Are you a "scalper"? The thrill of the random find vs the pursuit of the pot of gold…

A photo posted by Las Vegas Diecast Hunter (@diecast_hunter) on May 19, 2016 at 5:43pm PDT


No topic seems to spur more conversation among Hot Wheels collectors than that of the “scalper”.  It has always been an iffy term among collectors, but has been used as long as I can remember.

The “scalper”, at least from what I can tell, is the collector who combs through store after store, night after night, looking for Hot Wheels that he or she can sell for a profit the next day.  At least that is what I think the most simple definition is.  That is what a ticket scalper does, so that term fits for a Hot Wheels collector that does the same.

Of course “scalper” has many more uses in our hobby.  Among them, my favorite is the assumption that the guy who got to the pegs or bin before you is “clearly a scalper”.  Only someone with evil intent could rob you of the Supers that were meant to be yours.  Scalper seems to be the most widely used term whenever someone goes on a “what’s wrong with the hobby” diatribe.

I am not too fond of the word.  It is too easy to call someone a scalper.  Sure, someone taking every desirable model from a bin before I get a chance at one is frustrating, but I have found that eventually I am able to find what I am looking for – minus the Supers of course.  But calling everyone a scalper is too easy.  It is too easy to justify our own behavior by vilifying everyone else.

Yes, the person first to a bin will more-than-likely grab every Super they find, and that is the prize.  I don’t think anyone can fault another for doing that, even when someone finds a whole case of them.  But grabbing everything even remotely desirable?  Zamacs, New Models, anything these days with the words “Skyline”, “Datsun”, or “Japan” on them?  That makes the folks fume, many times me included.

Well, the topic of scalpers has taken a turn.  With social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, so-called scalpers can let the world know of their bounties, much to the scorn of some, and amazement of others.

And no one gets the folks going more than Instagram member Joe, aka @diecast_hunter, a Las Vegas resident who has made overnight Hot Wheels hunting a science.  It seems that everyday, collectors can wake up to new posts of the Hunter’s finds.  And it isn’t just a handful of Hunts.  Many of his photos look like this:

A photo posted by Las Vegas Diecast Hunter (@diecast_hunter) on Jun 23, 2016 at 11:24pm PDT


or this:


or even this:

A photo posted by Las Vegas Diecast Hunter (@diecast_hunter) on Jun 16, 2016 at 12:11am PDT


What does Joe do with most of these?  He sells them.

My guess is if you haven’t seen these pics, or are not following Joe’s IG feed, you are forming an opinion about him right this second.  Las Vegas collectors have opinions of Joe, some good – “he allows me to stay home and still get what I want” – and bad – here is a reddit post for your entertainment.

Now I am not here to torch Joe, nor am I here to defend him.  (My guess is the comments section here and elsewhere will do plenty of that.)  But I did want to ask him why he does what he does.

Me?  I much prefer the random find hunting method.  Essentially, when you have a minute, almost always during the day, hit a store and see what you find.  Sometimes you find the model you have been looking for, or maybe a cool error that was hard to detect, and on that very rare occasion, a Super that someone missed or was just put out.

To me, finding a Super would not be nearly as fun if I EXPECTED to find one.  I don’t check to see what is en route, I don’t hit stores at opening, or hunt overnight.  Random store, random time, random find.

Because it doesn’t happen that often, each find is special.  So I keep all the Supers I find stashed away, carded and all.  It isn’t enough to fill one Hot Wheels case, and because each of them was random, I can tell the story of each find.  Where, when, and what the circumstances were.  I have had some good years – I think one year I found 10 of the 15 released – and some bad.  Like this year.  I just found my first 2016 Super 4 days ago:

And finding that Daytona was awesome!  It was as exciting as it always is, because it was completely unexpected.  Totally random, at a rural Utah Walmart, at about 2:30 in the afternoon.  Into the Super stash it goes.  And yeah, I fully understand that I have been luckier then most.  I credit that to the rural stops.  Here is the whole “found in the wild” stash:

If I was out all night, trying to accumulate as many as I could, to sell or just keep, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun.

But that is just me.  There are plenty of door warmers and pallet raiders out there, giving up their nights for the hunt.  And that is fine.  If someone wants to dedicate that much time to finding Super Treasure Hunts, then let them enjoy their spoils.  It might piss you off, but you know the solution.  Get out there and join them.

So what about Joe?  What drives him?  Is it the hunt?  Is it a financial need?  Is he just pure evil, a la Ramsey Bolton?  Does he get a thrill watching everyone else squirm when he posts his finds?

I asked him, and his answer:

To me it’s a full on Hobby, Collecting is just part of it, the rush is from the hunt. I get the cars that I want and I help others get the cars that they want and not have to pay them ebay rates. Alot of people don’t understand when there’s like 20 walmarts within an hour you don’t have to get all your cars from one bin. I’m a collector as well so I do leave at least one of each model I grab but you know I ain’t bout to leave a $uper. Hahaha. 

Damn, it’s the thrill of the hunt as well.  I was hoping I was the only noble one.

Of course, Joe might be slightly more addicted to the rush of the hunt than others, and he has found that selling his finds helps support it.  We can all relate to a certain extent, or we wouldn’t buy those Supers when we come across them.

