Kel­logg’s Terry Labonte Chevy Monte Car­los

Die Cast X - - 66 - BY RON RU­ELLE

If you were to rattle off a list of stock-car driv­ers who have won mul­ti­ple NASCAR ti­tles, you might over­look Terry Labonte be­cause he holds the dis­tinc­tion for the long­est gap be­tween ti­tles—12 years—hav­ing won in 1984 and again in 1996. But the soft-spo­ken Texan’s com­bi­na­tion of on-track suc­cess, nice-guy im­age, and kid-friendly spon­sor was the per­fect recipe for a huge diecast pro­mo­tional ef­fort. And in 2000, Hot Wheels and Kel­logg’s did just that.

1/64-scale mod­els of Labonte’s num­ber 5 Monte Carlo were in­cluded in spe­cially marked boxes of Kel­logg’s ce­re­als—and not just his fa­mil­iar red-and-yel­low car but also 11 dif­fer­ent de­signs! And in an un­usual twist for the time, the dif­fer­ent ver­sions weren’t ran­domly in­serted into boxes. To get the Frosted Flakes car, col­lec­tors had to buy a box of Frosted Flakes; for the Ap­ple Jacks car, a box of Ap­ple Jacks; and so on. While kids might not have been su­per ex­cited about buy­ing a box of, say, Raisin Bran or Crispix ce­real, at least they knew they wouldn’t have to buy count­less boxes to ran­domly find them all. Be­sides, par­ents eat break­fast, too.

The cars, which were met­al­bod­ied and had pull­back mo­tors, were marked with Mat­tel and Hot Wheels trade­marks and fea­tured rea­son­able de­tail. Hood and roof graph­ics as well as color breaks were screen-printed onto the car, and all other graph­ics were added by the col­lec­tor from a sticker sheet. Re­gard­less of whether that was a cost-sav­ing mea­sure or a way to let kids get in­volved in the project, the end re­sult looked very nice.

Re­mem­ber, this was all be­fore vinyl wraps made it easy to com­pletely change a car’s livery from week to week, so most of the de­signs were never ac­tu­ally seen in a race. To their credit, the de­sign­ers made each one plau­si­ble-look­ing, even dy­namic. As long as you were col­lect­ing them all, there was also an of­fer for a car­ry­ing case. For a mod­est price and sev­eral UPCs from those ce­real boxes, a large (big­ger-than-1/18-scale) model of the track ver­sion of Labonte’s car was avail­able. The all-plas­tic car fea­tured lots of de­tail, although ren­dered on the chunky side to sur­vive play­wear. The body was molded in red with a yel­low-painted front clip and sil­ver and black win­dow de­tail. All graph­ics were ap­plied via a com­bi­na­tion of pa­per and clear stick­ers. The color match isn’t quite as spot-on as the smaller cars, but they still looked nice when ap­plied care­fully. The body flipped open like that of a fiber­glass funny car, and in­side was a dou­ble-decker in­sert in­tended to hold 11 cars as well as a spring-loaded launcher up front. The large car was not branded by Mat­tel, but says “Sasco” on the chas­sis. Hmm…

A care­ful look at the pho­tos shows 13 1:64 cars in­stead of 11. Af­ter the suc­cess of the orig­i­nal pro­mo­tion, they added two more cars. The red-and-yel­low ver­sion with “Kel­logg’s” on the hood was meant to rep­re­sent the real car, and the blue car with the car­toon characters was a pro­mo­tion for the TV car­toon

The ex­tra cars con­ve­niently fit up front with the launcher, so they can all go along for the ride. The en­tire pro­mo­tion was a lot of fun for kids as well as for adult col­lec­tors. Since it was de­signed as a set of toys, it would be in­ter­est­ing to see how many com­plete sets re­main in good con­di­tion to­day, al­most 20 years later.

Here are the 11 orig­i­nal Hot Wheels Kel­logg’s cars, plus the two add-ons, each as­so­ci­ated with a dif­fer­ent ce­real.

A hand­ful of UPCs and a few bucks scored you this car car­rier.

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