Collecting Posts

When MIP Means “Messed-up In Package”

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

In 1975, Hot Wheels introduced a new way to package their vehicles, in themed 6-Packs. Cars were attached to a simple cardstock base with rubber bands, and the artwork featured some of the cars from that set. In the earliest sets, the cars were usually taken directly from Mainline offerings with no distinct variants. So it was all about the packaging. 

At a recent yard sale I found a set from 1982, the “Classic Machines,” in what could be labeled “Never Removed From Package” condition.

Hot Wheels Classic Machines 6 pack

As you can see in the images, that’s not necessarily the same as “Mint In Package.” More like “Messed-up In Package” in this case, right? All but one of the cars had become unmoored from their rubber bands (the black and red Bugatti on the left was hanging on by a thread). The rubber bands had dried and cracked into a texture resembling uncooked ramen noodles (but probably not as tasty). Not to mention, the top panel had been hopelessly folded down and had some rough edges. But they were only asking $2 (the original price sticker said $8.99!). And surprisingly, none of the cars appeared to be damaged. I couldn’t pass it up.

Hot Wheels Classic Machines 6 pack

Of course, I wanted to fix it, but decided on a challenge… how much could I preserve the “sealed box” aspect of the set and still get the cars into place? The box ends were firmly glued, so I didn’t want to ruin that. When originally made, the cellophane window was attached by a dab of adhesive in each corner. Here, it was completely detached on one end, so I carefully pried as much of the window out of place as I could, trying not to dent it worse. From there, I had limited access. Success!

Big question: In what order were these cars originally parked? I found a photo online that showed the same set as mine, with the cars ordered from left to right thusly:

• Old Number 5 (below, left), • Street Rodder (below, right);Hot wheels old number 5 street rodder

• Auburn 852 (below, left), • ’35 Classic Caddy (below, right);Hot Wheels Auburn Classic Caddy

• ’31 Doozie (below, left), • ’37 Bugatti (below, right).Hot Wheels Doozie Bugatti

Okay, looks good… except as I mentioned before, the Bugatti was the only car still attached to the base, and it was on the left. So I consulted with Robert Graves, our resident Hot Wheels maven, and he found a photo that was the exact reverse of the order I found. Hmmm. It fit the pattern by having the “Bug” on the left, so I went with it. It’s possible there was no particular order for these cars in the first place. Unlike newer sets with form-fitting plastic bubbles for each car, the early sets could easily be swapped around during what was likely hand assembly.  It’s also worth mentioning, there have been several Classic Machines sets over the years, so you might find one with similar packaging but a different assortment from this one.


You know how you can never find a rubber band when you need one? It’s even harder to find bland, tan ones in the right size when you need half a dozen of them. So I made a quick trip to the office supply store and bought a giant bag containing different thickness and diameter bands. There were just enough of the smallest, thinnest ones to do the project.

Hot Wheels Classic Machines 6 pack

The bands wrap around both axles on one side of each car. It’s harder than you’d guess to get them wedged into place without any twisting. When I got to the Street Rodder, which has no fenders, I was relieved… until I realized with its short wheelbase, even the smallest rubber band was too long, so it had to be wrapped in a more complex pattern.

Hot Wheels Classic Machines 6 pack

Wrapping the bands around the cutout would have been fairly easy if I’d just taken the whole dang thing out of the box like any normal person would have. But in place, there was limited room to maneuver. Also, the process required lifting the tab slightly, but not too much, or it would get a crease and then refuse to lay flat. I used a single blade from a pair of scissors (would that be one scissor?) as a guide to gently lift the tab, allowing the car and band to go where they needed. Each car took several minutes to wedge into place, because I am a masochist.

Hot Wheels Classic Machines 6 pack

The long sides of the cardstock window cutout were severely warped. So before resealing then into their car-cophagus, I decided to adjust that. I wedged a small channel of cardstock under the top part to hold it up and on the bottom, glued a reinforcement strip where there was a small tear. It’s not perfect, but a huge improvement. Then I used a small amount of clear Goop adhesive to attach the window into place, sandwiching the front edge of the box together while it dried to straighten that up.

Hot Wheels Classic Machines 6 pack

As for the top panel of the box, it flopped sadly forward. I bent it backwards until I heard a snap and then cringed to see… that it hadn’t ripped or creased or anything. Nope, just sits straight. Whew! There was also a dog-eared corner that needed attention. I put a very small dab of clear glue between the layers and held it straight with a clothespin until it was stiff. Not perfect, but better. Finally, I took a chance on removing the price sticker. Sometimes they only sort of let go, sometimes they remove part of the packaging (GAHHHHH!), but in this case, the whole thing popped off intact, leaving a slightly darker, less faded blue behind.

Hot Wheels Classic Machines 6 pack

Finally, the set is ready for display. For a two dollar item plus a dollar for rubber bands, that seems like a lot of work. But if you have to ask a collector “why?” then you’ll never understand this hobby.

