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Michael Heralda is a longtime graphic designer at Mattel who retired in June, in the summer of 2015.
Prior to joining the Mattel group, Michael Heralda was Art Director at Kransco/Wham-O Toys in San Gabriel, CA for eight years. He started at Mattel in 1997 with the responsibility of designing graphics for the 1998 Hot Wheels product line.
The very first Hot Wheels car Michael designed graphics for was the (#1 of 48) 1998 First Edition Ford Escort Rally. His last name can be seen below the number 8 (HERALDA) and his initials can be seen on the fog lamps (MH). One of Michael's favorite Hot Wheels (1:64 scale) cars is the '57 Cadillac Eldorado "Starfire". Years ago, when he and model makers were designing a special charity donation item for the
annual "Dream Halloween" event, he also designed graphics for the Eldorado which became known as the "Heraldorado" (see image). He brought his design (in E-sheet form) to model maker Bruce Shultz (car customizer), and he graciously offered to prototype the Heraldorado on the condition that two were made—one for him and one for Mike. So now there are two Heraldorado’s in the world. The Heraldorado is pearl white with gold chassis, gold trim, white interior, clear windows, high gloss black roof, gold with Day-Glo orange and black flames on the hood, sides, and trunk areas. Special white walls and chrome hubs finish off the vehicle. A little known fact, Michael originally wanted the hubs gold, but it just didn’t happen.
"Show me a Hot Wheels or Matchbox vehicle that was produced between the years 1998 and 2005, and I will tell you if I created the deco—depending of course on the capabilities of my foggy 60 year old memory!" During his eight years with Hot Wheels, Mike has created over 2,500 (produced) Hot Wheels decorations as of 2005. He has many favorites including Toy Fair cars, Convention cars, Dream Halloween cars, Treasure Hunts cars, mainline vehicles, and well, pretty much all of them! There are certainly too many to list and way too many to remember!In 2005, Michael was offered the opportunity to work on the Matchbox diecast brand, and he continued until June 2015 creating graphics for Matchbox vehicles. Adding another 1,700 Matchbox decorations to his Hot Wheels library, the original count of his works has grown to about 4,200 die cast vehicle decorations in all. Mike believes that he will get to 5,000 before he retires.Other than creating graphic decorations for die cast vehicles, Mike's other main passion is music. He's been a musician for most of his life, and for the last 16 years has been making, sharing and playing native indigenous instruments as part of a cultural program titled "Aztec Stories". He has shared those programs at some very prestigious venues such as the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the International Folk Arts Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, at countless colleges, universities and at over 300 (K-12) schools across the U.S. Michael has also had the pleasure of being a musician in "The Toys" band—a band made up of Mattel musicians. Michael was the honored dinner guest at the 2011 Cincinnati Hot Wheels Collector Convention. Michael, and the collectors gifted him with (among other special one-of-a-kind items) a brand new Epiphone Les Paul Guitar. Later that year in October he played that very same guitar at the 11th Annual Fortune Battle of the Corporate Bands competition held at the infamous Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio where The Toy’s took Third Place in the National Finals.
Michael Heralda has designed the graphics for 5,000 models. Besides graphic designs for Hot Wheels, Michael has done thousands of designs for the Orange Brand: Matchbox. Starting in 1998 on the (#1 of 48) 1998 First Edition Ford Escort Rally. The very last model he did was the 2015 '12 Ford Fiesta. The Fiesta was designed with the same tampo scheme as the Escort back in 1998.
Michael's story as told on the 2015 Matchbox Convention:
My first and last decorations for Hot Wheels! Please note that there is a nineteen-year separation (and 5,000 decorations) between them!
The (#1 of 48) 1998 First Edition Ford Escort Rally was my very first Hot Wheels decoration. I created this deco in 1997 and since it would be my first decoration I thought it only appropriate to add my name somewhere in the design – after all who wouldn’t want their name on a Hot Wheels model?
