Hot Wheels is a brand that has a lot of fondness in my heart. As a kid, I grew up playing with toy cars all the time, and Hot Wheels ones were some of the very best. Sure, you could pick up those massive packs from any supermarket, but their wheels would inevitably fall off or they'd break in some other manner within a week. Hot Wheels, however, those lasted. I bet if I were to look through some of the old stuff at my parents' house, I could still find them in decent condition, despite sitting in the basement for about 16 years.
Not all Hot Wheels are created equal though. Some of them, over the years, have been hilariously bad or weird. I'm not talking bad quality: these are all sturdily-made, I'm sure, but oh boy. The designs are "inspired," and not in a good way. For example, they made a car that is quite literally a toilet with wheels. Who would want that? Why would it exist? Similarly, why would a car with a scorpion tail exist outside of G.I. Joe? In this list, we're going to celebrate the madness that occasionally seems to overtake Hot Wheels' design department, leading them to believe such weird cars are acceptable to put out on the shelves. From the mystifying to the ugly to the just plain bad, you'll find them all on this list. What's the worst example of a peg warmer you've ever seen? Let us know in the comments!
30 Sting Rod II: A Weird Hybrid
This car is a follow-up to the original Sting Rod, that was released all the way back in the 90s. The key difference between the two models is that, while the first generation model was actually a military-looking vehicle, this looks like an ordinary coupe. Yet, nonetheless, it's a coupe that manages to wield three missiles on its back, for no discernible reason. They're also molded to the body, so good luck if you want to actually launch them, or have some fun.
29 A Kaiju With Wheels, Rodzilla
Another "rod," this car looks like it was made for some obscure drag racing competition back in the 1980s then left to decay in a barn somewhere. It has a totally bizarre dragon's head on the front that does nothing to boost the car's looks, and also makes it very breakable. The head can be turned 360 degrees, which may come in useful if the driver decides to roast himself due to the shame of driving this hunk of junk.
28 Le Mans Would Refuse Prototype H-24
Designed to emulate the Le Mans cars of the 70s, this car looks okay at first glance. Then you take a closer look at it, and you realize just how weirdly designed it is. Why does it have the exhaust pipes right next to the cabin, at prime ankle-burning height. What's with the weird wings and the pipes behind the driver? It just doesn't work as a sports car, and if that's what it's really trying to emulate, it really needs a redesign.
27 Troy Soldier Would Be Better If It Hid Greek Soldiers
This car was only released back in 2012, and looking at it, I see why it has never been reissued. It looks like a long-forgotten and abused hot rod from the 1950s. Look at that crest. Tell me that's good looking. You're lying, if you think it is. Then there's the huge air intake below it, that ruins the car's whole look. Even worse, you could get this car in a shiny metallic gold, for the ultimate in gaudy toy cars.
26 Hot Seat Should Have Been Flushed
Look at this. This is what I was talking about in the intro. It's literally a toilet on wheels. Why. Who thought that this was a good idea? What kind of things were consumed at the corporate offices to make it seem like one? It was produced for a whole six years too, from 1998 to 2004. It's got a plunger that serves as a steering wheel. Hilarious. Genuinely the worst car ever made by Hot Wheels, this should have been canned, in more ways than one.
25 Unobtanium I: I Wish It Was
I don't really need to explain why this one is bad, do I? Its gold paint renders the whole thing incredibly ugly, to the point that I wouldn't even want this in my house for fear of it bringing some bad style juju with it. It's a shame it's so ugly, as the shape of it is actually pretty nice, and if it were in any other color, I think the chrome of the hood would work wonderfully. As it is, however, it looks like the sort of thing a mid-level rapper would make.
24 The Lakester Wouldn't Last Two Minutes On The Salt Flats
This thing looks like a Beetle. I don't mean a VW Beetle. I mean an actual beetle. If this thing were to scurry out from under a rock in my garden, I think the only part of it I'd find odd is the wheels. Those, I admit, would give me pause. This thing is, I guess, meant to emulate the cars that blasted across the Utah salt flats to set land speed records. It's just so ugly, though, that I can't imagine any kid (or adult, for that matter) picking one of these off the shelf.
23 The Whip Creamer Deserves A Flogging
What even is this car supposed to be? With its strange stance, its glass roof, and strange vents, it looks like that car Homer Simpson designed for his brother's company. This car has been produced by Hot Wheels just twice in history, once in 1970, and again in 1994, and can't you just see why. Like Unobtanium, I'm not averse to its body shape, and if some more work had gone into its looks, it could have been a very cool looking car, but as it is, it's absolutely terrible.
