Thruster
- Thememobile: The "Character Cars" assortment of vehicles is designed to evoke the characters of whatever franchise Mattel has managed to grab. Among the licensed properties they've used for Character Cars are DC and Marvel, Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Star Wars, Power Rangers, Looney Tunes, Despicable Me, Super Mario Bros., Minecraft, Street Fighter, Overwatch and even SpongeBob SquarePants.
- Threatening Shark: Several playsets have a shark which tries to eat the cars. (Hot Wheels seems to have quite a thing for featuring aggressive animals in their playsets.) There is even a casting that resembles a shark, the titular Sharkruiser.
- Too Many Mouths: Splitfire, one of the bird/plane hybrid animal-vehicles from the Attack Pack series, has two mouths.
- Transforming Mecha: The Robo Wheels subset is comprised entirely of cars which are able to transform into robots.
- Transforming Vehicle: At least two subseries of Hot Wheels had this as one of their gimmicks.
- Key Force, released around 1990. This one featured two factions who did battle with cars, trucks, and motorcycles which transformed into battle vehicles through the use of a key.
- Shogun Racers, released in the 2000s. This one featured two factions with cars that transformed into planes, boats, or snowmobiles.
- Tyop on the Cover: The 2007 Ferrari Enzo toy has the word "Ferrari" spelled as "Ferrrari" on the packaging.