Hot Wheels Collectors, we can be better…

I need to get a little something off my chest…

Yesterday, I put a post up on Instagram, mentioning a chat I had with a Walmart Toy Department manager.  There was a large response to the post, and I even heard from Mattel, so I thought I would take my thoughts to the blog.

A little background.  I visited a local Walmart yesterday, and while I was standing in the toy car aisle, the manager came up to me and asked if I was a collector.  I told him I was, and he asked what I was looking for.  I told him nothing in particular, just perusing the pegs.  I asked why, and he said he was trying to figure out what Hot Wheels had released lately that had turned collectors into frenzied vampires.

We got to chatting, and he told me that just in the last few days, he has been dealing with collectors sneaking into the stockroom, harassing employees for their scanners to see what was in the back, convincing employees from other departments to bring cases out, and completely destroying new bins to the point that they can’t stay on the floor any longer.  Some bins were even destroyed before they made it to floor.

He mentioned a particular collector who would harass him by saying that he knows that there are Hot Wheels in the back because he has a tool to check, and said he would wait for someone to bring it out.  When the manager said no, the person left, only to be seen returning the minute that employee’s shift ended.  The manager returned the next morning to find the dump bin ripped open in the back.

He said most collectors are fine, but that lately he has been seeing more and more of this kind of behavior.  That is not good.

I have found myself talking to toy managers and employees at several stores, and these stories seem to be getting more and more common.  It is too bad, because these folks are creating a bad name for the common collector who enjoys a good Hot Wheels hunt.

What has happened?  Why do folks think it is appropriate to act like that to find a Super?

We have stood on our little soapbox before, preaching the “Leave the Regular TH” word.  With that, we have always said that while Regs are kids, Supers are for collectors.  We don’t blame anyone for taking all the Supers they find.  We do.  We also think the word “scalper” is used too much.  Many times fellow collectors will call the guy who found the Super before them a scalper, when it was just a lucky guy who found them first.  And we can’t blame someone who finds a Super and wants to use it to either trade or sell in order to get a model he or she has been after.

We think the hunt for Supers is great.  That is one of the reasons I enjoy documenting my middle-of-the-day Super finds.  And if you can get to the pegs first thing in the morning, or overnight, or even right when a bin is being brought to the floor, more power to you.  But for those of you harassing employees, we hope you can stop.

One commenter on IG mentioned it is money thing.  I don’t necessarily agree with that.  No one can survive on hitting stores daily to find a couple of random Supers to sell.  I think it is a collector thing.  The need to have more of something than another is one of those collector genes.  It can get out of hand if you aren’t careful, and can turn a normal person into a Super-obsessed maniac.

Whatever it is, we hope you can rethink how you do things.  Is it really that bad if someone got to a dump bin before you?  Wouldn’t it be more fun if those Super finds were a bit more random?

And more importantly, can’t we show a little more respect to store employees, especially now?  If you have been in a Walmart or Target during the holiday season, isn’t it easy to see how difficult their job is?  Crowds everywhere, product being thrown everywhere, questions and demands coming every minute.  The last thing they need to deal with is a 50-year-old guy asking them to bring a dump bin out so he can destroy it.

Oh, and those dump bins?  Notice the height?  The placement in the store?  It’s for parents walking by with their kids in the cart.  An easy grab for a kid who wants one, and easily justifiable for the parents who don’t mind the $1 price tag.  Crazy that a kid-targeted product is usually destroyed by adults.

Super Treasure Hunts are fun.  Finding them on the pegs is fun.  Let’s keep it that way…

39 Replies to “Hot Wheels Collectors, we can be better…”

  1. Yup… this, plus all the fighting over at the Hot Wheels Collectors forum over supers, regulars, scalpers and all that stuff are what made me give up Hot Wheels two years ago.

