Automotive Thoughts and Topics 2

In the diecast part of my automotive passion, I have a follow up on the black and gold series of Hot Heels I mentioned in my last vlog/blog. There have been two pictures of two cars that have been displayed and they are nothing like how I imagined them looking. The 67 Camaro I predicted was not one of the cars. While I still don’t know if it will be, based on the color schemes of the cars that debuted, I am leaning towards a no. See for yourself below.

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In the real automotive world, I took a trip  a few weekends to my wife’s parents home in Maryland. My wife was a bridesmaid and because she had to be with the wedding party all day before the wedding, I spent time with her family. Her dad took me to see a friend of his who has a 1963 Ford Galaxie. He told me the story of the Tasca Ford badge he had on the car. I was not familiar with Tasca before, but the story he told me about their tuning of Ford vehicles had me riveted. I looked then up further when I got home and I was fascinated at their legacy and story. If I had a Ford product, (someday I will get my wife her dream car, a red convertible Mustang) I would certainly consider having Tasca tune it. If you are not familiar with them you can check out Tasca here.

If you have not heard, there is a very big scandal being exposed in the steel industry. A Japanese steel manufacturer and supplier, Kobe Steel, has been discovered to have lied about its steels strength. This could have catastrophic effects on the safety of automobiles, planes, and other people moving things. What I find fascinating about the whole situation is that this is really as common now as it ever has been. In my time on this planet I have seen the Firestone tire scandal, the Takata air bag scandal, the VW diesel scandal, and a host of others that just are not at the top of my mind. All that to say, eventually, it will all be in the history books and show up on lists like this in another 10 years.

Lastly, and this topic is actually the one I am most opinionated about this week, is the sponsorship of the Number 24 car in NASCAR for the 2018 season with William Byron behind the wheel. That sponsor is Liberty University. I am excited for the rookie driver to take his skills to the Monster Energy series. I have nothing against William, Hendrick, or Chevrolet (how about those Camaro’s for 2018?). I actually don’t have anything against Liberty University either. It is a great school. My cousin graduated from there and I have known many people who have attended and graduated.

The truth is that I am a bit sore, maybe jealous, that they are sponsoring a NASCAR team. You see, I attended Regent University. It is known to those who are familiar with either of these universities, or the culture that surrounds them, that Regent and Liberty are rivals. In recent years, Liberty has been leaving Regent in the dust in just about every way from a collegiate standpoint. Beyond academia, their promoting power is extensive, and it became very real to me when they are going to be a full time sponsor for a NASCAR team in the highest series. I am not sure of the complete budget, but based on this article here, in 2013, a primary sponsorship could cost anywhere from $5 million to $35 million. An associate sponsorship is anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million. That was in 2013. That means, Liberty University is shelling out, at minimum of $250,000. To be honest, we all know that it is MUCH higher than that. Liberty is sponsoring one of the most iconic numbers with one of the most successful teams, with one of the brightest rookie drivers in the sport.

The fact that Liberty has that much money in their advertising budget, or any budget, is INCREDIBLE. They must be doing incredibly well. My alma mater can barely house their student population, they have no cafeteria, no gym for their newly formed soccer team to train in, or really any other facility to provide for all the things on campus students need. To build those, Regent has to have money. Regent can barely provide for the needs of students and here Liberty is able to sponsor a NASCAR team. Gosh…I wish I could say the college I went to sponsors a NASCAR team. I so wish I could. Oh well. I will be rooting for William in the number 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro. I will be rooting for him to win and to have as much success as he can. I want him to win because the whole story situation is just awesome.

It is like any other rivalry, where you have someone in your camp, that really isn’t for your side at all. It is comparable to living in either Ohio or Michigan and rooting for the opposite states college football team. I will gladly root for Regents rival in NASCAR, because I like NASCAR. But I will NEVER root for the team up north. Go Bucks!

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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.

