You can’t deny whenever you think of small toy cars, the sassy Hot Wheels advertisements flash before your eyes. Hot Wheels practically became synonymous with the concept of diecast cars. But Mattel’s legendary line of miniature cars was not the first, nor the best—depends on who you ask. There is one toy car brand that many consider more legendary than Hot Wheels, and that is Matchbox.
Are Matchbox and Hot Wheels the same? Matchbox and Hot Wheels are not the same. Although they both came from the same manufacturer, they have different approaches when it comes to building models. Hot Wheels is focused on design and making their models look good while Matchbox is focusing on making realistic models.
As both of them are owned by the same company, many people have questions like—Are Matchbox and Hot Wheels the same? Are Matchbox and Hot Wheels Tracks compatible? Are Matchbox and Hot Wheels compatible with each other’s track? Which one is better to collect?
Let’s find the answers.
Are Matchbox and Hot Wheels the same?
Hot Wheels and Matchbox, both of these diecast car brands, are owned by Mattel. They are nearly the same size, around two and a half to three inches long at a nominal 1/64 scale.
Matchbox is older, started in England in the 1950s, whereas Hot Wheels arrived in 1968 from the United States, with their fast wheels on guitar wire axles.
Still, there’s been a tight competition between these two most famous toy car brands, Hotwheels vs. Matchbox, when it comes to the most famous collection.
Although Mattel manufactures both toy cars, each appears to cater to a different type of style. However, both of these cars are diecast and are about the same size. But, the stylistic choices that each brand prefers are what distinguishes them.
Collectors who prefer cars with fantasy elements are likely to be drawn to Hot Wheels. Hot Wheels are made in a more hot-rodded style. As a result, the younger generation will find this range very appealing.
Matchbox cars have a more realistic appearance. These miniature push-cars are intended to resemble real-world street cars and trucks. Because the Matchbox range includes a wide variety of trucks, this collection is popular among adults and children who enjoy realistic-looking trucks.
This extends to the types of tracks each brand produces. Matchbox tracks are not entirely realistic, but they are much more realistic and credible than Hot Wheels tracks.
Hot Wheels tracks often feature ghosts, giant sharks, and massive loop-de-loops. Matchbox has a few tracks that feature the gravity-defying loop-de-loop, but most Matchbox sets include construction sites and parking garages.
Are Matchbox and Hot Wheels tracks compatible?
Both Hot Wheels and Matchbox tracks are not compatible with one another and can’t be used interchangeably. The reason is that Mattel manufactures different tracks depending on the brand which are not designed to work seamlessly together.
The various tracks that Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars come with are great items to pick up for collectors or parents looking for new toys for their children.
As said, Matchbox car’s tracks are more realistic while Hot Wheels are more on the fantasy side like having a ghost or giant shark in them
That’s why they aren’t compatible with one another.
However, you can drive both cars around miniature speedways on these tracks, and you can also build large and exciting tracks to showcase just how cool the cars are.
Previously, the Hot Wheels and Matchbox brands did not match as well as they do now, mainly when they were first introduced. Each featured cars of different sizes.
As a result of the differences in car size, the tracks were also different to accommodate it.
However, Mattel has changed things so that most Hot Wheels and Matchbox toy cars are nearly the same sizes, allowing you to mix and match the cars and tracks between the two brands as you want.
Now that you know that Matchbox and Hot Wheels Tracks are incompatible, we will now discuss if their cars are compatible with other tracks in detail.
Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars are compatible with each other. Their compatibility with one another implies that the cars themselves can be used interchangeably between the two types of tracks. The reason is Mattel made their sizes the same. Thus, both can fit in each other’s tracks.
However, I will repeat that while the car is compatible with tracks, you can’t combine tracks that came from Hot Wheels and Matchbox.
When comparing the performance of Hotwheels and Matchbox on the race track, Peak Time Racing and Genevieve’s Playhouse used Hot Wheels racetrack for both brands. But, it’s also true that one of Genevieve’s old Matchbox models didn’t fit accurately due to its size.
If you have a collection of older Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars, you will most likely notice a size difference between the two. So, while new Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars will work fine on each other’s track, older cars may not.
As previously stated, the size difference between Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars was more evident when the toy cars were first introduced, that is why the two cars could not always fit together along their respective tracks.
In recent times, the two brands of toy cars have become nearly identical in size and can comfortably fit on either track.
You will not only be able to combine your Hot Wheels and Matchbox tracks to create a wonderfully unique track for your cars, but you will also be able to enjoy any cars you want on that track, whether they are Matchbox or Hot Wheels.
I made an article discussing the difference between matchbox cars and Hotwheels where I compared each of the brands in multiple categories. If you’re interested, you can find that here: Hot Wheels vs Matchbox cars
Which is better to collect Hot Wheels or Matchbox?
Hot Wheels are better than matchbox cars if we are talking about performance on a racetrack. Furthermore, if you prefer a model car that’s more creative, then Hot Wheels is your choice. However, if you are looking for realistic-looking model cars, then Matchbox cars are better.
Matchbox was invented in 1953 by a British company called Lesney Products. The concept originated from a restriction imposed on school children at that time when they could only bring toys small enough to fit inside a matchbox to school.
Lesney began to sell the product line of small “matchbox-sized” cars in boxes that resemble the actual Matchbox. The trick worked, and the product quickly became a best-seller.
