The collaboration of contemporary artist Daniel Arsham with the iconic Hot Wheels brand sparked a reimagining of collectible toys as artifacts from a bygone era. This artistic endeavor merged the playful charm of a beloved toy line with the profound depth of fine art. To mark the launch of this collection, a gallery event was held in Soho, New York City, providing a dynamic space for fans to experience and engage directly with the collaboration, preview and purchase collectibles before their online release, and meet the creative visionary, Daniel Arsham.
Behind the scenes of this collaboration was Mattel Creations, guardian of the Hot Wheels legacy, who orchestrated the seamless blend of concept and realization. Several collaborators, including Danny Leo—our direct client who played a pivotal role in guiding the project's direction—and our team at BluEdge, were entrusted with bringing the vital elements to life for the event.
Crafting the Experience
A Modern Debut of the Classic Hot Wheels Rally Case
Starting with the largest and most substantial piece, the 90” x 21” x 117” Rally Case - A storied Hot Wheels classic from 1968, was now ready for its modern debut. With a digital 3D model and design intent from Danny Leo, our Experiential Team delved into a world of precision and creativity. Working with two different densities of foam, our team engineered, sliced, and assembled the sculptural masterpiece. Detailed with logos, treads, lug nuts, and crystalline accents, we were able to bring Arsham’s eroded vision to life.
The Rally Case wasn't alone. It stood amongst other marvels:
The Manifesto Wall
A statement in 3/4" plywood, adorned with laser-cut acrylic letters, each word screen-printed with precision to stand out in stark contrast.
The Perception Wall
A maze of ultra board prisms that played with light and perspective, creating a visual dance.
Each letter was laser-cut from gloss acrylic, some set against the wall with spacers to cast weighted shadows, others flush, all under the glow of accent lighting.
The Intricacies of Executing the Rally Case
In the throes of the project, our team faced the intricate task of materializing the erosion effects and crystal formations integral to the Rally Case. The initial stages involved extensive value engineering, where we weighed the possibility of integrating various manufacturing techniques. The idea of utilizing 3D printing for the finer details was considered, but as we progressed through the submission phase, our team decided that CNC routing would ultimately be the best solution.
Our proficiency with the CNC router was pivotal in crafting the Rally Case. We meticulously carved three layers from 20lb High-Density Urethane Foam. Following the CNC routing process, our team took to assembling and hand-finishing the sculpture. We applied the finishing touches: a primer coat followed by paint and a spot gloss effect to accentuate the crystal formations. This phase demanded extraordinary precision, particularly in refining the artistic elements including the lug nuts, tire treads, crystals, and logos. The project highlighted our team's exceptional craftsmanship and the value of human touch in artistry, and it was a testament to the fact that certain artistic nuances cannot be replicated by machines alone.
Additionally, the sheer scale of the Rally Case posed significant logistical challenges. It required innovative engineering solutions to ensure its assembly and transportation were feasible. We designed the sculpture to seamlessly come together, tool-free, into a coherent structure. This design significantly simplified both the transportation and installation process.
The Installation Process
The installation began days before the event and unfolded like a well-orchestrated symphony, harmonizing the efforts of white-glove service professionals, graphic installers, millwork artisans, and clean-up crew. The teams worked in unison to stage, install, and refine each component, crafting a seamless fusion of art, coordination, and technical precision. The collaborative spirit extended beyond our team with other vendors and contributors. This endeavor brought together various elements of the event and connected us with remarkable individuals, all dedicated to bringing this vision to life.
The Grand Reveal
The stage was set, and as the installation found its final touch, an exclusive gathering took place on the subsequent Friday, a private affair graced by VIPs, including the artist himself. The following day opened up to an eager public, where close collaborators like Greg Anagnostopoulos, and influential figures, such as the social media star Lil Jupiter, were amongst those who first stepped into the space. As DJ Sebastian Maria's ambient beats filled the air, enthusiasts lined up, anticipation stretching for blocks, all eager to step foot into the world Arsham had envisioned.
This event was a moment of pride for all, leaving an indelible impression on Danny Leo, the teams at Mattel Creations, and Arsham. For us at BluEdge, it represented the culmination of tireless effort and passion, a project that not only showcased our commitment to innovation but also our joy in realizing the dreams of artists and creators.
The Hot Wheels X Daniel Arsham project was not just about creating a mere display; it was about setting the stage for an unforgettable narrative where art and play intersected, leaving a lasting impression on all who experienced it. At BluEdge, we are honored to have played a crucial role in bringing this collaborative vision to life for all to cherish.
John Gagliardi, Director of Experiential Creations at BluEdge, speaks on the uniqueness of this project:
"The fusion of concept and craftsmanship made this project stand out. 'Toys as Art. Art Inspired by Toys,' the event's tagline perfectly encapsulated the essence of our work. It afforded us the opportunity to break new ground, elevating a digital idea to an unforgettable, tangible spectacle."