I Have Always Loved Hot Wheels

I was 6 years old when Hot Wheels first came out.  They replaced Legos as my favorite toy, and I collected them for years.  I had all the originals, but in the early 70's they were stolen.  All of them.  I never intended to start collecting again, but my kids (both girls) ended up collecting, and that hooked me again.   I've only been at it for about a year.  The wild obsession didn't start until just recently.  I'm hoping it goes away.  :-)

I suffer heavily from Peter Pan syndrome.  "I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys R Us kid..."  Yes, I sing this out loud while I'm in the store, hoping to scare away the Hot Wheel scalpers so I can get some meager scraps of the newer cars.  It doesn't matter to me if the cards are dog-eared or full of holes, or ripped in half, as long as the car is pristine.  When I get those babies home my wife, kids and I rip 'em open and send them down the track!  Every die-cast car I have that has wheels that roll, whether it be Hot Wheels, Johnny Lightning, or Matchbox, have gone zooming along the orange plastic.  Yes, even the Treasure Hunts.  No, I don't care how much any of them are worth.  But I do have one set that we're careful with, and then I have another pile of cars that I keep for rough duty.  :-)

Why Another Website?  I was very naive when I started working on this web site.  I had not done a lot of research, so I didn't know what already existed out here on the Internet.  If I had known there were already so many out there, I would never have started this one.  But now that I have it started ... well, I might as well keep going.

Our Offbeat Collecting Philosophy:  My wife, kids, and I all collect Hot Wheels (as well as a select few Matchbox and Johnny Lighting cars).  When we find multiple copies of rare cars, we only buy one per family member and leave the rest at the store for other collectors to find.  We do occasionally buy from some certain second marketers, but only because we've met some cool ones who are just regular guys trying to support their own Hot Wheels addiction.  I have to say this though:  every single time I have spent $5 on some new car, with a so-called "rare" variation, I have later found the exact same car at Wal-Mart, Target, or at a grocery store for as little as 77.  If you listen to the wise advise of the long-time Hot Wheel addicts on the RTC, they will tell you over and over again to just be patient.  The cars will come to you.

When we get the cars home, I photograph them for the web site and then we play with them.  My wife, she likes sorting and classifying them.  We play "Hot Wheels Shuffleboard" with them on the dining room table.  We roll them around, admire them, and send them down the track.  Hot Wheels gives my family quality time and common interest.  That is (to me) much more valuable than the cars themselves.

Go To A Show:  If you have never been to a Hot Wheels show or convention, go do it.  I had run into another collector at Wal-Mart at 6:00 AM and he told me about a show right here in Dallas that very weekend.  We went.  It was wonderful!  I had never seen so many different types of Hot Wheel cars, and had a chance to see all those dear old ones that I had lost when I was a kid.  The memories they brought back was beyond description ... I mean, for brief, joyous flashes I remembered being a kid, I remembered what I was doing 30 years ago and what was important to me back then.  That in itself made it worth going.

Plus, if you needed a car for your collection, chances are you'd find one for $2 unless it was something really rare.  There will always be some tables where you'll find die-hard scalpers who don't give a damn about the cars, just the money they'll bring in.   True, red-blooded American profiteers.  Don't get mad at them, just don't buy from them.  At every single show we've been to, my wife, kids and I have found some bargains.  There are three tricks to this:

  1. Be nice and chat with them.  If you see a car you're interested in and ask how much it is, and it's too much, look sad and slowly put the car down, then start walking away.  There's a good chance the price will start dropping immediately.
  2. Stay until the show is winding down.  Many dealers do not want to pack up these cars and haul them back home.  Prices start dropping dramatically, going down to 1/2, 1/3, even 1/4 of what they were originally asking.  The downside to this is that it doesn't really work with the new cars (as they're usually long gone by this time), but for older ones you need for back-filling your collection, it's a done deal.
  3. If you have a cute teenage daughter, have her do the haggling for you -- especially if the dealer is a teenage boy.  The car may end up being free (though you might then have to buy it from your daughter).

Here's one more bit of advise for going to a Hot Wheels show:  Don't take more cash with you than you plan to spend!  Or it will be "bye-bye rent check!"

Some Hints about the RTC:  I have found nowhere on this planet that gives you the latest information about the newest cars, variations, etc., faster than REC.TOYS.CARS.  You will also meet the nicest people on the planet who share the same joy as you get from these cool little toys.  However, you will have to wade through a lot of crud to find them.  For every collector who wants to make a fair trade, you'll find 20 scalpers out to make a buck.  For every bit of useful information, you'll have to plow your way through 50 posts in 3 cross-linked name-calling wars.  The secret is not to sweat it.  There's this feature on your news browser called a "filter."  You will quickly learn to identify those whom you don't want to hear from, and you add them to your "filter list."  From that point forward, as far as you're concerned they dropped off the face of the planet.

Two warnings about the RTC though: 

  1. It can get even more addicting than collecting Hot Wheels.
  2. Beware crossing the ever-present guy named "Wheelin" who, from what I can tell, is the self-appointed bouncer of the newsgroup.

Remember, this isn't a hobby, it's an addiction.  It was the Hot Wheels shows that hooked my wife into collecting.  She's as rabid as I am, if not more so at times. She actually wanted me to buy a case of Hot Wheels for her birthday.  A whole case!  We went down to buy one, because Service Merchandise was running a 2-for1 sale on Hot Wheels and a case would cost about $40. Well, they were out of Hot Wheels because a lady had come in right before us and bought 500 cars!  My wife was furious. She wanted to hunt this lady down and run her over with our van.  [A True Story]

Please email any comments, corrections, or suggestions to hotwheels@jjdavis.net

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