ITALIAN HOT WHEELS!
The relation between HotWheels! and Italy begins in 1969. In that year, Mattel purchases Mebetoys, a company with high quality standards especialized in 1:43 scale models. Mebetoys was owned back then by the Besana family, who were accepted in the new company to cooperate with the new team. Unfortunately, something went wrong, because after only four months, they were rejected.
According to Arumi, Mattel included in the purchase contract the clause that after the purchase was made effective, the Besana family could not start any business dealing with die-cast toys in general and car models in particular within the following 5 years.
During that time, HotWheels! models are marked both with the Mattel and the Mebetoys logo. Many of those models were Mebetoys earlier creations, in which the chassis was modified to include both logos.
There were 40 references that year of 1969, all Mebetoys designs, based mostly in Italian and European cars, never seen in the US before. These cars wouldn’t sell anywhere but in Europe, so it was really surprising, that new Mattel models (for the following years) were more European cars (Volkswagen, Citroën, Fiat…) Here’s a nice catalogue scan from the year 1981, in which this last statement can be proved. Other “new” references were not really new models, but new versions of old Mebetoys’.
After that, Hotwheels launched the famous “Gran Toros” series, from which the reader can find a lot of information here.
The Mebetoys logo was removed from all chassis, and the name discontinued around the years 1980 or 1981. In 1984 all Italian factories ceased their production and closed. This Volkswagen was therefore made between 1980 and 1984, since there is no Mebetoys logo on the base and it is still “made in Italy”. I couldn’t find the exact date, but the reference number 6909. Maybe anyone can help me here.
The Gran Toros had great quality, many practicable parts, metallic axles with metallic hubs, and many many other features, but this car was released later, in another 1:43 series, which is clearly much cheaper and simpler. Starting with the chassis in white plastic, which is at the same time the axles. Wheels are "inserted" in them. As a result of many hours of play, the plastic axles are a bit bent, maybe you can see that in the photographs. The car has no practicable parts, and it has the sticker at only one side.
The car was available in a windowed box, so the sticker on the other side could not be seen without taking the car out of the box. The missing sticker was probably never applied, since it was provided in a separate sticker's sheet, to save in manufacturing costs (the same thing that happened to this model by Polistil).
FACTS AND FIGURES:
- Name: VOLKSWAGEN GOLF CABRIOLET (Ref 6909)
- Scale: 1:43
- Year: Around 1982
- Company: Hot Wheels! - Mattel (U.S.A.) / Mebetoys (Italy)
- Size: approx. 9 cm