  2. Great article… I'm in South Africa, and though we dont have the “fanatics” that you guys have on that side, the hunt for $upers is alive over here as well. I was watching some Black Friday vids, and if those are anything to go by, I can totally imagine the mayhem in stores around this time of the year! I agree, we as collectors can be a bit over zealous at times, to a point of being embarrasing… but what can us other guys do?! To me, it seems like the guys that have a lot of time on their hands and are able to go to the stores day after day, throughout the day, are the ones that are causing problems… but harrassing employees is not on! Guys like that should be banned from the store.
    A $uper is rare… but how rare? I mean, is it worth acting like a total fool, causing damage in-store, just to find one?! I've found both the Kool Kombi and RRRoadster $upers, for 2015 by simply going through a few pegs… Thats my luck of the draw, after barely finding a single one last year….

  3. It's the same sad story everywhere. The “collectors” that act the worst are usually the ones throwing the cars on ebay. I know of several people in my area that “only collect supers” and will trash a store to get one. They also leave the toy aisle like a hurricane went through. I've also seen these “collectors” empty dump bins into a shopping cart and then leave the cart in the middle of the aisle. And it's sad that the majority of the people doing it are guys above 40.

  4. I'm thinking of giving up of collecting hot wheels, it is simple not fun anymore. There is no hunt. I'm two and a half years whitout getting a $thunt. I used to work on a toy store here in brazil. I worked in the stock. receiving the shippments and stuff right from mattel. Some cases come re-taped, 30% of them if I remember correctely, one time the came with -3 hot wheels from the 72. Not to tell the sellers, they called these so called “collectors”, and they came so fast I couldnt even put the hot wheels in the system. I've worked there for 1.5 years, and could only get `71 Dodge Challenger the whole time I've worked there. No $TH ever since 🙁

  5. A decent article, but the UK is treated like the proverbial back end droppings of a horse, about 18 months ago, things started to get better, but recently, we have….

    One huge Tesco – never has any in stock, eitherr in boxes, or strips (that goes for Matchbox as well.
    One UBER Huge Tesco – same as above, or very old stock.
    Sainsburys – Forget it, neither blue or Orange
    ASDA, they hide the blue brand on the bottom shelf about an inch from the floor, i am disabled so cant get there, i rely on the better half to poke about, but not for long.
    Morrisons – was ok for a while, now, any Blue or Orange is a treat, Majorette used to be huge there, no more of that either.
    Local toy shop, refuses to stock any Mattel diecast (reason, they dont sell)

    We pay £1.50 for our model here which is THRICE (3 times) what you pay in the US, so you get huge bins, many pegs, massive stores and millions of models, we get begger all, and have to pay through the nose for what we do get, no specials, no new stuff for months, and no way of getting them either.

    WHY cant Mattel offer to sell models via an online shop, we can then pick and chose what we want, when we want it, it takes out the middle man, keeps the buyers happy, and means we get teh new stuff sooner, rather than later or not at all. surely that cant be that hard to fathom out ?

  6. This is not news in mexico, and feel it´s a worldwide problem, All here collect hotwheels, the manager of the convenience store, the toy manager store , mattel promoters, and even Mr cleaning the hallway collects, so which is practically impossible find a normal customer $ uper, because even people no longer see it as collection but as a business, this change if Mattel change his strategy of putting all wheels with rubber tires and only ONE plastic jejeje greetings

  7. I think its more of a money thing. Since the JDM Hot Wheels have been in the Mainlines collecting has become very popular again. I haven't seen collecting like this since the early 2000's. I say it's money thing because I have walked into a store and see people with carts grabbing all the new and hot Mainlines. Granted, I grabbed 4 Xmas Civic Type Rs (Some for customizing), but then someone came after me while I was looking at another dump bin and bought them all. Then they proceeded to grab all the regular TH's and popular Mainlines. Who needs 20+ '70 Chevelle SS's? Or 20+ `71 Dodge Challengers? Or all the Classic Batmobiles from a Batman dump bin? I know more collectors means more options as Mattel sees the rise in popularity, but it also means I have to put in more hours hunting just to get the Mainlines.

  8. This is the big thing I've noticed in the past couple years. Even mainlines are becoming hard to find. Common cars made in the millions have become difficult to track down in the past few years.

