Mainline

Hot Wheels | Series

The Hot Wheels Mainline is the brand's core series of basic diecast model vehicles. Currently (as of 2022) the Mainline features a fresh assortment of 250 numbered cars every year, with many of the cars released in multiple colors. The Mainline is divided up into several "Mini Collections" (formerly called Segment Series) which are sub-series of 5-10 cars sharing a common theme. Thirty chase cars are "hidden" throughout each year's Mainline—15 "standard" or "regular" Treasure Hunts and 15 Super Treasure Hunts. Regular Treasure Hunts are standalone models and can be identified by a "circle flame" logo in the decoration and silver printing on the card behind the blister. Super Treasure Hunts are semi-premium Variants of standard Mainline cars and feature Spectraflame paint and rubber tire Real Riders wheels.

Originally, models would be introduced to and discontinued from the Mainline with little consistency. Some models would be produced for several years virutally unchanged, while others would only be produced for a short time.

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The Hot Wheels Mainline is the brand's core series of basic diecast model vehicles. Currently (as of 2022) the Mainline features a fresh assortment of 250 numbered cars every year, with many of the cars released in multiple colors. The Mainline is divided up into several "Mini Collections" (formerly called Segment Series) which are sub-series of 5-10 cars sharing a common theme. Thirty chase cars are "hidden" throughout each year's Mainline—15 "standard" or "regular" Treasure Hunts and 15 Super Treasure Hunts. Regular Treasure Hunts are standalone models and can be identified by a "circle flame" logo in the decoration and silver printing on the card behind the blister. Super Treasure Hunts are semi-premium Variants of standard Mainline cars and feature Spectraflame paint and rubber tire Real Riders wheels.

Originally, models would be introduced to and discontinued from the Mainline with little consistency. Some models would be produced for several years virutally unchanged, while others would only be produced for a short time.

The Mainline became more structured in 1991 when Collector Numbers were introduced. Models still generally remained in production for several years, but each casting in the line was given a reference number starting at 1. The casing's Collector Number remained with it even when different Variants were created by changing the color and/or decoration. This numbering system stayed in place until the end of 1999, reaching number 1121, although numbers 25, 41, 61, 64, 85, 93, 96, and 97 were never used. Numbers 9, 13, 14, 48, 90, and 91 were special releases (such as promotional models) and aren't considered to be part of the Mainline.

Themed "Segment Series" were introduced in 1995. These series typically contained four models decorated according to the series' theme. There were two larger Segment Series introduced as well. The 1995 Model Series featured all-new castings, and the Treasure Hunt Series was comprised of twelve chase models. The Mainline still featured standard Collector Number releases outside the various Segment Series.

The Mainline carried on with that format for several more years. Segment Series were refreshed every year, and eventually the non-Segment Series cars were also refreshed annually.

The Collector Number system was changed in 2000, starting over at 001 from that year onward. Segment Series were later redesignated as "Mini Collections", many of which carry over from year to year, although with different models each year.

Mainline cars have traditionally retailed for about $1 USD, and to keep that price point in spite of inflation the features and quality of Mainline cars have been slowly reduced over the years. For example, in the late 1960s and early 1970s all Hot Wheels models featured Spectraflame paint, suspension, metal bodies and baseplates, and most had moving parts. By the late 2010s, Mainline models were limited to four pieces with no moving parts: the body (usually diecast metal but sometimes plastic), a plastic interior, transparent plastic "windows", and the baseplate (plastic if the body is metal, or metal if the body is plastic). Decoration is limited to three sides at most, with the exception of Super Treasure Hunt models generally receiving full decoration on all sides.

In 2022 most retailers started raising the prices, presumably due to the United States' historically high inflation rate.

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