I Like My Cars Medium Rare

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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.

Can it be done better?

The newest Hot Wheels Legends tour winner was announced on Monday November 17th 2020. It has been met with very distinctly opposite reactions. There is not much of a middle ground.

What I would most like to express is difference between what is an amazing build in person and what is an amazing build that is a 1/64 scale model. Sometimes, things do not translate very well to being a small scale toy. The most frustrating part is that it does not really matter what engine is in the real life car, or how much horsepower it has, or any other mechanical statistic. When becoming a toy, it looses every single statistical aspect in that regard, and thus, that detracts from the ability to make a cool toy car. A few designers were on the panel to judge for the car to be a model and they say it can be done. But I do somewhat question that. Hot Wheels has been making stunning models as of late.

Even so, I still think there are some limitations. If you look at Hot Wheels designer Brendon Vetuskeys personal Firebird that was made into a Hot Wheel. It has some aspects that are perplexing when translated into a toy. The model in the mainline does not have a hood, which I believe is because when they started the process of making the car into a model, it did not have one. The car in real life now has a hood. So, there is an exposed engine bay on the model. That is both good and bad. The engine bay is a highly detailed area, so capturing it in scale is tough, but I do think they did a good job. Still, it is pretty simple car overall, and the paint job is very basic. I am not even sure if the original mainline model actually had paint. I think it was clear coated ZAMAC, which is the raw metal used to create the little cars.


So, for the 2020 Hot Wheels Legends Tour winner to be a white, 1970 Pontiac Trans Am is…incredibly disappointing. You can watch the whole judging process here. The build in real life is amazing don’t get me wrong, but as adults, we get caught up in the fact that the car is a stunning machine in real life. Yet, this is supposed to be a toy. While as a kid, I did like real life, licensed models, this is actually a chance to take a somewhat unrealistic car in real life, and make it a realistic toy. I know that sounds ironic, but it is true. Having some more outside of the box design and creation and wild colors would be a much more fun car to find on the pegs. Overall, I think that there could have been a better winner.

Yet, I wonder if this is more of a financial move. More can be done with a firebird in terms of recolors in the future. It is also more desirable among adult collectors and so it could eventually become a premium model, especially if they try to get very detailed with it. We will have to wait until December 2021 to see this car in the package on the pegs. Hopefully it will warm up to me more as time passes and hopefully 2021 will bring even more amazing cars to the Legends Tour to potentially become a Hot Wheels car.

What is up with the RLC?

RLC stands for Red Line Club, which is the Hot Wheels Collectors exclusive group that has limited members where one can attempt to join once a year. Many members are able to renew each year, while on occasion some cannot, or some do not, and the club grows by small amounts each year to facilitate new members.

One of the perks to being a member is the ability to purchase Hot Wheels cars made exclusively for the club. In the past, those cars were only able to be purchased through the RLC. Once the sale of the car happened, only then were cars able to be purchased or won on the secondary market, like eBay, company promotions, etc.

The RLC has always had problems with their website crashing on car sales days. Sales get postponed or delayed often. When this happened for the sale of the 1969 Dodge Charger R/T, no one was really that surprised. Mattel said they were going to postpone the sale another week and I just accepted that.

What I didn’t expect, was that Hagerty would be promoting a give away of 25 RLC 1969 Dodge Charger R/T cars for new users to their platform. I am all for promoting the love of Hot Wheels to others, and promoting automotive culture. But, it is unsettling to me that Hot Wheels is letting their RLC cars be accessed, even through a give away, through something other than the RLC. What then is the point of the RLC? If there is the possibility of getting access to the cars elsewhere, that devalues being part of the club.

They should have done a similar promotion to the Road Kill partnership. Hot Wheels created two separate cars for Motor Trend’s Road Kill show that could be obtained by being a new subscriber to Motor Trend On Demand. While I do have a minor beef with that, because they didn’t offer it to current subscribers (which I am) only new, the car can only be obtained in that manner and it was not a RLC exclusive car.

All that needs to happen is the RLC cars should only be available to RLC members, especially if an RLC sale got postponed. Once the sale happens, maybe then the car can be used as a marketing tool. But, it would be best if RLC cars stay exclusive to the RLC.

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.

The Hardest Part about being a Hunter

Some cars I found before the quarantine.
I’m a quarantined car collector. These are some cars I found before everything went down.

A hobby that I have had my entire life is collecting Hot Wheels. It is something that I have always done and while at certain points of my life I collected less cars than at other points, I have never gotten out of the hobby. There have been times I’ve thought about it, but just can’t bring myself to. One of the most fulfilling thrills is going from store to store to hunt down those little 97 cent cars.