  9. Dear John
    Very interesting read, thank you very much – one point before I reply to Jon: I am a British collector lucky enough to travel all over the place for work – every time I go to the US, I get very excited reading about your super finds and the apparently fully stocked pegs in Utah. I always map out the main stores around my arrival airport try to find the latest models, retro entertainment zamacs etc while visiting, but this year the results have been meager….Miami in July – nothing, empty pegs, old stock, non licensed models all around. New Orleans in July – same story. LA a week ago, I found the Lotus Esprit, the Acura and the RE DBS, that’s it – having been to about 15 Walmarts, Targets, Kmart, Dollar Tree, TRU… Las Vegas last week….nothing at all… I can only conclude that you must be very lucky in your region. What really got me – as many of you will know, there is a Mattel Experience Store at LAX airport Terminal 5 – a decent wall filled with Hot Wheels – nothing…no Retro Entertainment, no current cases, no Exotics 5 Packs (finally found that one at Heathrow Airport for GBP 10 – harshly putting US prices into perspective )
    My other frequent disappointment is Hong Kong – there is a legendary massive TRU at Ocean Terminal, at the end of a pier in a mall dedicated to kids boutiques. They stock about 1000 HW singles on the pegs – a full browse will take you more than an hour. I visit this TRU 6 times a year, shockingly my last find was in 2011 – a 2010 Speed Machines 599XX in red. Since then – nothing. 10 decent (old) models out of 1000, endless repeats of the same model. Not sure how they end up with a skewed stock like that, I find it hard to believe that it’s regular cases making it to the pegs…
    And now a question to Jon and my fellow British collectors: Has anyone recently found a Super in a mainline UK supermarket? I certainly haven’t…despite following all of John’s random search pattern advice. My only ever UK super find was in 2012 at Hamleys on Regent Street in London (Dodge Charger) and I found a Matchbox 60 Routemaster Hunt at a local mini toy shop. I can only confirm what Jon has described above for the UK:
    Tesco – Months behind, L/M cases, no bins ever
    Sainsburys – used to be best in my area, has now delisted HW completely despite extending the toy department in a recent refurb. The half full dump bin got returned to the depot in the process.
    Morrisons – occasional MB finds, Hot Wheels bin feature the odd Lightning Mc Queen or ripped empty cards, nothing
    Asda – still supplied, occasional random cases from last year, dreading the Xmas dump bin as that will again take 8-10 months to clear with no re-supply.
    TRU – gets a case load every 4-6 months, then empty pegs “temporarily out of stock”
    In contrast, Swiss and German retailers are fairly current these days (2015 A cases now common plus latest Mystery Models) but then Switzerland is a funny place where you can walk into a department store and find a recently pegged 2011 case, Speed Machines fresh from the box etc (Found 2 Sp.M. Porsche GT2 (!) there last year dangling lonely on a Migros peg). They also stock Matchbox Mission, which does not seem to exist in the UK…Weirdly, Swiss toy specialist Franz Carl Wever gets some Walmart exclusives such as Cars of the Decades, but I don’t believe there are many collectors in Switzerland – nobody knows anything about Hot Wheels in stores and staff often look at me completely puzzled when I ask about cases, Supers etc – I have never seen an adult browse Hot Wheels for themselves in Switzerland – and I do know what this looks like from the US . This “diaspora” definitely helps the hunting – I have managed 2 “in the wild” Super finds in Switzerland, my latest one 3 weeks ago at 9 in the morning when I stopped to get something for breakfast at a very rural Migros 10 miles from Zurich. 2 pegs of Hot Wheels next to the stock room door – on the right, 4th car in, the Datsun Wagon Super – boy, was I happy about that…so random and so unexpected.

  10. Finally, thank you John for all the work you put into the blog – it is really appreciated, I have been reading your blog for the best part of 2 years now – you are my second stop in the mornings after BBC News and the quality of your writing as well as the creativity you put into your posts is highly appreciated. One day – I will just have to travel to Utah and hopefully find the “pegs of plenty” you keep photographing…
    All the best, Chris

  11. All the walmarts I go in have signs that say 'Employees Only'.Self explanatory. If a customer is caught in the back or harrsing an employee call the cops and have him or her banned not only from that walmart but all walmarts.Once the word get around I am willing to bet the problem will stop.

