Hot Wheels Posts

Hot Wheels Goes Postal with U.S. Postage Stamps Set

hot wheels postage stamps

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Through rain or snow or sleet or hail, the United States mail… eventually gets there. But the mail is about to get a bit hotter, with a newly announced series of Hot Wheels postage stamps. That’s right… if you’re one of those collectors who runs to their mailbox every day hoping to find your latest online orders, now there’s a new reason to sit by the window waiting for the postman to arrive.

hot wheels postage stampsMattel recently delivered the good news, yet another part and parcel of the Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary celebration. The combination of the two makes sense in all kinds of ways. Similar to how Hot Wheels counts on a big part of their sales from collectors who will keep them in the package, the Postal Service gets a large chunk of revenue from stamp collectors who will never cash in those stamps for mailing purposes. Honestly, you’re going to buy several sets: one or two to preserve and display, and the rest for sending letters to all your friends and loved ones, right?

hot wheels postage stampsThere will be 10 vehicles honored in the series, from the earliest Redlines to more recent classics. The set includes the Bone Shaker, Deora II, HW40, Mach Speeder, Purple Passion, Rigor Motor, Rocket-Bye-Baby, Rodger Dodger, Sharkruiser, and of course, the Twin Mill. The sheet will consist of 20 Forever stamps, two of each design. The cars were shot on classic orange track by photographer Len Rizzi.

hot wheels postage stampsCollectors will no doubt quibble over some of the selections, but it’s a first class package overall. Here’s a puzzler though… Why didn’t they go with one of the classic mail-themed Hot Wheels vehicles? Wouldn’t the Redline Special Delivery be the perfect carrier for this project? Or maybe the Rrrumblers Rip Code? Even the fairly pedestrian Letter Getter van would be a good fit.

hot wheels mail cars

Not to sound disgruntled, but couldn’t they have used at least one of these mail-centric rides?

In any event, allow 4-6 weeks for delivery, as the stamps are scheduled to arrive at post offices September 29. If you don’t want to stand in line, there will be a first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony at the Goodguys 26th Summit Racing Lone Star Nationals in Fort Worth, Texas on that date. We at hobbyDB can’t wait for this promotion to arrive and be cancelled!

hot wheels postage stamps

Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Special: Making History on TV

hot wheels history channel

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

In case you missed it Thursday night, The History Channel aired a one hour “Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Special” with plenty of interviews, diecast images and video, and, well, history of the brand.

Larry Wood, who has been one of the principal designers for the brand since almost the beginning, had a lot to say. (“We weren’t even paying Barbie’s taxes,” joked Wood about the humble beginnings compared to Mattel’s other big brand.) So did Jay Leno, known for his very large collection of full size cars, but also an enthusiast of the smaller ones. And several current designers, who clearly enjoy their jobs more than most people ever will.

hot wheels history channel Some of the most compelling bits during the hour were the vintage commercial clips, with bombastic announcers and amazingly well-shot footage of Hot Wheels cars in action. If you’re a certain age right now (Hot Wheels’ 50 plus a few years to be old enough to have gotten in on the ground floor), those commercials were the voice of God, speaking directly to your 5, 6, 7, ten-or-so-year-old self.

Discovering that the oil crisis in the ‘70s threatened to kill the brand? A terrifying glimpse into a sad alternate reality. Finding out that the orange track started out as garage door seals turned upside down? Let’s just say a good part of your happy childhood was discovered by accident.

hot wheels history channel zarnockAside from Leno, the most screen time from a non-Mattel employee went to Mike Zarnock (“Hot Wheels Expert/Collector” according to one on screen blurb.) Zarnock, is of course, a legendary historian and ambassador for the brand. Seeing photos of Harry Bradley’s custom El Camino, which served as the basis for the Custom Fleetside was a blast.

