Introducing the Green Darth Vader Hot Wheels Character Car

Bryan Benedict always had only one dream: to design cars. And it’s all thanks to his love for an iconic toy.

“Growing up, Hot Wheels was everything to me,” he told StarWars.com. “We didn’t have many toys. We grew up with little money. Hot Wheels was a dollar then and they are a dollar now, and so that was the only thing I could get my hands on. I salvaged as many as I could and I still have all those Hot Wheels I had for a long time.

He would realize his dream and more. Benedict attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and immediately landed a job at Honda. He would work there for five years before moving on to a few different OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers). But then something unexpected happened.

“In the end, Hot Wheels called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to join the team here. It sounded like a great opportunity. Deep down inside, it still felt like Hot Wheels would be the ultimate car design job because you just do crazy crazy stuff. So I decided to jump at the chance and I haven’t regretted it for a second,” he says. “It’s been a great ride.”

Seventeen years later, Benedict is the design director of Matchbox and Hot Wheels at Mattel, and surely then jealous of his past. Still, he probably couldn’t have foreseen that this dreamwork would take him somewhere else altogether: to the galaxy far, far away.

honor the first star wars Comics for Comic-Con@Home

Ever since Mattel became a star wars Licensed in 2014, Benedict was able to combine two of his favorite fandoms. “I like star wars,” he says. “Now I got into the game later in the game. I never got a chance to see movies as a kid. So in my adult life I’ve become an obsessed fan. Now I have five kids myself and we watch the movies religiously. We’re definitely a star wars family.”

With the Hot Wheels Carships and Hot Wheels Character Cars line, Benedict takes characters, vehicles and other iconography from the saga and turns them into, essentially, any dream car. star wars fan. So far, Mattel has done everything from X-wings that look like dragsters to a Grogu-inspired buggy with aerodynamic ears. They range from the coolest cars you’ve ever seen to the most adorable, perfect for display and play. And for Mattel’s Comic-Con@Home 2021 exclusive, Benedict and his team wanted to do something different that would speak specifically about the event; a special Hot Wheels Character Cars version that pays homage to both the history of star wars and comics.

To achieve this, they went all the way back to Marvel’s star wars #1, originally published April 12, 1977 – over a month old before The release of Star Wars: A New Hope. On the cover of this historic issue, you’ll see an impending Darth Vader, but he doesn’t quite look like the Sith Lord we know. Here, likely due to coloring techniques of the time and limited reference, Vader’s armor appears with green highlights.

“For a few years in fact, I wanted to do Dark Green. This first issue of Marvel star wars comics with Dark green on the cover, it’s so striking because you never see Dark that way. It was the first year we could really do it,” says Benedict. “It’s exciting to finally see it come to life.”

In designing this new and retro version of Vader, Benedict strived for the toy to achieve various successes, and all at the same time.

“I wanted to make sure it felt a bit timeless. In my mind, star wars is timeless. So I wanted to create a car that hopefully would do that too,” he says. “I took cues from past cars and future styling, and even drew a bit from Twin Mill, which is our iconic Hot Wheels car. I wanted to give a few little touches here and there just to root it in Hot Wheels. But for the most part, I wanted it to be a strong, ominous, powerful, menacing car. Something that if you saw it coming in your rearview mirror, it would be somewhat terrifying.

Hot Wheels Star Wars Green Darth Vader Character Car in Retail PackagingHot Wheels Star Wars Green Darth Vader Character Car in Retail Packaging

This finished product, officially called the Hot Wheels star wars Green Darth Vader Character Car is both gorgeous and beautifully menacing, and a fun take on Vader from this classic comic book cover, which StarWars.com is honored to reveal. Vader’s helmet and mask form the body of the car and have been cleverly adapted: the lenses make up the double windscreen; the dome is the hood; the neck roll forms the back; the grille of the mask, naturally, became the grille of the car. There are other clever details, like Vader’s lightsaber serving as a side pipe and the armor’s control panel acting as a compressor.

Hot Wheels Star Wars Green Darth Vader Character Car Hot Wheels Star Wars Green Darth Vader Character CarHot Wheels Star Wars Green Darth Vader Character Car

“[George] Lucas made it easy for us because Dark is such a great character to start with. And a lot of the elements of its look naturally lend themselves to a cool looking car,” says Benedict. “But there are challenges when you’re interpreting a character and wanting to make sure it reads like a cool, authentic, legit car, and not an overly literal take on a character. It’s about getting the proportions right and working out those details, in a way that feels authentic and relates to something that’s automotive.

Critically, the chrome green paint job is downright eye-catching, with black and white shading creating a cool cartoon effect.

“It was important for us to really succeed,” says Benedict. “First of all, the paint itself is Spectraflame green. We have that Spectraflame finish that dates back to the early days of Hot Wheels in 1968, when all of our cars had that really shimmery colored finish. We’ve exploited this to achieve that almost chrome colored finish effect. But even then, we still wanted to do more to really give it that comedic vibe. This is where we added the graphics that indicate the harsh highlights and shadows on the chrome finish. I think where it landed is really effective. I’m really happy with how the green turned out. It’s a good match with the comic book cover.

Hot Wheels Star Wars Green Darth Vader Character Car Hot Wheels Star Wars Green Darth Vader Character Car Hot Wheels Star Wars Green Darth Vader Character Car

And for those looking to see what this new Vader green car can do, they won’t be disappointed. “I intended it to be a track performer,” says Benedict. “It’s a pretty solid car.” Most impressive, one might say.

Another dream come true

Although Benedict has designed Hot Wheels cars of all types, including many star wars cars – this release seems to have added weight and importance to him. As a nod to longtime and early fans star wars history, it was a rare opportunity even for him.

“It’s incredibly meaningful to me,” Benedict says. “In my adult life, I’ve been so immersed in the star wars the universe and the tradition that surrounds it. I love tapping into those little things, and sometimes it’s more subtle things and things that only superfans know about. But I love that kind of stuff. I love Easter eggs and diving deep into characters and all the stories and things like that. So I’m always really, really excited to do projects like this that tap into something that has real meaning for the fans.

The hot wheels star wars Green Darth Vader Character Car will be available starting Thursday, July 22 at 9am PST / 12pm EST on MattelCreations.com.

Dan Brooks is a writer and editor at StarWars.com. He likes star wars, ELO and the New York Rangers, Jets, Yankees and Knicks. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks.

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KEYWORDS: Comic-Con@Home, Darth Vader (Star Wars), Hot Wheels, Interviews, SDCC