We all collect for different reasons.  Better, we all collect for a big messy mix of reasons.  For some like Joe, it is more about the hunt than anything else.  For others, it might be completing full sets.  For others, just having cool little replicas of the cars they love.  We are all probably a mix of all, or we wouldn’t be so into Hot Wheels.

Ultimately, Joe wants it more than you and me.  Or we would make an overnight hunt work.  And that is just how it is.

I did an overnight hunt with a friend one time.  I was even successful in finding a Super.  But it was exhausting, long, and not worth it for me in the least.  
But for others, it is.  Right or wrong, it is part of the hobby…

Look at the monsters those bastards over at Mattel have turned us into.

(Special thanks to Joe aka the Diecast Hunter for allowing to write about him.  Have at it with your opinions, but please don’t make it personal.  Joe buys a lot of cars, that’s it.  Share your feelings about that.)

A photo posted by Las Vegas Diecast Hunter (@diecast_hunter) on Jun 2, 2016 at 9:29pm PDT


110 Replies to “Are you a "scalper"? The thrill of the random find vs the pursuit of the pot of gold…”

  1. Not that they were readily available, but in West Portland area(Oregon), I'd run into them from time to time. First time I saw it, I picked up three(2 for me, 1 for buddy), left bunch behind. I think I ended up with couple more after I kept finding them.

    I guess I can be a scalper when I find a chase, or $uper Treasure Hunt?(don't get me wrong, I rarely run into them!). I don't feel bad at all though… I pay my premiums buying a hundred cars online to maybe one $TH I sell for profit. 😉

  2. Hi Steve – I meant in the UK – as a follow on to my 28th June 10.25 post – RealRiders & Metal/Metal are not stocked on UK shelves. Happy hunting.

  3. As a Matchbox collector, it's not “scalpers” that make finding any model I want to take home a three or four time per year event despite weekly store visits, it's that Matchbox cases come packed with a huge number of generic castings that sit on the pegs for months or years, and only a handful of licensed castings that sell out in hours or days.

  4. J has a point, IF it was C-D I wouldnt be social and yeah that is a meseed up way of huntin. Hell, that's not huntin. I'm A-B, yeag I may know when a bin is coming in but I do my homework /legwork , gas-time, to knoe when something is coming in that I'm really looking for. When it's not something I really want I dont put as much effort forward. I don't hit every store and I don't take every car. Yes u buy alot amd when u buy from multiple stores it makes the hauls nice. Sure most times I could be done at one bin but I make sure I leave some behind so I hit multiple to make sure I have alot. Also tend to buy more when the rewards program is going 🙂

  5. Revisiting this post, see people still commenting. J has really good point regarding method of hunting (and see DH response). Thing is, when I first saw these photos, even though I don't live in Vegas, I wanted to *severely dislike* DH and I still don't love what he's doing–the hauls are excessive, even shocking–BUT (1) he's totally transparent: he posts on IG and allowed this article; (2) he appears to sell at reasonable prices. He probably helps out more people in HW community than he's hurting overall, but then again I don't know prices exactly. However I get tired of driving all over the place haha and would probably buy from him; (3) he appears to not clear out any one store. Say he hits 4 or 5 Wal-Marts and grabs 10-15 sets at each store–that may just be half of inventory at each store; he says he leaves plenty; (4) he puts in the work; (5) There are more nefarious scalpers out there, no question. I've seen some real pushy/greedy dudes. I'm sure their hauls go on eBay for high dollar.

    Ok, too much opining, it's supposed to be fun! I just hope DH enjoys collecting in that he's got his own stash of good stuff like most of us do. I don't think he's the worst guy in the world…HAPPY HUNTING DUDES

  6. OMG! The comment that we are all scalpers has a lot of credence. However, there is a different element to scalp if you will. I have no problem with Joe Aka DC Hunter. Listen the guys who are on cussing and have no problem at all with any form of doing it are most likely the guys who are poaching for monetary gain. This is the simple fact if you don't like don't deal with them. Listen there is more important things in life! As far as Kdays most Kmarts will close it's only a matter of time. It is so bad that theyare going to take Sears with them. Now for all hoping that another store will do it, hope for Targets stores. Target has the strictest policy for employees and merchandise. If you ever run across a Target Employee showing favoritism to a collector that employee can be terminated. There is a reason that TRU is dead most of the time when you go in. Most true collectors know there are insiders so they don't even bother. Same goes for Kmart, Wal-Mart will let anyone look in boxes but the guys that can afford to get out there first are the guys that get the first look. Target used to limit guys from buying multiples of models but have easied up on it. They would be the fairest Retailer to take over and the guys that you see come out if it happens are the lowest of the bunch. I found multiple Taildraggers one Christmas season I would only trade them but even that is a long shot. I may at some point just rip the wheels for customs because their just sitting. I have no problem with with guys buying up RRs for project so why should I have a problem with someone spending all their time hunting. That is why I say scalpers are different from poachers. Scalpers usually charge extra for their service but are not out to kill anyone, poachers are the bottom feeders that are out for as much as they can get. It's up to you who you buy or don't buy from. This is not going away as long as collectors are willing pay….

  7. game of scalpers in us is nothing. when scalpers cannot sell their toys, they can always return to the stores. some other countries dont have return policy. so if we accidentally bought something that people don't like, our money are stuck

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