Farbs Ate My Brain

Myles, do you know there's a fuel tank sticking out of your butt?

I used to be normal. About cars, about life. Really, I was.

As a kid, I was admittedly much more fascinated with mechanical things that went fast than with people, who were irritatingly inscrutable and forced me to spend way too much of my time listening to them drone on about organically-based drivel (such as history or botany or my sisters’ hurt feelings), when that time could be better spent ferreting out the minute changes to the latest J.C. Whitney catalog. But I was—generally speaking—normal.

But then something irreversibly warped my pre-adolescent, developing brain: Mattel Farbs.
Farbs were a sub-line of Hot Wheels which consisted of little cartoony guys who had either voluntarily allowed various mechanical parts to be implanted into their bodies, cyborg-style, for the thrill of it, or were subjected to some weird, transmogrifying accident that could reasonably be blamed on some specific, unforeseen interaction between DDT, LSD, STP and a rapid encounter with an armco barrier.

Two unreleased Farbs designs, Bye A. Nose, and Wyndan Cheeks.

I was simultaneously fascinated with the concept behind Farbs, and deeply disturbed. I couldn’t quite come to terms with how the interaction between person and car was supposed to work. Could they move out of that position and stand up? Could they use their hands, or were their limbs permanently terminated by a wheel and tire? And for that matter, how did the drivetrain connect to the wheels? Did they still have to eat, or did they just run totally on gasoline? Could they fill up their own gas tank, or did someone need to do that for them? If they ran out of gas, would they be able move? …fall asleep? …die?

The only one I ever bought with my own money was Myles Ahead. He was not only the least similar to the others, but also seemed to be having the most fun (…except on gravel roads—Ouch!) Furthermore, he seemed to be in the most comfortable position. How did those others stay like that? Wouldn’t their muscles get tired? I know I wouldn’t be able to hold my butt up off the pavement after a few miles.
I knew that I wasn’t supposed to ask all those probing questions, and most kids didn’t; you just took the little toy at face value and shot it across the driveway or down the little strip of plastic track and that was that. But I couldn’t stop imagining what my life would be like if *I* were a Farb. Blasting down the road like that seemed like the most fun single activity possible, but nothing would be worth giving up the variety of other pursuits life had to offer. And I couldn’t deny that on some level, it had to be really, really, painful. At least until your bones and skin healed around the mechanical parts and you built up some calluses near the really hot parts.

It seemed equal parts awesomosity and horrific torture. I guess it prepared me for a life of riding motorcycles…which isn’t actually that dissimilar after all, when you think about it.

[Image Sources: hwprotos.com, flickr.com]

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    1. coupeZ600 Avatar

      That Red Baron was like the Holy Grail when I was a kid, and if you ever got mugged by some bullies you'd huck that thing as far as you could.
      They'd take your candy and coins, but never make the effort to go look through the bushes for whatever it was you threw there.

  1. scoutdude Avatar

    How did I miss these as a kid? I guess they could have came out somewhere after I quit playing with Hotwheels but the pic on the box screams the time period when I was still going Vroom Vroom and pushing them around the floor or launching them off a ramp at the end of a track.

    1. Mr_Biggles Avatar

      Somehow I missed these too. Never heard of 'em. I find them all strangely disturbing and entertaining at the same time.

    2. dukeisduke Avatar

      The Farbs were 1971-72. I never really got into the Farbs, but I do have some Hot Wheels, along with some Matchbox Superfast and Majorette cars.

      1. scoutdude Avatar

        Well that was in my prime Hotwheels/Matchbox age so I don't know how I missed them.

  2. Maxichamp Avatar

    I had no imagination as a kid. I refused to mix different scaled toy cars. GI Joes could not be in the same universe as Transformers. These Farbs would definitely be a no-no.

  3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Oh, and one more thing. The coordination between brain and throttle…I wanted to know how that worked.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      Same as Lightning McQueen, I'm sure.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        Shouldn't the larynx go up to the carb throat?
        See, I can't help but think about these things.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Built by Ford…designed by Mummenschanz.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      BTW, that front wheel arch looks like ass.

  4. LTDScott Avatar

    ^5 to both of you. I completely preferred Matchbox over Hot Wheels. Majorettes or Tomicas over HW too. Glad to see I'm not alone.

    1. RichardKopf Avatar

      Same here! I have well over 1,000 models now, and I just started collecting Kyoshos.

    2. Alff Avatar

      This would make an excellent Hooniverse asks… What was your favorite 1:64 scale vehicle when you were a wee Hoonid? Mine was a metallic red first-gen Capri Matchbox with tinted glass and an opening hood. It shames me to say that I lifted it off the neighbor kid. The lingering guilt from that and the theft of a 1-cent piece of Double Bubble from the local K-Mart when I was three were enough to put me on the straight and narrow, at least until my teen years.

      1. Maxichamp Avatar

        This set for sure. I had to throw them out recently due to toxicity concerns.

        1. LTDScott Avatar

          Odd, I still have some 25+ year old Tomicas and none look like that. Incidentally, my favorite toy car every was a GT-R version of the green Skyline you have.
          And shame on you for throwing them away.

        2. RichardKopf Avatar

          That was just oxidization, probably the result of being somewhere either damp or humid, or just bad metal. Regardless, they would have made great candidates for restoration.

      2. BlackIce_GTS Avatar
      3. dukeisduke Avatar

        I liked the Majorettes, because they usually came with extras, like road signs or little orange pylons.

      4. ptschett Avatar

        Mine was somewhere between the Sierra XR4i and the Escort Mk II RS2000 from Matchbox. The Sierra was rather garish being gray with red striping, and a huge logo on the hood; the Escort is all white now, but apparently it was stickered as a rally car when new.

      5. scoutdude Avatar

        Mine would have to be the Snake and Mongoose funny cars, followed closely by the Beatnik Bandit.

    3. Maxichamp Avatar

      Tomicas with working suspension and doors FTW!

  5. Maxichamp Avatar

    You should not have told me that. Be right back.