Hot Wheels 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.

Halloween Means Thrills! Chills! Collectibles!

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Aside from Christmas, there’s no holiday that inspires decor, commemoratives, and good ol’ limited edition fun as much as Halloween. As the holiday rapidly approaches, we thought it would be a good time to look at some of our favorite Halloween collectibles.

nightmare before christmasFirst of all, a question… is “The Nightmare Before Christmas” a Halloween movie, or a Christmas movie? Or should you just watch it every night for two months straight between both holidays? Regardless, there are so many great characters to base collectibles on. Nearly 25 years after its theatrical release, the Tim Burton stop motion masterpiece has only grown in legend, and more items pop up every year. This sculpture of Zero and his dog house is pretty neat.

funko ghostbustersOddly enough, many horror movies have become associated with Halloween, even though the vast majority of them have nothing to do with the holiday. “Ghostbusters,” more comedy than horror actually, has become another favorite movie that embodies the fun of Halloween. There is no shortage of collectibles from the classic 1984 movie (as well as its sequel, the 2016 remake, and the cartoons).

halloween chip n daleIn fact, Halloween has an interesting distinction for fans in that anything gothic, spooky, scary, or macabre fits in. It doesn’t matter if they are officially part of the holiday or not. Heck, you can take any popular characters such as Disney’s Chip ‘n’ Dale,  put them in vampire garb, insert them into a jack-o’-lantern, and presto… instant Halloween collectible!

hallmark great pumpkin peanutsSnoopy and the Peanuts gang hold a special place in Halloween lore ever since their 1966 animated special introduced the world to Linus and his story of The Great Pumpkin. This 1996 Hallmark Keepsake set includes everything you need for a good time except the Dolly Madison snack cakes.

labbit skeleton hello kittySkeletons are always a popular Halloween theme, even though they’re everywhere year ’round. (Here’s a fun joke to play on little kids… ask in a scary voice, “Do you know where you can find a skeleton? INSIDE YOUR OWN BODY! Bwahahaha!” Never gets old!) Apparently Kidrobot’s Labbits have skeletons. Slightly less scary is this Hello Kitty skeleton figure from Funko.

lego skeletonLego has also done minifig skeletons a couple different ways. One version that came with various building sets has a bony, hollow structure, while the other version, sold by itself in blind packs, has a more traditional costume look.

tin wizard harold maude hearseHearses are used year ’round in the real world, too, but if you park one in front of your house the rest of the year, people look at you kinda funny. But in October? No sweat. There are lots of miniature hearses out there to collect, by the way. Just in case your HOA frowns displaying the real thing. (By the way, Ecto-1, the Ghostbusters’ car, is an ambulance, not a hearse.)

halloween hot wheelsSpeaking of driveable collectibles, Hot Wheels has commemorated various holidays over the years with limited edition cars. After Christmas, Halloween is probably the most popular among these series. 2017 is no exception, featuring cars with special skull-themed wheels.

liberty promotions halloween drag busFor something even more limited, Liberty Promotions has offered yearly, low production Drag Bus models for Halloween and other holidays, along with Chase versions.

kfc colonel sanders maskYou like zombies? Kentucky Fried Chicken’s recent ad campaign features multiple actors doing off kilter impressions of the Colonel Sanders , making KFC a pop culture phenomenon. Now you can add your own take on the long-deceased company founder and spokescharacter with this Halloween Harland costume. It was available very briefly on the KFC website this before selling out.

Regardless of your age, Halloween is a fun holiday, and there are collectibles of all kinds to enjoy throughout October or year ’round if you dare.

Do you have a favorite Halloween collectible? Tell us about it in the comments and add it to the hobbyDB database if it’s not already there!

Heads up HW Collectors the new HW Newsletter Casting Guide 2008-2017 is here!

Exciting news Hot Wheels fans, we’re partnering with Jim Garbaczewski, publisher of the Hot Wheels Newsletter and Co-Author of Tomart’s Price Guide to Hot Wheels to bring you another amazing resource for your collection. You’ll find the official announcement below –

So I have some exciting news for all those fans of the Tomart Guides who love and miss them. Drumroll, please, because I’m pleased to announce that the Hot Wheels Newsletter is going to be publishing a NEW price guide that covers the period since the last Tomart guide. 

