Collecting Posts

No Mistake: Hot Wheels Error Cars Can Be Cool Collectibles

Warning: This article contains a lot of errors. And we’re not sorry.

hot wheels error datsun pickup

Looks like they ran out of metal on this Datsun 620 Pickup!

hot wheels error nathan lill

Nathan also collects Chrysler Crossfires in all sizes.

Nathan Lill (aka Maelstrom) isn’t like most Hot Wheels collectors. He isn’t looking for perfection on the pegs. In fact, he’s looking for flaws. “My motto is if it ain’t broke, I’m not buying,” he says. Nathan collects error cars. The stranger the flaw, the better. “I collect all types of errors from mis-packed to unassembled cars. Pretty much any type of error be it a wheel, part, paint or assembly problem can happen to any Hot Wheels car. It is virtually infinite what can be found while looking at each car, so every case or peg full of cars can have something.’

hot wheels error double vision

This mis-carded Lexus SC400 is the one that started it all for Nathan. So, is it a car on the wrong card, or a card with the wrong car? 

His collection is filled with imperfection… over thousands of examples in fact. The obsession started in 2000 when he spotted something odd at Target. “First one I found was a Lexus SC400 on a Double Vision #212 card at the local Target. Little did I know that would lead to close to 12,000 more of them.” 

hot wheels error collection

Just a small error sampling… Nathan has several more walls like this.

As for the rest of the Hot Wheels universe, the Maelstrom is the only car where he collects correct versions (Un-errored? Non-Wrong? Not-botched?). The need to pick up other vehicles is mitigated by finding an incorrect version of each one. “One way or another I get most of the cars I want with some type of error,” he says. “I also don’t have the space to keep one of everything, so I no longer get a correct version of the vehicle if I don’t need to.

hot wheels error baby boomer

It’s kind of surprising the extra parts fit in the blister so nicely.

While a lot of errors are subtle (crooked or missing graphics, incorrect card, etc) some are doozies. He once found a Baby Boomer car with an extra stroller buggy (“It’s for twins,” he laughs.) He also grabbed a Chevy Nova with a Mercury Cougar base that really doesn’t fit in shape or theme. “So many to choose from that just look funny, with either too big or too small wheels all around as well.”

hot wheels error beach bomb

This mis-spun Beach Bomb and off kilter button were made for each other.

Production errors are not a new thing. Nathan has acquired several original Redline errors as well. “My favorite is a mis-spun green Beach Bomb,” he said, referring to the assembly rivets not being punched and spun correctly at the base. “Then later on, I came across the matching misprinted button. By far my neatest error pair from that era.” As if finding an original Beach Bomb and button wasn’t hard enough, right?

hot wheels error stingray

Something seems to be missing from this Stingray racer.

Rather than revel in the folly of someone’s mistakes, however, Nathan has grown to appreciate Hot Wheels on a whole new level. “These errors made me look more into the processes involved in creating these cars’ he said.“ Considering the billions of cars that Mattel has turned out over the last half century, the number of errors that make it to the pegs is really quite tiny. And the fact that some people dig them on a different level makes it all in good fun. Since there are collectors who value these mistakes, hobbyDB has a way to document your error cars. Find the regular version of the car in our database, then click “Add Variant” and then under “Production Status” choose “Error.” Add images and descriptions, and you’re done!

hot wheels error 57 chevy

Mis-aligned graphics can be hard to spot sometimes, like on this ’57 Chevy.

As for the values of Hot Wheels Error Cars, there are many factors. Are they worth more because of the rarity? Or less desirable because collectors want perfect examples? The scarcity of the model and type of mistake can greatly swing the value one way or the other as well.

The Sol-Aire is missing its wheels, the GTO has bonus parts.

“When HotWheelsCollectors.com came on line, I was one of the few error collected that posted there regularly. Soon I became known as the crazy Maelstrom and error collecting guy after all the broken cars. It has stuck ever since.” Even if people think he’s crazy, make no mistake, he’s a serious collector.

Got any favorite error cars in your collection (Hot Wheels or otherwise)? Add them to our database! Find the regular version of the vehilce, then click “Add Variant. Under “Production Status,” choose “Error” and add a description and photos.

How the Colorado License Plate Evolved Into an Icon

Colorado license plate

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

At hobbyDB, we love automobile related collectibles as much as we love diecast. One of the most popular bits of automobilia is the license plate, which can (or should, at least) be found on every car. And since we’re based in Boulder Colorado, let’s take a look at the history of our state’s license plates, one of the most instantly recognizable designs in the United States.

1908 Colorado license plate

The earliest license plates were homemade, often using house numbers on leather or wood.

