LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Hot Wheels are nostalgic toys that have been a part of people's childhoods for more than five decades.
From the beginning, the small cars were often based on real custom cars, and now Hot Wheels are thriving in the hands of new generations of car-crazy kids. The team that creates it combs the country looking for new ideas for new models.
"We've done over 25,000 cars over the past 50+ years, so it's got to be unique and stand out from what we've already done," said Hot Wheels design chief Bryan Benedict.
Years ago, only relatively famous customizers got their creations honored in the form of miniature versions, but the company wants to discover and highlight lesser-known car builders. Primarily at locations where the Hot Wheels Legends Tour stops.
"We do these shows around the country and around the world. And we invite people to bring out cars that they've built, you know, custom cars that they've built. It's a huge honor for people who've poured their blood sweat and tears into their car build, to be immortalized as a Hot Wheels car," Benedict said.
At each location of the tour, one winner will be selected from the custom cars that were entered. The finalists are then judged against each other.
A winner will be chosen each year, and the winner for that year their custom will be made into Hot Wheels for the toy line.
When the custom cars are judged there's a certain look and style that Mattel's sharp-eyed designers keep an eye out for. There's a certain criteria that makes a design worthy of being a Hot Wheels Legend, as they call it.
"There's actually three criteria that we're looking for. It's authenticity, creativity, and 'garage spirit'," Benedict said.
Look out for the Hot Wheels Tour, and check out all the car customizers that are being brought out for this opportunity.
Who knows, someday you might see the life-size custom that caught your eye and it could be selected to become a Hot Wheels heading to store shelves.