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What Makes Certain Hot Wheels Collectible, Part 1: CHILDHOOD FAVORITES

By Brad Bannach

 

Since 2001, new Hot Wheels collectors have come to the forums here on HotWheelsCollectors.com and asked: “What should I collect?” They are usually met with the same response: “Collect what you like.”

 

Why is that? 

 

Hot Wheels collectors collect for a variety of reasons. Some are automotive enthusiasts who find intrigue in adding cars to their toy garage that they could never add to their real garage. Some love recapturing the cars they had as kids. Some make it their mission to collect everything out there, while others simply collect the castings/releases/lines that appeal to them. 

 

The truth is: any Hot Wheels vehicle can be collectible. 

 

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So why do collectors flock to certain things? Why are some Hot Wheels worth more than others? 

 

In the 52 years of the Hot Wheels brand, we’ve seen some pretty crazy reasons why collectors collect what they do. This is the first article in a series of five examining some of today's popular collectible items.

 

CHILDHOOD FAVORITES

 

It all started with the Redlines. Henceforth, it is that generation of collector which established Hot Wheels collecting. Respect. Many of the Redlines collectors of today will tell you some version of a story that starts with, “I remember going to the store as a kid in 1968 and seeing these cars with this shiny, Spectraflame paint and redline wheels…” and that the performance of these cars matched the coolness factor. Whether they kept their childhood collection, or started reclaiming a portion of their youth years later, people we now know as Hot Wheels collectors found any means necessary to obtain those California Custom Miniatures they knew as a kid -- becoming the first generation of the Hot Wheels collector.

 

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Similar stories have been told throughout the toy collecting world, as it echoes a common trait among adult collectors: collecting toys that were childhood favorites.

 

There have been many examples of the nostalgia factor turning adults into collectors over the years, as the brand shifted from Redlines to Blackwalls, and Real Riders to Treasure Hunts. Even the stand-alone lines like the Sizzlers (‘70-’73), RRRumblers (‘71-’73), and Crack-Ups (‘85-’87) have niche followings.

 

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Head to any official Hot Wheels convention to chat with fellow collectors, or do it right here in the HotWheelsCollectors.com forums, and you’ll hear many great stories as to why these Hot Wheels collectors collect what they do. Every generation has its own grouping of products that existed, so...

 

What Hot Wheels are the young adults of today collecting?

 

The Hot Wheels brand has become exponentially more diverse compared to where it started in 1968 with the Redlines. The young adult collectors of today grew up in a world of multiple product lines, so there isn’t just one avenue of the brand that they collect. With that said, probably the more surprising revelation to the “traditional collector” is the interest younger collectors have taken in the AcceleRacers line.

 

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To many, that was their youth. From the four squads in the animated movies to the special co-mold wheels that adorned the vehicles, these clearly resonated with kids at the time. Collectors largely ignored the line in 2005 and 2006 before it was ultimately dropped by retailers. Now? Check the eBay “sold listings” to see the high price some of these vehicles demand on the secondary market 15 years later. 

 

Looking to complete the set and need an original Chicane or Reverb in the package? Be prepared to spend as these no longer come cheap on the open market.

 

Ultimately, it goes to show that no matter the era, Hot Wheels collectors exist at all ages. Many of those collectors collect nostalgic pieces, reminiscing of much simpler times. This is not the only reason why certain Hot Wheels are collectible, but certainly one of the more easily identifiable concepts surrounding the Hot Wheels collector. In part two we will look at Variants & Variations.

 

Which Hot Wheels do you collect for nostalgic reasons? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by BIGBADBRAD01

BIGBADBRAD01
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My Hotwheels story began in 1968. When Hotwheels came out we were hooked. The advertising was compelling. But the toy was a value proposition. I paid for my Hotwheels with paper route money. We loved them. And I had the best track set made in 1969. The Supercharger Grand Prix set. I also had a Skyshow set. It was a huge part of my childhood. Though I have none left the memories are sweet.

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JIMMY F

Posted (edited)

I'm a collector of the VW Drag Bus in fact I have been since 1996 when it was released as a First Edition. I found one on a peg at the local Toys R Us & became hooked. While there are few variations of them I also collect the Excavator from 1997.

Edited by JIMMY F
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BIGBADBRAD01

Posted

7 hours ago, SEAMOORE said:

Looking forward to more installments on this topic...

 

There are (at least) 4 more to come. They are already written and should post within the next few months.

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Technician68

Posted

My first Hot Wheels were found by my dad at A City Park as he was a Landscaper and they were the 36 Ford and possibly a Paddy Wagon Redline I rubbed of the Redline and chrome and tried to break them apart but couldn’t do so. My next Hot Wheels were the Flying Colors line an about a dozen or so two were in the Thundershift 500 set with plastic bases. Not sure if other castings had these before but the sponsor logos rubbed off in about two weeks and our cat would hide behind the tower and thunder bat them sometimes right off the track great early memories. AFX electric racing and Tyco Trains were my main focus off and on for the next 50 years till I stumbled into The 50th anniversary news online and been searchin and collectiing again with a few custom restos here and there.