The earliest license plates came within a few years of the first cars as a way to identify one from another, and most importantly, make some money for the state coffers. The very first ones in Colorado came around 1908, and were homemade. The DMV (they probably didn’t call it that yet, or despise it as much as we currently do) would give a number to the motorist, who would then fabricate their own by attaching aluminum house numbers to wood, leather, or whatever material was handy.

By 1912, Colorado was manufacturing the plates, a process that was far more time consuming than it is today. The first designs just said “COLO” in stacked letters on one side and “1912” on the other with a 4-digit number in between. Colors varied for the next few years, but the porcelain construction stayed. Back in those days, by the way, there were no registration stickers to update your validation. You simply got a whole new plate every year, which really isn’t simple at all if you think about it.

1917 Colorado license plateBy 1916, someone had figured out a process to make the stamped style of plates that still exist to this day. By creating raised and painted letters, it became hard to couterfeit these plates. Colors remained in the traditional range until 1917, when black on pink was the choice.

Another interesting bit of design change was happening around this time as well. Those first stamped plates were about 12 inches wide and 6 inches tall, but the shape would become more horizontal some years, in some cases to accommodate more characters.

1941 Tennessee license plate

Not a Colorado plate, but pretty neat, huh?

By the mid ’20s, the 12×6 rectangle became the standard for most states. Even though the dimensions eventually became a federal requirement, Tennessee decided in the 1940s that the shape could be something fun. For several years, theirs were cut in an approximation of the outline of the Tennessee border. The most noticeable holdout in modern times is the Northwest Territories of Canada, whose plates form the silhouette of a polar bear.

1938 Colorado license plateBack to Colorado, however, a state with a rectangular shape like a license plate. The designs swung wildly from one color combination to another: orange on black for 1932, black on orange for 1933, black on yellow for 1934, white on blue for 19361938’s plate starts to look familiar with white on turquoise, but the parade of colors would continue into the late 1950s.

1958 Colorado license plate1958 featured one of the first license plates in the nation to include a graphic other than numbers and letters. A silhouette of a skier showed up on the plates, along with the word “Colorful.” And speaking of color, this was the first year for dark green, though paired with light green. 1959 saw the debut of the now familiar green and white (getting closer…) and finally, 1960 defined what a Colorado License Plate should look like. Jagged white mountain peaks with green sky and lettering became the template for most future plates.

1960 Colorado license plate

The green and white mountains debuted in 1960. The same shapes and colors have been used almost continuously since with some variations…

1963 1964 Colorado license plate

From 1962 to 1972, Colorado plates would alternate between these two designs. Notice how the mountain shape flips upside down.

The color arrangement was flipped in 1962 (green mountains, white sky) and then… the whole thing was flipped. Using the same stamp, but upside down, 1963 saw the entire border rotated to put a sliver of mountains at the bottom, with the lettering in the sky. The plates would alternate between these two looks yearly until 1972.

1973 1974 Colorado license plate

1973 and 1974 saw single year designs.

For some reason, 1973 went with a plain design (except for the word “Colorful”), and 1974 tried a busier version of the mountains with “Colorful” wedged in. But each of those designs would only last one year.

1976 Colorado license plateTo celebrate the Colorado Centennial, 1975-76 used a special light blue and white design with the state’s “76” logo in the middle, sandwiched between different mountains at the top and wavy water at the bottom.

1999 Colorado license plateIn 1977, the familiar green and white peaks returned for good. Those peaks were sharpened up a bit in 1993, but otherwise, there were no major changes for 24 years. One thing that vanished around that time was a stamped year… from that point on, drivers would adhere date stickers to the plate every year.

2001 Colorado license plateIn 2000, the mountains switched back to white (reminiscent of the 1960 plates) along with some subtle silver detail, and the plates have remained the same since. Notice that the mountains have also flipped horizontally, left to right from the previous arrangement. Another change was the mountains themselves were flat, no longer stamped in 3D. Even though there are many commemorative and special use plates in use today, they all show the same peaks, in different colors depending on the type.

Specialty Colorado license plateSo what’s the hardest Colorado plate to find? Depends what you want do do with it. Obviously the older, the rarer, and with fewer cars back then, there were fewer plates made to begin with. Colorado has required front and rear plates since the earliest days, except for 1943-46, when only a rear plate was required. Conserving steel for the war effort is the likely explanation. For the first time in state history, drivers were not issued new plates each year, but instead, attached a small metal year plate in the corner over their old designation, one of the earliest instances of multi-year plates.

1944 Colorado license plateIn answer to the question, if you just want to hang them on your garage wall, obviously the 1943-46 plates are rarest, along with the very oldest examples. But if you want to put correctly dated plates on your vintage car, you would only have to find a single plate for those WWII years. For other years, you have to find a matching set, which might be a lot more difficult.

If you have a history of your state’s license plates hanging in your garage, add the designs to our database!

