Mattel, Disney team on ‘Cars’ display

Petersen Museum exhibit centers on Pixar franchise

After parking its Hot Wheels cars at Los Angeles’ Petersen Automotive Museum for years, toymaker Mattel has teamed with Disney and Pixar to create a new long-term display at the venue, this time revolving around the “Cars” franchise.

With more than 250 million “Cars”-themed diecast cars sold since the first film rolled into theaters in 2006, Mattel will now display many of the newest and rarest of the toys through its “From Silver Screen to Die-cast: Disney-Pixar Cars Imagined by Mattel” exhibit until April.

Over the years, Mattel has produced more than 500 unique designs of the “Cars” character toys.

Exhibit features dioramas of “Cars” scenes featuring hundreds of diecast “Cars” vehicles, rare, never-released and collectible vehicles and the history of the film franchise’s diecast packaging designs.

Also on display is the new Lightning McQueen Alive toy, which features a lifelike mouth, moving eyes and shrugging shoulders. Mattel spent a year and a half developing the vehicle, project designer Scott Derman said.

One of the rare cars on display is the “Apple Car,” a white car with a silver Mac apple on its hood, which was sold exclusively in one online-only package. It has since become one of the most sought after “Cars” toys, with an asking price of almost $700 on eBay.

The exhibit also displays cars that were available only on special occasions or at events, including the “John Lasseter” truck, named for Pixar’s topper, which was only given to Pixar employees who worked on the “Cars” movies.

The “Cars” toys are 1/55 scale, larger than most diecast cars, which are 1/46 in scale, to more accurately capture the facial expressions, personality and character details, said Chris Down, Mattel’s VP of design. “That was to capture the essence of what makes them unique, which is their character — their smile, their eyes and all of that,” Down added.

A set of plastic prototypes of never-released cars including Albert “Buffet Master” Hinkey, also known as McQueen’s biggest fan, was auctioned off by Bonhams to benefit the Robert E. Petersen Free School Bus Program, which provides free transportation to the museum for schools in underserved communities. Bonhams is also auctioning off the 1994 Toyota Supra Custom featured in “The Fast and the Furious” and the 2004 Lexus Concept Car from “Minority Report.”

In 2003, Mattel opened its Hot Wheels Hall of Fame at the Petersen to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the toy line.