Matchbox cars were based on real cars from that time. Their molds were created to be as accurate as possible, and this adherence to realism contributed to the cars’ popularity and collectability.
Mattel introduced the fantasy-inspired diecast cars in 1968. Since then, they have become the iconic toy car brand globally. Their failed guitar design luckily became the best-selling toy in the world.
When they stepped onto the market, it was over-saturated with diecast cars brands, specifically Matchbox. To compete with them, they introduced bright-colored cars, added a hot-rodded look, and fantasy elements.
Innovative ideas are what makes Hot Wheels stand out from others. When others were more inclined to realism, Hot Wheels opened the box of imagination (you can find a batmobile or animal-car fusion from the Street beast series).
It’s difficult to say which brand is better—Hot Wheels or Matchbox. Apparently, Hot Wheels are faster on the racetrack. If you prefer the fantasy approach and the performance, Hot Wheels is your thing.
Again, for kids, performance is very important. They want the speed and agility of Hot Wheels on their track. There are also collectors that love Hot Wheels as a brand.
On the other hand, some other collectors would generally appreciate Matchbox Cars more. Even if Matchbox cars do not perform as well on the track, that have an aesthetically appealing value that only a collector would appreciate.
“Only the things I love”
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So, here are the things I love when taking care of my Diecast Models.
Cleaning the Models
The first we are going to talk about is cleaning the models.
- Air Brush – For me, this is the best since it not just removes dust but you can use it in painting/clear coating.
- Air Duster – This is a good alternative to Airbrush
- Normal Brush – If you are short on budget, you can use a normal brush. However, make sure that the brush has soft bristles because there are some hard brushes than can cause scratches. That’s why I recommended a good brush that can do the job properly.
Cleaning and Shining Hacks
Well, here are some of my cleaning hacks for removing scratches, oxidation, and so much more.
- Removing Decal Adhesive – Use Goo Gone on those hard-to-remove decal adhesives. It works fast and works like charm!
- Waxing and Polishing – Here is something a lot of people don’t know. Waxing protects the clear coat and paint while polishing shines the model. Instead of buying it separately, use a 2 in 1 to save money. Get this instead.
- Beginner Wax – The wax I recommended earlier is good and provides the best results based on my experience. But a beginner might have a problem especially if they’re not good at applying wax. Solid wax reaching hard to reach surface can be hard to remove. You have two choices here. One is to use a qtips to reach those surfaces, another is to use a liquid wax I recommended.
- Cleaning Wheels, Rubber, Plastic – Do not forget that rubber and plastic surface are quite different, especially in the cleaning process. Just wiping it down won’t do the job. That’s why I use Meguiar’s Vinyl and Rubber Cleaner and Conditioner. Works like charm!
- Make the Wheels Shine! – Making our models look good won’t be complete without tiny details such as shiny wheels! Do not forget this because however small this is, the difference can be as big as night and day.
- Remove Scratches Easily – Tiny scratches are not the end for your model. Here is a simple trick I’ve been using to make my models look scratch-free even without repainting. Use T-Cut.
Painting the Models
Make sure when you paint models, have these ready.
- Tape – A tape is important if you are painting a straight line. Furthermore, it will prevent your paint to scatter on other parts. I recommend Tamiya Tape since it is really made for models. Furthermore, they stick really well preventing paint splatters.
- Brush (Beginner) – Find a good set of brushes to paint your models. Of course, you can opt for an airbrush but it’s quite expensive.
- Airbrush (Intermediate/Expert) – This will yield a significantly better result than an ordinary brush because you can easily spray the paint evenly. I recommend this if you know what you’re doing.
- Stand(Optional) – Stands are good because it can be hard to manually hold the models while painting. It is optional but in my opinion, the price is well worth it for the comfort it gives.
- Drop Cloths – Drop Cloths will protect your surroundings from the paint.
- Primer – The most common beginner mistake I see is painting models without any Primer. A primer will prevent imperfections such as bubbles or paint not sticking to your models. It is a small price to pay for quality results.
- Clear Coat – A clear coat will protect the paint of your models. This will make the paint last longer. Also, it is the one responsible for making your models shine.
Of course, you can’t do painting properly without paint. So here are the ones I recommend.
- Acrylic Paint – Good for beginners because it dries quickly. However, it doesn’t produce results as good as enamel paint.
- Enamel Paint – Provides a good quality finish and longer-lasting paint. However, it takes longer to dry and requires expertise to use.
- Simple Wood Cabinet – While it doesn’t let you display your models, wooden cabinets are good storage for these models. For one, they are not heat conductors which means that the temperature inside will remain constant and remain cool. Furthermore, they prevent light from reaching the models which can cause oxidation.
- Clear Cabinet with Lock – If you want to display your models, then I recommend this. It closes so dust won’t easily get to your models. I also recommend you don’t put more than 1 model in each compartment since metals are good conductors of heat.
So you want to show off your models to others? Well, I got you covered.
Here is my beginner-friendly model photography tutorial that teaches everything from taking pictures to the editing process.
You will also see me doing hands-on photography in that tutorial.
Sources (Check Below for Recommended Articles)
- The News Wheel
- How Hot Wheels Beat Out Matchbox. Donut Media YouTube Channel
- Hot Wheels vs. Matchbox. Peak Time Racing YouTube Channel
- Hot Wheels vs. Matchbox. Genevieve’s Playhouse YouTube Channel