Over the past decade, I’ve continued to work hard logging details of all the latest Hot Wheels releases; model details, photos, colors, variations and, most importantly, pricing information! I’ve been looking for a way to be able to share this with you all in book form for some time, and now, thanks to the folks at hobbyDB who’ve formed a joint venture with me to share the upfront publishing costs, that’s going to become a reality. 

The new HW Newsletter Casting Guide to Hot Wheels will have all the same great images and information you’ve come to expect, and will cover ALL known models released between 2008 and 2017. It’s set to ship in January for $34.99. You can also pre-order it for $24.99 now or $30.99 after the Convention in L.A. in the Hot Wheels Newsletter store, order yours today!

Pre-order Now

We’re super excited to be involved with this project and will keep you all posted with any updates from Jim!

Holy Hot Wheels! It’s the Batmobile!

Over the past few years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy our tribute to Adam West and his Batmobile of choice.

hot wheels lincoln futura batmobile

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

June was strange month, as James Bond and Batman died around the same time, leading to speculation that they were one and the same. Bruce Wayne died, too. Go figure.

So, R.I.P. Roger Moore. But here and now, we’re talking about the legacy of Adam West, who played Batman on TV and in movies for several years in the 1960s. And since we’re all about diecast… let’s talk about his car.

adam west burt wardCustomizer George Barris was given the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car and about three weeks with the mission of creating a ride worthy of the show. To say he knocked it out of the park is an understatement. Equal parts sinister and ridiculous, his resulting car fit the tone of the show perfectly.

The earliest model of the TV Batmobile came from Corgi, complete with removable (and easy to lose) figures and launchable (and even more losable) missiles. Luckily, there are repops available of those pieces. Aurora made a ThunderJet slot car version of the car as well if you wanted to drive it for real, because of course you did.

And that was pretty much it for that time. You would think Mattel would have considered taking advantage of this hot new car to go along with their hot new diecast brand. But it didn’t fit the Hot Wheels plan at the time, probably due to licensing issues and the fact that the car could only be painted one color while still making sense.

hot wheels 1966 batmobile

The Hot Wheels 1/64 Batmobile has been released in different colors.

What a difference a few decades makes. Hot Wheels managed to get a license to reproduce the TV car, as well as other Bat-vehicles, and they took major advantage. So off course they did a 1/64 version, (above) a welcome addition to anyone’s fleet. Their mainline Batmobile would later be released in new colors for Halloween and other occasions, and there were also Treasure Hunt Versions. The details are sort of chunky and rounded to make them kid friendly, but who could complain?

hot wheels adam west batmobile

The 1/18 Batmobile from Hot Wheels came in this regular version and a super detailed edition.

But they also thought bigger. Hot Wheels created a 1/18 scale model, (above) with incredible detail for a car that retailed for about $25 or so. The proportions, textures, finishes and details on the model are superb. And if that’s not enough, there was also a special limited edition model with even higher detail levels.

hot wheels tv batmobile

The 1/50 scale Batmobile has terrific detail for its scale.

The best model of all might fall in between those two sizes, however. Hot Wheels created a series of 1/43ish “classic” vehicles, including the Batmobile. To be accurate, it’s actually, 1/50 scale (above) .  For the size and price, the detail is astonishing, rivaling the bigger car, complete with red pinstripes and bat knockoffs on the wheels. The odd touch here… there is a trailer hitch behind the jet engine. But if you can look past the combustible possibilities, it’s there to tow Hot Wheels’ matching BatBoat with trailer. Yeah, that wins.

hot wheels lincoln futura batmobileYou can debate which version of the Batmobile reigns supreme (The Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan movie versions are the other major contenders) but for a certain generation, the Barris/TV/West Batmobile is the only one you’d ever want. And Hot Wheels has created some of the best models of it.

Hot Wheels Blister Cards Influenced Diecast Packaging Forever

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Otto Kuhni, one of the great American artists of the last half century, passed away recently. If his name isn’t familiar, you surely knew his work. He was the artist who created the overall look of the new Hot Wheels brand in 1968 and continued to work for Mattel on and off until just a few years ago. He did the art for the carrying cases, advertisements, lunchboxes, and most importantly, the packages those toys came in. The fiery orange-yellow-red blister cards instantly created an identity for the whole brand, and influenced diecast packaging ever since.