  12. Yep I agree with this article. But I also know the employees are winners here. What i've noticed is they open the box and take the super and it never makes it to the pegs.

  13. I haven't been collecting as long as a lot of folks, but as MGG said, it seems like this was common 10-15 years ago. I watch Racegrooves videos and he talks about door warmers and people trashing the aisle on Saturday mornings at TRU.
    It comes down, simply, to greed. Whether or not someone turns the cars into cash, finding the HTF item is the driver. We all have that drive, but some people take it too far.
    I will empty a fresh dump bin, but I always put everything back and I won't inconvenience the workers or other shoppers to do it. It's not a hard concept to be polite and treat other people's stuff like you would want them to treat yours. Though I worked in retail so I have an understanding of how hard you work and how little you are rewarded for it. I suppose people rationalize their behavior by figuring it's someone's job to clean up after them, but they fail to realize there are probably 50 other things they need to do without having to clean up your mess. Or maybe they just don't care, some people are just jerks and there's nothing you can do to fix them.
    One thing to remember, for as much driving as you likely do hunting between Supers, you probably spend more in gas than the Super is worth and could just buy the dang thing on eBay.

  14. leave the aisle cleaner than you found it. I always hang up loose care and face the tracks when I go in. Sometimes it helps you find things, and also makes employees more inclined to bring stuff out for you if the pegs are empty.

    show respect for other people and employees.

    if you see someone looking for something that you already have, don't be a jerk, pass it on. You will make someones day, and may wash a little greed off your soul. Especially children.

    I also think you are wrong. If you follow the people that I do on instagram you will see people posting 5-10 super that they “find” on the weekly. They they then sell for 30-50$ each? Thats 150-500 a week! Just for walking into a couple stores?

    Hotwheels should bring out a line that is just supers that they charge 3$ for each, and keep it stocked. If they did this the hype would dye down. Why because it is not about people getting a couple for themselves or for trading, its about inflated value by them hoarding as much as possible to increase scalping prices.

    Imagine going to a reservoir or lake that is stocked with fish and someone stops the truck before they put the fish in and buys all the fish, then offers to sell each fish to any fisherman at the lake? That is how it has become, sure a few slip by the scalpers but it is much less than Mattel was hoping would hit store shelves and get dispersed.

  15. Same here in Australia. Haven't seen any Datsun Wagons in a store but there's plenty on ebay. Was in a Big W when I started chatting to a guy scouring the shelves and he mentioned that he had over 100 XB Falcons….WTF?! No wonder I could never find any.

  16. i live in Vietnam and i have first hand experience of people selling $upers, lose, coming straight from Malaysia, weeks, sometimes even months before they actually hit the pegs. Just a few days ago i was offered a choice of 4 D Case Ferrari FXX, lose, for 21 dollars a pop. I know for a fact these cars never saw the light of a store. So it seems like that collector problem is getting out of hand on a global scale and that Mattel, as far as i know, has been doing absolutely nothing about it.
    If i were them, i would stop producing the $upers and focus on more desirable mainlines (they have been doing so lately with all the new JDM and European castings and they should continue), or make the $upers part of a premium line. That's what the heritage line sounds like on paper, with the mix of regular and real riders wheels.
    Anyway, great article, even if i do not agree on everything.

