Hot Wheels Posts

What’s Your damage? A Guide To Common Less-Than-Mint Conditions

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Anytime you’re looking at buying a collectible online, you’re probably hoping to find mint condition, still in the package, never been looked at for more than 30 seconds perfection. Alas, such conditions don’t usually exist in the real world. So if something is “Near Mint” or below, that means something has to be not perfect, right? Of course, if your plan is to take the item out of the package, knowing these terms might help you find a bargain that others would pass on. 

Grading items from “Mint” to “Fair” to “Poor” and everything in between is subjective, so we’re not even going to get into those distinctions here. There are professional grading services that can handle that for a fee. But let’s look at some common terms that show up in collectible listings. Of course, there are certain collectibles like stamps, coins, and comic books that have their own unique forms of imperfection, which we’ll look at sometime in the future.

For now, let’s look at issues with boxes and blister cards, (especially diecast models) and see if we can define exactly what they mean. Here are some ” Less-Than-Mint Conditions .”


package shelf wearShelf Wear – This is some light scuffing, scratching, or rubbing on packaging that comes naturally with a collectible being handled and moved around in the store. Unless employees and customers are using padded gloves and extreme caution at all times, most store-bought items will have at least a few minor imperfections like this.


rubbingRubbing – A common phenomenon in older models that were not secured within the package. Over the years, a Hot Wheels car may have rolled back and forth inside the blister enough for the paint on the center of the hubs to rub off. It’s a shame when the package is perfect but the item inside isn’t. This also can show up on the roof of cars.


yellowed packagingYellowed – Usually this refers to clear plastic bits again. Over time, some plastic just turns yellow, and there’s not much you can do about it. Can also apply to other blastic bits, like hanger reinforcements.

Smoke Damaged – In addition to yellowing of plastic, or discoloration of other elements, the item also comes with the added fragrance of nicotine.


soft cornerSoft Corners – This happens when the corners of the card get a little bit mooshed but not necessarily creased. Layers of the cardboard are often separated. From the right angle, this might not even be visible when the item is on display. Sometimes this can be restored with a bit of glue to stiffen is up.


dented blisterDented Blister – Seems self explanatory, right? Usually the corners of the blister, closest to the edge of the packaging are susceptible. It may be possible to massage the dent out, but that might cause cracks or stress marks, which may look even worse.


stress marksStress Marks – Speaking of which… stress marks occur when a plastic piece bends enough to become discolored (usually white or a lighter shade of the original plastic.)


cracked blisterCracked Blister – Cracked, but nothing is missing. In this case, the entire blister should still be present and connected in some way.


detached blisterDetached Blister – The glue has let go, so even though the card, blister, and contents are in good shape, this is problematic. Even if it came off perfectly clean, it’s hard to prove there were no shenanigans when the collectible isn’t completely sealed in place. If it’s partially attached, but there’s still room for the item to be removed, it can affect value.


creaseLight Creasing – This is a fold that in the card that is light enough to easily return to its original shape, but may have left a scar where the fold occurred. Usually there is no discoloration or missing material.


crunched cornerCrunched Corner – It’s pretty common for at least one corner of a box to be a little bit crunched in. How much that matters to a collector depends on whether anything is torn or discolored, if the seal is broken at all, or if the damage is on the back or bottom where it won’t be seen while on display.


broken sealBroken Seal – Some boxed items have a tape seal of some sort to indicate it’s never been opened. You can have a perfect bobblehead in a perfect box, but to some folks that piece of tape makes a huge difference in value.


price stickerPrice Sticker/Sticker Residue – Price stickers added by the store are fairly rare today, but were very common years ago. To some, such stickers are a blight, but the alternative can be just as bad… sticky goop, discolored patches, or small tears in the surface.


factory sealed hologramMissing Hologram (or other identifying stickers) – Some newer models are supposed to come with a hologram sticker to indicate authenticity or some other status, such as an extremely limited run. If it’s missing or damaged, the value of the item can be lower. Also, if the sticker is placed on crooked at the factory, that can unfortunately make it less desirable.


cut blister card

Cut Card – Why do people do this? Occasionally you’ll see an older diecast car still in the blister, attached to the card…. or what’s left of the card. Was it for storage space? To send in an offer or proof of purchase seals? It’s still a mint car, but dang!