Thomas Wurk Collects Very, VERY Hard To Find Schuco Models

schuco super schnell thomas wurk

If you’ve ever thought of a collectible as “very hard to find,” then consider the story of Thomas Würk, one of hobbyDB’s new Curators. He has an amazing collection of 1/66 scale Schuco Super Schnell cars and other related brands… but getting his hands on them has never been easy.

“I started collecting these models now for over 40 years ago with a break of nearly 20 years,” he said. “In my childhood I collected only eleven of them, because it was very difficult in Eastern-Germany.” Yes, Thomas lived on the other side of the Berlin Wall, where anything from Western Europe, including toy cars, was nearly impossible to obtain. “At this time I had no contact behind the border. I got Matchbox models from my grandma, who had relatives in West Germany. I swapped some of those against Schucos with friends in my town. So every model was hard to get.”

schuco super schnell

By the time Germany was unified, and the borders opened up, he had moved onto other interests and responsibilities in life. He eventually started collecting them again in 2004, which presented a different challenge: The Schuco Super Schnell cars were no longer in production. “It was much easier to get some items, but now the condition became a problem. Most of the toy cars are much play-worn… high mileage in the sandbox, so much lost paint and scratches everywhere.”

schuco super schnell gold plated audi

This real gold-plated Audi 100 LS is one of the absolute rarest Super Schnell cars.

super-schnell-displayThomas also gave himself a new challenge, collecting factory prototypes. “I have some wooden models for made the molds and of course, only one exists of each. The real gold-plated Audi 100 is very rare. Some other promotional-models are also very hard to get.” Schuco did some interesting deals such as using Norev models in the range or selling castings to Brazil, therefore those also get collected (find the Norev Mini Jets and Miniaturas REI here)!  Lastly there are of course also related store displays and merchandising products. He sticks to 1:66 scale cars for space and cost reasons. That small size allows him to have about 500 of them on display in his home in Chemnitz (Saxony) in Germany.

To see more of his collection, you can visit his website (he included an English translation button if you need it!) and of course, browse the database on hobbyDB. When we approached him first, he loved the idea of preserving these items for everyone to enjoy and immediately agreed to become the Curator for Super Schnell.  Even since he’s been uploading his collection at a furious rate (in German they would say Super Schnell…), with more vehicles added daily.

schuco super schnell

New Year’s Resolutions from a Diecast Collector

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Well, 2016 is almost over… time for this collector to make some New Year’s Resolutions (And for once, I’m going to follow through on them!).

Be more charitable. It looks like I could have used a few more deductions tax for the past year. Ah, but wait… a couple years ago, a new law went into effect to encourage charitable giving by extending the deadline to make and declare some charitable donations all the way up to April 15 of the new year. So if you’re like me and have a lot of spare reading material, you might be in luck. Auto-Archives wants your automotive books, magazines, and manuals for their library, and your donation is tax-deductible.

auto archives library

hobbydb curator button

Donate my time to my community. Well, it’s not charity work or anything, but I plan to spend more time sharing my tiny bit of expertise with the rest of the users at hobbyDB. So instead of complaining that I can’t find a certain model in the database, I’ll shoot some pics and add it myself. Anyone looking to get really involved can become a curator for a particular brand or type or subject.

Make more friends. We ran quite a few profiles of prolific customizers this summer, but the project sort of got put on hold for awhile. And honestly, it was fun getting to meet some of these folks, if only online via chats and emails. Well, we want to get this thing up and running again. So how ‘bout it? If you’re a customizer and we haven’t written about you yet, hit me up with an email or in the comments! In fact, we want to do profiles of curators and people with unique collections to, so let’s get to know you!

Custom models by Designs by (clockwise from top left) Hadi Rochmansaya, Jimmy "Boxman" Chavez, Chris Stangler

We’ve run profiles of (clockwise from top left) Hadi Rochmansaya, Jimmy “Boxman” Chavez, Chris Stangler, and other amazing diecast customizers over the past year.

Read More. In addition to lots of books, magazines, and manuals for sale on hobbyDB, there are a number of diecast websites, blogs, and Facebook pages worth following on a regular basis. Gotta stay informed, right?

closet full of diecast

Don’t be so shy. Look at this stack of boxes. This is one of two closets in my house that is simply stuffed to the gills with boxes full of models and toys that haven’t seen the light of day in awhile. I figure the basement is due for a renovation, and there’s at least a couple walls that would greatly benefit from permanent shelves with a glass cover. So I’m busting these things out and showing them to the world!

Get organized. Since these collectibles haven’t seen the light of day in a long, it must be a mess, right? All is not lost. Each box is numbered, and I have a list of what’s in each one. Now if I could just find that list… oh right, it’s right there on hobbyDB. You can set one up too! I do need to dig out a couple of those boxes and finish the job though.

