Started in 1968, by Mattel's co-founders Elliot and Ruth Handler, Hot Wheels cars are die cast metal toy collectable cars made at a 1/64 scale. Initially with only 16 models, there have been over 10,000 Hot Wheels model cars made over the years. The first Hot Wheels cars were replica Chevrolet Camaros and sold for $.59 cents each (That’s about $3 today…). Over the course of several model lines, Mattel has included such details in the die cast cars such as spoilers, rubber tires, flake metal paint jobs and chrome fittings. There are 25 specific types of tire designs: white walls, three, five and seven spoke, off-road, dragster, Indy style, etc.

The biggest appeal with Hot Wheels collectables is certainly the track sets. Sections of track you can connect together yourself... loops and ramps, straight-aways, launchers, intersecting pieces, the "Criss-Cross-Crash". Make your own track and loop it over ad through several rooms in the house. Especially if you had friends with tracks, connect em all together and that was a pretty good time.

I work at a store that sells Hot Wheels. We sell tons of them every day. In fact, they're one of the top ten best-selling items in the entire store. I always thought that only little kids played with toy cars. Not so. It turns out that there are career Hotwheels collectors out there, and they take their hobby very seriously.

Everyone at my store knows the Hotwheel guys. Every morning, without fail, they are outside the store twenty minutes before it opens. At 8:00AM, the doors are unlocked and the men (and sometimes women) run to the toy section, and begin scouring the shelves. They grab anything that's remotely rare and clutch their finds to their chests like they would a newborn baby. These guys will go to any length to get their cars. On my first day on the job, I was offered twenty dollars to go into the stockroom to bring out a box of the cars for a guy to rifle through. I wasn't sure what to do, so I asked my supervisor about what happened, and she said that he asks all the new people that, and that I have to watch him carefully, because he's known to take all the merchandise off the shelf, put it into a cart, and hide it in another part of the store, then point out that they're all gone and ask us to get some from the back. There was another guy who accused my friend (who was in charge of toys) of cutting an "inside deal" with another collector, that she was meeting him after work with cars that she had picked out for him while stocking the shelves. He got so upset that he had to be escorted out of the store. All my friend could do was laugh. Another time I saw a grown man steal three cars out of the cart of a woman who was buying them for her five year-old son.

In the summer when I worked in the garden department, the guys would come to my register (and interrupt my watering) to check out. One day I asked one of them what the big deal was, why he wakes up at six o'clock every morning to wait outside in the cold to buy a tiny little piece of metal. It turned out that collecting Hotwheels is his main source of income! He told me that he sells the cars he buys from us at a swapmeet for two to ten dollars apiece (they retail for about eighty-five cents). He claimed to make upwards of $400 a week just from reselling the cars he buys at stores like mine all over town. Something tells me he's not exaggerating.

I'll never understand people who place such value in little trifles, who'd do anything for a complete collection. It just seems so silly. Who knows though, maybe I just haven't found anything worth collecting yet.

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