Let’s talk about today’s Hot Wheels RLC Sale and those excruciating Wheels of Death

I didn’t do a preview of the Hot Wheels Red Line Club Lamborghini Countach today because I didn’t have one to preview. Mattel sends one to me when they can to preview, but considering no one has been in the office in awhile, and Mattel distribution centers are minimally staffed if not totally closed, getting a preview model to a blogger of a model that will undoubtedly sell out is not a priority.

Totally fine with me. I am a member of the RLC, and I was ready to make a go at getting one. (Or two. I have two memberships.)

It went…oddly. The notorious RLC site struck again, this time in a new way. The problems have been well documented. The strange waiting room, created to give everyone a fair chance and eliminate bots, is usually good about doing its thing. It is after that the things tend to go wrong. Strange errors, constant sign-outs requiring the customer to sign back in, a general sense of incompetence.

In some ways these problems get blamed for a general frustration about sellouts. Sellouts are not the problem. We humans are an odd species, and while there will be frustration about not getting a model, if Mattel makes one for every account, no one will care about the model. The quality of the model matters. Strangely the inability for everyone to get it matters more. Mattel will ALWAYS make fewer models than they have RLC members, because if they don’t no one will care and no one will join. You may not like it when you don’t get one, but that scarcity is why you are going for it in the first place.

But that is a different kind frustration compared to what the ineptness of the site generates. Today’s problem was odd. The Wheels of Death reared their ugly heads, but only after buyers had gotten one or two steps in. As I always do, I asked for updates on Instagram, and it appeared everyone was having the same problem. For the first 30 minutes or so, most folks were in ongoing wheel hell. 45 minutes in reports starting coming that a few were getting through, after risky refreshes, but it wasn’t everyone. 30 to 45 minutes after that it sold out.

Clearly 12000 accounts got through. Mine were two of them. I was lost in wheel doom, and decided to try the refresh approach. I had to refresh several times along the way on one account, until the order confirmation screen came through.

The other account seemed to hit too many snags before the model sold out. Confirming the order signed me out several times, error screens popped up, the model made it to my cart, but then the site told me I couldn’t have more than one, and wouldn’t let me remove it from my cart to start over anyway, and ultimately the confirmation screen never came.

Except an email did. After it sold out I saw that my card had been charged and a confirmation email had been sent. I got it. Happy about it, but that should not be the experience for anyone.

The site sucks. There is no doubt. We know it, and Mattel certainly knows it too. In fact those at Mattel that collectors interact with the most are probably more frustrated about it than we are. I have no idea if solutions are on the table, but there should be, no matter how high or low a priority the RLC will be. Sadly we all come back, because we want the models.

There will always be frustration. If you were lucky to get this one, you might not be lucky the next time. The incompetence of the site makes it easy to focus it there, but over time we will all miss out. The models do sell, and even amid all the frustration, we all have an equal shot with the waiting room. Compare it to a sale like those at Supreme, where all desired products are gone within seconds, mainly due to bots, and frustration could be even double.

But that is no excuse for the experience that is buying a model on RLC. We are all frustrated. It is known, but it should continue to be known. Let’s see where this goes.

28 Replies to “Let’s talk about today’s Hot Wheels RLC Sale and those excruciating Wheels of Death”

  1. If your in the waiting room for one hour and it sells out I can accept that.(ok still going to be a sore loser) but letting someone get to the checkout and spinning for one hour thats not right and some form of this always seems to creep up…Hey RLC staff if your reading this please just stop with these sales until you change vendors or get someone who knows less then the current web developer because they are over complicating this… hahaha

    truth be told I saw the car before and thought it was a bit ugly…well 10 after I decided to take one more look and noticed all of the cool little details and of course I was a bit surprised that it wasn’t sold out yet but now I see why

    1. Agreed, for the RWB I never made it past the waiting room before it sold out, and I was fine with that. Very disappointed but it is what it is. I realize there is a of interest in these cars, so it’s not going to be easy to get one.

      What I can’t take is missing out on a car after having to go through all the site issues. Luckily I eventually got through today but I’ve been burned in the past. It sucks.

      This seriously cannot be that hard to fix. In my experience when it comes to IT people….it’s
      not about whether something can be done….it’s all about wanting to do something about it. This can be fixed….it’s just not a priority for anyone, or those in charge just aren’t willing to fix it.