22 No Ride Beats The Snow Ride
When you think Hot Wheels, you think of cars, don't you? I know that I do. Nevertheless, in 2010, Hot Wheels decided to try their hand at making a to-scale snowmobile. Why? Who knows. What I do know is that while most snowmobiles in real life look pretty sleek, this thing looks ugly. It's too chunky, it's got a bunch of unnecessary detailing that makes it look positively clunky. I'm pretty sure any skier or snowboarder who got on this thing would die of embarrassment.
21 Rail Rodder: Doc Brown, Is That You?
Remember back at the end of Back To The Future 3, where Doc Brown shows up in his train time machine? That was pretty cool, but it was only cool by virtue of it being a time machine! And besides, I don't think anyone would have picked it over the Delorean, given the choice. This train is another attempt by Hot Wheels to venture outside what they do best, with terrible results. It's a hot rod train, and is every bit as bad as that sounds.
20 The Fatbax Mustang: A Shame To Ford
All of the Fatbax cars are utter disasters. Their "fat" style comes from their huge rear wheels, which bulge out at either side, making it look for all the world like a car body mounted on a rolling pin. The level of detail, or rather, the lack of it, is what truly shames this car, however. It looks like a smart car that's been jacked up. None of that famous Mustang styling remains on the body at all. It could be literally any car on those wheels, and it wouldn't matter.
19 Bad To The Blade: Self-Descriptive
Originally introduced in the promotional documentary Fearless At The 500, this is a properly weird little car. If Formula 1 cars and rockets had a baby, that was then raised by The Punisher, this would be the result. Actually no, that makes it sound way too awesome. It looks so tacky, though! With its little concealed cabin and the skull logos, not to mention a paint scheme that looks like it was the result of Jackson Pollock, it just doesn't work in any way.
18 Not Hitting Any Birdies: Fore Wheeler
Also known as Tee'd Off, this car is another one of those concepts that sound good on paper, only to devolve when pressed into diecast metal. A golf cart with a huge engine at the back, it does not for some bizarre reason, have any stance changes over a normal golf cart. Maybe that engine is super-lightweight. I don't know. What I do know is that this model is practically worthless in any aesthetic stance, it's only good point being that it can actually be used as a golf tee.
17 Motor Psycho: It Really Is
This car was originally known as the Popcycle, and you can see why, can't you? The cockpit looks so much like a frozen treat. Inside the cockpit, you can find a bicycle. Why? I don't even know. I can't begin to explain why there's a bike inside this car, or what purpose it serves. Combine the day-glo colored cockpit top with the ugly looks (the front plow/grin is what does it for me), and you have one truly terrible Hot Wheels car.
16 The Truly Tasteless Diamond-Studded Car
The most expensive toy car ever made, this car was made to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Hot Wheels, and by god, they made it as gaudy as possible. The cost of this thing was a mean $140,000, and was created by jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills. What is it with companies thinking that if they stick some expensive metals or stones onto something, it's suddenly an aesthetic triumph? I think this is by far the ugliest car on the list thus far.
15 The (Truly) Eevil Weevil
Man, and I bet you thought you were done with the most insectoid looking Hot Wheels cars already, didn't you? Rocking a big honking tail and some compound eyes, this car doesn't look cool, it just looks creepy. The engine heads split its back open like some weird body horror, while the front features a pair of mechanical pincers. This car is like what would have happened if H.R. Giger had been let loose in the Hot Wheels factory during one of his weirder phases.
14 The Roller Toaster Is Overdone
That weak pun in its name isn't even the worst thing about this car, believe it or not. Designed by Ryu Asada in a frankly bizarre break from his usual style, this is literally a toaster on wheels. Featuring a plug on its side and a lever on the back, the attention to detail is nice, but why a toaster? What other kitchen appliances can we expect to be made into cars? Are we going to get a blender next?
13 The Not-So-Hot Hot Tub
Debuting in 2006, this car is essentially a redesign of the earlier, infamous, Hot Seat. The Hot Tub is, well, a Hot Tub, but if you think that's forgivable, you've not been paying attention. The car is literally nothing but a hot tub on wheels, complete with a ridiculously massive supercharger behind the tub. It's not that this car is actually meant to resemble anything real, I get that, but what I don't get is how clunky and awful it looks. Why is it so bad?
12 The Dragtor Is A Travesty To Every Farmer
Another one of those "oh-so-delightful" hybrids. This time it's the turn of tractors and drag cars to have a child, and the result is this monstrous thing. It's effectively a tractor, but with two big exhaust pipes. That's literally it. I wish I was kidding, but, like... It's got nothing else going for it over a regular tractor. Its wheels are the same, and its engine doesn't look too insanely different from the sort you'd find on any bit of agricultural machinery.
