Ever thought of starting a Hot Wheels collection? Did you have Hot Wheels as a kid but now want to start collecting them as an adult?
This article will go over some of the basics. You’ll likely find a link to this article if you want more information on these topics.
Table of Contents
A brief overview of Hot Wheels and their popularity among collectors
What Are Hot Wheels?
Hot Wheels are small die-cast cars, first manufactured by Mattel in 1968. The original models were based on actual cars, but over time Hot Wheels branched out to include vehicles that looked nothing like reality (such as UFOs and spaceships). The cars come in various sizes and shapes, with some being more detailed than others. Stickers, decals, and paint jobs can be customized and accessorized.
History of Hot Wheels
The popularity of Hot Wheels began to grow exponentially in 1969 when they were introduced to the market.
This was thanks to their affordability, variety of designs available, and accessibility—they could be purchased at most local stores or even online.
Since then, Hot Wheels has become a famous toy line among children worldwide. It is estimated that over 4 billion cars have been sold since their debut!
This video is a good summary of the History of Hot Wheels.
The Popularity of Hot Wheels as Collectables
Ever since Hot Wheels started, and to this day, the Hot Wheels brand has been powerful with collectors. These collections often feature rare or limited edition vehicles that can only be found through trading or special promotions.
Find the Type of Hot Wheels You Want to Collect
There are plenty of different types of Hot Wheels to collect. Here are just a few ideas on how you can build your collection.
If you’ve got the financial backing to do so, maybe you want to collect super high-end cars. Some are super rare to find and will cost you a large chunk of cash if you do. These collections of valuable vehicles aren’t for everyone, but they are still worth mentioning.
Treasure Hunt Cars
The Treasure Hunt series was first released in 1995 with 12 new cars per set (each featuring a hidden “treasure” inside). These sets quickly grew in popularity due to their rarity and unique designs. In 1996 production increased significantly from 12 to 24 vehicles per set; however, each one still featured a hidden treasure inside.
In 2005 Hot Wheels added a 13th vehicle for each set as a bonus for its fans—the “Chase Car,” which was more challenging to find than the other 12 vehicles in the set!
Super Treasure Hunts were also introduced in 2007, which featured rarer versions of certain cars from the standard sets plus unique decals identifying them as super vehicles. Many collectors base their collections around these Treasure Hunt cars as they’re harder to find – and let’s be honest, it’s often the thrill of the chase that gets us.
A Personal Collection
Not everyone collects to make big money one day – or needs to splash top dollar to build their collection. This is me as a collector.
I’m happy if I can create a self-sustaining hobby where I’m not too far out of pocket, but I’m not stressed about making too much money with it either. If this sounds like you, you might like a personal collection.
Think of the types of cars that you’re interested in. It might be a particular make of a car like a Mustang; a type of car like muscle cars; cars that are related to your favorite race tracks; it might be a type of artwork you like, or it might be the types of cars you grew up with… Either way, find something that interests you.
Tips for finding Hot Wheels to add to your collection
Hot Wheels can be found in many places. The key is to know where to look and have an idea of what you’d like to add to your collection. Here are some tips for finding the best Hot Wheels cars:
- Look online. Many websites are devoted solely to selling Hot Wheels or other toy cars, so it’s easy to find a good selection without leaving your house! Many collector’s sites offer rare and hard-to-find models, so if you want something specific, you may want to check these out first.
- Shop at large retailers such as Target or Walmart that carry Hot Wheels packs in their toy departments. You can usually get a good selection here, but they’ll be the new releases – it’s unlikely you’ll find anything too rare at the local Target.
- Online marketplaces. A little different to finding collectors’ stores, I love using eBay for my collecting.
- Flea Markets and Garage Sales” Again, no guarantee to find anything, and if you do, it’ll unlikely be in mint condition, but you might find HW cars at local markets.
- Toy Shows. Depending on where you’re located, you’ll likely find a Toy Show a driveable distance to you.
- Different Car Events. Check your local guides for car events. Sometimes HW dealers and sellers will attend these events – as often, the car show crowd can overlap with the HW collectable crowd.
Suggestions for organizing and storing your Hot Wheels
MOrganizing your HW collection can be fun and easy. You can sort them by color, series, specific models or even custom cars you’ve made or traded. Having a designated area to store your HW will make it easy to find the car that you’re looking for and keep track of what you have. You can even use different-sized carrying cases or drawers to store and organize your collection.
Suppose you want to publically display your favorite HW collectables. In that case, display cases are made to go over either the car itself or the original packaging (depending on what you’ve got). There are also a range of shelves that you can use to visibly display your collection instead of having them locked up in pull-out drawers.
Here’s some display cases from Amazon.
Techniques for identifying rare and valuable models
The only ‘rare’ models that aren’t vintage are the Treasure Hunt cars; they have the following logo behind the car and the backing cardboard on the packaging.
There are a few things to consider when finding valuable hot wheels. Older cars are valuable as they often end up in toy boxes and garage sales instead of collections (after all, they’re only toys originally). As you can imagine, the first hot wheels cars would have almost exclusively been removed from packaging and used as toys. Many of the original cars are lost.
Some collectors will pay, and others will charge a premium for toys in mint condition. This is no different to any other collectable. There’s a low chance of finding a 40-year-old HW in mint condition – so often, that comes at a premium if you’re looking to buy.
Collecting Hot Wheels as an Investment?
Collecting Hot Wheels as an investment? It could be a great way to make money, but it’s essential to ask yourself if you have the time and resources to invest in this hobby. Collecting requires lots of research on the types of models, materials, and designs available, as well as patience since these items tend to fluctuate in price depending on availability. Collectors also need access to markets where they can buy and trade with other knowledgeable buyers and sellers.
Many fierce traders may just be getting started and already know that it can generate sizable profits when done correctly and carefully with proper research. Understanding the history behind these collectible cars is fun and helps ascertain their worth at any given time for potential investments.
It’s also vital to remember that Hot Wheels, like any collectable, are highly volatile when buying as an “investment”. You’ll often see websites, YouTubers, or other resources selling you the dream of making big money through collectables. More often than not, they’re just trying to sell you something (or create interest in their collectables).
A lot of the time, the people who make money with collectables are the ones who put in a lot of time and effort selling thousands of low-value transactions.
Participating in the Hot Wheels Collecting Community
Ways to connect with other Hot Wheels collectors (clubs, online forums, social media)
There are plenty of ways to connect with other Hot Wheels collectors.
- Instagram: Many collectors will have an Instagram account (you might want to create one to show off your collection).
- Discord: Discord has become a popular communication tool for
- Facebook Groups: There are plenty of Facebook groups where HW collectors can chat and share finds.
- Some websites/forums: If you’re interested in HW or any type of model car, there are plenty of online forums a quick Google search away. Most of the big ones are pretty good but check for yourself to see what interests you most. Mattel’s site even has a dedicated HW forum.
- Join the Red Line membership: Mattel has a membership for HW collectors – at around $10 a year, you get early access to releases and other goodies. The red line club is an excellent way to spend your money if you’re collecting new cars.
Opportunities to showcase your collection (toy shows, online galleries)
As well as participating in the conversation around HW, you can be a part of the community by showcasing your collection as you grow it (and also a handy way to sell cars if you wish).
The most common hobby-related showcase these days is Instagram – It’s easy to use,
There are also apps and websites out there that you can use to display your collection – I don’t use any of them and stick to Instagram – but have a look out there and find one that suits you. I’ve heard good things about hobbydb.com but haven’t used it enough to vouch for it.
Hot Wheels are one of the most underrated collectables – a favorite of many from their childhood, and a large community of collectors.