  2. Here I thought I just had a bad signal. The gears ground to a halt, and I got as far as reviewing my order and gave up. The whole process took about 30 minutes. I have the first one, which is good enough for me. Besides, I would prefer the Miura.

  3. Sounds like a lot of us had the same experience today. Went from the waiting room, to add to cart, to the checkout screen, and then back to the waiting room. Only to eventually be brought back to the checkout screen. Which from there took about at least 5 minutes each to get from checkout, to shopping info, to payment info, to review, and finally to confirmation of order.

    Gears of death reared it’s ugly head between every screen. I to tried the refresh method. I refreshed 3 times for every screen. Seemed like 3 times was a charm to be brought to the best screen. Eventually I was successful and what a relief.

    Very glad I was successful, but it’s very frustrating that they can’t seem to fix these issues. It seriously cannot be that hard.

  4. This is just nuts and I am still amazed that they will not address the issues or acknowledge them! And yet they keep increasing the membership every year!
    And by the time you check out, the total comes out to $40 bucks!

    I feel used

  5. Yes it seems we all had that problem today!! Ok look I can live with not getting the model but come on this is getting ridiculous I have yet to complete a purchase all the way to the checkout in the past!! today I actually got in just to get thrown out to have to sign back in and wait again in the lobby and made it again and when just when I thot ok I’m gonna make it this time got booted out AGAIN and had to sign back in AGAIN, this happend with the rwb porche and I just ended up buying it off ebay! I hope they find a solution soon cuz I cant afford to pay 100 bucks on ebay for this one due to money bein a little tight due to the covid crisis!! I just dont see how alot of these that are for sale on ebay say they have more than 2 or 3 available when I can’t even get 1!!! Just doesnt seem fair at all to me but I’ll keep on trying like everyone else and I’ll keep ranting also!! And for those that keep saying lamley gets his stuff for “free” just stop ok theres alot of work involved in doing these shows there is editing and alot.of time and his time is just as valuable as mine or yours so it’s not free he works for it and showcases upcoming items so as far as I’m concerned he deserves all he gets!!

  6. “…but that scarcity is why you are going for it in the first place.” Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your exact meaning here, but I’ll go ahead and take exception to it anyway. For me, the “first place” reason I purchase any special HW release is because I like the model.

    I’m not a member of the RLC any more. For the exact reason that HW/Mattel doesn’t care about. Not being able to get cars because of a combination of rarity and the purchase experience. After the 16 Classics/Display debacle, that was it for me. I had that “collection” in my cart and kept trying to get the purchase to go through. Of course, it never did. Why didn’t HW/Mattel take pre-orders for that collection? Or why “couldn’t” they have done that? Anyway, I’m out of the RLC and I am well aware that HW/Mattel could not care less.

    1. I’m not a RLC member anymore because the last 2 years I couldn’t get through the process of buying the membership because of these errors. How about getting Ticketmaster to run this. They can quickly sell 50000+ seats without too many issues.

      I don’t understand the Mattel concept of taking the core collectors and alienating them by not having enough models to create a secondary market AND killing the vibe with a crumby system.

      1. yeah but rip off Ticketmaster would add 200% to the cost for their charges – which is why i never use them for anything anymore.

    2. My thoughts exactly. And scarcity i doubt is the number 1 reason these models sellout with collectors.

  7. First off, Thank You Lamley for posting about this issue. We all have issues every time there is a sale. I had issues just trying to buy the membership. It’s tough when you’re excited about being a member and having the opportunity to buy these models but then encounter so many problems. It’s almost like I expect to lose and am pleasantly surprised if I do get to buy one. I never made it out of the waiting room on the Porsche before it was sold out, which I was super bummed about and ended up paying another member 70 bucks just so I could have it in my collection. Today I considered myself lucky as I did get to buy the lambo. It was frustrating, I had the same issues everyone else did but I fought through and beat the game. So in the end it seems like we win some and we lose some. Hopefully some bugs can be worked out in the future. Remember folks, it’s a hobby that’s supposed to be fun. Take care all!

