Adhesive Sticker Sheet – This refers to a paper backed sheet with pre-cut designs.  The pre-cut designs have an adhesive applied to their underside and when pulled away from the backing, they can be directly applied.

Blister Pack – This refers to the packaging the majority of Spectraflame Redlines were sold in.  A blister pack consists of a paper backing with colorful artwork and the Hot Wheels logo on the front and the listing of available cars on the back while a clear plastic bubble, referred to as a blister, is secured to the front enclosing the car.

Casting – Refers to the actual Hot Wheels model itself.  

Crumbler – There was a brief period around 1971 when the composition of metal used was of lesser quality or of a poor mixture which led to what are called by collectors as “crumblers.”   These “crumblers” are just that – the base or body crumbles due to moisture or humidity that causes the metal to swell through minute fractures ultimately reducing it to a pile of rubble.  For instance, the body can be pristine without any flaws while the base has swelled or completely crumbled into many pieces. Unfortunately, there is no way to cease the process once it has begun and “crumblers” have ultimately no value.  It is also worth mentioning that this condition can exist with castings still sealed in their blister pack.

Base – The base of the car is simply the chassis.  It sometimes provides characteristics of early or late run production but more importantly supplies the year first produced, copyright and patent information as well as the casting name and its country of origin.  For castings introduced during the years of 1968 and 1969, the U.S. base is less detailed then the Hong Kong base and the U.S. base does not have four open square cut outs revealing part of the suspension whereas the Hong Kong base does.  For castings introduced in 1970 and lasting through to 1972, the U.S. and Hong Kong bases were similar, lacking detail on both but were still stamped with their country of origin, casting name, year produced and copy right and patent.  

Filler – A casting that is in either poor condition or has been repainted which will serve as a space holder until a better example is found.


Hybrid – This term is used to describe a casting that has been produced with both U.S. and Hong Kong parts.  The number of parts used from one origin versus the other can vary drastically from one to many.  A great example is the Custom Barracuda where you can have a U.S. made body, interior and hood and the base, wheels and glass are Hong Kong parts.  There are several hybrid castings but the most familiar are the Custom Camaro, Custom Barracuda and Sand Crab.



Over Chrome – This refers to a Club Kit car that has Spectraflame paint applied over the chrome.

Power Bulges – This term refers to the hood scoops or air vents that were cast onto hoods and engine covers.

Peppering – This refers to fine particles found under the paint that gives the finish a rough texture that can be seen and or felt and usually results in tiny black specs resembling pepper.

Redline – This refers to the red line around the perimeter of all wheels produced in 1968 through 1977.  This red line made Hot Wheels stand out from the crowd and is why collectors call these cars “Redlines.”

Tampo – This refers to the painted designs that are applied by a pad press to particular castings.  The term was derived from the manufacture of the equipment used by Mattel for this particular process.

Toning – Also known as mottling, refers to wisps, small to medium dark spots or larger dark patches found under the paint leaving an uneven hue and often can be distracting.  Toning can affect the entire car or just certain parts like the hood or rumble seat.  In extreme cases, toning can be down right ugly.  It is said toning can be caused by imperfections in materials such as the zinc-plated metal itself, or improperly polishing the casting during preparation prior to painting.  Furthermore, it has been suspected that environment and storage conditions such as UV rays and moisture have contributed to the cause or acceleration of toning.

Water Slide Decal Sheet – This refers to a paper backed sheet with a very thin clear top that would have sponsor logos or other designs such as flowers printed on it.  When this sheet is submerged in water, the logos or designs will slide off from the paper backing and then can be applied. 


ZAMAC – This is an acronym for zink, aluminum, metal, alloy, casting and is the metal most commonly used in die casting and is what our Spectraflame Redlines are made of.