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THIS GUY

Posted (edited)

The pill that started the addiction. I remember my cousin giving it to me so I wouldn't get in the way of the big kids playing with their cars. Almost forgot, it's a high-raker.

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Edited by THIS GUY
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derek86

Posted

I was in 5th grade when acceleracers came out I have many memories racing cars down slides and dirt hills making our own racing realms and recently tried to buy back some of my childhood and I decided to only go after Vert Wheeler's cars i'm only missing reverb but i think that one will escape me for a while. I would love to see power rage get the RLC treatment , but i'm happy to say the old movies still hold up and are still just as good.

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BIGBADBRAD01

Posted

4 minutes ago, derek86 said:

I was in 5th grade when acceleracers came out I have many memories racing cars down slides and dirt hills making our own racing realms and recently tried to buy back some of my childhood and I decided to only go after Vert Wheeler's cars i'm only missing reverb but i think that one will escape me for a while. I would love to see power rage get the RLC treatment , but i'm happy to say the old movies still hold up and are still just as good.

 

Very cool!

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JIMMEE442

Posted

my dad was a CHEVY mechanic, & my brother & were born in '63 & '64.  Pop taught us an appreciation of cars, especially all the chrome.  My older brother preferred military, while i preferred Hot Rods AND TRUCKS!!!  We each had our own cars, but were given a (hand-me-down) Green Beatnik Bandit track set to "share"!  THAT is the car we fought over, until mom put it out of sight on the refrigerator.  i found it 6(?) years later!

i started collecting again in late '95 & RLC since Year #2.  Hard to pick a fave out of that, but probably BEATNIK, or any FUNNYCAR

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94Blazer

Posted

18 hours ago, Cobarrick said:

I personally collect Way 2 Fast. While not one of the originals, I believe it exemplifies what a Hot Wheels is. An insane hot rod that take bares it all. Sure the Twin Mill has two engines like Way 2 Fast, but something about W2F screams hot rod more than the Twin Mill to me. From the chopped cab to the two fully exposed engines in a line. The orange paint with a checkered flag on the top drew me in as a kid and I find myself all these years later trying to slowly get each release in my collection

 

Great post.

 

I've never found a good way of explaining it - but essentially, my belief is that Hot Wheels were never meant to be real cars you'd see on the road. Rather, they were meant to be real cars (or "realistic" fantasy cars) with exaggerated features a 10-year old kid would find awesome. That sounds like a knock, but it's not. 

 

My favorite example is the Rodger Dodger. It's not a realistic car by any means. It maintains a realistic "silhouette" (for lack of a better term) - but then you realize the engine in the front is so ridiculously big that the driver can't possibly see out of the windshield. Adult me knows that's not possible, practical, and kinda silly - but 10 year old me thinks "Ooooh, big engine!" 

 

The "soul" (if you will) of Hot Wheels is the same reason why I like Ed Roth and his artwork. They are based off of reality, but exaggerated to the point where it becomes ridiculously cartoonish. Honestly, I'd love to ask Larry Wood what he thinks about some of his designs like the Rodger Dodger.

 

Anyway, maybe my ramblings only made sense to me, but like I said I haven't found a solid way to describe it. I also certainly do appreciate the realistic cars, but the ones like the Dodger and Way 2 Fast and always going to be my favorite.

 

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DASPOTTER

Posted

'55 Chevy , Trans Am/Hot Bird & Z28's

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Hot_bird_01.JPG.jpg

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Bi0h4z4rd

Posted

RD-02 from the Acceleracers line. I distinctly remember the one they sold in McDonald's to promote the movies, and it had stickers you could apply and a working light.

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1steditionman

Posted (edited)

I have all former Acceleracers castings in their Mainline Debut colors (which is what I've been systematically collecting since 1996: 1st Editions/New Models/Mainline debuts). Now I'm working on completing all New-Year debut Models back to 1980 (or beyond If I find them). Back to 1990 I'm done! The 1980's cars are really setting me back a pretty penny!

Like Brad said, I remember the original Acceleracers and Design Challenge cars (and the Ferraris, ooh!!) in the mid 2000's, and was not too interested. Now I regret it, but life goes on.

Thank you Brad for keeping us sane during these tough times!

Edited by 1steditionman

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FIREBIRD02

Posted

Been collecting seriously since 1995. My mantra now is . . . Collect what you like; Like what you collect! DON"T buy something because " it'll be worth something someday" . It might, but in all likely hood it won't. Enjoy your collection for the personal satisfaction that you derive from it; not the value.

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Veloster

Posted

It's nice to see Acceleracers mentioned in something. Lately the Acceleracers and World Race community feel largely ignored.

 

I finally pulled the trigger on Collecting World Race cars and I couldn't be happier. They're the crown jewel of my collection. I only have 4 more cars to find and to build a proper display. Then Ill start on Acceleracers after my bank account recoups from the WR cars. 

