What is the future of Hot Wheels collecting when there is a good chance the blisters won’t last?

I think everyone is pretty aware that the bulk of my Hot Wheels/Matchbox collection is loose. I’ve always preferred the models out of package, obviously to photograph, but also to display. As nice as some of the card art is, displaying all the cards together can look like a big jumbled mess. Aesthetically, loose is better. For play, there isn’t even an argument.

But there are many other reasons too. One, simply, is anxiety. Basing a collection on condition of the packaging can be a stressful proposition. The card has to remain crisp and crease free, and safe from elements that can cause it to age. Thankfully we have a lot of tools to keep them safe, like protectors.

But what about the blisters? It is pretty obvious that the blisters Mattel uses have changed over the last few years, my guess to make them more environmentally safe. That is a very good development, and to me necessary thing to do. Ultimately the main purpose of a basic Hot Wheels car is to be ripped from the blister and played with, so as long as that blister stays intact from factory to store to the register, all is essentially good.

But we know there is much more to that. Collectors want those blisters to last. But it is becoming more and more clear that the new blisters won’t. Or at least we don’t know if they will. Weather, age, and excessive movement makes them prone to cracking and separating from the cardboard. Sometimes before we even buy them. Take, for example, the photos below taken by my friend @ut_ace at Walmart.

Photo by @ut_ace

I have learned this the hard way. I do keep some models carded, either because of the awesome art or because the model is a rare variation or error. Recently I decided to simplify my collection down to loose models and my boxed TLV, so my carded stuff is going. Most have survived the journey to their new homes. Others haven’t, and they’ve all been newer models. At least from the last 4-5 years.

We’ve been watching this unfold over the years. We have seen blisters taped to cards like the first release of Japan Historics. We have seen Matchbox cases opened with almost all the blisters cracked. And the latest Car Culture/Fast and Furious models have been prone to cracking as well.

Photo by @ut_ace

And this is on new releases. What happens as these carded models age? Get subjected to excessive sunlight, or temperature changes?

Simply, does this mean Hot Wheels collecting will change over time? Will the risk of keeping expensive models carded outweigh the joy of keeping them in packages? For me a loose collection is the way to go, but that is my preference. Many others prefer models carded. Will they still be able to do that?

It’s a difficult question. Mattel SHOULD make the materials they use environmentally safe. I think that is what they are doing. That is far more important than a collector preference. BUT, blisters with a good chance of cracking en route to the store or over time isn’t a good thing either. Maybe there is a packaging solution right around the corner. A higher quality blister with a good environmental profile. Maybe the way Hot Wheels and Matchbox are packaged needs to change entirely, ditching the card back and blister norm and moving to something totally new.

Until then, keeping a carded collection may be a difficult, anxious, unfun experience.

21 Replies to “What is the future of Hot Wheels collecting when there is a good chance the blisters won’t last?”

  1. To me, the whole point of packaging is to protect the product–it doesn’t do that. I had a Matchbox London Bus (the 60th chase issue) actually fall off its card. Even worse, back when they had the MB/Skybusters two-packs; nearly all of them fell off in the store.

    I’ve been a fan of boxes, but that might not work out too well.

  2. Much to do about nothing. This is not a systemic problem. Sometimes there are bad runs or bad series but I am more than comfortable with the cars I keep on cards. As long as I don’t kick them around, they will be stuck to the cards long after I am gone.

  3. Until recently, I loved searching the racks to find individual collectible-worthy cars for my son to play with and have visited this site in the past to see what’s coming to stores. But after several run-ins with scalpers at various stores grabbing every single hot new release item vehicle from the displays and leaving nothing for the kids, looking for cool cars has lost its luster. This may be harsh, but I’m gonna shed zero tears over cracked blisters that hurt scalpers’ resale values.

    1. For premium models, I’d like to see them move to some kind of clamshell packaging like Greenlight. Except it should have an edge you can cut away and then the package essentially becomes a protector. Maybe you can do Greenlight like that (idk, I’ve never opened one!), but it should be part of the design to ensure that it is clean.

  4. Meh, I’ve never been too concerned about the garbage. I collect toy cars, not piles of cardboard with cars mixed in.

    1. That’s a ridiculous comment. The point some people have (or their collecting of “garbage” as you call it) is to collect the vehicle in it’s original state. That includes the art and advertising… which just happen to be the packing.