There are several specific colors Mattel used during the Spectraflame era but what collectors have come to find over the years is that there are color families.  Why?  Simply because there are many shades of the same color which can vary from casting to casting, from year to year and from country of origin to country of origin.  This can be attributed to many different factors but the main reason seems to be that no two batches of paint were mixed the same way.  Also, there were different suppliers at various stages of production, each having their own formula for each color.  Then take into account the preparation of each casting prior to being painted and you have even more chances for inconsistencies.  For instance, if a casting is highly polished, then it tends to be very bright and colorful.  If a casting is not polished well or the metal has a dark finish, the color would tend to be dim and dull.

Let’s use the color aqua as an example.  You can find a dark aqua, a very blue looking aqua, a very green looking aqua and even a very light or icy looking aqua.  The color is still aqua; it’s just a particular shade within the aqua family.  These types of variances apply to all the Spectraflame colors. Mattel did use some enamel paints during the Spectraflame era however they are not prone to the vast variances as are the Spectraflame colors.

Also, it is important to note that UV rays can affect paint color over time.  A good example of this is the result of taking a car painted in true green and exposing it to direct sunlight.  Over time, the green faded to an icy aqua-blue color.  The theory for this occurrence is that this particular mixture of green paint was prone to UV fading.  Not all paint colors and not all of the same color paint is susceptible. Nevertheless, always take care when storing and displaying your Spectraflame beauties.

Below are the more commonly found colors both in Spectraflame and enamel.  The terms in parentheses are alternate names collectors use when describing the corresponding color.  

Color Chart 

Spectraflame Colors:




Brown (Medium Brown) (Chocolate Brown)


Creamy Pink

Gold (Honey) (Platinum)


Hot Pink

Light Blue (Ice – with or without purple undertones or hues)

Light Green (Apple)

Light Purple (Berry)

Lime (Lime Yellow)


Medium Blue (Windex)

Olive (Gold Olive) (Green Olive)




Rose (Red Rose) (Pink Rose)

Salmon Pink (Pink with orange hues)


Watermelon (Light Red)

Enamel Colors:

Dark Green








Both U.S. and Hong Kong wheels came in a variety of sizes ranging in small, medium and large.  From 1968 through the end of 1969, the wheels produced in both the U.S. and Hong Kong were a bearing type that was pressed over a Delrin bushing.  From 1970 to the end of 1972, a new type of capped wheel and a new, smoother suspension was used in both U.S. and Hong Kong castings.  From time to time, a 1968 or 1969 casting made in 1970 that would normally have bearing type wheels has been found with either a combination of bearing and capped wheels or where all four wheels are capped. This merely indicates a transition from the bearing type to the capped wheel type and in some cases may demand a small premium in value over the traditional counter part due to it being a variation.   Being wheel types and styles differ between the U.S. and Hong Kong, the information below will help explain these distinctions. 


U.S. bearing type – The U.S. redline wheel in its early production had tapered chrome mag spokes with a red stripe embossed on the outer perimeter.  Shortly into production and continuing on until the end of U.S. produced bearing type wheels, the chrome on the mag spokes was replaced by a silvery matte finish.  Funny enough, the chrome mag spokes made their return for a short time in the very late stage of production and are found only on a handful of U.S. castings.  These are easily identifiable as the mag spokes appear squarer when compared to the earlier tapered mag spokes and look nothing like the common U.S. wheel with the silver matte finish.


HK bearing type – The Hong Kong redline wheel in its early production had chrome mag spokes with a thinner red stripe embossed on the outer perimeter then the U.S. style.  Because of the force of the strike in producing the wheel itself, there tends to be a more recessed impression of the mag spokes giving the wheel a “deep dish” like appearance.  These deep dish wheels as collectors have coined them, come in two styles.  One style has a flat side wall and the second has a rounded side wall. The rounded style deep dish wheel has been given the name “bubble gum deep dish” by collectors.  The “deep dish” appearance is indicative of early Hong Kong produced cars and shortly into production, this force subsided leaving the wheel’s appearance as it is most commonly found still with chrome mag spokes and a thinner red stripe.




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