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HssScooter

Posted

Hi Everyone, it’s my first post and if my kids knew I was posting here at 56 yrs old, not to mention being a member they would die laughing but think it was cute and I think it’s why my wife married me!!

I started collecting back in the early 70’s as a very young boy, the car I’m most proud of is the 1970 Boss Hoss Mustang you have in the picture, with the engine sticking out accept mine has  the #2 on the side, it was one of my first. I was and have been fond of the ones that can actually be a car on the street. At my last count I was at 9155 cars, but that was back in 2006.

Just love these little guys!!!!!

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 I always admired Hot wheels & kept a few around. Since my wife & I have gotten a house with a basement, my collection has now exploded. I never knew the collections were so vast & I've gone from having 30 or 40 to now having over 1000 in just over a year. I managed to grab a six-lane track at a great price right before Toy's R Us shut down & extended it to 24 feet. My basement man-cave has turned to Hot Wheels land. I'm 47 & having my greatest experience with Hot Wheels!!

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FOTOSTAFFER

Posted

You forgot to mention those who  "collect"  just to make money. They pretend to care about the cars,  but only have them long enough to calculate the going rate.

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MIKE$TOY$

Posted

2 hours ago, FOTOSTAFFER said:

You forgot to mention those who  "collect"  just to make money. They pretend to care about the cars,  but only have them long enough to calculate the going rate.

Very true 

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dz spinrod

Posted

The Silhouette still gets me.  I "got" my first car for Christmas.  Mom hid it under her bed, and when she went to bingo, dad to the Legion meeting, I got to play for a couple hours.  Then I put it back into the box as perfect as it came out.  The darn thing had a month of wear on it when I "got" it!!

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JABALDWIN

Posted

Hot Wheels.  The worst .99 cents you can spend !!  It leads you down a road to infinite craziness.  I started with me back in 1968 with an Antifreeze Custom Camaro. Now I have over 36,000 cars and growing. Run my own Hot Wheels Collectors Club and travel across the country to National events.

   My all time favorite casting is the HOT HEAP.  I have 20 packaged originals in many colors and variations and many more of them loose.  I was bitten by the bug in 68 and it never left. I always tell people to collect they like or they will become broke trying to become a completionist.

   Great memories and  more to come and have fun!

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FOTOSTAFFER

Posted

It all started from a kodak nascar. Then an appreciation for the cop rods. 

After that I don't remember what happened...

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DragGranny

Posted (edited)

I just recently started collecting but always liked Hot Wheels since I was a little tom-boy with three older roughneck brothers who didnt like like the way I handled my one and only vehicle (a HW purple lookin Lincoln of some sort with the wheels all but beat off the thing which I maneuvered in a back and forth fashion in order to get more drive time in before I was  asked to leave quietly.) so I turned my attention to collecting Breyer Horses and then real horses. I guess horses and horse power get to me .                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Now I am very happy to have three grandsons who have (thanks to Granny ,I like to believe ) an interest or obsession in Hot Wheels and that brings joy. Now I can drive any way I please and can even drive on the track with any of my own cars which inevitably become the boys. I have to hide a few if I want to keep them packaged. If I can buy more than one of each I do but if not ...too bad boys , Granny keeping these. My daughter laughs at how serious we are about our races and track layout and how we manage our cities. Some girls dont get it....  I think I may begin searching for a car like the old "Beat Wheels Lincoln".If anyone has any idea what car I am describing  please let me know , It would be great to have it in my "herd". As for favorite , I just really am fond of all the little fellows but especially the muscle cars and Batmobiles.                                                           

Edited by HotWheelsGranny65
I forgot to tell my favorite car
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Treasureboyzz

Posted

It all started for me going out with my bud who always talked about his collection of mainline redline t-hunts and supers so I go with him one day on a hunt and my first time ever out I found a circle  tracker  and I was so excited my heart  just started going 100 miles  a  min before we got there he told me what to look for in a t-hunt and super and redline n with my mind when u tell me something it sticks .well from that day on I was in it for good and my heart still goes 100 miles  a min every time  .the next day he gave me my first t-hunt as a gift the 2020 corvette stingray now as a beginner I have over 100 car and will never stop hunting I do my homework every day  write down all the series and check me off ad I get em.i don't have a lot of money or my collection  would be huge and I would bye some books but every time I get some money I'm out on a hunt.loving it happy hunting.

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Great idea for a series of articles. Very interesting and i can relate to the nostalgia attraction of Hot Wheels. I collected as a young boy from ‘68 and well into the ‘70’s. Then i discovered the guitar 🎸 and went in that direction for many years . Fast forward to 2008 and my youngest of 4 daughters started asking for Hot Wheels for Christmas and when i went out shopping for them, i discovered that one of my favorite series as a child ( The Sizzlers) had been reissued and i was instantly transported back in time and i was hooked all over again . Since then, i have built a dedicated room for the collection and have one of each redline and Sizzlers casting from ‘68-‘78. I also collect newer issue castings , convention and RLC cars but from the nostalgia factor , it’s Redlines and Sizzlers for me.     Thanks for the memories and great cars 👍👊🏁

 

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