According to professional Diecast customizer Chris Walker, “To make the perfect car, many cars have to die.” Really, as much as we like to protect and preserve our Hot Wheels, taking them out of the package and making them less than mint condition is what makes them so beloved. And if you can chop and reassemble them into something new, then you get to turn playtime into a career.

hot wheels history channel walkerZarnock and Walker originally didn’t expect to have as much screen time when first approached by the History Channel. “My role in the show initially was just going to be just to say a few words about Hot Wheels and the hobby at the Dallas Hot Wheels Nationals,” said Walker. “After talking with them and showing them on camera all about room to room shopping and what we do, they went  changed up the direction of things based on the chemistry of myself and Mike Zarnock.”

A lot of the show centered on the quest to design “HW50,” the car that is supposed to sum up the entire 50th Anniversary. Designed to be a  “statement of our heritage and our future,” the car is being built as a 1/64  model and a 1,000 HP running full-size replica. (Yes, the real car will be a replica of the model. It’s been done before, actually… ) The amount of 3-D CAD rendering used to design the car is both mind-blowing and a bit melancholy. Revealed in sketches and painted prototypes, HW50 looks to be a suitably retro yet modern car that should honor the legacy of the brand.

hot wheels history channel

This is about the best look you get at the HW50 until Fall.

As far as reliving your childhood through collecting, there are different takes on that. Walker, whose collection started with the Mach 5 inspired Second wind, but now owns over 10,000 Hot Wheels Cars said “A lot of people say collecting is our way of buying back our childhood. I say it’s more buying the childhood we never had.”

Expect the Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Special to show up on The History Channel many times over the next few weeks, and also to make it online eventually.

hot wheels history channel

To Collect and Preserve: Why is Toy Packaging Worth so Much?

Toy Story Stinky Pete

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

In Pixar’s “Toy Story 2,” much of the movie’s plot was driven by the fact that the Stinky Pete action figure was priceless because he was mint in the package, as well as being rare to begin with. On the other hand, Mr. Pete (or is that Mr. Stinky?), led a bitter existence of resentment from being unplayed with, as well as for being the least desirable figure (hence his low production numbers and maybe why he never made it out of the box). So if he was going to live out the rest of his life like that on a museum shelf, he might as well make some other toys miserable as well.

Toy packaging has become a huge variable in the value of many collectibles. Some collectors don’t care all that much, but for many, the difference between “MIP” and “loose” is so big that opened toys may as well not exist. There’s even an industry catering to collectors who want to protect their packaging from the kinds of horrors the packaging was designed to protect the toy from.

So why did toy packaging become such a big deal to collectors? Here are some thoughts:

toy packaging kenner ssp mod mercer

Here’s a rare, mint Kenner SSP Mod Mercer in a less than perfect box. Well done, box!

Packaging protects the contents, obviously.

That’s kind of the point of packaging, right? Even the nicest loose Topper Johnny Lightning car is likely to have a few minor imperfections from handling and environment compared to one that has sat in a blister card untouched for almost 50 years. And yet, sometimes the ravages of time manage to reach inside that cocoon and cause paint to fade, chrome to rub off, and parts to come loose.

Ironically, in some cases, that perfectly preserved toy is hidden in a smoky, discolored blister with shelf worn cardboard, making collectors scratch their heads regarding the value of the packaging. The box or blister did its job, and now you want to criticize it for being less than perfect?

toy packaging kenner star wars jawa

The proof is in the packaging.

Packaging can be proof of authenticity.

The Jawa with the vinyl cape is the classic example: Kenner’s earliest “Star Wars” action figures included a Jawa sand creature with a stiff, ugly vinyl cape. They decided to replace it with a cloth cape that was better in every way, making the early ones rarer. But today, they’re only really valuable in the package, because the vinyl cape is so easy to fake on a loose figure. Same thing with stickers for early Hot Wheels cars, which are easily reproduced. Find one sealed in its blister, and you know it’s the real McCoy.

Packaging can be as cool as the actual toy sometimes.

Just look at the early history of Hot Wheels, and that’s all you need to know. As if the cars weren’t awesome enough, the imagery on those cards made them stand out from all the competitors. For something that was just a by-product of buying a toy, some companies really went all out in their package designs.

toy packaging johnny lightning

One letter makes a big difference for these Topper Johnny Lightnings.