What other common imperfections do you run into either as a buyer or seller? Let us know in the comments and we might add it to our list.

Customizer Ernest “Boulevard Aces” Garza dies at 51

Ernest Boulevard Aces GarzaA prominent member of automotive and diecast culture, Ernest “Boulevard Aces” Garza, passed away recently. He was best known for his involvement with custom cars and organizing lowrider shows in the Dallas area, but he was also the Founder and Creator of Texas Hot Wheels.

He loved to share his ideas with other customizers, including small scale ones, brainstorming on designs and graphics. He also just liked the camaraderie of collecting and talking about the Hot Wheels with other members. Garza was also a User and contributor on hobbyDB in its early years.

You can see him hosting numerous videos on Youtube talking about shows and other aspects of car culture.

Ernest Boulevard Aces GarzaKirk Smith of KMJ diecast was one of his good friends and sent us this memorial image. “Ernest was so very happy when he received this Mike Lashley Custom Combo – 2 of his favorite castings – the 83 Chevy Silverado and the 55 Chevy Gasser,” said Kirk. “He loved the pinkies!”

 

Thanks To Elon Musk, There’s a Hot Wheels Tesla In Space

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

In an amazing combination of science, art, and promotion, a pair of Tesla Roadsters were shot into orbit last week by SpaceX. Elon Musk, head honcho of SpaceX and Tesla (as well as Solar City and Boring, a company whose flamethrowers are decidedly not boring) volunteered his red roadster for their mission.

Wait, a PAIR of Teslas? Yep, on board Musk’s used car is a Hot Wheels replica of the car.

Tesla in spaceIt’s hard to spot in photos, but on center of the dashboard is a small red object. That’s the 1/64 car, including a driver figure matching the mannequin who sits behind the wheel of the real car. In a nod to David Bowie, the pilot (clad in a SpaceX flight suit) is named Starman, and Bowie’s classic “Life on Mars?” blasts from the stereo.

The voyage of the Teslas will possibly continue for generations to come. Instead of orbiting the Earth, the car was sent on a trajectory around the Sun. As such, it will not come crashing down anytime soon. To get an idea of how freaking cool this whole thing is, you can watch an animation of the launch and deployment (sadly, the toy car isn’t rendered in the video). And if you have one of those apps that allows you to identify heavenly bodies, you can track it as Space Object “tesla_s3”.

hot wheels tesla in spaceThis venture isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. It’s standard practice for the first orbital launch of a new rocket to include some sort of dummy payload. Most launches feature a more traditional looking, but non functional satellite. Musk thought it would be a lot more interesting to send his car into space instead.

“Normally, when a new rocket is tested, they put something really boring on like a block of concrete or a chunk of steel or something,” Musk told CBS News. “All that’s pretty boring. What’s the most fun thing we could put on because this is just a test flight? We’re not going to put any valuable satellites on board. So, the car is just the most fun thing we could think of.”

Actually, the Hot Wheels car is the most fun part for some of us!

More Colorful Model Car Brands You Might Not Have Heard Of

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

A while ago, we shared a list of unusual Model Car Brands with strange histories. The response we got was terrific, so we did another list. Since then, we’ve dug up enough other odd brands to compile yet another batch of model and toy cars you may have forgotten (if you ever heard of them at all.) All in all, this round of models comes from seven different countries if you’re counting!

Dream Become True

Dream Become TrueNo, that’s not a typo, it’s just clunky translation. This company started as “Dream Become True”, possibly playing off Chinese auto company Build Your Dream. They then changed it to “Dream Becomes True” which is still kinda clunky. Their main offerings are Model Cars in 1/32 and 1/24 scale, which are fairly detailed and include working parts as well as lights and sounds.They also make some pretty basic models of mostly high end exotic cars in 1/64, including about the only model of the Koenigsegg CCX available and, even if the doors don’t open correctly.