  17. WOW! This is something else. I have said for what seems to be a decade that Mattel has no idea what is going on with their products. The marketing and R&D stinks! They have no clue or do they? Think about it, I'm sure most of you have been scabay. Well I frequent it myself but I will not buy the TH$ or the hot main lines. What I've noticed is it is a lot of the RLC that are posted and the sellers are in possession of multiples. If I were to really take time that I don't have I would find many are also TH scabs. Now don't get me wrong not calling all who sell there wrong. My point is Mattel through the RLC could prevent some of this by preventing over buying.
    My experience; well I think I have been a collector from age 2 I'm 49 now. I love Muscles hot rods. I went a stray during my teens and lost what you could imagine was a treasure. When I married my brother in law was a wee little shit. So I started grabbing them for him. THs were just making their mark. Without realizing I grabbed the 68 Camaro. Anyway my BL grew up and baseball cards became his thing so I kept the HW MB going and eventually had kids of my own. The Moral here is I no longer seek the TH if happen to come across one great. It's supply and demand and as long as you have something that is limited your going to have this. The problem is the collectors with OCD are giving these people that are ravaging the bins a place to get rid of their stash. It's a shame, I've seen fights my YOUNG children seen fights and arguments it became ridiculous. It wasn't til I got into it with a very stupid individual that almost cost me bail money when he tried to take a ticket from my youngest for a Kday event that I called it quits. I keep collecting what I want not everything anymore. I'll buy old junkers and restore them not to original but what I want them to be. My youngest is 13 now and he still wishes we could go to Kday he loves his Lambos.
    Everything though is becoming a nitemare. The Pop Culture 2 series didn't even pop up here in Philly it stinks…

  18. I forgot I wanted to address to store employee. Some not all reap what they sew. I've seen first hand how some will take care of their regulars. I've only seen Target crack down on this. I've had a manager in Montgomeryville Pa store come right up to my check out line and remove a TH that I plucked from the pegs and his employee tell me he takes them for himself. So lets not feel bad for all of them. It's a corrupt system with no way to enforce it. As long as you have suckers that will pay this will continue. Just to make clear to these suckers most Supers and main lines tend to fall eventually in price. Happy hunting. Hope you keep this topic in the lime light. My opinion $THs should be a mail in for the collector who can prove at the end of the year what they have spent on the hobby. Where they can get the entire set at cost a dollar each. There are ways.
    Why overseas are screwed I have no idea other than shipping costs. Feel for you guys.

  19. I check, like you everywhere I go, I have NEVER found a super Treasure Hunt, anywhere, yet i was lucky enough to find an unopened matcbox case, which I opened, and found the Routemaster, I now have two of those, as i bought my first off of eBay with its normal release for £5.00, not sure they knew what they had, especially as the rest on the bay were going for stupid money, it was only listed as a buy it now, and i found it within a couiple of minutes of listing it…. thats my only real luck.

    I still check out the supermarkets, in the hope that they may get something modern in, and i have given up on our TRU, they last had MBX three years ago, and the HW, well, they are the same 6 models that have sat there for months, two of which are sellotaped up……

  20. Good on you guys for this discussion. Perhaps it will inspire action and changes will happen.

    Here’s my thoughts about it. (Humbly offered, as clearly there are some pros here.)

    I am brand-spanking new to the Hot Wheels and Matchbox collecting community (a couple of months now). Honestly, until I happened upon the Lamley blog I didn't know the community existing.

    This is the first time I have heard of “supers.” Maybe I will get caught up in the chase–which sounds like a futile effort, after reading this–but I am still in the “collecting things that appeal to me” phase. Perhaps that changes after a while and that's where everyone starts, I don't know.

    While I am not dropping huge chunks of change on eBay, I pick some things up there, and I still find things I like hanging on the shelves of the stores.

    For me there is a cautionary tale here. I've been a collector of things for a while now and I've been on the “my interest has become an obsession” side of things more than once. (To be clear, I begrudge no one the thrill of the chase. Embrace it. Do what brings you joy.)

    I think my point is, at my level of collecting, I am (and hope to remain) blissfully unaware of what's happening in the back of the stores as I peruse. I expect we all are thrilled when we see what we want on a peg (or from one of the trusted sellers on eBay). That’s where I want to stay.

  21. They basically sell Super TH's. We have all the lines of cars that are mostly metal and with Real Riders. The Grateful Dead series and the Pop series are essentially Supers. Its just the rarity.

  22. Nice to read all the responses and to see it IS worldwide. In the Netherlands $upers are impossible to find (last one was the Fairlane in 2012) even without the crazy scalpers in the US. All other lines are available through collectors who buy extra's. So with distribution being bad and a $ 2,50 pricetag for a mainline, the fun is kind of taken out of the whole game.