Packaging can provide extra rarity via variations or mistakes.

Errors are fun to collect for many people, and often the only mistake is the wrong toy on the wrong card. Rip that open, and it’s worth no more or less than any identical model. As for variations, it’s neat to find multilingual packaging, or later/earlier versions of a toy that might include different information such as expanded checklists or different small print on the back. Another variation might be for legal reasons, such as Johnny Lightning having to modify “Beats Them All” to “Beat Them All.” Only one letter changed, but the early ones with the bold claim are much rarer.

toy packaging hot wheels riviera

Variants and Errors are part of the package for collectors.

Packaging can be incredibly rare for older, classic toys.

There was a time when not every single thing in the world was preordained as “limited edition,” “collectible,” or “exculsive offering.” Toys were just toys. If you were a kid in 1968, you couldn’t wait to rip open that new Hot Wheels car and send it down the track and into the sandbox. Which is why they are so beloved. And the blister card was a disposable afterthought.

toy packaging hot wheels protecto paks

The original Hot Wheels packaging is a treasure to be preserved in its own right.

Sure, the words “Collector’s Button” was on the package, hinting at the future of such toys, but very few kids probably made a conscious decision to collect every car to keep mint on the card.

So where did these pristine examples of that era come from? Maybe someone got a duplicate for their birthday and decided to hang onto it for later. Perhaps they bought it but misplaced it before they could open it. Maybe there was some lost store inventory that sold years later when the value was becoming apparent.

toy packaging hot wheels mongoose

The fun factor is increased out of the package.

toy packaging matchbox hi ho silver

The value of this Matchbox car is only slightly increased by the blister card. Should I open it?

Flash forward to the era of Beanie Babies, which were explicitly marketed as things to collect and preserve (but not to play with). Never mind that before those came along, most toys were designed to bring joy accrued during playtime. In fact, it’s almost rarer to find certain Beanies that have been played with. The point of these older toys was that they were fun, and finding one in the package today is an unexpected treat.

Ironically, the Toy Story franchise has given birth to many classic toys, including characters designed for the movie, as well as new life for some of the old classics that show up onscreen. The power of imagination in the movies made them fun for kids to play with. And yet, in many cases, collectors would buy them all, including the less popular characters, and preserve them in their original boxes, bags, and blisters, never to be played with.

Did we not learn anything from Stinky Pete?

Deep Discounts During Diecast Deal Days

spring diecast sale headerAs Summer rapidly approaches, several stores on hobbyDB are doing some last minute Spring Cleaning. From Thursday, May 24 through Sunday, May 27, these sellers are offering some nifty discounts on all kinds of diecast products, vintage and new! There are a lot of rare and one of a kind items, so shop early!


KMJ Diecast – 50% Off

One of the biggest online diecast dealers, KMJ Diecast has over 12,000 Hot Wheels and other items at half price! Check out this Saturday Evening Post van and this Franken Berry Dairy Delivery! 

kmj diecast hot wheelsSee everything on sale at KMJ Diecast!


Today’s Sale Store – 27% Off

Today’s Sale is actually “This Weekend’s Sale” with everything marked down 27%, including this super rare Hot Wheels Nationals Bluebird or the Cars & Donuts Camaro

today's sale hot wheelsSee everything from Today’s Sale!


Elite Diecast – 50% Off

Elite Diecast has all miniature vehicles on sale at half off! They also sell automotive magazines, books, and advertising, so check that out, too! Here’s a Convoy Custom  Convention Car and a Redline Club Baja Bruiser.

elite diecast hot wheelsCheck out the entire inventory at Elite Diecast!


Jayhow’s Hot Wheels & Collectibles – 20% Off

Jayhow’s Hot Wheels and Collectibles has all the latest Hot Wheels in stock as well as Matchbox, Jada and other brands at 20% off this weekend. Check out this Speed Chargers set or the Mad Magazine Spy Vs. Spy Dodge Van

jayhow's collectibles hot wheelsSee everything from Jayhow’s Hot Wheels and Collectibles!

