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  1. By Brad Bannach Two of the most popular Hot Wheels castings of today are the ‘55 Chevy® Bel Air® Gasser and the ‘71 Datsun 510 -- castings that are undoubtedly different. But they weren’t instant favorites in the Hot Wheels collecting world. Sure, they both appealed to their niche groups at the time of their initial releases, which were 2013 and 2009 respectively; but no one predicted at the time that either would cause the commotion they do every time one is released. They do share something in common. Both castings had a defining release that acted as a catalyst, setting off a chain reaction among Hot Wheels collectors that elevated these castings to a level of collectability seen only by Hot Wheels like the ‘67 Camaro® and the Volkswagen Drag Bus. For the ‘55 Chevy® Bel Air® Gasser, it was a release that was so iconic, it’s commonly known by collectors as “The Candy Striper.” At the time of its sale, the 4,000-piece run didn’t sell out until day two. But it didn’t take long after collectors got these in hand that they realized how special the piece was, which in turn, turned the masses onto the casting, and Gassers in general. As the value of this piece inches closer to $1,000 on the secondary market, many will point to this significant release as the reason why so many collectors choose to collect the ‘55 Chevy® Bel Air® Gasser – and it speaks as to why the Red Line Club is so popular today. The ‘71 Datsun 510 had a more gradual rise to stardom, as the casting notoriously sat on pegs in 2009 when it was first released. In 2011, John Morton’s Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) Datsun Bluebird 510 was the oddball in the premium Hot Wheels Vintage Racing line, as it appeared in a line that was dominated by American muscle cars. In some areas of the United States, the release also sat on pegs for months. There was even an HWC Special Edition release John Morton’s #46 BRE Datsun 510 in 2013 that had Spectraflame red paint and neo-classic redline wheels. Shortly after that, secondary market prices on both BRE Datsuns started to rise, exposing the Hot Wheels collecting masses to the international and domestic interest in Japanese domestic market (JDM) vehicles. The movement echoed that of 1:1 car culture at the time, and in the wake of this shift in collecting, many Hot Wheels collectors scrambled to collect these premium BRE Datsuns and any other versions of the casting that they could get their hands on. This ultimately vaulted the ‘71 Datsun 510 to not only the most popular Japanese-branded Hot Wheels car of all time, but arguably one of the top 10 Hot Wheels castings of all time. Had it not been for the BRE Datsuns, the popularity of the ‘71 Datsun 510 may not be where it is today. These are just two popular examples of Hot Wheels castings that vaulted in popularity after a specific release. Certainly, there are other examples of significant releases that served as a catalyst to ignite collectors’ passions when it comes to certain castings -- from the masses down to the individual. Do you collect a certain Hot Wheels casting? What was the reason you began collecting it? Can you narrow it down to a specific release? Share with us in the comments below!
  2. BIGBADBRAD01

    Custom Otto Is Back by Collector Request!

    By Brad Bannach The “Lost Redline” has found its way back (again). Originally created by Hot Wheels artist Otto Kuhni for use on the original Hot Wheels packaging in 1968, this redline-era car was never meant to join the Original 16. Rather, its all-encompassing design took many styling cues from the muscle cars of the era and served as the backing for the first Hot Wheels vehicles. In 1993, the car’s role as nostalgic packaging superstar was reprised as it was brought back to grace the blister cards in the Hot Wheels Vintage line as part of the 25th Anniversary. The fate of this “Lost Redline” changed in 2008 when -- in honor of the 40th Anniversary -- this design was cast as an actual Hot Wheels vehicle. It was dubbed the “Custom Otto.” The “Custom” portion of the name was reminiscent of the original naming for the custom cars in the Original 16, and the “Otto” portion was in honor of the car’s original creator, who also had a reprised role of sorts. In the early days of HotWheelsCollectors.com, Otto came out of retirement to create much of the art that was featured on the posters, HWC master sets, and even the packaging for the sELECTIONs vehicles. Otto would go on to attend several conventions, signing autographs and letting collectors know that he was thrilled to have his illustration become a Hot Wheels car. The Custom Otto has had a very unconventional run as a Hot Wheels vehicle. Of the 14 total variants, 13 were released in 2008 -- including a very special one-off release that was cast in 18-karat white gold and encrusted with more than 2,700 diamonds. Four years later, the Custom Otto was last released was in Spectraflame bright orange as part of the HWC Series 11 Neo-Classics. The casting was then unofficially retired. Over the last eight years, Hot Wheels has put out several surveys asking for collector input. Collectors just like you have repeatedly asked for the return of the Custom Otto -- oftentimes, even insisting that the Mainline was a great place for it. The good news for those collectors is: They listened! Due to your persistent requests, the Custom Otto has been tooled for Mainline use and will start appearing in the 2020 Hot Wheels Mainline starting in Mix J, in the Muscle Mania mini collection. Due to requirements for all new castings in the Mainline, the hood has been sealed shut, but they did manage to keep that original metal body. The Custom Otto will appear in three different colors for 2020 -- including one that will be a Target-exclusive Red Edition. Also, they know that some of you enjoy racing your Hot Wheels cars. The good news now is that you can leave those collectible Custom Ottos on display -- or even race them, too -- as they have new releases coming your way that you can take to the track. Otto Kuhni, unfortunately, passed away in 2017. Collectors these days celebrate his legacy, as his artwork has touched millions of people over the last 52 years, and even inspired a few Hot Wheels designers. His Custom Otto lives on so a new generation of collectors can embrace this timeless design. Thanks go to you, the collector, for consistent reminders that designs like this make up Hot Wheels lore. Custom Otto Checklist 2008 - Spectraflame Red - New York Toy Fair 2008 - Spectraflame Green - New York Toy Fair 2008 - Diamond-encrusted, White Gold - 40th Anniversary Celebration 2008 - Spectraflame Otto Blue - HWC Exclusive 2008 - Spectraflame Pink - HWC Exclusive 2008 - Chrome - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (El Segundo stop) 2008 - Red/White - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (Bonneville Salt Flats, Wendover, UT stop) 2008 - Spectraflame Brown - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (Speed, KS stop) 2008 - Metalflake Blue - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (Indianapolis stop) 2008 - Spectraflame Black - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (Detroit stop) 2008 - White - 40th Anniversary Road Trip (Watkins Glen stop) 2008 - Spectraflame Gold - 22nd Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Convention (Otto Kuhni Dinner) 2008 - Spectraflame Pink - Employee Exclusive 2012 - Spectraflame Bright Orange - HotWheelsCollectors.com Series 11 / Neo-Classics 2020 - Metalflake Purple - Muscle Mania 2020 – Micro Intense Blue - Muscle Mania 2020 – Micro Apple Red – Target Red Edition
  3. 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!
  4. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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!
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