Hot Wheels Masters of the
Universe Custom ’77 Dodge Van

So this weekend, I bought a Masters of the Universe toy at Walmart. You can imagine my surprise. There I am, stumbling across some Hot Wheels because frickin’ Walmart felt the need to swap die-cast & figures in their latest reset. I’m suddenly lost, but then there’s something familiar: He-Man.

Since I’ve started doing Armchair Coverage for SDCC, I just flat out miss some stuff. Ironic, I know. I remember hearing some vague rumblings about Masters of the Universe Hot Wheels being shown, but I never saw them and, in time, I forgot about them entirely. So when I found them at a retail, it was a happy accident – even if my DCUCs weren’t where they were supposed to be…

I didn’t buy one that day because of sticker shock: $4.47. Each. Sure, that $5 buys a cool car with an awesome MOTU vintage oil printed on the side, all wrapped in a sweet Castle Grayskull inspired package. And, heck, Mattel even tossed in some “real” rubber wheels for added value. But, at the same time, there’s the same basic car for $1.07 (in black with some sweet flame decals) not more than ten feet away. I walked, but in my heart… I knew it was only temporary.

We all went through the Hot Wheels phase, right? I mean, maybe it wasn’t the Hot Wheels brand (my Dad favored Matchbox and typically bought me those when I was kid), but die-cast cars are like a rite of passage into greater toydom. I loved having them as a kid and I still buy ‘em on occasion when one catches my or my wife’s fancy (they’re a $1, it’s like candy…). She’s usually buying a cool one for her classroom stash while I tend to favor the ones with a bit of nostalgia thrown in – Batmobiles, Ecto-1, Deloreans, or even just late 70s designs of my youth. That’s how I knew which one of the eight Masters of the Universe cars would eventually get me – the Custom ’77 Dodge Van. It didn’t help that it featured one of the coolest vintage oils either – Battle Armor He-Man riding Battle Cat into… uh, battle.

When I finally found it again (it took a few extra trips into that foreign aisle), it came home with me. And even though I will flat out tell you that there is no way this toy is worth $5, I’m totally glad I bought it. It has some neat features – I actually do appreciate the rubber wheels and the full-length moon roof is pretty cool, but I think what I like most is how ridiculous it really is.

The other seven cars have some cool vintage oils on them: Beast Man is getting slimed on the roof of the ’59 Cadillac Funny Car, Skeletor is rockin’ the Land Shark on the side of a vintage Dairy Delivery Van and riding Panthor on the side of a ’50s Chevy Truck, but those seem a bit weird. Orko on the side door of a ’29 Pickup? Eh. The Eternia box art printed on the side panel of a classic delivery truck? Cool, but what’s that truck deliver? I know I’m overthinking it, but the design choices on most of the cars make me scratch my head. All except one.

See, there’s a special place in my heart for the gaudiness of a custom van that proudly displays a big honkin’ mural to everyone you drive past. And, frankly, it’s high time that someone acknowledged that He-Man deserved this level of prestige; the distinction that can only come from getting a full-size mural on the side of a custom van. That, my friends, is a laugh well worth $5 to me.

While the price seems a bit crazy to me, I’m going to guess that’s partially because I don’t understand the collectible pricing structure of Hot Wheels. While I can appreciate the special features, I still just see the same van being sold at $1.07, $2.47, & $4.47. But on my trips to Wal-Mart, I also keep seeing the $1 and $2.47 versions of this van. What I don’t see are the MOTU ones. These simply keep selling out at all the Walmarts I visit. It’s crazy, but it’s a good crazy. So, if you’re in the market for a cool MOTU collectible and have $5 to spare? These might be for you. If not, well… just keep track of where Walmart moves the action figure aisle and you might never even have to see ’em…

18 thoughts on “Hot Wheels Masters of the
Universe Custom ’77 Dodge Van

  1. Scalper bait.

    I do agree with you on the absurdity factor (but you know SOMEONE will copy that art onto a real van) and I may have to look for these next time I’m out but…

    Look at the potential profit margin on this thing. Mattel owns the license so any licensing costs are a ‘left hand to right hand’ bookkeeping deal. The development resources and tooling costs have long been absorbed. Even the development on the packaging is minimal due to the same size and cut having been used on other cars in the past. I believe that’s stock art so there’s not a huge development cost to that.

