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Brickseek – the hobby’s worst kept secret – is no longer listing Target inventory. Is this a good thing?

The hobby has changed quite a bit in the last few years.  The biggest influencer on our hobby – and all other collector-aimed hobbies – has undoubtedly been social media, Instagram especially.  Communications increased, the crowds bigger, the opinions stronger, and the influence enormous.  That is good and bad to be sure.

The social media effect has probably been the biggest influencer on how we collect.  It is very different.  I am not talking about WHAT we collect, like the move to JDM for example, but HOW we collect.

What brought folks to the stores early or overnight ten or fifteen years ago were the rarities.  The Treasure Hunts of course, but variations and other rarities were a big deal as well.  Variations especially were a blast to hunt.  Sometimes they were super easy to spot, other times incredibly difficult.  Wheel variations were always discussed, and were always a trip to find.

While Supers continue to headline the hunt, the rest has changed.  Call it what you want – the hoard is one – but having as many of one specific model has now become a thing.  Instagram is littered with find photos of 20-30 of the same model.  Like it or not, it is a thing.  And it has increased a lot in the last couple of years.

Mixing that with the usual $uper pursuit has created an intense competition to get somewhere first, and brickseek.com has become everyone’s tool.

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Haven’t heard of brickseek?  It might be because those that use it don’t want anyone else to know.  But the truth is there are more that do know about than don’t.  I’ve used it several times, and even used to carry a link to it here on the blog.  It is a site that lists Target and Walmart inventories in real time.  Search for the SKU you need, like basic Hot Wheels, add your zip code and you can see how many are in nearby stores.  If the number goes up, the store has restocked.  That means there are new Hot Wheels to grab.

There are other ways to know, but brickseek is the most used.  And it just changed.  Target has requested that brickseek no longer list inventory numbers.  You can only know if the models are there or not, meaning there is no way to tell if the store restocked.

Walmart remains the same, but it would not be surprising to see that change as well.

So, those of you who are familiar with brickseek, what do you think?  Bummed about it?  Happy about it?  Call me mixed.  It has been a great tool, but it has changed the way we hunt.

It could surely change things again.  It definitely evens the playing field again.  And if it means the same folks in the know don’t hit the stores at the same time, more product might be available.

I have tried to stay in the middle when it comes to how folks hunt.  I have no problem with those that get to the store first, or hunt overnight.  I have always hated the term “scalper”, because while there are some that just hunt to resell, “scalper” is used too often to vilify the person who just simply got there before you.  I also don’t think someone is a bad person for buying every Super they find.  I sure have, and I still haven’t seen any example of a Super knowingly being left.  But seeing models scooped up in such massive numbers be one person is a little frustrating.  I like seeing exclusives especially, like the Walmart Zamacs and Target Red Editions, being shared in the store.

The lack of inventory numbers also eliminates one thing I am REALLY happy about.  The “in-the-know” collector who hounds associates because they won’t bring the cases out that they know are in the back.  Stores are not obligated to bring stock out, and they have their reasons if they don’t.  It is fine to nicely ask, just not harass.  There are a few bad apples that really give collectors a bad name when they hound an associate, threaten with “I’ll call corporate” nonsense, and then go hound another if they fail with the first.  If this brickseek change eliminates the unsavory collector, our whole hobby is better off.

My guess is if brickseek’s ability to tip us off is eliminated, another site will emerge until it gets stopped too.  But time will tell.  For now, the old school blind hunt is back at Target, and it could make finding the good stuff that more fun.

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14 thoughts on “Brickseek – the hobby’s worst kept secret – is no longer listing Target inventory. Is this a good thing? Leave a comment

  1. I find so much enjoyment in the hunt. That’s 95% of what makes collecting fun. But the hotwheels collector world is plaged with he same issues as every other collector world. So we see target as doing bad or good to our “community”, but think about how many times an associate is bugged by a diecast collector, then an action figure collector, then a stamp collector, then a paint can collector…all day everyday. Target is looking out for Target, and can you truly blame them? We have all seen what how so-called “collectors” destroy the toy isles and then head home, leaving a path of destruction behind, and then to pester employees that won’t cater to them because “know” a box is in the stock room.

    However, brickseek and other inventory tracking sites are an easy way to locate items in nearby stores that you may be trying to track down, like that pair of shoes you want but can’t seem to find in your size.

    And I’m touching on this only because you mentioned it, I will never understand, the need for 10+ of the same exact model. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s hard enough to store and display 1 of each. I hope this “trend” dies out soon more of us have a shot at some of these awesome new models coming out in 2018!

  2. I’m happy and I’m glad that Target is doing this. This will make hunting more fun. Going to the store’s and looking for stuff that you won’t know what will be there until you get there thumbs up.

