By Brad Bannach
Thanks for coming back to read the second part (of five) on “What Makes Certain Hot Wheels Collectible?” In the last segment, we talked about Childhood Favorites playing a major role in the way generations collect. Today, we will look at the one constant in collecting that has existed since the days of those very first Redlines collectors: Variants and Variations.
Hot Wheels collectors have always gravitated toward collecting variants of their favorite Hot Wheels castings. From full-on color variations to intricacies in tampo and wheel changes, collectors collect it. Some are intentional, others are not. Variants refer to the number of times a casting is released -- whether it be by variation or by a new release method. And variations refer to when a single release has a change to it (i.e., color, wheels, graphics, etc.).
No Hot Wheels car has had more variants than the ‘67 Camaro™, which has nearly 300 if you include the packaging variants as well. Affinity for the ‘67 Camaro™ stems from its clean, custom look, complete with an opening hood and an exposed exhaust that peeks out from underneath the side panels. It's widely considered the most popular Hot Wheels car of all time and its sheer number of variants can make a collector go mad -- and broke! If you’re going to start collecting the ‘67 Camaro™ today, two words: “Good Luck!”
Hot Wheels castings like the ‘67 Camaro™ always seem to grow in popularity. It is incredibly challenging -- and expensive -- to put together a casting collection that has dozens of variants, let alone hundreds. Though, if you can do it, it’s certainly a sight to see as collectors love a good casting collection.
Wheel variations have existed for decades but the specialized collector market really took off in the ‘80s and ‘90s when more wheel styles were introduced. Standard mainline production these days lasts only a few weeks. But back then, with longer production runs, the planned wheel would often run out at the factory, as certain releases were manufactured for months at a time. The factory would replace the planned wheels with another similar option, thus creating a wheel variation. Today, with the number of wheel styles we offer, wheel variations can (and do) occur. It takes a good variation hunter to know how to find them; and the most successful collectors are often the ones who dedicate the most time to research.
Color variations were the original variation, as the Original 16 came in a rainbow of colors. Outside of shade variations, most color variations are planned these days, as we know collectors love to collect them. Vehicles in the Hot Wheels mainline will often come in multiple colorways throughout the year, and we even offer a variety of store-exclusive color variations throughout the year. Make sure you check out our latest bunch of exclusive color variations at Dollar General. Another place collectors love to look for color variants are within the Hot Wheels multipacks, as many former graphic designs are brought back for exclusive recolors via the 3-, 9-, 10-, and 20-Packs.
Some collectors devote their entire Hot Wheels collection to variants and variations. For variant collectors, it’s often about completing a casting collection; while for variation collectors, it’s about tracking down the rare Hot Wheels that are out there -- or at least ones that are less common. Either way, collectors who collect by variant/variation are collecting what they like.
In the next part of this five-part series on “What Makes Certain Hot Wheels Collectible?” we will explore some of today’s heavy hitters, as their collectability can often be traced back to A Significant Release. Look for that feature article soon!
Which Hot Wheels variants and variations do you like to collect? Let us know in the comments!