“Toying Around” is a weekly feature which focuses on some of the more random sides of toy collecting. Mostly, these articles will focus on toy premiums like cereal box toys, fast food kid’s meal toys, gumball machine toys and the like. Enjoy, play hard, but play nice.
Welcome back to another edition of Toying Around. Thanks for joining me, this week. Normally, this column focuses on food premiums and ephemeral toys or really small lines of toys, but this week, I wanted to do something a little different.
What did we all do when we couldn’t get an action figure or a transformer or a vehicle or a video game? We asked for a .99 cent Hot Wheels (or at least I did). I mean, how could Mom ever say no to something that cheap?
I had a literal copy paper box full of them and I also had a red plaid rug in my room which served very nicely as a road system (looooooong before they made those special kids carpets with the roads and stuff already printed on them). It was called imagination? Remember those days? Good times.
There had been plenty of diecast toy cars before Hot Wheels. Matchbox, Dinky, Johnny Lightning, Kidco, Tootsie, etc. all came before, but it was Hot Wheels that changed the game and they did so with their first release.
That first release which is often called the “First 16” or the “Sweet 16” are a group of amazing cars and truck with great paint jobs. The have red lines where the whitewalls of the tires would have been on real tires and are thus called “Redlines.”
Once these first 16 were released, it was literally off to the races for Hotwheels and it has not stopped since. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I know of a more voracious group of collectors than Hot Wheels collectors. Go to any big box retailer when new waves release and watch the frenzy for Treasure Hunts and rare models.
It is almost frightening. I’ve seen fights over these little .99 cent cars. Inasmuch, I find it astounding that these still cost a buck this many years later and quality hasn’t really gone down, either. They are made in virtually the identical way, today, as they were 52 years ago in 1968.
For the initial run, many of the sculpts were based on real vehicles while others were in-house customs. They were all painted in many colors and combinations of what was called “Spectraflame” paint and should have a 1967 or 1968 copyright on the base.
Many of the color combos are quite scarce and if still sealed on bubble cards, they command big bucks. Here is a quick breakdown of the original “First 16” from Hotwheels:
A very desirable car, this one varies in price depending on color of which there are many.
Even though this came out in 1968 and claimed to be the 1968 Mustang, it was really based on the 1967 car. There are many colors for this one and they vary in value and scarcity. This one is my favorite and the first Redline I ever purchased.
This, like so many other came in many colors. Some are particularly rare like the brown colored examples.
Not much to report here other than that this one is sought after. Supposedly this toy came out before the car was announced.
Based on weird in-house custom, this one is rather common, overall.
Another fairly sought after car and a great sculpt.
Obviously, this one is quite different from the production car. It has no roof for starters and is clearly much longer than the real deal.
A weird one, no doubt, given that it’s a luxury car turned muscle car, but the rumor is that the designer of this left Cadilac in order to design for Hot Wheels.
One of the cheap models, this one shouldn’t cost more than $10-$20. It is based on a custom sculpt.
Most of these have a black painted roof as if it had a cloth roof. There are the rare ones that don’t have the black roofs and those are rather scarce and expensive.
A cool concept (I love the surfboards) which is based on an actual Dodge concept truck.
Custom Volkswagen (Bug)
Not technically called the Bug or Beetle, this VW is rodded out version with the engine in the front rather than the back where it was in the real car.
A nice take on the Model-T
Based on the race car from Ford, this is another of the cheaper ones and shouldn’t cost much more than $20-$30.
A strange custom sculpt and a fairly common car. This is the one many recognize because it shows up most often and is least sought-after.
Python (or Cheetah)
The Python version is not particularly rare, but the Cheetah version is and will set a collector back hundreds.
And there we have a brief glimpse into the original “First 16” Hot Wheels Redlines. The less expensive models should only cost about $10-$15, loose, whereas the rarer/sought-after models can run upwards of $100-$125, depending on condition. For the really rare color combos, expect to pay many hundreds for loose examples.
On cards, these can range all over the place but are ALWAYS expensive (as in $200-$500 even for the more common cars, depending on condition, and upwards of $1000 for the rarer ones). Either way you decide to collect these, this was a major turning point in collecting die-cast vehicles and can be a really fun, but also very competitive, hobby.
Until next week, be well, thanks for reading, play hard, but play nice.
NOTE: All products, pictures, names, descriptions and logos are property of their respective copyright and trademark holders. No items are listed for sale. All information is for educational purposes, only.