I count myself extremely lucky that I have been able to fulfill so many of my dreams in my life. I always wanted to make a living as an artist, which I have managed to (more or less) accomplish. I share my life with a wonderful woman who is the embodiment of my every desire and pervy fantasy, who also happens to have an excellent head for business that keeps me outta trouble on an almost daily basis. I've managed to find a circle of trusted friends and associates that are always there to watch my back, a major task, one which I can never truly repay in kind. I've been able to form friendships with some of my heroes and inspirations, all of whom have enriched my life and art to an unbelieveable degree.
I even met Joey Ramone once, in a seedy bar in Manhattan, when I was just 18 years old.
But now, I have finally realized a dream that I've had my entire life, one that I never thought I would be able to achieve.
I was born in 1968, the same year that Hot Wheels were introduced. My earliest memory, from approximately the age of three, is playing on the front porch with a Spectraflame blue Camaro. I still have that Camaro, scratched, battered and missing its plastic windshield. I also still have my Snake vs. Mongoose Hot Wheels coloring book, from around the same period. I was obsessed with Hot Wheels as a kid, (along with their more staid English cousins, Matchbox cars.) It's safe to say that this was the main reason I developed such an acute mania for all things wheeled and internal-combustion-powered, a mania that results ultimately in building hot rods that pretty much look like 1/1 scale Hot Wheels, as well as painting giant-ass artworks depicting the same sorta stuff.
Of all the various items of merchandise that I've done, all the T-shirts and stickers and whatnot, the one thing that I always thought would be the coolest item, the ultimate, would be to design an actual Hot Wheels car. Years ago, we started trying to do this, working every angle. A few times we came very close, but every time it seemed that one problem of another would derail the project, despite the enthusiasm of all the designers and creative folks at Mattel. I had pretty much given up on the whole idea, despite the protests of my friends at Hot Wheels, who wanted to make it happen as much as I did.
But it finally has happened, thanks in part to another subject I am obsessed with, the strange and wonderful country of Japan.
About ten years ago, I was invited to Tokyo as guest of honor at a horror/art/toy convention. This was my first visit to Japan, and I was overwhelmed by the culture and the people, and had a tremendous time. Last year, I ran into one of my hosts from my first Japanese trip, George. He was now involved in planning Hot Wheels Collectors' shows in Japan. In his offhand manner, George asked if I would be interested in designing a custom Hot Wheel for the show, and coming over as a guest of the show.
I coulda' kissed him.
It seemed now that all barriers had been removed, and things happened really fast. Early on, George decided he wanted this project to be really special and talked Hot Wheels into letting me design a two-car set. HOLY CRAP!! Now I'm gonna do TWO Hot Wheels, instead of just one? George then suggested that the set could perhaps be a '49 Merc custom, and a '51 Merc custom, if I thought that would be cool. My arm did not require further twisting.
The design process began, and my luck got even better, as the Hot wheels designer assigned to help me through the process was Steve Vandervate, a hugely-talented artist who also had suffered the singular misfortune of being my assistant for a brief time. With Van's help, everything happened quickly and painlessly, and it was only a few weeks before I was looking at a set of factory prototypes.
Words cannot describe, my friends, words cannot describe. Here's a link to the show, with a look at the cars. I'd like to show more, but I'm not allowed to just yet.
P.S. in reponse to emails, this set will be a limited edition of 2000, exclusive to the convention in Japan. We're hoping to have some available for sale at coopstuff.com after the show.