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.
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.