The Hot Wheels® '57 T-bird Story
Thunderbird Collectibles homepage
------------ From my point of view!
 Part V  - October 1998

by Dot Lang

Promotional Hot Wheels Thunderbirds,

McDonald's happy meal 1957 Thunderbirds

In August of 1991, McDonald's  (in the northwest) had Hot Wheels cars in their Happy Meals.   There were two color schemes available.  The blue car, 1610, had the blue tinted windows and the red car, 2536, had red tinted windows.  Both cars came with the standard wheels.  NEW for this model was a grey PLASTIC CHASSIS.  There were two different Happy Meal box with  games and cars in the series printed on them, including the t-bird so it's another collectible.  My son happened to work for McDonald's at the time so I was able to get some unused boxes.

These cars were also available in blister packs but only as a foreign issue.  The numbers on the packs were 1610 and 1677.  The McDonald's issued cars came in little plastic bags with the numbers as listed on the photo.  The blister packs were apparently printed in 1990 so am not sure of their release date.

If you will look close at the two blue cars in the photo, you will notice that there is a difference.  Can you spot it? (I will try to get a better photo that isn't as fuzzy soon but the difference is easy to spot, fuzzy or not).  This difference happens when parts supplies get depleted on the assembly line or just plain get into the wrong bin.  After all, it is just a kid's toy.  Still can't find the difference? Compare the size of the rear wheels.


Exclusive Promotional Hot Wheels Thunderbirds:
Service Merchandise:
service merchandise specials

In the fall of 1993, Service Merchandise offered an exclusive set of 16 Hot Wheels cars - "the 25th Anniversary Collectors Edition"  This set came with an 8 1/2 x 11" print of the '57 Thunderbird.  The T'bird had the 25th anniversary logo printed on top of the car, red tinted windows, standard wheels and blackwall tires, and a silver chromed plastic chassis. The T-bird was the only chrome plated car in the set. The set number is 10996.

In the fall of 1995, Service Merchandise offered another silver chromed Hot Wheel t'bird.  This model had the blue tinted windows, a red HW logo stamped on the rear window, red-line tires and standard wheels, and silver chromed plastic chassis.  It came in a limited edition (5000) 16-pak called "Classic American Car Collection" with all the cars chrome plated. Set number is unknown to me.

Gulf Oil Company:
Gulf Oil special issue 1994
In 1994, the Gulf Oil Company issued several Hot Wheels cars, one of which was the '57 T'bird.  It was painted the  light turquoise blue with the Gulf logo printed on the front portion of the hood.  It has dark smoke tinted windows, no Hot Wheel logo, standard black wall tires and standard wheels, and the grey plastic chassis.  It came in a small clear plastic bag with the standard information printed in red.  There is no package number associated with this car.
This article continues as Part V b  - covers Target, Bloomingdales, and FAO Schhwartz
Part Vb - October 1998

Exclusive Promotional Hot Wheels Thunderbirds,
FAO Schwartz:

This store issued their "Gold Series Collection" in 1994 with a limited edition of 3000 - series one.  The set of 16 cars contained a black '57.  The car has yellow tinted windows, a white HW logo on the rearend and 5 spoke gold chromed wheels.  Made in Malaysia.

Hot Wheel 1994 & Corgi HW 1996 FAO Schwartz models

In 1996, they issued the third of the "Gold Series Collection."  This set of 16 cars included the '57 T'bird in a convertible model, i.e. topless, made from the old "Corgi" mold.  It has a clear windshield, cream interior, gold chrome standard wheels, grey metal chassis, and silver chromed bumpers with a continental kit.  The hood opens but engine is not detailed - same color as the plastic interior with a chrome "air cleaner."  The HW logo is stamped in gold on the windshield.  This car was made in China.



silver metallic Target special 1995
Target got into the exclusive issues of Hot Wheels cars in 1995 with their "Then and Now" set of  8 cars.  The '57 T'bird came painted in metalflake grey (silver) with the red HW logo printed on the rear of the trunk.  It has 7-spoke chromed wheels, black wall tires and smoke tinted windows.  The chassis is the now-standard chrome plated plastic. Made in Malaysia. Update 03/00: Apparently there were left-overs of this model as some are found in the Ford gift pak issued the next year.

Target's record player T-bird

For the Christmas season of 1997, Target released a special record player set with four cars sitting on top of a cardboard record player (do you remember what a record player looks like?!!:-).  The '57 Thunderbird is modeled using the old "Corgi" mold - convertible with a continental kit.  It is a metallic creamy  yellow with a white interior, opening hood with detailed engine (underside of hood is painted silver), wide white-wall tires and standard wheels, black metal chassis.  The red HW logo is on the rear license plate.  Made in China.



A very expensive set was issued by Bloomingdales for the Christmas season of 1996.  This "Fabulous 57s" set consisted of just two cars - the '57 T'bird and the '57 Chevy at a whopping big price of $130.  The T'bird is red metalflake with a metalflake silver top and clear windows, chromed recessed wheels and white-line tires.  Made in Malaysia. See scan of Bloomingdale's catalog below.    For those who were lucky enough to get this set at all, the after market price has more than doubled from the original asking price of $130.
Mattel released a similar model thru their outlet stores that is an orange metallic.  This one has the same silver metallic top.  It seems to be less saught after than the Bloomingdales release however still commands a high price.
red with silver top
This is the Bloomingdale's catalog photo

This is the release thru Mattel's outlets.

 Next Month part 6
is the normal run of models from Hot Wheels


To view the other articles in this series click below:

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
Part IX - Thunderbird Anniversary Years
Hot Wheel List UPDATED

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

©1998-2009 Dot Lang