Do Reissued Hot Wheels Affect The Collecting Experience?

hot wheels anniversaries

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

With Hot Wheels celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018, collectors have a wide range of ways to join in on the fun. Mattel is releasing a huge slate of special models in various series during the year, including some original Redline designs that haven’t been produced in a long time.

Some original models, like the Twin Mill, have more or less been in production the for entire half century. Others, like the Classic ’55 Nomad, pop up every few years, sometimes as limited editions, sometimes as mainline cars. A few castings like the Snake and Mongoose funny cars have only been dusted off a few times for big occasions. And some, like the Custom Volkswagen, haven’t been reproduced since the 1960s.

hot wheels 50th originals

The 50th Anniversary “Originals” are a mix of Redline and later castings.

For the 50th, there is a set called the “The Originals Collection.” The castings feature the ’68 Cougar, Volkswagen Beetle, ’67 Camaro, Custom ’67 Mustang, and Hemi Barracuda, with packaging that evokes a combination of the the original flame job and the Spoilers. But the cars aren’t repops of the original Redlines. On the other hand, the RLC releases this year have brought out some extremely rare reissued Hot Wheels castings that are much truer to the real deal.

These special editions are, of course collectible in their own right, but how do they affect the value of the original models? Let’s look back at another major milestone where Hot Wheels did something similar.

hot wheels deora

It’s easy to tell the reproduction from the original, but does their existence still hurt the values of Redlines?

In 1993, Hot Wheels celebrated their 25th anniversary by reissuing some of the old Redline designs with retro packaging. Even folks who hadn’t thought about the brand since they were kids were instantly transported back when they saw Otto Kuhni’s orange and red cards with the sleek, shiny cars and the collector buttons. The repops were different enough from the old ones that they couldn’t be passed off as an old model… the cards had additional graphics (and bar codes of course), the cars didn’t copy the multi-piece wheel constructions of the originals, and the buttons were plastic instead of stamped metal. But the overall effect hit a very nostalgic mark. The followed it up the next year with “Vintage Series II,” similarly packaged, but not anniversary related. The response was enormous, and universally loved. Well, maybe not universally… some people had gripes, as it turned out.

So what was the effect of those releases on collecting?

  • Collectors with less money to spend could get reasonable facsimiles of old favorites at a reasonable price, making them happy.
  • Collectors of vintage originals might have seen a little bit of the cache of their collection disappear (just a bit).
  • Some vintage toy dealers were upset that a cheaper alternative was potentially lowering costs of the originals.
  • Hardcore collectors now had to find all the new versions of the models as well.

Of course, those 25th Anniversary cars are now 25 years old themselves. Remember, this was in the days before the internet really kicked off, so no hobbyDB, no eBay, no message boards, Facebook rants, Twitter storms, or badly Photoshopped rumors. These cars were available in toy stores first hand, or at flea markets or collectibles shops afterwards. Also, there was no way to gauge the price that folks were actually paying aside from what you found in the wild.

hot wheels vintage rally case

Casual collectors can make a case for anniversary repops. (Can you spot the one original car?)

Their values haven’t moved much in the past quarter century from when they first sold in the stores, partly because collectors were already becoming aware of the value of keeping their items in pristine condition (and since so many did just that, there’s an abundance of mint examples out there).  In fact many other models produced at the same time as these are much more valuable today.

Certain models in the 50th Anniversary releases have already shot up in value, at least for now. What happens over time is less predictable. The initial hype of “gotta have it” eventually stabilizes towards more reasonable prices with time. Or the prices shoot up as collectors realize the cars are harder to find than they expected, and they should have grabbed one when they had the chance. Short of owning a time machine, these reissues are the best chance for many collectors to get their hands on some of these early models without paying too much of a ransom.

What are your thoughts on Hot Wheels reproducing or reissuing older castings? Let us know in the comments!