    That sumbitch is just about pure profit from what I see.

    And the suits at Mattel, those souless gray men and women who clutch their Harvard MBAs to their chests as protective icons and license to act…they look at that and say “well, see? Why can’t MOTUC or DCU be as profitable as that?” completely ignoring all the realities of the difference of the toys, the way the retail atmosphere is now (thin, so thin, Martian thin).


    Anyway, another good, fun review!

    1. “just about pure profit from what I see.”

      Pretty much. I’m sure translating the oil into the decal and the rubber tires puts it beyond the price of a regular Hot Wheels, but four-and-a-half bucks stings!

      1. FWIW, it’s been my experience that rubber tire HotWheels aren’t as fast on the track as the plastic ‘redline’ tires, so I expect my Don ‘The Snake’ Purdhome (sp) funnycar will totally smoke your van when we race!

        And don’t MAKE me break out my super special Chrome car I got for joining the club! 🙂

        (yes, I was a monster Hot Wheels fan back when they first came out)

    1. I’m probably going to go back and get the Eternia Delivery Truck because it is pretty cool. The others challenge me… if they stay at retail long enough, I can see myself picking up the others over time.

      There’s also rumors on the Org of a special multi-pack coming. I’ve seen pics of an old roadster with the Bashasaurus (did I spell that right…) on it.

  2. You win.

    I was at Toys R Us, debating getting the DX Sword of Omens, fighting with myself over it, took a look at the Hot Wheels aisle and nothing there either. Went home, kicked myself over the Sword, raced back on Sunday and it was still there! So, in my triumph of weakness, I looked at the Hot Wheels aisle again and lo, a single peg of the MOTU cars!

    So I bought the damn van. And a Skeletor roadster for my friend who is all about the Skel-dude.


  3. As my buddy Carl would say, “That’s cool, but it’s not $4.47 cool.” If I pass on these (easy to do, as there are no Wal-Marts in England, and none of the vehicles are Mustangs), that’s pretty much the cost of Demo-Man PLUS his international shipping saved. And although I like some of the older car designs, that’s still too much casheesh to part with for my liking on a Hot Wheels car, no matter how bitchin’ the murals on them are.

  4. I, too, picked up the van for the very same reason. I have a black Honda Odyssey and I keep telling my wife we’re going to put the ROTJ Death Star on the side (she’s a Buffy van and yet she keeps saying no!), so this is my way of living vicariously. And really, why hasn’t He-Man been given such honors before?

    But yeah, the price tag is a rough one. I’m an opener and I’ve yet to open this thing because it just feels … wrong. But I will. I do wish the Eternia one was on a cooler vehicle. I really love that painting, but it’s kinda silly on that vehicle. Really, they all should just be on boss vans.

    On a side note, I think the price comes in part from being more diecast than other similar vehicles? I might be completely wrong there.

  5. I was stunned when I saw these things at Walmart and really had to struggle not to buy them all just on the grounds that they were MOTU at retail! The high price made that a pretty easy struggle in the end but I still got home with the Eternia vehicle and the Landshark one.

    Then I went back the next day and bought the Van in this article and the truck with Panthor on the side. It seemed too cool to have a Battle Cat Van and a Panthor Truck on my wall.

    I completely agree with you that the price is ridiculous, $3 would seem about right for the special packaging and new paint, but I’m still going to end up buying them all in the long run. I just wish the 2 cars had something visible from the side on them, even if the Beat Man and Thunder Punch pics are really cool.

  6. I had the whole set in my hand until inthought about the price, way too much for a hot wheels

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