Fine… Let some things go. Having seen these boxes neatly scattered across the basement, my wife has suggested an alternative to the shelf idea. Oh well, I know what to do

Start over again. After selling some of my collection, it will time to rebuild. So let’s start small. I’ve been hitting the pegs since this spring to find the Hot Wheels Yellow Submarine, but it just wasn’t to be. This will be the year. Oh, here’s one. Yay, this is going to be a great year!

hot wheels yellow submarine

Life, Death, and the Price of Princess Leia Action Figures

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

There’s been a lot of chatter on Facebook from collectors who complain about sellers raising the prices of collectibles related to a famous actor or public figure when they die. Right now, of course, lots of folks are concerned about the price of Princess Leia action figures in the wake of Carrie Fisher’s sudden death.

“How dare you?” they ask. “You ghoul!” they scream (yes, I actually saw someone call a seller a ghoul a couple days ago). “How can you even think about exploiting a person’s death for profit?” they yell.

Well, they have a point. But only sort of.

luke skywalker princess leia han solo

So what do you do when this happens? Several possibilities come to mind…

Spare the outrage. So maybe the seller is taking advantage of the situation. Calling them ghouls (such an underutilized word!) won’t help. The market decides what an item is worth by how rare it is and by how many people want to get their hands on it. They have the right to ask a price, and you have the right to decide if you’re willing to pay it.

princess leia action figure

Wait a couple weeks. Part of the reason for the higher price is that a lot of non-traditional collectors are suddenly looking to buy a memorial item, which can drive up the market. So wait for that first wave to calm down, and you might be competing with fewer buyers. There’s a phenomenon that often occurs when a particular collectible sells for ridiculous bucks that goes something like this:

• The first seller gets a huge price for a rare item.
• Other collectors who have the same item to sell put theirs up for sale right after that.
• Suddenly, there are several of that supposedly “rare” collectible available.
• That first buyer, who was willing to overpay, is no longer competing with you.
• And then the price settles into its natural place.

Hold on, you don’t already own one? If you’re a serious collector, you should already have that item on your shelf, right? Well, not necessarily. Maybe it really is a rare action figure, in which case, you should expect it to be expensive. So maybe it’s a fair price. And if the price is higher than anyone is willing to pay, the seller might lower it eventually.

Finally, why were you looking up prices in the first place? Here’s a 2001 cartoon by Rex Silo, published shortly after Dale Earnhardt, Sr. died, that explains a common process.

Food Shelter Cable Rex Silo

“Food, Shelter, Cable” by Rex Silo. (c) 2001, used with permission

So why did you look it up? Were you just curious about the value of an item? Or were you considering selling one yourself if the price is right? Admit it, we all have different reasons to collect, and cashing in on a rare item at the right time is one part of the game.

In the meantime, let’s appreciate Carrie Fisher for who she was… an actress with a beautiful voice, a ferociously funny writer, and someone whose films have left us with fantastic memories for almost four decades now.

princess leia han solo

A Barn-Find (err, Yard-Sale) Ford GT-40!

Over the past two years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy the story of this Ford GT-40 diecast model.

jouef evolution Ford GT-40

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

So I found this exotic car at a yard sale a few weeks ago… It’s a 1:18 Jouef Evolution Ford GT-40 in Gulf livery. It’s not perfect, but seldom do you stumble onto a pristine real GT-40 for sale, either. On this one, the windshield wiper is missing and the clear deflector on the hood is chipped. And it was dusty, like any proper barn find. But for five bucks, this model made over 20 years ago was a real steal.

Some impressions of the model… Parked next to models of 1:18 street cars, the GT-40 is TINY in all dimensions. You don’t really get that sense when you see one sitting in the paddock or in a museum with other comparable race cars. Contrary to its size, for a scale model, this Jouef car is really heavy. There’s a lot of metal in play here.

jouef evolution Ford GT-40

The doors open in such a way that only a short, thin, flexible person could possibly get into the car. (Dan Gurney, who is not short, famously had them Ford a bubble to the roof to give him a skosh more room. This isn’t a model of his car, so no bubble here.)

jouef evolution Ford GT-40

jouef evolution Ford GT-40

The undercarriage detail is rather sparse, but that’s accurate… the aerodynamic bottom of the real car is smooth as a baby’s butt, too. Other nice details are the guide pins that help hold the hood in place when it’s closed. The removable panel up front reveals a spare tire featuring the same gorgeous wheels with orange knockoffs. The tire is a bit narrower than the ones mounted on the car, but you don’t notice that unless you try to remove it. (Don’t, try by the way, it’s permanently attached.)

The paint is lovely (and in immaculate condition for a used car) but doesn’t have the Gulf logos or other sponsor decals. Also, the windshield shows some wear where someone had moved the missing wiper back and forth a few times. Which brings me to my conundrum… Even though it’s kind of rare and old and in good shape, should I tear this car apart and add more detail? Paint, plumb and wire the engine? Add some appropriate race wear and grime?

jouef evolution Ford GT-40

Did I mention this version of the car ran in the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans in this car? Lucien Bianchi and Pedro Rodriguez drove it to victory that year. So it might be appropriate to add some champagne spray to that post-race finish. By the way, Gurney is credited with being the first to spray champagne after a race, in 1967.