  23. Here in Vancouver, BC (Canada) it's been much of the same thing. The Toys R Us nearest me has very little on the pegs, and of what is there, it's all old stock. The grocery stores (SuperStore, Save-on-foods) all have old stock, too. Wal*Mart and Target also are sparse and have radndom stock. I may go out tomorrow and take a look and see what's out there as Christmas is getting closer, but more and more I feel as if the stores, or Mattell have just given up.

    In regards to the collector thing. I am not a full bore collector. I go buy the cars that I like, ones that I've always wanted to own in real life, or have just plain lusted for since being a boy. I've never understood the need to buy up all of one type of car due to it having a “TH” on it. But that's just me! And I have to say that if I were to see some fool wrecking a dump bin just to get at a car, I'd give him a swift kick! Anyway, rant over.

  24. My local Kmart pegs were bare so I asked if they had any more stock to bring out. After much searching outback they ended up bringing out 4 new cases, ALL of which were opened with one or two cars missing. I have been frequenting this store for years and never found a TH. SAY NO MORE. This is Australia.

  25. i dont know what it is but here in India you can only find hot wheels in big malls and that too at a cost of 1.89 dollars for one car.thats expensive but besides that i have never found a super and the last thing which i bought was 12 ford fiesta regular hunt.moreover even some decent models in mainline are VERY hard to find.hate this thing.

  26. As a collector i can say that i am disturbed by the Ebay vultures scarfing up every possible money car from these bins etc. I am in Upstate NY and there have been no Zamacs at Walmart the whole entire year as I watch each new asst appear on Ebay. It turns the good collectors into vultures too. I want to know why the case assortments seem to drop off as the year closes out. Later I get to see all these great cars go for big bucks from those “rare” cases.

  27. it's a common thing here in mexico the hoarders are in connection with the mattel guy's that are in charge of restocking the displays this dudes literally milk the cases to get the more expensive stuff STH to sell them to the so called collector friends multiplying the cost to 10 times it;'s value is not fun no more im collecting pop cultures and other lines of hot wheels because is a 1000 to 1 shot to find one in the store THANK YOU MATTEL GUYS

  28. The problem rests strictly on the shoulders of scalpers and hoarders. In fact even this very blog has sellers that charge ridiculous prices for a 99 cent car. The entire hobby has become a joke. A high percentage of retail stores that carry the product has a scalper in chief working there. They build their client list and charge them to pull the good stuff out of the various cases. I have seen Walmart dump bins overflowing as the employee that is responsible dumps ALL the warehouse stock into them in the middle of the night to get the collectible stuff. There is no more fun in collecting anymore.. It is buying what you want for ridiculous prices. The vultures reside in every aspect and they are the ones that have destroyed the hobby.. I do not need treasure hunts any more. I put the real riders and nice rims on the cars that I like and the collecting part is much cheaper in the end…

  29. I never look for Hot Wheels at Walmart anymore. It's a waste of time. Thank God I live close to several Fred Meyers. Last Thursday I found a Super TH, FIVE secret THs (I only took one) and several other hard to find cars – all at one Fred Meyers.

  30. So true, and here in México this thing is worse………. People at Mattel México checking the cases before they send it to the stores, and if there are any left supers, employees take them anyway. I have not found a single super yet. And when you go to a flea market, there are tons of time machines hover mode at 6-7 dollars each!!! and when you talk to a manager, they usually give you a big NO, and it´s because of the bad collectors or because they already took the good stuff for someone who pays better……

  31. I think with Hot Wheels being such a low-price, high volume fast moving commodity, most stores don't seem to find it viable to list the cars, let alone have employees reserve it for shoppers. A good reason to hunt. Another is that if you are looking for a particular car (e.g. Nissan 180SX) there may only be 1-3 per box– another reason to hunt. If you are looking to resell as I am, and end up getting stuck with slower moving cars and disappointed collector customers then you want to buy lots of the car on eBay or through a toystore. Then they have to hunt. I guess everyone can be a little more reasonable in the hunting.

  32. Supers hunt is good, except here in ID where you can't even find one because collectors have worked together with the employees so they were given the supers for a bit of cash into the employees's pocket

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