  8. Will see how the rest of the year plays out, I have actually been able to get the Lambo and RWB but not without considerable frustration due to not knowing what issue we are gonna have on sale day and am I going to figure out the trick to getting to that sweet confirmation page. Today it was refresh, refresh, refresh to push it through (the rwb sale had other issues, for me it kept logging out and not getting out of the waiting page, I just stuck with it but I could see someone giving up on say after try 6). Well I could see a lot of people trusting the site and just waiting, not being super computer savvy in general, or just not figuring out this months “trick”,… so they have to improve the site (at least pretend to try to be improving it) or I may not be as gung ho to pay Mattel for the privilege of the aggravation next year.

    They are not the only game in town, I find Tarmac Works and some others in that price range just as desirable

  9. I feel we’ve all been kinda brainwashed by the scarcity of the RLCs, myself included. The truth is they’re overpriced for what they are. Yes, the Countach is very nice, but for less money I can have FOUR much more detailed Kyosho 1/64 Lamborghinis. Sure the doors don’t open, but you don’t have to lose an hour and a half of your life watching gear wheels turning.


    I missed out on the 300SL Gullwing due to the same issue, and when I saw what they were going for on ebay, I snagged a much nicer Norev 1/64 casting, also w/ opening doors, for $15 w shipping! The wheels and tires are much more appropriately scaled and the paint is more realistic.

  10. I’m not a member of the RLC as I live in the UK, but from what I hear and read about whenever there is a new release sounds like absolute chaos. What is the point in paying to join a club that doesn’t guarantee that you get the model in what is essentially a raffle ? Why don’t the RLC first of all sort their IT out, and secondly make sure that there are enough models for each member, surely that is the least that you’d expect of a club that you join. Would you join a gym and then turn up and wait for an hour or two until they decide to let you in ?
    The whole RLC and the way it’s run is an absolute shambles and their members deserve better and the sooner that existing members leave the better. Can we not set up another club for proper collectors to rival the RLC where it’s run better and has proper IT and members are guaranteed a model ?

  11. 4. Membership Limitation

    Membership is limited to one per person / e-mail address up to five per household. You are prohibited from becoming a member under more than one name or at more than one address. If we determine or suspect, in our sole discretion, that you have exceeded these limitations, we may, among other things, terminate your membership without refund, reimbursement, or credit of your Membership Fees (as defined in Section 7). Your membership is personal to you, and you may not sell, give, or otherwise transfer your membership to anyone else.

  12. I must be the luckiest person when it comes to the RLC. I managed to get every release last year with the exception of the Gumball Lamborghini which I didn’t care for anyway. I’m 2 for 2 so far this year. Has it been easy? Has it been fun? Heck no, but I still come back. I’ve missed out on more sales before the waiting room began.

  13. Maybe the limited run system in it’s current form doesn’t work? Maybe go for a made to order system where only people who have memberships can order and have a fairly limited buyers window (say 1 day). they produce based on how many pre orders they get. if they get 15,000 orders on something really popular than make 15000.

  14. Took me 45 min. I need to record these attempts. In Waiting room for 20 mins, first screen is not the buy page, but the it’s sold out, click this link if you failed to buy it page. That’s right I got the page before it sold out, long before. I figured I had nothing to lose, F5 refresh and I got the buy page. Click the button, back to the login. F5, click the button – back to the login. Open another tab, check cart – it’s in the cart. Open cart, (OK I save the blow-by-blow descriptions as I then spent the next 25 mins frantically, getting payment info ending with errors like the white screen or the logout or the finally the gears…. F5 F5 F5 F5 made it thru and got the darn thing. I never got out of the waiting room for the RWB.

    The buying process seems longer then it should be, by at least two steps. Buy button, confirm shipping and billing, buy it now.

  15. Exclusivity aside, It would be nice if everyone with a membership got every car. Low runs make the cars very sought after but RLC isnt 100,000+ members. This year could be an issue due to production agreements already in place, factory time and all that, but for future years – If you’re selling 30,000 membership a year, make 30,000 of each RLC Exclusive car and allow folks to opt in/out of buying it.

    Opting in for a purchase allows:
    1. Everyone who wants a car gets it
    2. Extras that can go on sale later for folks that want more than one
    3. Could tamp down on people getting 10+ memberships
    4. MOST important: removes the frustration of the sale and saves HWC web servers from being slammed

    You can have a 72 window starting on the day of the “sale” to log in and claim you car, pay for it, and be on your way. Anything left over at the end of the day goes to the Shop section on a first come first served basis.

