Behind the Scenes: Star Wars Hot Wheels

Hot Wheels Star Wars

Star Wars Hot Wheels cars

"One of the first toys I remember playing with as a kid is Hot Wheels. I would spend hours connecting bits of orange racetrack so the cars to race through the house at lightning speeds. Each time I visited local shops I would have my eyes on the newest and wildest Hot Wheels, saving my allowance until I could add one more to my collection. If you had told 5 year old Brian Miller that someday their artwork would appear on Hot Wheels vehicles and packaging he would not have believed you. This is a childhood dream come true."
 — Brian Miller, illustrator
illustrations by Oktopolis: The Art of Brian Miller for Hot Wheels


I was first approached by Jimmy Liu, Hot Wheels marketing manager at Mattel, a few years ago at Comic-Con International (aka San Diego Comic-Con). He had seen some of my Star Wars propaganda artwork created for the fine-art collectables market. Jimmy and I hit it off immediately and realized we had more in common that just Star Wars, we both had a passion for NASA and space exploration as well as 1980's pop culture like Ghostbusters and Back to the Future. 
After Comic-Con Jimmy presented his vision to Lucasfilm and the multi-year process of bringing this Star Wars artwork to Hot Wheels was put in motion.  
The first vehicle in the series is the Super Van sporting Imperial propaganda artwork inspired by Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. The phrase Protect the Empire is a rallying cry for Imperial Stormtroopers sent to Tatooine in search of the droids who landed in the Dune Sea in an escape pod. While Stormtroopers did not have a Super Van to roam the the Jundland Wastes, Star Wars fans will spot a Trooper astride a Dewback, along with several Star Wars easter eggs including a fast ship in the background.    



This prototype for the Super Van shows how Jimmy Liu, and his team at Hot Wheels, were able to take elements from the original illustration by Brian Miller and manipulate them to best fit the dimensions of the van. Considering the 1:64 scale of the cars the amount of detail is simply incredible.



The second Hot Wheels in the series is the Unimog. This large and imposing vehicle is the perfect choice to represent the icy terrain of the planet Hoth, as seen in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. Here we can see the cool blue and white values from the Crush the Rebellion propaganda poster style artwork are carried over to the Hot Wheels vehicle too great effect. The Unimog itself almost acts as a stand in for the Imperial At-At walkers as you can imagine this rough and ready truck tackling the frozen wastelands in search of Rebel outposts.



 “For graphical assortments, such as Pop Culture, there is a lot of creative work and brainstorming that goes into creating each theme. We think about current trends and how we can leverage the amazing artwork available for the license. One of the latest Premium Pop Culture assortments is a Star Wars collection that pairs artwork from Brian Miller of Oktopolis with collector-grade, die-cast vehicles. It’s creating “star cars” based on a galaxy far, far away." — Jimmy Liu, Hot Wheels marketing manager



The third Hot Wheels vehicle in the series imagines a scene that could have taken place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Here the  bounty hunter in the galaxy, Boba Fest, has returned to Tatooine with Jabba's Prize... one Han Solo frozen in Carbonite. Boba is ready to deliver Solo to Jabba the Hut and collect the bounty. Sharp eyed fans may notice Boba Fett's ship, Slave I, sitting just outside of Jabba's palace.  



This prototype illustrates the length the Hot Wheels team goes to with their Premium Pop Culture vehicles. Details like the Mandalorian symbol on the Ford transit Supervan door to the wheels color keyed to the artwork demonstrates the commitment to quality Hot Wheels is bringing to this line.



The fourth vehicle in the series celebrates Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Imperial Scout Troopers are commanded to Defend the Death Star at all cost keeping a vigilant eye out for Rebels and Ewoks while they patrol the forest moon of Endor on their speeder bikes. I wonder who could be arriving on that Imperial shuttle? You can imagine you are on Imperial patrol with this drag race themed Astro Van. 



"Star Wars reunites with Hot Wheels in the Premium Pop Culture assortment this fall, with a fresh collection of vehicles that feature artwork from Brian Miller of Oktopolis. The collection includes a Super Van, 1988 Mercedes Unimog U1300, a Ford Transit Supervan, a 1985 Chevy Astro Van, and a Dream Van XGW with premium art and Real Riders tires, each on numbered card backs." — James Zahn, The Pop Insider website



The fifth and final vehicle in this new series from Hot Wheels is inspired by Lord Vader's visit to the Emperor in Return of the Jedi. When Darth Vader enters the Emperor's throne room he is flanked by two Imperial Guards creating an ominous vision of Imperial Power that few would dare to challenge. You know what else no one would dare challenge? This streamlined Dream Van featuring Darth Vader and the Emperor's Royal Guards in all their glory.


This new series of 5 collectable Star Wars Hot Wheels vehicles are scheduled for release Fall, 2019 and should be available from any retailer who carries Premium Hot Wheels.
The illustrations used for these collectable Star Wars Hot Wheels cars were originally created by artist Brian Miller as collectable fine-art prints for Dark Ink Art & ACME Archives. You can see more of Brian's officially licensed fine-art prints at Dark Ink Art and others at Oktopolis.
Illustrations made using Adobe Illustrator Draw on iPad Pro with Apple Pencil before being exported to Adobe Photoshop on Mac where final text composites, halftones, and color separations were created.
Jimmy Liu and the talented team at Hot Wheels are responsible for transforming the original illustrations into the packaging and vehicles shown here. 
No Dewbacks were harmed in the making of this project.


Illustrator Brian Miller and Hot Wheels marketing manager Jimmy Liu show off the package art for the new series of Star Wars Hot Wheels cars at San Diego Comic-Con.



illustrations by Oktopolis: The Art of Brian Miller. Hot Wheels® trademarks and trade dress are owned by Mattel. All Rights Reserved. Star Wars © & ™ Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.This artwork may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of the license holders.



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