Meet Collector, Scratch Builder, Fabricator Jack Reynolds

jack reynoldsWhen you see the models of Jack Reynolds, you might not know what to think at first. Is he a collector? Well, kind of. But he collects mostly his own models. Is he a model manufacturer? Yes, but he doesn’t sell his models, so not in the traditional sense of the word.

jack reynolds mc laren

Something about McLaren orange that just looks perved on a CanAm racer.

Jack is a Scratch Builder … well, that’s not even the perfect explanation of how he makes his model cars. Let’s let him explain. “I sometimes use other sources for a few parts,” he said. “That’s why I refer to the cars as ‘scratch built fabrications.’” For the last 20 years or so, Jack has built large scale cars with some amazingly intricate detail out of sheet metal, wire, resin, and anything else he can get his hands on. When we say large scale, we mean it… 1/6 to 1/8 are his favorite scales.

D Type Jaguar

D Type Jaguar

Just about every bit you see in his cars is hand built, and one of a kind. “Sometimes a part with a compound curve is just beyond my ability or I don’t have the right tool,” he said. “Early on, I used other sources for tires and wheels, but they were usually a compromise. For example, in order to make an accurate 1/8 scale Halibrand wheel with a 3 tread Firestone it is necessary to create it with resin.” Most of his cars are assembled by screws, so they can be disassembled for further work or detail.

jack reynolds maserati

The handmade sheet metal on this Maserati captures the look of a purpose built, slightly used race car.

In other words, it’s not really cheating. But just the same, he’d rather spend a lot of effort on a piece if it creates the best detail. “It”s all about complexity when it comes to time involved. Four wire wheels may take longer than a complete but simple body. Sometimes I get frustrated that I need 4 wheels,” he laughed. “Lately I’ve been building parts with no plans for a complete car. I enjoy this exercise as there is little or no duplication. Often when enough parts exist a car will materialize. Much less hurry this way.” (If he sounds like someone with time on his hands, he’s been retired since 2004.)

jack reynoldsHis first project was a 1/6 scale McLaren racer that met with a tragic end when it careened off his shelf. “To date the #33 Bowes Seal Fast Indy roadster is one of my most complex models,” he said. You can see it above as well as many more on his website.

jack reynolds wheels

Jack’s obsession with scratchbuilt detail extends to the wheels he builds for most of his cars.

Since he doesn’t sell his creations, he never makes the same model twice. “I enjoy the challenge of creating something new such as the spoke layout of different makes of wire wheels. When I was about 12 years old I carefully studied a wire wheel in Road&Track magazine and still use that as a basic layout. Making more than one model of a car is just labor.” As far as other hobbies, he has a significant collection of racing memorabilia. “I worked for a racing publication and was also a racing video photographer for 7 years during the mid sixties and early seventies,” he said. “I’ve attended the 1000 km of the Nurburgring, the Grand Prix of Monaco, the Indy 500, and numerous other motorsport events.”

 So, basically, he’s our kind of people. Check out his models on hobbyDB!

jack reynolds dino

This Ferarri 246 Dino model can be seen at the top of the article, just to give you a sense of the scale of Jack’s models.

Bbig News: Bburago Adds Official Archive to hobbyDB

bburago header

Bburago, the maker of fine diecast models in several scales, is the latest company to host their Official Archive on hobbyDB. With over 40 years of production to document, this will be one of the bbiggest… er, biggest archives on the site. As pioneers of 1/18 scale models, they occupy an important spot in the diecast community.
martoys logoFirst, let’s clear up the mystery around the name of the company. It is indeed spelled with a “Bb” up front. In 1974 the Besana brothers, 
Mario, Ugo, and Martino, who had earlier started Mebetoys, founded a new company in Burago, Italy. Martoys, as they called it at the time, focused on 1/24, at a time when most European model cars makers were making smaller 1/43 scale models. After a couple years in bbusiness… sorry, business, they changed the name to reflect the name of the town and also their last initial… hence the double “B.”

bburago mercedesSales took off quickly for the new brand, as there were not a lot of affordably priced models in the larger scales. The fact that some of their models were offered as kits widened their appeal as well. Bburago became a trailblazer in the late 1970s when they introduced  1/18 scale models to the mix (as well as some simpler 1/43 offerings) and it is for these well-detailed but affordable large-scale models of exotic and performance cars. Early 1/18 Bburago models focused on European cars from the 1930’s, including Alfa Romeos, Bugattis and Mercedes. As they expanded their offerings, they started making models of newer cars of the ’50s and ’60s, followed by modern performance cars, including Lamborghinis and Ferraris.

bburago bugattiMany of the very early cars from the Bburago brand were produced in small numbers and prized highly in collectors markets, such as this Lancia model.

bburago lancia

You may have noticed Bburago often offers the same car in several scales (1/18, 1/24/ and 1/43), sometimes even in the same colors. Not only is that cost effective from a design standpoint, but it’s fun for collectors. An adult could get the delicately detailed larger model of, say, a Lamborghini Diablo, while the kids could play with a more rugged, less expensive model of the same car in a smaller scale.