    HWC/RLC typically always sells out every-time. Will there be some releases with cars left over if you move to 1 per account created? Probably, but I would argue those will get scooped up by years end as well.

  16. Perhaps this is karma for having two accounts. There are others in the world who would like one model.

  17. honestly, been a member for 3 years now? this year is running just the same as all the other years except for the massive delays in shipping. this model was going to be a fight, I think they all are. it’s funny to me tho, this has never been brought up so strongly by lamley till now.. why now? did the frustration finally build up or does he think mattel will read his post?

  18. The same reason people had problems getting a car is why I couldn’t even get into the RLC this year. I was in the waiting room when it opened, I had logged out just before, cleared cache, all the usual tips. Yet every time I got to the “charge my card phase, I either got spinning wheels or logged out. Kept going through that over and over until I got the sold out message. It looks like ZERO work has been done on the site since then. And this car was the only one I really wanted this year.

  19. I had the gears spinning at many points in the process…I refreshed a few times and made progress…but not enough to buy one. This is infuriating because, in 2020, this should not be happening. There are many other business that have queues for products (airlines, hotels, event tickets, etc.) and they work. So why can’t this?

    Why not just shorten the checkout process? Why can’t it be a single click? Heck…get my consent (option on account) to auto-purchase as soon as I’ve made it through the waiting room? If I’ve had my browser open since 6:00 AM (east coast) then my intention is to buy it.

    This is my second year in the RLC…I’ve missed out on several models due to website issues. This is right at Mattel…fix this…now. You have until the end of my current membership to do it. That’s a lot of time to onboard a modern e-commerce platform…there are many to choose from. RLC may not be a big part of your business…but it’s with the people that spend the most on Hot Wheels. I love the product…I want to keep buying it…fix the issues so that I can keep on spending my money with you.

  20. I gave up trying to join. I was 13 in 1968 when the first redlines came out. I have some, and might have been an original RLC member. I am still not a member again.

    About sales: there needs to be a lottery, period. Members have to register for the drawing in the previous week. Until then, the auction approach will fail until the hardware to handle incoming data matches the data load.

  21. The fewer chances I get to purchase a new release from RLC, the more I care less & less about being a member! I can’t believe the amount of time that has increased waiting to make a purchase.. only to discover an hour & a half later coming up empty!
    You know, If I give up on becoming a member, the money i’d save from joining.. i could just purchase the ones I want on Ebay! The few extra dollars i’d spend would offset the waste of time i’d spend on that miserable website.
    So the fewer purchases one can get means fewer points accumulated at the end of the year; if I remember if you don’t come up with at least 100 points, you don’t get shit! Yes, you might get 99 points and you don’t get an F’in thing, thanks to the brain childs at Mattel!

    On a lighter note.. I have an original release RLC ’55 Chevy Candy Striper Gasser, so…..

  22. I am a first year member and really don’t think I will renew next year. I think it has kinda killed a part of what made hot wheels fun to collect in the first place. The whole fire sale buying process and some members being left out when others get upwards of twenty cars. It just reeks to me. I have heard of new members, that like me, thought the idea of having access to these really cool models would make a already enjoyable hobby even more enjoyable, are 0 for 2 on the cars so far. When that happens it has the opposite effect and takes joy away from the hobby. There has got to be a better system. I was thinking after the countach that they should guarantee a minimum amount of cars to members. So if you scored on say 3 sales for the year, you are done and others that are 0 for 3 would be able to get in. with a little math you could maintain exclusivity of the invidual cars with limited numbers and still make sure that each paying members get a minimum amount of cars.

  23. One idea. Let all member rank all models at the beginning of the year. Then assign models accordingly. If demand is too high for certain models use a lottery. This requires knowing which models are available at the beginning of the year. Some algorithm along these lines should be feasible.

    Or maybe just use a lottery for every model. You pre commit and get refunded if you dont get lucky.

    Personally I forgot about the sale today until 1225 CT. Whoops. But maybe paying double on ebay is better than 1.5 hours of wheels of death 🙂

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