Gay Toys

gay toys school busSimple, inexpensive toys molded in color… what could go wrong? The sheer coincidence of the name unfortunately became a headache for the company, (parental objections, etc.) so they didn’t produce many models under this brand. And well, when you try to do a search online for them, well, just make sure you keep “safe search” turned on. Even better, look for them on hobbyDB instead.

Quiralu

QuiraluQuiralu models were made in France in the 1950s and ’60s and included several microcars. The company and their models went into hibernation for many years until the original molds were resurrected in the late ’90s. They were used again to make a limited number of models with the same body castings but slightly different tinplate base and window glazing. The colors for each generation are often loud and fun.

Radon

radon model carThe name Radon probably doesn’t have any strange connotations in Russian like it does in other parts of the world. These cars are cold war relics, from a Russian state factory. They are mostly 1:43 scale diecast Soviet vehicles, including marques that aren’t likely to be reproduced in any other country. As a bonus, they do a lot of limos and other service vehicles, which are always neat to look at.

Rextoys

rextoysThis Portugal based company is best known for their models of 1930s American cars. Detail is simple, but the cars sometimes come with well-known passengers… You can get the Cadillac V16 Convertible with President Franklin D. Roosevelt riding in the back, or, if you prefer, Italian actress Cicciolina. But not together, even though that would be really awesome!

Simba

SimbaThey Farbwechsel when they Temperaturwechsel! Simba, despite the very elephantine name, was a German company that made mostly models of German marques. Their color change cars were revolutionary at the time, as they were among the first where the color depended on the temperature of the water.

Smelly Speeders

Maisto Smelly SpeedersSure, these look like standard Majorette models. Except they have some odd color combinations, especially the brightly colored tires. And when you open them, well, the reason for the name becomes obvious. Each car was scented in generally favorable aromas such as coconut or strawberry, not unlike those emanating from your car air freshener. Unfortunately, if you find one in the package, there’s a good chance the scent has worn off over the decades.

Tomte-Laerdal

Tomte-LaerdalStarting in the 1940s, this company produced primarily models of German cars but also one of an American military Jeep. Bodies were made of a single piece of rubbery plastic in a single color (some look kind of swirly) with a separate clear windshield in some cases. Details were crude at best. Later models mostly eschewed the clear parts for solid molded windows. Based on their Datsun 240Z model, it’s safe to say they were still making these at least into the early 1970s.

Starmada

StarmadaStarmada is fairly new to the model car business, debuting at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg in 2009. They offer mostly European marques with a heavy emphasis on Mercedes-Benz. These are sold under the name Brekina in many countries. Two really neat things about them… they make a lot of odd body styles such as limousines and hearses. And if you can believe it from the photos, these cars are 1/87 scale, some of the most detailed cars you can get for an HO railroad.

Victory Industrial Products

Victory Industrial ProductsVictory Industrial Products or VIP was a small company that began its life during the second world war in a boat house which stood directly alongside Kingston Bridge in Hampton Wick near London. It was founded by two men, Captain William John Warren and Gerald Fenner Burgoyne who set up the company to manufacture small electrical components for the Ministry of Supply. Not quite nanotechnology, but the components were useful for making model trains, 1:20 plastic models and 1:32 slot cars. They were mostly odd, utilitarian cars, but charming in a huge way.

Do you have any favorite odd brands we haven’t covered in these articles yet? Let us know in the comments!

Antique, Vintage, Classic? Depends On What You’re Collecting

Christian Braun obsesses over collectibles and antiques and toys more than the average person, but in a productive way.


 

“Antique, Vintage, Classic Batman Clock, Correct Twice a Day. $50.”

Aside from parsing that description to determine that this clock doesn’t run, but will be accurate at 8:58 AM and PM, what does that mean?

janex batman robin clock

Holy Gimcrack!