Unknown (1)

Unfortunately, making models in Italy became more and more expensive as time went on. This expense, combined with the decision by Ferrari to award an exclusive model-making license to Mattel (which meant Bburago had to immediately stop making all of their Ferrari models), led to the company’s acquisition in 2005 by the Hong Kong-based May Cheong Group, owners of the similar Maisto brand. Under new parentage, Bburago continued to make many of its previous models and has introduced many new ones – including  new Ferrari cars now that Ferrari has ended their Mattel-exclusive deal.

And speaking of Maisto, if you’re a fan of that brand, we have more exciting news… hobbyDB is also working on an Official Archive for that brand as well. A special thanks goes to Charles Hepperle, formerly of Bburago, as well as Rick Berman and Jose Uriarte of Maisto, who provided a colossal amount of information and work on this archive and the upcoming Maisto project.

What Do Millennials Collect? Experience, Retro, Irony

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

There have been a lot of articles claiming that millennials don’t spend their money on “things,” so we thought it would be good to take a look at their collectibles market. Millennials tend to be more mobile than previous generations, so instead of buying a house (and things to fill it with), they tend to live lighter, putting that money towards experiences and travel.

So What Do Millennials Collect?

lego star wars destroyer

funko pop c-3poExperience, irony and retro are key ingredients. So going to to a Comic Con (experience) and snapping up the latest “Star Wars” items (retro) would fit the bill. The “Star Wars” franchise shows no signs of slowing down, given the number of movies, TV shows, and especially collectibles released in the last few years. And when those items have an inherent oddness (irony) to them like FunKo Pop figures, Lego building sets, or Hot Wheels character cars, you’ve hit the trifecta.

Each of those brands goes well beyond the “Star Wars” theme, so the potential for collectors to diversify is a huge market. Lego is now a $2+ billion brand  (there is a huge market for old and new kits!), Hot Wheels is grossing more than a billion dollars, and FunKo, despite only being founded in the late 1990s, is on its way there.

nintendo nesVideo games are a huge part of the Millennial experience too. but modern systems increasingly lack physical games to purchase in favor of downloads and online multiplayer action. However, older gaming systems have a certain appeal and have become a big collectible business. And it’s not just late 1990s/early 2000s games these people played while young, but even systems their parents might have owned, including Nintendo and Atari systems from the 1980s.

minus 5 dungeon of horrorsModern music doesn’t usually have a tangible form anymore either. It’s mostly downloaded and streamed, not really “owned” like it used to be. The huge exception: vinyl records are increasingly collectible. In fact vinyl records are projected to sell 40 million units in 2017, with sales nearing the $1 billion benchmark for the first time this millennium!

Some artists like Jack White (White Stripes, Dead Weather, Raconteurs, etc.) treat a new record as an additional level of performance art beyond the music itself. It’s one thing to capture a song live in one take… it’s another to record it direct to vinyl, instantly making a very limited number of pressings available for only one day. Consider that White recently released a record that secretly had to be played from the middle of the record outward, and the odd presentation becomes almost as important as the music.

Speaking of “records,” they used to be widely sold in places called “stores.” To celebrate the continued existence of such shops, Record Store Day (April 22, 2017) has become a huge annual nationwide event. It’s fun to stand in the very long line in front of the store and explain it to those not in the know.

“Record Store Day? Are they giving away free stuff?”

“Nope. In fact, they’re charging even more today.”

death cab for cutie cassetteIt’s true. Many artists release special recordings just for this event, often very limited editions in premium packaging, and none of them at all cheap. A few years ago, a band called The Minus Five created just 750 copies of a five record set of new material, including about 100 copies with each record in a different color (Yours truly was able to snag one of the regular copies that day, but not the multi-hued version.) In another instance, Death Cab For Cutie decided to release a new album only on cassette (which led to Cassette Store Day becoming a thing!). In most cases, these come with a digital download in case you don’t have the right listening equipment.

Speaking of which, stereo equipment is a big deal with Millennials as well. For all the convenience of a tiny device that can put 10,000 songs in your pocket, there is still great appeal to a big honking multi component vintage stereo system. They sound amazing but are anything but cheap. The market is there and it’s growing.

star wars record player star wars record player
Which brings us to this Star Wars portable suitcase turntable, another Record Store Day exclusive for 2017. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original movie, this retro record player will be on sale in a store near you. Experiential, Ironic, Retro… this might be the ultimate collectible for millennials yet.

If you’re a Millennial, let us know what you collect in the comments selection!