We recently introduced you to Nathan Lill, the Master of Mistakes (at least when it comes to Hot Wheels). Lill has a collection of over 12,000 Hot Wheels error cars, all collected since he first spotted one on the pegs in 2000.
But what exactly constitutes an error for something like a diecast car on a blister card? Well, there are all kinds of things that can go wrong, some subtle, some hilariously obvious. Packaging misadventures, assembly problems, or color and graphics misfires are among the most common. Most errors need to be inside a sealed package to be verifiable, but that’s not always the case. And in a lot of examples, the packaging itself is the actual source of the error.
Assembly issues such as mis-spun rivets are hard to fake, so packaging might not be as important in those cases. On the other hand, for really early Hot Wheels, there are some very subtle variations in coloring that were probably unintentional, but could also be attributable to fading or other factors, so who can tell? But for the most part, buyers need to be aware of what to look for.
Here’s a check list of common error types that make it past the QC inspectors. Aside from the issues with wheels, most of these errors can apply to other collectibles such as action figures and vinyl art toys. Some error types are common enough that we have special Subjects on hobby DB just for those!
Misadventures in Packaging
- Mismatched car and package (On hobbyDB, these should be listed as a variant of the car, not the blister card. If you get that wrong, hey, mistakes happen.)
- Wrong Shaped Blister (with specific shapes for each car, it’s surprising this doesn’t happen more.)
- Off-Register/Off Kilter Package Printing
- Vehicle Facing Wrong Direction In Blister (Upside down doesn’t sometimes count, as it’s easy for some models to do a barrel roll.)
- Mis-Cut Packaging (Unpunched holes don’t really count as errors, but are usually considered more valuable on their own merit)
- Empty Sealed Package (Check carefully in case of the Wonder Woman Invisible Jet.)
- Missing Entire Axle and Wheels
- Reversed Wheels
- Unchromed/Unpainted Wheels
- Mismatched Wheels (Hard to spot these days, as some cars intentionally look like that)
- Wrong Size Wheels (Hard to spot sometimes without reference)
- Wrong Wheel Type
- Incomplete Casting (Not enough material to fill the mold.)
- Excessive Flashing (Too much material in the mold. Not from exposing oneself in the park!)
Assembly Gone Awry
- Wrong Color Body/Interior/Chassis/Window (Disputable, could be a legit variant. A lot of Redlines came with these kinds of differences and are just about impossible to document.)
- Mismatched Parts (Such as a Mustang body on a Camaro chassis. That is unnatural and should not be a thing. List this as the variant with which it shares the most parts)
- Backwards/Upside Down Parts (This mostly happens with the chassis)
- Missing components (Engines, interiors, windows, etc.)
- Unspun Rivets
- Mis-spun Rivets
Graphic In Nature
It’s not that difficult to fake some of color and graphics errors, so most of these probably should be in sealed packages to confirm their validity. Make sure your mistakes are real miscues and not shenanigans!
- Completely Missing Graphics
- Graphics Missing On One Side, Top, etc.
- Misaligned Graphics
- Off-Register Graphics (One color does not line up with the others)
- Misspelled Graphics (Technically, this isn’t an error of production, but a failure to proofread. But if it’s caught and fixed, the wrong version might be pretty valuable.)
Something (But Not Everything) Else
- Missing Accessories (Buttons, sticker sheets, extra parts, collector cards, etc.)
- Incorrect Accessories
- Extra parts
“Mistakes” That Aren’t Really Errors
- Broken parts… Sad when it happens, but it’s not really an error to collectors.
- Casting errors that lasted the entire production run. Hey, a Johnny Lightning White Lightning ’71 Buick Riviera with the wrong grill… That’s gotta be rare, right? Well, only as rare as any other White Lightning. JL made castings for the ’71 and ’71 Rivieras, the only difference being the detail in the grill. For the Classic Gold version, they called it a ’71, but used the ’72 casting. They never corrected it, so even though it’s a goof, it’s the only version.
- Items designed to look incorrectly packaged (Upside down, backwards, etc). This Alfred E. Neuman figure is supposed to be upside down, which matches the spirit of MAD magazine. Same with the Santa version, who looks like he fell inside the blister. Oh, and Spider-Man, in the image at the top of the page? Yep, that’s on purpose as well!
Do you have any error cars (or action figures) in your collection? Add them to our database as variants of existing items! And if you can think of any other types of errors, hit us up in the comments section!