That has been the hardest part about this worldwide virus pandemic. I have not left my house in over 5 weeks. In order to hunt, one has to be able to go out and do it. Now, my self quarantine is exactly that. My wife and I have chosen not to go anywhere during this time. So, maybe those of you reading this might not have pity or empathy or sympathy for me. I understand and accept that. In some regard, I’m not seeking that.

While it is hard to watch fellow collectors out and about soaking up all the fresh cars off the pegs, I have to accept that I have not chosen to go out and hunt. I want to be safe and keep my wife safe. In the long run, I’d rather be alive to hunt another day than to risk getting sick. Plus, in this day and age, I can always have cars shipped right to my door. So once this subsides, maybe I’ll hunt online for all the cars I missed. It’s not as thrilling, but it keeps the collection complete.

What was Hot Wheels Nationals like?

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When the Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals was announced that it would be hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina, I was super excited. I would finally get a chance to go to one of the biggest gatherings regarding ever for my Hot Wheels collecting hobby! I had heard plenty of stories and watched many videos about the event and since joining the RLC club for the first time ever, I was interested in taking my hobby to the next level.

While Charlotte is only a few hours from where I live, I was hesitant to actually buy a ticket. I don’t know why, I just went back and forth about the price, logistics, and if it was an overall wise thing to do. I ended up missing the window to buy a ticket. While I was bummed, I accepted the fact that I was indecisive (I do that a lot). Yes, I was a bit sulky around the house but I thought it was for the best. Then, while at a local meet up with some other collectors, one of them told me they had a friend who had a ticket available. A few emails later and I was on the list to attend the 20th Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 1st through 5th, 2020.

I still had no idea where I would stay, how long I would go, or what I was going to do. As the even came closer, about a month out, I started thinking I would do the room to room and hunt for cars, but I was also thinking about going to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and going to Joe Gibbs Racing, as well as any other automotive site I could find.

Then, a few weeks out, mid March, the virus struck. Cancelling event after event, isolating countries, cities, people into their homes and reducing any hope of large gatherings for the foreseeable future.

While I was not able to actually go to what would have been my first Hot Wheels Nationals, I hold out hope that someday, maybe I will be able to go to one. And even though it didn’t take place, the amazing hosts who organize the event still were able to mail out all the merchandise and cars associated with attending the event. I am very thankful for that.

Collecting Influence

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Economics teaches us about the law of supply and demand and how they affect one another. I have found that to be true in the real life collector car world and it’s influence on diecast cars. Lately, I have been following the trend of the Ferrari F40 and the McLaren F1. These two cars in real life have skyrocketed in value, and that spike in popularity and prestige has carried over into the diecast collector world. It is hard to find a good Hot Wheels Ferrari F40 or McLaren F1 for a price below $10.

A few years ago I experienced the same thing with the Hot Wheels versions of the Tesla Roadster, Lamborghini Murcielago, and the Bugatti Veyron. I ended up spending far more than I care to admit to purchase a 2009 Dream Garage series Murcielago in green on eBay. Asking prices for that car are still quite high.

That situation plagues my mind while Hot Wheel hunting in stores now days. Often times when I find something on the pegs, I will tell myself, “It is only a dollar now. If you want it later, it is going to cost you.” Sometimes I still put it back on the shelf and walk out empty handed. I am trying to be a responsible adult. I am also hoping I’ll find it again to solidify that I should in fact purchase it.

One similarity between the two collector car markets is that the real life collector car world has concourse condition. Diecast car collecting conditions are in the package or not. This topic alone could lead to so many other discussion points. In real life, actual completely “original” vehicles are becoming very rare as age and limited replacement parts slowly take away from factory original condition. I think diecast has the same type of issue going on. The “DLM” or diecast liberation movement is a sweeping craze right now. That movement simply means that the cars are being opened and removed from their packaging. That might not be a big deal for diecast cars produced from 2000 on because of such a large number produced and records of those numbers. But, for cars produced in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, that can be alarming. The amount of still packaged cars from that time is dwindling and the unknown amount of produced versions is certainly going to factor in. The more cars that get opened from that time frame, the higher the demand and higher the price for an unopened original model will be.

A second similarity is that the real life collector car world has rare limited edition models and trims. Diecast has both limited edition production numbers in some cases as well as wheel and paint variations. Diecast has an advantage in this area because not only can they produce the real life car models with special trims, they can also customize them further. This can produce even greater demand for such limited models.

All collecting for both markets boils down to what are people willing to pay for what they want. Perception is important and closely following trends in both real life car collecting and diecast collecting will certainly be beneficial. With all this in mind, know what you want, know how much you want to pay for it, and go enjoy the things you purchase.