Oh, to be able to go back in time and scoop up all the little orange Reese’s Pieces buses from the Hershey’s Pop Culture series in 2012…
That’s what collectors wish they had done 9 years ago as the once easily attainable #Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus has risen in value — across the board. As with any Hot Wheels casting that has releases valued in the triple digits, it’s always fun to see what collectors thought of the casting before it was a flipper’s dream. This orange Reese’s Pieces bus didn’t sit long in those grocery store shippers that held the 2012 Pop Culture / Hershey’s series, but it wasn’t immediately scooped up either. It was a new casting making its debut in the line collector’s have deemed the “Real Riders donor line”, and most of the reason non-VW collectors even looked at the casting was because of the value the #Volkswagen Drag Bus had at the time. Today, the story is much different as the Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus has been rising up the collector charts, as it is slowly becoming a collector-favorite and a golden goose for Mattel.
I have no idea why I haven’t posted any #Collection Updates as of the last 7 months or so, but it isn’t to say I have been completing Hot Wheels casting collections. Rather, the contrary — I ramped up my buying in 2020 and have some really cool collections to share in 2021. One of my larger purchases… the Reese’s Pieces #Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus above.
At the end of 2019, I found myself really digging this casting despite the fact that all but 4 of its releases have been in #Pop Culture. Having all sorts of brands and characters and bands on the side have not done this casting any favors, but that isn’t to say there aren’t some cool releases. In the eyes of most collectors, the variants could have been better without.
Three early releases that I really like (all Pop Culture) are the Super Mario World, Kermit the Frog, and the Wolfman buses. Released in 2013, 2014, and 2015 these came out at a time when the #Pop Culture line had seemingly better graphics without the more “pixelated” look of today. Plus, the colors tend to really stand out — especially the satin green on the Kermit one, which was actually the last one I received to complete my collection (for now).
Anything #Super Mario & Hot Wheels related, I am essentially buying…. and The Wolfman graphics on the dark blue #Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus is totally rad. I actually remember seeing that it was designed by a contract graphic designer by the name of Jason Goad back in 2013.
Of course, we can’t bring up the early releases of this casting without talking about the #Grateful Dead release from 2014. Hands-down it is one of my favorites. The black & gold color combination is killer and — while I am not a Dead Head — I could easily envision this sitting outside one of their shows. It was a great point in this line when car culture met pop culture. #The Beatles Abbey Road release in 2019 was cool, but it surely does not have the presence the Grateful Dead one has.
The first non-#Pop Culture release came in 2017 when Hot Wheels did their first streetwear collab with Illest and Fatlace. To this day, this is probably the most realistic design that’s been done on the #Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus, but I suppose that is because it was modeled after Fatlace founder, Mark Arcenal’s real-life T1. It is certainly underrated as I don’t often hear too many collectors talking about it.
Speaking of cool releases, one that quickly became a favorite of mine is the “Hot Wheels Convention” release which should have been the finale car at the 2020 Collectors Convention in Los Angeles. Neither convention in 2020 ended up happening because of COVID-19, which is disappointing to say the least as we will simply have to imagine the look and reaction collectors would have had walking into the finale event on that Saturday night in October, and receiving this well-designed tribute piece that gives a modern look to the vintage Flying Colors design.
I mentioned that only four of the casting’s 19-known releases haven’t been released in #Pop Culture — these are the other two: the #Mooneyes #Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus from 2018’s Car Culture / Cargo Carriers series, and the #Urbaw Outlaw release from 2020 Hot Wheels Boulevard. The Mooneyes bus now has a livery trio as the #Kool Kombi and #Volkswagen Drag Bus have been released since, with the same deco. The Urban Outlaw bus has its own livery army as Hot Wheels has done quite a few Magnus Walker collabs over the last several years.
Some collectors may shrug as we get back into the #Pop Culture releases of the casting, but these are certainly not to be dismissed. The #Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus has been released in two separate DC Comics series, with both releases featuring #Superman. The red one from 2016 features the artwork of comic book artist, Frank Miller, while the seafoam green one features fellow comic artist, Alex Ross.
Unique colors make any casting collection fun to collect as that dates back to the redline days of assembling “rainbows”. With the 2016 Star Trek 50th Anniversary release and the 2018 Disney release, this collection checks off olive green and dark purple. The Snow White design on the Disney release has a really cool roof design and looks great in dark purple on gray turbine real riders. And, on the Star Trek release, the fact that Leonard Nimoy is giving the side-eye makes me laugh.
As with any Hot Wheels casting collection, there tend to be the releases you just don’t like. It’s probably because they are all in the same color and that has adverse effects on the casting collection rainbow. I’m thinking my critique of these may contain a bit of bias. Either way, The Wasp (from Women of Marvel) and Scooby-Doo! were both released in 2017 #Pop Culture so one has to wonder if these were pre-printed in the same color to save money. Of course, that assumption is ludicrous, but that’s what some collectors thought at the time.
The Rick & Morty release was the most recent as it was released at the end of 2020. It is cool to see another fan-base exposed to Hot Wheels collecting, but I don’t think it does much for the Hot Wheels collectors who aren’t fans of the show.
To complete a casting collection, you must collect them all, and there are certainly a good number of great looking releases of the Hot Wheels #Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus. We know of at least two more variants that will be released in 2021 — both Pop Culture, no surprise there — as there will be a Masters of the Universe one, and a Speed Shop Garage one that has a KONI deco. I love that I made the decision to go back and collect this casting as all the variants of it are making for a nice rainbow of a collection. Plus, it is slowly becoming one of my more favorite #VW Hot Wheels castings. What is your favorite release of this casting so far?