  3. I have never heard of this website before. It all makes sense now…I see why I’ve had such a hard time finding the new batches! Glad to hear that the playing field is being leveled a bit.

  4. I’ve never found it to be terribly reliable. The Walmart that I check most often is constantly showing 400+ Hot wheels, yet has less than 40 on the floor. The toy manager I’ve spoken to even claims that he’s zeroed the inventory in an effort to get more inventory. So as usual for these type of hings, YMMV.

  5. Nice try Target, but is isn’t going to do much to the parasite scalpers, most of them either work at the store, or know someone that does, also some of them do this several times a week, they start in the morning when the 24 hour walmarts are open and work there way around to when the Targets open, wether the use brikseek or not, its going to be the same results, at least in my area, and its WIDESPREAD

    • I forgot to ad one thing, why doesn’t Target seem concerned with the fact that their employees take supers and other cars (and other things like electronics that go on clearance) before they hit the floor, or why are they not concerned when a real collector comes in, and asks if there is any new stock in the back, and even if there is, they won’t walk their ass back there to get one stinking box to bring up, even if they are not doing anything ???

  6. John,

    I have used brickseek for a lot of other thing than toys. As my 3 WM’s never carry the same thing I have used it to find items that one store refuses to carry. Just yesterday I used it to find a store that carried the joggers that my son loves. He needed some new ones and none of the three stores in my town carried them. I searched a nearby town as I was traveling and bought him 3 pairs. SO I would like to say it is a valuable search engine, I just use it for more than diecast.

    • I was going to bring this up. It may “level the playing field” for HW Collectors, but it’s a loss for a LOT of other things. Sure, it was a scalpers dream for many things, like the recent SNES classic. But we used it for food/clothing that was on sale and didn’t want to waste time going to three different Targets for frozen pizzas on sale or whatever. It was a useful tool that I never even used for HW! I hate to point fingers, but I imagine scalpers (not just HW) have ruined this for everyone.

  7. I’ve never heard of brickseek. Back when, the only way we knew if a car or variation was rare was if only a few were ever found in comparison to other versions. And a really cool rare version was always the most sought-after. I only reserve the term “scalper” for these flea market critters who have many multiples of even the non-TH mainline cars and then have the nerve to tell me they’re rare. They also babble on about how they’re “helping” collectors. The latest example I can think of is the Gas Monkey ’68 Corvette. I’m sure others have happened since. This “gotta-have-at-least-10-of-this-hot-casting” nonsense is nothing new. It’s been going on since the early-mid ’90s.

  8. It’s all of the issues, annoyances and frustrations that people have touched upon in their comments above that make me increasingly thankful that I’ve allowed myself to settle into more of a “casual collector” groove. My desires and wish list for what models I’d like to snag are right up there with the more rabid collectors, but I refuse to allow myself to become what so many collectors have become.

    – I do not use Brickseek or any comparable resource, I go in blind and hope for the best. This is what makes the hunt fun for me.
    – I do not hound employees of stores I go into…who would want to be on the receiving end of that? I have more dignity.
    – I go to stores at odd times on occasion to see if I can get lucky…late at night at Walmarts, opening time at Targets, etc. And sometimes I’ll open up a case myself if there’s one sitting there that they haven’t gotten to yet…but I do so neatly, don’t leave a mess, and NEVER take more than one of a model, because if I were the second guy there, I know I’d appreciate that.

    Ultimately though, I really take a “what will be will be” approach. Yes, this means sometimes I miss out on something I want (but not as often as you’d think), but you know what? I still get lucky sometimes. My ’67 Camaro Super is proof of that.

  9. Brickseek only let’s you know the inventory, but they rarely put them on the floor at the same time. I’m not one to ask either, but it is nice to know. I also unfollow anyone posting large hoards. I find it to be immature and provocative. I don’t need that stress in my life.

  10. It seems like I am not alone- I have never heard of Brickseek. The fact that that tool exists blows my mind that I have found what I have found in general- while my luck at Walmart is not good, Target has treated me well. I never wait outside stores or go late at night. When I can run in, I do. I wonder if this will help me even more in the future now that Target no longer shows stock? Lets hope!

  11. I’ve taken to looking for signs in Asda (Walmart UK) that new HW are incoming. The usual is filling up with old case stock. There’s also their own brand generics which are currently about 3:1 in stock compared to Mattel mainline. Finally, they have discounted the Lamborghinis to £2 and mainline to £1 to try and shift stock.

    My workplace stocks Majorette and HW mainline and yesterday they had new clip strips, which I spotted about 15 minutes before I finished. I love that part of the chase, and whilst it sounds good in practice, I’m not sure I’d want inside knowledge through an app.

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