Hot Wheels Otto Kuhni lunchboxPrior to his designs, diecast packaging was generally plain and not terribly interesting (although there were terrific exceptions). Most diecast cars were sold in boxes, such as Corgi, Dinky, and of course, the company whose name comes from those boxes, Matchbox. A few cars were offered in blister cards, however. Here are some early designs as well as later cool blister cards where companies realized that toy cars are fun, and they should be packaged that way too. Much credit has to go to Otto’s ideas.

This Dinky Alfa Romeo really looks pretty amazing on its rather basic package. The layout is simple, and colors are very limited due to printing technology at the time. Even the effort required just to change the name and model number was something of a pain in those days. One odd touch is that the car is mounted so high on the card, something you don’t see today.

Husky, an early attempt at 1/64 models by Corgi, also featured simple, not terribly colorful blister cards. This fire engine is unique in that someone got a little creative and added the silhouette of the cherry picker as if it were rising from the vehicle itself. But most featured identical base art to keep costs low. Another neat thing… if you see this era of Husky card, there is often a hole punched in the circle where the price is located, like on the fire engine. Presumably, that happened when a store wanted to charge a different price.

hot wheels blister cardBut then along came Hot Wheels! Brightly colored, dynamic graphics, a custom cut shape, and even a bonus in the blister in the form of the collectors button. (Note the off-center hole punch, arranged to allow the asymmetrically weighted card to hang level.) Not only were the free wheeling cars revolutionary, but the Hot Wheels blister cards themselves created a stir with consumers – and with other toy companies.

matchbox superfast blister cardCompetitors responded quickly. Matchbox began retooling their cars as the SuperFast series, with similar speedy wheels and wilder designs on their new cars. The packaging moved to blister cards, though the art was not quite as exciting as what Mattel was offering. Hedging their bets, Matchbox still included the traditional box inside the blister as a bonus. In fact, many of their cars were still available right in the box, same as always, as if the company saw this new fangled packaging as a fad. The combination of old versus new wheels, and different packaging options has created a colossal number of variants for collectors.

johnny lightning blister cardJohnny Lightning was a new startup from Topper Toys in 1969. Thematically, they represented the closest competition to Hot Wheels, with cars ranging from crazy fantasy designs to mild customs, all built for speed. The packaging had a chaotic, exciting design to match. Curiously enough, they had to make a design modification early on… the “BEATS THEM ALL” tagline ran into a legal challenge, as it could not be proven that JL cars could indeed do that. It was modified to “BEAT THEM ALL” to imply possibility, not fact.

johnny lightning jet power blister cardA later line of JL cars, the Jet Power series, featured their own bespoke card design, with a very energetic illustration of one of the cars in action. Sadly, these new cars underperformed the promise of the packaging and were a flop. More sadly, Topper ended the entire Johnny Lightning line (and just about everything else) after only three years due to company wide financial difficulties.

corgi rockets blister cardCorgi tried to compete in the high speed 1/64 market with their Rockets series. Note the two hole configuration on the card, requiring double pegs to hang the car from. The folks who stocked the stores couldn’t have been happy about that. Cool graphics, fast cars, but no match for the Hot Wheels marketing behemoth, at least in that scale. Corgi remains a major force in diecast, but wisely decided to focus more on their main market of 1/43 and larger cars.

tomy tomica blister cardTomy (Tomica) had a lot of fun with their packaging as well. Their Pocket Cars series was printed on a card that looked like denim, complete with stitching and buttons. Such designs really stood out from the pack and looked impressive together on the pegs at the stores. Many of their later series like the Series 60 also had playful graphics.

woolworth peelers zee toys pacesettersMinor brands like the Woolworth’s /Woolco Peelers cars saw the benefit of an exciting package, even if the vehicles themselves were a notch below in quality from the big brands. Or consider what Zee Toys was doing with this Pacesetters blister, mounting the car in a position to go along with the lines of the graphics.

It’s hard to say where modern diecast packaging would be today without the influence of Otto Kuhni’s designs for Hot Wheels, but it’s safe to guess playtime would be little less exciting (also read Otto’s Diecast Hall of Fame Obituary). If you have a favorite diecast blister design, let us know about it in the comments!