Sunday, April 7, 2013

1971 Hot Wheels Jet Threat - Father of the 1989 Batmobile?


Vroom!  Vroom!
What's that coming down the street?  It's a Batmobile!  No, it's not a Batmobile.  It's the 1971 Hot Wheels car #6179: Jet Threat!

Previously, I discussed the interesting resemblance between the 1973 JVZ Cereal Car and the 1989 Batmobile.

Well, there's another early 70s toy car that pre-invents very specific design characteristics of the 89:  The 1971 Hot Wheels Jet Threat.  (I custom painted this one flat black to highlight the similarities.)
This car was designed by legendary Hot Wheels designer Larry Wood (aka 'Mr. Hot Wheels').

Noe the similar wedge shaped cockpit.  Also, the 89 has very similar visible jet engine workings, but shrunken and moved to the sides.
The main thing we're interested in, of course, is the nose.  It's the same nose, complete with the same pointy turbine . . . thing!

 Tim Burton was 13 when the Hot Wheels Jet Threat came out, and 15 when the JVZ Cereal Car might have plunked into his cereal bowl.  Was he too old to be playing with Hot Wheels and eating sugar cereal?  Did he own these particular cars?  Did he bring Anton Furst a box of toy cars from his childhood and tell him, "Combine this toy jet car with this toy jet car and give me a Batmobile!"?  I don't know.
Maybe Anton Furst came across these toys while searching for inspiration for his design.  There may not be any connection at all.  But I think the similarities are tantalizing.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I'd like to introduce the Batmobile world to JVZ cereal cars.
JVZ Co. was a plastic company that made cheap cereal box cars in the 60s and 70s.

Around 1973, they produced a series of four cereal box race cars including one magical car that seems to have accidentally (or maybe not so accidentally) stumbled upon many of the 1989 Batmobile's key design features, a full sixteen years before Anton Furst designed the Batmobile we all know and love:

 It came in red, green, yellow and blue.  The black one on the right is a custom that I painted.

Here it is next to the Hot Wheels 89 Batmobile:

Here are all four cars that came in the line, two unused sticker sheets and also two 'Gyro Cars' JVZ made that came in Captain Crunch and other Quaker cereals.  I was told by cereal collectors I contacted that the line with the proto-Batmobile came in POST cereals, but I haven't been able to find
a box image advertising them.  It may be they were so cheap and simple that they came as a random toy in Raisin Bran or some other non-sugar cereal unadvertised.  One of the NOS cars I bought from ebay came from the original owner who confirmed that he pulled it out of a cereal box in the early 70s.

Looks like a Batmobile to me!

Coincidence?  Probably.  But the parallels are pretty amazing:
Front jet scoop with two side buldges, fastback cockpit pod pushed to the rear of the car, two stubby fins mounted on buldging rear fender modules, air intake vents on each of those rear fender buldges, the general proportions and feel of the car. 

How did I discover this?
My friend Nick has had a blue JVZ Proto-Batmobile toy for years.  His old high school girlfriend's little brother gave it to him.  We always assumed it was a post-89 cheapo toy.  About a year ago I got obsessed with it anew, borrowed it and decided to investigate.  What I learned I've presented here.

Now go get on ebay and get one for yourself!  (I already have every color so you won't get any competition from me.)