Many future car enthusiasts start their unbridled passion for everything automotive with Hot Wheels. Nothing ignites the imaginations of our someday car-buying youth like miniature replicas of mechanical greats, like the McLaren F1, classic Ford Bronco, or in this case…Toyota’s old school FJ40.
Except that, the Hot Wheels image shown above is an artist’s concept rendering of what a production toy might look like – and that particular FJ40 is the intellectual property of ICON.
For those of us who’ve kept head under blankets for the last decade, ICON is the company famous for making simple, classic trucks into modern day, top-of-the-line off road creations. Their typical products include massively upgraded Broncos, Jeeps, and Toyota FJs. The metal FJ40 pictured above is ICON’s Baja Edition.
Although initially we only heard from ICON about the toy maker’s alleged abuses of intellectual property, Hooniverse.com has reached out to Mattel and gotten a jump on both sides of the story.
Keeping the details abridged, ICON and Hot Wheels each claim that they’ve had trouble communicating with one another. ICON suggests that Hot Wheels stole the custom automaker’s image or vehicle design, to which Hot Wheels offered to settle out of court for $1,500. As usual, Hot Wheels appropriately licensed the FJ40’s likeness with Toyota, but did not do so with ICON.
Alan Hilowitz, a spokesman for Hot Wheels stated to Hooniverse.com: “I’d like to also note that the photo you have posted on your site (the yellow vehicle on the right) was an artist’s concept rendering of what the toy might look like and not a photo of the actual toy vehicle produced. That rendering, which was only posted on hotwheels.com for a short period of time, was taken down permanently last fall.”
In short, Hot Wheels does not deny the use of ICON’s FJ40 Baja Edition for conceptual inspiration BUT makes no affirmative admission relative to the toy maker’s final production toy.
For further description of the companies statements or pictures check out the sources below. And feel free to compare the artist’s rendering image with the actual toy picture below. They look eerily similar.
Of course, we’d all love to see Hot Wheels and ICON make legal amends. But, more than that, we’d all love an ICON. Since the next best thing, and infinitely more affordable option, is to plop a Hot Wheels toy on our fireplace mantel, perhaps the two companies should just formalize their relationship with an ICON Hot Wheels product.
Isn’t that what mediators call a win-win?