Being new to the Design Team, and the only, and first in-house graphic designer, I thought it might be a bit bold to add only my name to a model. So after much thought and consideration I decided to add, not only my name, but also the name of my boss – Gary Swisher. It brought a smile to his face when I showed him the E-Sheet concept and it was immediately approved. It turned out that this model was also the very first model to have his name (SWISHER MOTORS) emblazoned on a model as well! “Smart move Michael,” I thought to myself.
With regards to the decoration itself I have a few comments to share. The number 8 – everyone has a favorite number and at the time “8” was mine. Under the number 8 can be found my name in very thin type – HERALDA. My initials appear on both the front quarter panels and on the front fog lamps (MH). Back in those days we could afford to have side panel deco’s as well as front (or rear deco) on a basic car, even PAINT OPS!!! The front end is a combination of Paint Op and Tampo!!!!
Many of you may know that two versions of this model exist but actually there are three versions (the third version is very rare). The third version has 5-Spoke Wheels and like the second version (somewhat rare) it has on the silver grey base the name FORD RALLY.
Now let’s fast forward to 2015 and my early retirement in June of this year.
Knowing that I would soon be leaving one of the best jobs I ever had as a graphic designer I wanted to finish my (Mattel) graphics career with something that made sense and would be remembered (at least by me). I thought it would be appropriate to make my last Hot Wheels deco similar to my very first one. I told one of the Hot Wheels graphics gurus, Jerry Thienprasiddhi, about my plan to replicate my first Hot Wheels deco and asked if the Ford Escort Rally was planned for use in the line (2015 or 2016) and he told me it was not. But then he added, “we will be using the 2012 Ford Fiesta, is that close enough?” Ahh, the plan is starting to take shape!
But wait, there’s more! Not only would I be replicating the deco but updating it as well! Instead of my favorite number 8, I changed it to 28 – that’s how many years I am credited with working for Mattel. I also included my own personal MH HERALDA logo (the one with wings) and a reference to my 5,000 decorations in the form of a “5000 CLUB” logo. I had hoped to use the same wheels that were used on my first deco but was informed that the Ford Fiesta would be part of a separate series – the Arctic Racer Series so the wheels (as part of that series) needed to be white. That was one of the compromises I had to accept. Additionally, I modified the Hot Wheels logo so that instead of carrying the name HOT WHEELS within the flame it would read HERALDA. That was a big NO-NO and I couldn’t get buy-off from the then Director of Hot Wheels (bummer) – another compromise. Well, we can all dream, right?
When you finally get the new Hot Wheels Ford Fiesta in your hands, for a side-by-side comparison, you may notice another difference from my first and last design – the Chassis. In the first design the Chassis is silver grey. On the Ford Fiesta it is Blue. Why you may ask? Well, and here’s my opportunity to tell a more involved story that veers slightly to the “Orange Side” (MATCHBOX). Hold your horses my friends; don’t stop reading this message just because I mention Matchbox. Don’t forget I worked on that brand as well for many years.
As part of my overall farewell deco plan, I decided to also replicate my first Hot Wheels deco on a Matchbox vehicle as well – you know, my way of connecting both brands that I worked on. The Matchbox model is the QUICK SANDER (2015 #121 of 125). And, since I spent more time as a Matchbox graphics designer I decided to also create a support team all carrying the same (similar) graphics. My rational was that this is an opportunity for collectors of die cast models to support both brands - to acquire the full series of my last deco’s you will need to buy from the Blue and Orange aisles! Don’t hate me for that. Embrace the idea! Ha! Since the support team will not make an appearance until 2016 I will keep the names of those models a secret. Eventually they all will show up and I hope my small attempt at bringing collectors together, from both sides of the Blue and Orange brands, will be successful.
Thank you for your interest in my work and supporting Hot Wheels & Matchbox!
Thanks to Michael for his your contribution to the diecast world!