|Over the Hills...
It's been five years since I heard of Hills Department
stores. During that time they have released five Hot Wheels "Special Editions"
cars. This year's car is the last. Hills Department Stores have been bought by Ames, and
the stores have become Ames. While it is possible that Ames will continue the tradition of
an annual Special Edition, they most certainly will not bear the Hills name. It might be
reasonable to expect the tradition to continue as Ames have offered special editions from
Yatming and Racing Champions. So I offer this reprise of Hills cars.
All of the Hills subjects were new castings
when released except the '67 Camaro. For the first three years, Starting in 1995 the cars
are numbered Limited Collector's Editions (10,000-piece runs). In 1997 the Hills release
was part of the Hot Wheels Collectibles line. For 1998 and 1999 the releases are called
"Special Editions" and are no longer numbered. They all come in black window
boxes with silver reflective linings. The car descriptions are printed on the front, and a
brief history is listed on the back.
All of the cars are high-performance machines. Regular readers of my Die Cast Insider
column will have a chuckle at my expense when they read that I think the best one of the
lot is the 1970 Mustang Mach I, the final car in this series. It has the most detail
painting, best color choice, and the most realistic looking proportions.
||'58 Corvette Convertible
||Pro Circuit Chrome 5-spoke
||Chrome with Good Year Real Riders
||'70 Plymouth Barracuda
||Chrome with Good Year Real Riders
||'67 Pontiac GTO
||Chrome with red striped Real Riders
||'70 Mustang Mach I
||Chrome with Good Year Real Riders
Kay Bee Toys, Series 2 Special Edition
Continuing the theme of Special Editions
from retail store chains is this interesting 2-car set from Kay Bee Toys. In the month of
May, "KB" promoted Hot Wheels and offered a free set when $30 worth of Hot
Wheels were purchased. I took this opportunity to acquire some 30th Anniversary cars at
the 3-for-$10 deal. That left me with $20 to spend so I bought four of the Pop N Play/Sto
N Go mini-pay sets with cars that are not offered in blister pack. That took me over $30
and I left the store with my free set and a huge bag.
Within days of this offer being announced and within hours of the cars arriving at Kay
Bee, the sets were gone. This is one hot set and the cars, although not my cup of tea, are
indeed distinctive. And the packaging is truly utilitarian. It is my earnest hope that
Mattel takes a clue from this promo and offers more sets in this kind of packaging. The
thing is, the cars are kept in place inside a 4" x 4" box by a removable clear
molded cover. The display base is labeled with the names of the cars. While there are
people who would prefer that the cars be hermetically sealed inside the package, I am not
one of them. I want to take the cars out and handle them. This package allows for that
without any damage.
Both cars are chrome plated and decorated
with black tampo graphics. The wheels are gold "lace" or BBS-style modular
wheels. The windows are tinted brown. The interiors are tan. There are minute Hot Wheels
logos on the sides and both were made in Malaysia.
The '63 T-Bird has an unpainted metal base.
The Thunderbird script is tampo printed across the back edge of the trunk lid. The area
behind the headrests and the hood are decorated with black tampo graphics. The sides are
also decorated in a similar fashion. The round taillights are painted red.
The '59 Impala has a chrome plastic base
but otherwise has a similar tampo theme decoration as the T-Bird. This set reminds me of
the mail-away club cars that were offered in the '70s. As a sign that perhaps things are
cooling down with these kind of sets, the first two that sold on ebay got between $15 and
$20 per set, not including shipping. The first cars in this series, the Sweet Sixteens in
blue or gold have not appreciably increased in value and are holding at around $9 each. It
may be a good time to get these cars on ebay if you don't want $30 worth of Hot Wheels
above and beyond the set.
Are You Sleeping?
I realized that I may not be paying as much
attention to "things" as I used to be. On two recent trips, I have taken people
with me who DO NOT COLLECT die cast cars. On both occasions, these people have pointed
things out to me that I would have missed:
The first involves some Series 6 Johnny Lightning's. My 18 year old nephew pointed out
that there were cars on the rack that matched mine except that the Collector Coin Number
was lower than the one I had selected.... Silly me I was just trying to find ten different
cars that had the mags in the right place.
The second experience is a more general one - I missed the Hot Wheels Lexus with 5-spokes
hanging on the shelf (I had three different black ones and one red one, so I was not
thinking "new" when and if I ever saw it) So Dad say's - "Hey - do you have
this one?", as he holds it up in my face... Very happy to have another Lexus - not so
happy about the smug look on his face <smiling>.
Which leads me to believe that I have missed tons of other stuff.... I need to stop
looking for the stupid dollar signs and green bands on the corner, and return to my
original charter - buy what I like...
New collectors have asked me for guidance
when getting started with this crazy hobby. For example I was asked about collecting
different color/wheel variations of the same car. Here are my thoughts - or opinion if you
At this time, I collect the cars that I like (which happens to be just about all of them,
I am afraid to say), and every major variation that I can easily find. For example, let's
take the Jaguar XJ220 - I have it in:
with silver Ultra Hots
silver with gold Ultra Hots (Gold Medal Speed)
purple with neon green Ultra Hots (Revealers)
dark blue with silver Ultra Hots
dark blue with gold Ultra Hots (Gold Medal Speed)
pearl white with Ultra Hots (Pearl Drivers)
pearl white with five-spokes (Pearl Drivers)
green with five-spokes (Super Show Cars 5-pack)
purple with five-spokes (Super Show Cars 5-pack)
Just to name a few... There are two or
three Revealers that I am seeking, and will have a heck of a time getting without major
redundancy. Mattel will no doubt release this car in countless other variations in the
future, and I will probably be there to lap it up... On the other hand, we have the
Ratmobile. It was easy to confine my choices to one white with Ultra Hots and one black
with Ultra Hots. Maybe I'll get the five-spoke version when it comes out, but I am NOT
going to have nine (9) Ratmobiles.
There are people who are after every variation, no matter how small. My time and my budget
could not support that kind of activity. And I am not terribly interested in base
variations, since they are not visible with the car on display (in most cases).
That is what is nice about this hobby - you can do what you want. To tell the truth, I got
sucked back into Hot Wheels because I like to collect models of prewar cars and trucks.
Mattel was doing a nice line of Classics
(Doozie, Auburn, Packard, Rolls Royce, Talbot Lago, Mercedes, etc.). So I bought them to
add to my collection of Classic Cars. Then my wife was interested in the VW bugs. Next I found some neat 50's cars that were in
the HW line... And so it goes.
Regardless of what YOU decide to do, remember that with all types of collecting, it is
quality, not necessarily quantity that counts. Or a solid theme. I know one guy that only
collects RED vehicles. His display is stunning, and contains some pretty eclectic items.
Another person collects nothing but Jaguar XKE's
(E-Types to the Europeans and Jag people). Another only collects 1/43 scale.
I also collect old cameras. My only criteria are that it cost under $10 (yard sale
territory here) and that it works. It becomes very easy to decide whether or not to buy
one with those two rules at hand. Of course I did break the rule once - I bought an
Olympus OM1-MD with motor drive for $40 - it worked, and was one of my all time best
deals! Oh, no it wasn't hot. The seller was just motivated. I had the money and he wanted
to clear his table and go home.
Paul M. Provencher
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