I Like My Cars Medium Rare

medium rare

After a year like 2020, I started to ponder things for 2021. Most particularly, what makes a car rare? Is it production numbers? Is it trim levels? Who cares about trim? Options? Price? Brand? Color? Where it was made? Number of units sold? Number of units intended to have been produced? Perceived popularity?

Does anyone care about any of that? What do people care about when it comes to a rare vehicle?

Everyone wants a chase car. That is more than likely why Ferrari and Lamborghini will always be highly sought after rather than some bizarre 2004 Buick Regal GSX stage 3 with a supercharged 6 cylinder engine and front wheel drive. But, some of those cars can have far fewer numbers produced than a six figure priced car. So what is more rare? What is more desirable? As the Tootsie Pop commercial says, the world may never know.

I recently saw a 1999 Dodge Durango Carroll Shelby edition for sale on Facebook Marketplace. It is number 53 of only 300 ever made. In your opinion, how impressive is this? The 1999 Dodge Durango is not exactly the most amazing vehicle every built. In the normal world, people do not know who Carroll Shelby was, so is having a Durango built by his shop really that impressive? Is that a flex to normal people? Is that even a flex to automotive enthusiasts? It really is completely up to the individuals. Both the one who owns it and the one or ones who are observing the vehicle. Personal taste is everything and I like all cars, no matter what. I like my cars medium rare.

The True Cost of Hot Wheel Hunting

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Face it, hunting for Hot Wheels, as addicting and as much of a rush as it can be, takes a lot of time. As the saying goes, time is money. You might be wondering, how much money does the Hot Wheel hobby cost? Time to do that math!

Let’s keep everything well rounded and easy for this example. If you have a job, you get paid for your time to do the work.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. So, at minimum, your time hunting costs at least that, even if it is your hobby. You have to approach it from this angle because if you aren’t earning money, you need to know how much your time would be worth if you were earning money.

Next, according to AAA, the average annual cost of owning a vehicle in 2019 was $9,282 a year, or $773.50 a month. That is $25.78 a day and $1.07 an hour. If you consider Hot Wheel hunting as a job of sorts, you might also want to consider the federal cost per mile rate, which is currently 57.5 cents per mile. That would be money you could be getting if you were not working for yourself. Otherwise, this doesn’t exactly fit into the equation because if one is using their own car, I believe the AAA rate accounts for the cost per mile in the ownership.

Hot Wheels cars can range in price. But, lets just take the mainline cars, and give them a rounded price of exactly $1.00. This example will be for just a single car

The equation is this: cost of time + cost of Hot Wheels + cost of car ownership = true cost to hunt Hot Wheels

If you spent 1 hour hunting for 1 Hot Wheel, the true cost of that car to you would be $7.25 + $1.00 + $1.07 = $9.32

Clearly those numbers can be adjusted accordingly. If the time is less or greater, if the amount of cars are more, and if you go to out to hunt multiple times a week. Even though you are paying a somewhat fixed price for the cost of ownership for your vehicle, the example is only using the average. That cost can technically be higher or lower as well.

So, that means you have to sell your $1 car for $9.32 and that still won’t get you to the break even point. Then there there is the second part of the equation.

The second part is selling and shipping and supplies.

Fees to post on eBay, use Paypal, and have shipping supplies can sometimes run up to 50% of the total cost. So, to sell that $1 car, to break even just from hunting for it, you have to sell it at $9.32. But if you don’t want to take a loss with fees and shipping and supplies, you would have to put the price up to about $15 dollars. That begins to make it a hard buy for someone who might hunt these cars themselves, and doesn’t make $15 an hour at a job. If you make more than $15 an hour, it still is hard buy when you only get 1 car. You might as well go spend an hour hunting and find 15 cars.

It is very hard to make money from buying mainline Hot Wheels on the pegs and reselling them online. There is money to be made, but you have to hunt, you have to hustle, and you have to work very, very hard. You also have to get a hold of cars that can turn higher profits, such as Super Treasure Hunts, or joining the Red Line Club and buy and flip those cars. I will say though, 100% profit is 100% profit, whether you make a dollar profit off a dollar car, or a $30 profit off a $30 dollar car, math is math. You just have to decide what is worth while to you.

Scalpers: Those Pesky People who get to the Pegs First

for blog about scalpers

The word scalper according to Google is defined as “a person who resell shares or tickets at a large or quick profit” If you are familiar with the Hot Wheels hobby, you have no doubt heard this word used often. It is not a word or person that someone wants to be…or is it?

I think the true issue people have is this. They are mad at “scalpers” which really means anyone who finds cars on the pegs at a store before they do. I saw a post on social media the other day about how crappy a person’s day was because they walked into a store just to have someone pull a super treasure hunt out of a case right in front of their eyes. When it is all about the super treasure hunts, there really isn’t a lot of depth to the hunt or hobby at that point. Especially if you consider yourself to have the rest of your day deemed bad because of it. This is silly to me. Pallet raiders and door warmers and the over used term “scalper” are just ways to blame others for something you can’t control.