11 Fangs, But No Fangster
Oh boy, we've got a cheaply made corker on our hands with this one. Effectively a dragster, I guess, but with a disgustingly plastic looking reptile body overlaid on it. It looks like some weird offshoot of Reptar from Rugrats. Is it aimed at kids? If it is, surely they deserve better? I'd expect that kids would be able to tell this piece of junk was to be avoided a mile off anyway, frankly. I hope they would be able to, anyway.
10 Rocket-Bye-Baby: Bad Pun, Bad Car
Well, I've already made one Simpsons reference in this list, so what's another? You remember Chester Lampwick's rocket car from The Simpsons: Hit & Run? If you're hoping that this will be like that, then I'm sorry to disappoint you. Instead, it's a relatively pedestrian looking sports car, bar the silly front-end, which has had a rocket engine grafted to the top of it. It's just plain silly, and not in a particularly good way: it looks like zero imagination went into designing this one.
9 Soviet Toy Design: Mig Rig
The somewhat Soviet name is appropriate, as this car looks like it was designed by committee, rather than one person with a sound vision. It's a truck that's had its bed hollowed out and filled with an engine, and in the back, you'll find welding gear and other tools. Exhilarating stuff, right? Produced from 2013, this truck isn't nearly as bad as the other entries on this list, but it's just lacking that key spark of imagination that we've come to expect from Hot Wheels.
8 The Time Attaxi Is A True Crazy Taxi
This car was based on the Toyota Crown Comfort, commonly used as a taxi in Japan. As such, it was meant to have a somewhat anime bent to it. However, it failed, and it failed hard. What's so bad about it? It's mostly just how cheap it looks. Made out of shiny plastic that looks like it would break if you looked at it the wrong way, the engine sticks out in a very breakable way, and those tail-fins look super fragile too. All in all, it's just a shoddy job.
7 The Jetsons' Capsule Car: Despoiling A Legacy
Cartoons can't get much more influential than The Jetsons, so it's a bit sad that Hot Wheels felt the need to make this cheap and gross bit of kit with which to put a finger up to their legacy. My main problem with this car, aside from its cheap construction, is the fact that it has wheels. Hot Wheels have shown themselves able to break free of their normal style, so why did they decide to stringently stick to it when creating this? Why give a car famous for flying some wheels?
6 An Absolute Wienermobile
The Wienermobile has been promoting Oscar Meyer hot dogs since 1936. They are a truly iconic sight. And yet, when they're put into Hot Wheels form, it just doesn't work, does it? There's nothing hot about these wheels. When you see them in real life, the Wienermobile is cool because of its sheer scale, and the fact that it is a triumph of design. These things, with their completely flat bodies, and the lack of any meaty flavor, renders any charm the real one has completely meaningless.
5 The Golden Submarine Should Be Broken Up For Scrap
This car's design is based on some truly vintage old racers, but that's where the similarity ends. While said racers are gorgeous machines, this car's form factor is all wrong. What's with the way it spikes up at the end like the Oscar Meyer hot dog? Why does it have no doors? Why is it like this? I've nothing against designing Hot Wheels cars based on classic race cars, but if you're going to do that, put some aesthetic judgement into its design -- don't just throw out any old thing.
4 The Homer: Iconically Awful
I don't hate this car like I hate the others on this list. Sure, it looks terrible, but it's meant to. It's actually pretty hilarious. A toy car, well made, based on Homer Simpson's fantastically awful car, designed to be for the average American, that ruined his brother's car company. If you're going to pick up any of the cars on this list, grab this one. It's stupid, sure, but it's entertainingly so. Definitely one of the ugliest cars made by Hot Wheels, in a good way.
3 Shine A Harsh Light On The Solar Reflex
Honestly, when I was writing this up, I'd actually forgotten about the Solar Reflex. I thought I was done with talking about cars that look like insects, but then fate vomited on my eiderdown once again. Based on a solar powered car, as well as looking like a luminescent beetle, I have a few other questions about this car. Where is the driver supposed to go? Is it a robot car or something? It seems to be lacking in thought.
2 The Loopster: Missed The Memo
This isn't a car. Not even slightly. It's a roller-coaster carriage slung into a toy that's truly half-baked. If you want to shell out even more money, you can connect several Loopsters together to make a chain of them, if you're really willing to chuck money down the drain. There are a whopping two variations on this toy. Want to know the differences? One of them, the guy in the back has his arms up, the other, he has them down. That's literally the only difference. No thank you.
1 The Mad Manga: Not Mad, Not Manga
If you heard that Hot Wheels were going to release a car based on those driven by the Bosozoku, the famously outlandish Japanese motorcycle gangs, you'd be expecting a lot, right? Then this comes along. It is, for all the world, just a regular old Hot Wheels car that the designers have had a go at with a carving knife then stuck some decals on. Like the other examples of lazy design on this list, it misses so much that could have been great about the concept.