  5. What’s worse, cracked blisters or blisters totally yellowed like they used to do back in the day? I remember when Hot Wheels were produced in China as well and anytime you find a Chinese-made Hot Wheels the bubble was always yellow. Then when you look at a Thailand version, it’s completely clear. So frustrating.

  6. I’m a loose hotwheels collector also. I’m not a cardboard collector. So it don’t matter to me how the blister cards are. So I will always open up all of my hotwheels. 👍

  7. I keep my small amount of carded, boxed out of the way! Anything loose is kept in bubble wrap if being stored. I’m not that concerned about keeping umpteen numbers on minty fresh cards, though I have the occasional unblemished early Skyline and Ferrari still on their cards from about 15-20 years ago! They should be out, enjoyed and appreciated! I’m with Dwight about hoarder’s/scalpers, sitting on stuff til they can be millionaires from them! Fact is, everyone who does this are actually de-valuing each other….

  8. I had a large number of hotwheels and matchbox cars at one poindt but decided to open the packages to see the cars better. As it stands now I have way too many to even think about keeping them carded!

  9. I collect both carded and loose. One of everything I like loose and then for those extra special models that I really love (yes, even mainlines), I’ll buy a second one to keep carded. Does this make me a hoarder or a scalper? No, I don’t think so. I personally enjoy the look and presentation of the car in the packaging. There are graphic designers, artists and packaging engineers working to make this packaging something interesting and visually exciting. Otherwise, these would all come in a plain white box with the name of the model stamped on it (or in a brown paper bag!). I don’t fault those who just want to get to the prize inside, but I appreciate the wrapper as well.

    Sure, I’ve come across a few cars with cracked blisters. Sometimes several in the same set/case. Perhaps a particular case was handled roughly or dropped? Overall, this seems to be a very rare occurrence in my experience.

  10. This whole discussion invokes thoughts of the impacts of plastics in all situations. The first issue you run into with plastics is longevity, or lack thereof. A material that deteriorates, or micro-fragments into dust over time is hardly a material that should be used for something meant to last a long time.

    I have some Corgi models from the ’50s and ’60s, upon which every component is metal, save for the tires which are the typical synthetic rubber you see on die-cast- a plastic product. In 2019, the only parts of those nearly 70-year-old models that are deteriorating are those tires.

    In an era in which so much of what we consume is made of some sort of plastic, it’s interesting and sort of saddening to think about how much of that stuff won’t have survived long enough to be discovered by archaeologists centuries or millennia from now – if that ever happens. We know so much about ancient societies because their materials literally last for ages, but seeing as plastics don’t, we seem to be living in an age in which nearly everything is disposable, and are leaving a very temporary material footprint for archaeologists.

    The other issue with plastics is of course their impact on the environment, as was mentioned in the article here. As an ironic dichotomy to the temporary nature of plastic products, fragmented plastic particles last millions of years after their date of manufacture. The unfortunate outcome of this is that they reside in the oceans, soil, drinking water, animals, and other places.

    I would argue that there is ample evidence to suggest that plastics are ultimately quite threatening and damaging to our environment, and that any attempts made by Mattel to reduce the use of plastics, or to make them easier to recycle or even biodegrade are positive measures, and vastly outweigh any desire to keep toy cars attached to a card.

  11. I have over 13,000 models, over 8,000 are MBX and HW, and it is becoming more of a pain to get damaged blisters, it IS A SYSTEMIC ISSUE, the plastic is thinner, and totally rubbish, all mine get put away after a week of being on display.

    I recently looked into a few boxes i had not looked into for somewhile, and the amount that came out damaged when i know for a fact they NEVER WENT AWAY damaged, is getting ridiculous, if this continues i will end up stopping collecting these two brands, NO other brand has this issue to the same extent as Mattel does, its time they sorted it out PROPERLY

  12. I collect both. I really like the art on some of the packages and many vintage ones are fun to find in the original package. However, If i like the car, it wont hurt my feeling if I cant have it sealed.

  13. Box would be the way to go, as tomica, or older matchboxes…. just leave all plastic and the there would be no “opne or loose” question eiter, you opne if you want, then put it back to the box. Done. I just bought a super Skyline R34 from ebay, it came in a pretty badly cracked blister, was “mint” when sold. No need to mention I collect carded so its a bit of a bummer from my side..

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