When I was 10, I remember looking at Matchbox, Dinky, and Corgi die-cast cars at the neighborhood DIY store. My boyfriend and I had ridden our bikes at speed to the mall, drooled over the store’s glass windows, then plotted to ask my dad for money. We rushed home and begged, “Please, please, please,” promising to be role models. We weren’t.
We cycled back to the store and bought a cap gun instead. My father was livid, I was ashamed. And now Matchbox is celebrating 65 years of inspiring young people to make broken promises. And Hot Wheels just turned 50.
It doesn’t matter to me, I don’t have any of the many Matchbox cars I’ve managed to collect and none would be in collectible condition, anyway, unless weathered paint and missing wheels were desirable – and I certainly did not keep the boxes.
But there must be some polite and considerate adult boys and girls who might have some precious metal in storage – or on a shelf. (Although the artwork on the boxes is more detailed than the roughly crafted Matchbox toys.)
Nor did I learn any lessons collecting Hot Wheels, which hit toy stores 50 years ago. These psychedelic cars from the 60s and 70s were cultural landmarks. For many of us, those speedsters with redline tires blew old-school Matchbox cars out of the toy box. A friend and I bought yards of vinyl track and tortured the cars with twists, turns and paint accidents. Toys had a short life in my hands.
In homage to the fascination many baby boomers have with toy cars, UK-based car insurance company GoCompare.com enlisted a toy car expert to rate the hottest Matchbox and Hot Wheels models. to collect. Neal Giordano, founder of the North Carolina Hot Wheels Association, has been valuing die-cast model cars for over 20 years. He has written two books on the subject and his price guides are used by collectors worldwide. (While once a British brand, Matchbox is now owned by Mattel, as is Hot Wheels.)
The hallowed grille for Hot Wheels collectors is the rear-loading 1969 Volkswagen Microbus Beach Bomb, which was an unreleased prototype. It’s so rare there isn’t even a photo, but Giordano pegs its value at $100,000 to $150,000.
“Rear loading was unique to this Beach Bomb, which makes it so rare,” Giordano said in a statement. “This model was never marketed because its high center of gravity made it susceptible to falling off the track.” (The body was enlarged for production, and there are other colors available, which fetch high prices, Giordano says.)
The pink 1969 Beach Bomb tops his list of the 10 most valuable Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. Here are the other nine:
- 1961 Magirus-Deutz Truck, Matchbox (tan-orange): $11,822
- 1966 Opel Diplomat, Matchbox (seafoam green): $6,682
- 1965 Dodge Wreck Truck, Matchbox (green-yellow): $5,911
- 1971 Olds 4-4-2, Hot Wheels (purple): $4,682
- Custom 1969 AMX, Hot Wheels (blue): $4,357
- 1971 Bye Focal, Hot Wheels (purple): $3,849
- 1968 Mercury Cougar, Matchbox (cream): $3,803
- 1968 Mercury Station Wagon, Matchbox (Yellow): $3,700
- 1971 Evil Weevil, Hot Wheels (purple): $2,913
Collection of questions and answers
Does the color affect the price? Most definitely, says model car expert Neal Giordano. For example, Hot Wheels Redline Pink is often considered a “premium” collectible color, simply because it was not the most popular color among boys and was issued in fewer numbers than colors standard. Many may have been painted over or destroyed during rough play.
But not all pink designs are entirely valuable. It all depends on the model itself. Also, some colors were simply rarer than others in some models. In the late 1970s, Mattel released “alternative” colors that were much harder to find, increasing the value.
What are the rarest models for Hot Wheels and Matchbox? One of the rarest (and most valuable) Hot Wheels models would be the rear-loading Beach Bomb. The pink version is the most valuable, but there are other colors that sell for very high prices. It was a prototype that needed to be modified in width to work with launchers. A good number of them are now in the public sector, but they have never been commercialized. Probably the rarest matchbox was the Magirus-Deutz crane in tan.
Is it worth selling them now or keeping them? It is best to watch the market, as prices and values tend to go up and down. It seems that the values are highest towards the end of the year, when the holidays are upon us. Things tend to calm down in the first months of the new year.
How much does unboxing diminish value? Die-hard collectors place great value on older models that are still in their packaging, especially if the packaging is in excellent condition. It is difficult to determine the extent to which opening or not opening may diminish value, as some models would fetch significantly more than others. For example, because a Hot Wheels Redline Olds 4-4-2 is such a popular model, it would fetch a significant premium if sold in good packaging. But a Beatnik Bandit still in the package wouldn’t be valued as much.
What makes these toy cars so collectible? Many collectors have fond memories of playing with Hot Wheels and Matchbox as children, and starting to collect them again as adults can often rekindle a sense of nostalgia. Many of us don’t have our original diecast cars, so we struggle to find them after years.
Also https://matchbox.wikia.com and https://hotwheels.wikia.com