The Back to the Future Time Machine / Hot Wheels Showdown, Part 1: In the Beginning…
As far back as I can remember, I’ve often been a sucker for cool vehicles in television and film.
I wasn’t taken to many movies as a child, so most of the cool vehicles I saw were on television. I soon had 1:64-scale versions of the vehicles from The Dukes of Hazzard, and The A-Team. I’m also pretty sure the reason I got a Matchbox Cars Ferrari, was due to the one Tom Selleck drove on Magnum P.I.
But then came that moment in 1986, that changed my life, forever.
Watching Back to the Future in my Grandma’s living room in 1986, I wasn’t completely sure what was going on. The film gained my attention when Marty McFly (Michael J Fox), was drawn to a strange sound, emanating from his friend Doc Browns’ (Christopher Lloyd) truck.
Slowly, a ramp lowered, and through a thick smoke-screen, out rolled a vehicle I had never seen before. It was shiny, and had all sorts of strange paraphernelia on it.
After that Summer, The Delorean Time Machine was firmly planted in my brain. I eagerly begged my parents to take me to the sequels, marveled as it flew through the air, and looked on in horror as it was crumpled to bits by an oncoming train.
I had numerous versions of the Time Machine, which included a plastic ERTL model kit, an R/C version made by JRL, and a 1:18-scale Sunstar Die-Cast model.
Despite all the publicity regarding John DeLorean’s business dealings, Back to the Future made many people like myself fascinated by this rarely-seen vehicle. When my Dad and Uncle saw a used one at a Porsche dealership, they brought me along on their next outing to take a look at it. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed that it didn’t have all of Doc Brown’s additions.
I had all manner of die-cast cars (and still do: over 6 cases full!) as a child. While Hot Wheels and Matchbox were churning out sporty cars like the Corvette, the DeLorean was nowhere to be found on store shelves.
And then, one day, I got lucky.
My family stopped into a small drug store at Grossmont Shopping Center in La Mesa, CA. I was able to convince my Dad to let me go inside with my Mom, and like any young child, requested a stop down the toy aisle. And that was when I saw it:
The packaging it came in is long gone now, but even with its not-so-perfect looks, I had to have it! Sure, the interior was white plastic, and the metal on the body was far from perfect, but in those days, it was take-it-or-leave-it when it came to some products. Plus, Zylmex’s wheels looked very similar to those on the actual DeLorean.
This DeLorean was made by a company called Zylmex. If you never heard of them, don’t worry: many people out there haven’t. Zylmex (or Zee Toys in some circles), seemed to be that generic brand of toy you often saw in smaller shops. You probably had one or two toys from this company growing up, but were often at a loss as to who actually made those toys.
What was note-worthy about the Zylmex DeLorean, is that it sported working gull-wing doors! However, the mechanism wasn’t too reliable, and I’m sure some other owners of this little car, had doors that did the following:
This would be the only (known) 1:64th scale DeLorean for probably 25 years, until one of the big players decided to do something about it.
In 2010, Hot Wheels finally brought the DeLorean into their vehicle lineup. The original release contained a unibody Die-Cast design, with the only moving piece, being a snap-up plastic rear deck, that showed the area where the DeLorean’s rear-engine was.
This mold would be used 4 more times, 3 of which showcased the DeLorean body in gold and black, along with a variation of the silver body-type.
In 2012, the Hot Wheels Red Line Club released a special retooled mold of the DeLorean. With a shinier exterior, and limited to 4000 pieces, it also is the only use of a newer Hot Wheels DeLorean mold, that features opening gullwing doors.
It seems that 25 years after the DeLorean was immortalized on film as the coolest time machine of all time, we finally got our Die-Cast dream vehicle (mainstream, anyways). But…What about that Time Machine?
In Part 2, we take a look at several iterations of “Back to the Future’s” DeLorean Time Machine, including a version you may never have seen before.