Licsensed, Hot, & Furious

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While watching YouTube videos about Hot Wheels, it prompted me to make a few speculations. I am not entirely versed in how licensing diecast cars works, but I am aware that recently Mattel has lost the Ferrari license and gained the Mercedes license. They have also indicated that they will be producing a few particular older JDM Nissan models and they also have shown a mid 90’s Mazda RX-7.

My wife and I recently watched The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift. While watching the movie I realized that it would be completely possible for Hot Wheels to release yet another batch of Fast and Furious cars. This time, they could potentially gain a license to utilize VeilSide and make the RX-7 from either Tokyo Drift, or the original The Fast and The Furious. If they produced both of them in the same set, I think that would bring even more desirability to the bunch.

While they are at it, they should revive the Nissan Silva casting they have so they can make the “Mona Lisa” of Tokyo Drift. The stunning blue and orange S15 owned by Han that Sean destroys in his first attempt at drifting. That would be a stunning car to add to the collection. They should also make the Mitsubishi Lancer that Sean drives throughout the movie as well. My opinion is that particular installment of franchise had some of the best, most non time sensitive cars of all the movies. It doesn’t matter that the movie was out of order because those cars are still drifting to this day.

I would really like to see Hot Wheels produce these cars and add to the Fast and Furious collection of Hot Wheels. I will admit, I have very few of them. They have been hard to find, they have come out in times of my life where I was not as able to search for them, and they are a little too expensive for me to try to purchase on eBay right now. Regardless of that, the fact that these dreams could become a reality, is hope enough to remain steadfast in my desire to collect as many Hot Wheels as I can.

 

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.

 

A Patriotic Purge

So there are a few things on my mind today.

I read an article talking about how a guy is selling off his entire project car collection. I have been thinking that people like that should really get into finding the right home for those vehicles. Someone out there would absolutely appreciate the project car you have. In all reality I think the problem is timing and communication. When people want a car, they are going to find someone who has it. The problem is that many of the people who have the cars are not communicating that they have them. Its a sad day when amazing vehicles get hauled off the the junk yard because the owner thinks no one wants it.

I also read about how rally racing is probably the most expensive and hardest forms of racing. I have never been to an actual rally but I can imagine that it is more fun for the participants than the spectators. That is probably a factor into why it costs so much. Then again, there can be watered down versions of rallies that one can do with friends on public roads. The kicker there is just gas prices.

I am pretty impressed at the number of first time winners there have been in NASCAR this year. David Ragan is a wonderful driver and deserved to win last weekend in Daytona. Congrats to David Ragan. This upcoming Kentucky race should be pretty thrilling. These powerhouse teams really have not shown bright this year. Then again, was it really the teams or more so the individuals? If anything, this year has shown it is all about the individuals. Just take a look at the top 12 drivers. Then again, the teams have become tighter simply because of the tension on the track between individuals and the ability for more than one individual on one team to consistently do well. This chase will not be over till its over and I am completely ecstatic to watch it unfold!

I spent a little time with my friend today looking up Hot Wheels on Ebay. Pricing out cars we already have and looking up the cars we don’t. I love Hot Wheels but its hard sometimes to justify buying them when I could save the money to buy a real car. I guess being a passionate automotive enthusiast, I consider such things.

I was also thinking today about how the new styling of the Chrysler 300 would make a perfect coupe. Since the newer styled 300’s came out,  they have always had that watered down Bentley / Rolls Royce look. They have a chance now to take an “Imported from Detroit” vehicle and give it some flair, similar to a two door Audi/Bentley, since that’s what I think it would most collectively look like if it were a coupe. Not to mention that Cadillac has made a gorgeous coupe out of its well loved CTS. Then they hopped it up on some supercharging steroids to make it a CTS-V. Such an epic vehicle. I am a huge fan of GM and particularly Cadillac. However, I will support any American made company, such as Chrysler if they built a world class coupe. After the fourth of July, I have been all but thrilled to be as patriotic as possible. Hopefully the American automotive industry will do the same! 😀 God bless the USA!