What about “antique,” “vintage,” and “classic?” As collectors, we see and use these terms often, sometimes interchangeably. What to they mean, exactly? As it turns out, there is no “perfect” definition for these words. But they do hold meaning relative to each other.

Historically (and there’s another word we’ll need to parse), “Antique” has meant objects that are 100 year old or more. “Vintage” has generally meant older than 15 years. So “Classic” must mean… well, it’s complicated.

“Antique” and “Vintage” carry a set time frame, regardless of historic or aesthetic value. “Classic,” on the other hand, just means “it has stood or will stand the test of time,” regardless of age.

And “Historic…” What about that? “Historic” is often used as a positive term, but really means that something was a game changer, a revolution, a show stopper for some reason. And not necessarily for good reasons. The Ford Edsel has to be considered a “historic” car because of its massive failure. And over time, it has also achieved “classic” status. Whether the car is remembered for being good/bad/ugly/beautiful remains debatable. “Classic,” sure. “Historic,” absolutely.

Consider another conundrum. Boulder, Colorado (the scenic home of hobbyDB Headquarters), passed a law several years ago requiring houses over 50 years old to undergo an approval process by a city board if the owners wanted to do extensive renovations. At the time, it made sense, as houses of that age were built in the 1940s or before, many of them having some historic charm and significance. But with the passing of each year, a “50 year old house” was less and less significant architecturally.

The hobbyDB office built in 1968…

…and another 1968 house just down the next road.

Entire suburbs of more or less identical houses of that age just don’t seem to need that same kind of designation and protection. Sliding time frames like this don’t make a lot of sense after a while. The city realized this and altered the designation.

Also, consider what is a “classic” car. Again, in Colorado, it used to be that a driver could get official “Classic” plates for any car over 25 years old. The plates were less expensive and didn’t require modern emissions requirements, a great deal for muscle cars and anything earlier. In 1994, that meant cars from 1969 and older, most of which arguably stood the test of time to be called “classic.” But in 2018, that means a car from 1993.

Nothing against that Mercury Sable wagon, but calling it a “classic” is kind of head scratching.

 So there’s now a set date as the “Classic” designation, to be updated as needed.

A Facebook group called “Vintage Toys” only allows posts regarding 1994 and older collectibles. Why that designation? That doesn’t exactly fit the 15 year rule these days. It likely has to do with the age of the founders and moderators, and toys of that age hit a sweetspot with them emotionally, and later ones do not. If you don’t like it? You can start your own Facebook page.

Some categories or brands have their own distinctions that fill in those gaps between antique and vintage. Comic books, for instance, are generally divided into several ages:

  • Golden Age, 1938-1950  (from the debuts of Superman and Batman to the middle of the century)
  • Silver Age, Mid 1950s to 1970  (new advances in art, writing, and production values.)
  • Bronze Age, 1970-1985  (more serious, mature content and styling)

A few notable things… Why 1938 as the start? That was the time Action Comics (Superman) and Detective Comics (Batman) ushered in the more or less current definition of a “comic book.”

The Granddaddy of all comics.

Also, what about comics released in the last 30 years or so…are they worthless? No, they just need their own designation at some point, often just referred to as the “Modern Age.”

But what about 1951-1955? Turns out there is a gray area between the Golden and Silver ages, so something in that range could be considered to fall in either group depending on your tastes. Also, new self censorship guidelines debuted at this time, transforming the content considerably.

Hot Wheels is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. Original cars sure seem old and rare. But by that definition, they are only halfway to “antique” status. On the other hand, calling them “vintage” seems unfair, which lumps 1968 releases in with 2003 releases.

Luckily, a brand such as Hot Wheels carries its own distinct eras… Redlines (1968-77) and Blackwalls (1977-94) cover the first two historic waves, and the rest can be broken down by various other distinctions such as Mainline or Treasure Hunts.

So back to that Batman clock… it’s from 1974. It’s undeniably cool. It’s not an antique. It’s certainly vintage. It can be reasonably called a classic. Your desire to own it and how much you are willing to pay will depend on a lot of criteria. But golly jeepers, you really should hear it!