Hot Wheel hunting is a very time consuming, expensive, repetitive, tedious, and patience practicing hobby. I’ve seen so many people get into the hobby at full throttle only to get worn out, frustrated, and low on funds in a matter of 6 to 9 months because they did not understand what they were about to get themselves into. Many people are considering this an investment hobby as well. Now days there are so many stories of childhood toys worth thousands of dollars tucked away in closets and attics. People create value and things get expensive for a time, but everything is cyclical. Those of us who have been in the hobby for more that a few years, in many cases, decades, just learn to be patient.

A number of months ago, a video was going around the internet showing the popular author, entrepreneur, and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk attending a garage sale. The part I am referencing starts at 11:54 and goes to 15:07. Here is a quick clip on Instagram if you don’t want to watch the whole thing linked above. In the video, he came across a tub full of diecast cars, haggled a bit with the sellers, and then purchased the lump sum. He then went back to his car and quickly Googled some of the cars in his recent purchase to find that some of them were worth already more than what he paid for the bunch.

At first I found myself very angry at that video. Now every person who owns any diecast car is going to think they have some gem worth something expensive and make the diecast hobby that much more expensive, cluttered, and inflated. Plus all these people are only doing it for the money. They aren’t into it for the collecting or the way the cars make them feel.

Then I started thinking about it more and realized it’s not a big deal. If you have a product that you can somehow find a buyer to buy it for more than you did, props to you. I do that. When I have found a fresh case on the pegs before anyone else, I will buy all the cars I want, and if I have extra, I will sell, trade, or give them away. I wouldn’t consider myself a “scalper.” It just comes with the hobby. The only issue it really creates is that now, if you are really into the hobby, the prices of things become incredibly inflated. But that is a cycle. Once people realize that it is not the most lucrative thing because you have to work hard and hustle, prices will get back to acceptable rates. You just have to be patient.

We watch people on TV flip all kinds of things. Between Flip or Flop on HGTV, Fast N’Loud on Discovery, or an old school favorite like Pawn Stars, all of these shows teach people how “lucrative” flipping or buying and reselling can be. But not everyone is cut out for that and not everyone has the skill, talent, work ethic, or patience to do that. In the end, if you really want something, you’ll have your own opinions on how to get it and at what price. When it comes to selling, it is the same thing. That cycle is what keeps the economy rolling along. For all of those people who have found their niche and are sticking with it, they will know how to be patient and play the long game. That is when the most work, the most fun, and the most profit all start to coincide and true enthusiast has been made.

Hot Wheels Kmart Day

 

Last Saturday my wife and I went to a Hot Wheel Kmart collector day. While we are no strangers to these events, the location we went to was new for us. With fewer and fewer Kmarts in existence, these events are becoming rare.

A Hot Wheel collectors day consists of waking up early and heading to the store to get there when it opens. I am so thankful that my wife is such a a good sport and so supportive of my hobby. We got to the store at 8 and realized that the event started at 9. We talked to a few of the other regular attendees while we waited. We finally asked for names, contact info, and even figured out we go to the same church as one collector.

At 9 o’clock the Kmart employees came out with 3 boxes of cars. Each box contains 4 cases. That means there are 12 cases to go through. There were 15 people at the event. So, that means three people will not get a case to go through. Each Kmart does a different method of getting to go through the cases. This particular one, each attendee gets a ticket. When/if your ticket gets drawn, you go to a table to pick up the case they hand you. You then can go through it at your leasiure and choose as many cars as you want. I have been to other locations where when your ticket is called, you go up, pick a case, and have five minutes to pick out five cars while everyone else watches and waits. That to me always seemed a little strange, but in some regard, it makes your really think hard about what cars you are choosing.

The cars to choose are normally in this order; super treasure hunts (if your case is lucky enough to have one), regular treasure hunts, Kmart exclusive colors (a car in a color that can only be found and purchased at Kmart), and the first to market cars (these are cars that are supposed to be found at this event first, before hitting the pegs at all other stores). Sometimes the first to market cars happen to show up in other stores first and makes their allure less appealing. Then you pick out the latest and greatest to your desire. If people are friendly, which I have always been to an event where they are, everyone helps one another out to find cars that each one is looking for. Of course this is all in mutual respect and understanding of the hobby and of one another’s preference to keep a car or case. That is their decision and that is respected.

One of the last things to consider is how many cars to purchase. The reason for this factor is because these events debut a mail in offer car. That means if you purchase 20 cars, and mail in their packages, Hot Wheels will send you a special car. More often than not, you will not open a super treasure hunt to send away in the mail because it is worth more than just the initial $1 you paid for it because it is very rare. Other times, you might not want to open the exclusive color cars, or first to markets. However if you want the mail in, you have to find cars that you want to open. In years past, I have purchased well over 40 cars at these events. This event, I walked away with 23 cars. I did not find any treasure hunts or super treasure hunts. The guys at the old location we used to go to, they always told me my wife was lucky because the first event she ever went to, she found a super treasure hunt. She then found one at her second event. Unfortunately, at this event she did not even get a case. That was the first time she had never been called for a case. I guess she is a full blown veteran now, experiencing the highs and lows of Hot Wheel collecting.

I want to thank her for all her support and love. She took great pictures of me at the event. You can see them in the video posted above. I also want to thank my broth r for creating the music for the video. He is crazy musically inclined and I appreciate his help in creating royalty free, amazing music for me.