The Hot Wheels®   '57 T-bird Story
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------------ From my point of view!

 Part III - August 1998
edited Dec. 2008
by Dot Lang

     The new Tampo!

Real Rider (19KB)
    Note: With this next color and tampo change, it would be wise for you to note the color of the windows in the models.  The previous models described had all used  clear blue tint plastic windows.  Also, a fact left out of the last article was that by 1985, all  of the Thunderbird models were using the 1977 chassis date.

         In 1985, a new tampo was applied to the models.  The first color using this new tampo was red, package # 9522, made in Malayasia.  The tampo on the red cars consists of a wide yellow stripe and a wide blue stripe running across the top of the car, crossing on the roof and ending on the hood with the word "TBIRD" in yellow outlined in purple.  The wheels and tires are the standard, the interior is "black", and the windows are smokey clear.  Apparently none of this color phase were made in Hong Kong.


         In 1986, the next color, black, used this tampo design with a change in the color stripes.  The new stripes are now purple and a red-orange. The word "TBIRD" is in red outlined in blue.  The interior is still black.  There are three variations that I know of:

    • Pkg #2536  Standard tires and wheels with Clear windows.  Made in Hong Kong.
    • pKG #2536  Good Year tires and grey hubs with CLEAR windows (no tint).  Made in Malaysia.  In "Real Riders" package.
    • Pkg # 2536  Good Year Tires and white hubs.  This a a rare version. Just got information that it was made in Malaysia and has the same "black" windows that the car with the standard tires and wheels has.  Thank you, Dick!
    Color Changers (14KB)

         The next time this tampo was used, color change paint was popular.  Mattel released the Thunderbird in a 3-pak labeled "Color Racers" in 1988.  The model has clear windows, and standard wheels and tires. The package # is 5608-0910-G4.  The car was purple that changed to a pinkish orange when exposed to warm water.  The stripes are yellow and orange and do not change color.  Also, the word "TBIRD" is orange outlined in purple and does not change color.  However, the body paint is very light sensitive.  Models exposed to light over time become a neon orange and the "orange" stripe almost disappears against this neon backdrop.  The ability to change colors also disappears.  You'll find plenty of this model on ebay, sold as "pink" or "orange " and few know that it was a color changer at one time.   If you should have this model still in its package and it is still purple, then keep it out of ANY light.

         The following year, 1989, package # 5608-0410-G1 came out with another Thunderbird, again a "Color Racer," again in a 3-pak.  This time it has a "triple-change" feature.  Originally, the car is purple when cold that changes to blue and then changes to white - the warmer it gets.

         By 1998,  since the paint is light sensitive, it has become a dull purple with white showing through upon extended exposure to light.  See above photo for purple color on it.  Mine still has some color changing ability - turns almost plum purple when left in the refrigerator and then tan when dipped in hot water.   The non- changing stripes are dark purple and white and the "TBIRD" is white outlined in blue. 

    Update 2008 on triple changer (10 years later) - the color is still deteriorating and now at room temperature, the color is brown (not purple).  There were still some purple on parts when placed in freezer.  Odd though, this is the only "brown" that has surfaced on a Hot Wheels t-bird since the redline era of the 60s! 
    How about it Mattel, is it time for a brown color to be used on a T-bird?  Maybe a brown and yellow combo - very retro color combo for a 57 T-bird though the only color close to brown was the metallic bronze color for the tbird in 57.

    So on to the 2008 color experiment:  In the freezer, it became a dull purple.  With warmth of hand, it started changing to a mottled brown color.  As I warmed it up with my hands, became lighter brown.  Finally gave it the hot water treatment and it turned a light tan color like a deer hide.  The only change I've noted above that has occured in the last 10 years is the room temperature color - brown vs the dull purple from 1998.  From the original color changes of purple to blue to white, the blue and white are totally gone, replaced by brown and tan.  Wish I had a color sequence photo from 1989 when I first picked up the model. It was a beautiful series of color changes for the car.   It's now getting pretty ugly and the color no longer compliments the dark purple and white tampo.   Will package this one up for another 10 years!

    Both of the Color Racer packages were printed in 1987.  Both were made in Malaysia.

     UPDATE 2000: Another color changer has surfaced. From cold to warm, it changes from dark army green to lime green to bright yellow. The stripes are dark blue-green and yellow. The word "t-bird" is yellow outlined in red. Apparently was a foreign issued model. Thought - This model still retains it color changing abilities & the one I picked up is well used. Too bad that Mattel didn't continue using this color paint since it seems to have outlasted the other colors.

    UPDATE 2: Have come across another color changer package. This info was sent to me by another collector. It's a foreign issued package with 2 cars and appears to be the "neon" orange color car so I assume it was originally purple. The package is printed in Spanish and is called "Automagic." Here's a photo of that package.  I have since picked up another Automagic package.


    The last color phase of this tampo is a light blue with the clear blue tinted windows. The wheels are the standard but the tires are wide white walls. A few cars can be found with black wall tires -these are rare.  The models were released in 1989 in the Park 'N Plate package #2072.  The stripes are purple and yellow with the "TBIRD" in yellow, outlined in blue.  All made in Malaysia.

    In late 1990, the same body color, light blue, was issued with yellow and orange stripes.   It came in a gift pack of 20 Hot Wheels #1274 and there was a foreign issue of this phase in blister pack #2072.

    Park 'N Plates  (15KB)


    Part IV is about the new 1986 Tampos.

    Part I -  First Tampo Phase  Part II - Cranberry Models
    Part III - New Tampo Part IV - Next Tampo
    Part V - Promotionals Part VI - Regular issue to present
    Part VII - Mattel's Specials Part VIII - Different Molds
    Article IX - Thunderbird Anniversary Years
    Hot Wheel List UPDATED

    I'm always looking for more information on the Thunderbird model.

    ©1998 -2008 Dot Lang