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Hot Wheel and Matchbox Cars

Collecting Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars has been one of the most popular hobbies in the 20th century. Not only for the mass produced items made by the large companies such as Mattel but also with many people designing and building their own miniature vehicles.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Hot Wheel & Matchbox resources. We have a Hot Wheel & Matchbox forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Hot Wheel & Matchbox how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Hot Wheel & Matchbox books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

 

Introduction


There are many avid Hot Wheels and Matchbox enthusiasts around the world who love to talk about, collect, and learn about these wonderful toy cars that bring back many fond memories for so many of them from their youth. Almost every young boy who grew up in the sixties, seventies, and eighties (and still to this day) have had, at one time or another in their life, owned a Matchbox or Hot Wheels car. It has become almost a rite of passage, a tradition passed down from father to son and the popularity of these toys hasn’t diminished much through the years.




While the average individual might not fully understand which car came first, the Hot Wheels or the Matchbox series, since they are very similar in their shape and size, it was the Matchbox car that was first introduced to the world by the Lensney Company in England back in 1953.




Collecting Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars presents a number of interesting situations for the avid collector and die-hard enthusiast, not the least of which is the fact that while there may be countless cars for sale in garage sales and tag sales around the country and around the world, there are not nearly as many that still have the original packaging that it came with. It is these cars that make a collector strive to continue to seek out and discover the hidden gems that invariably exist in some of the farthest corners of the countryside, lost and forgotten about in some basement for decades, or in an attic that is only now being cleaned out.




The condition of many of these Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars will vary as well, with some showing the original color and condition that it had been packaged in, as though someone took extremely good care of their toys, while others will have suffered the usual actions and behaviors of children who played with their Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels every day for months on end.




Depending on the level of commitment a collector has to his or her hobby, or the financial interest in collecting, there will be a wide range of possible acquisitions that will appeal to a wide range of collectors. If a person is aiming to collect Matchbox cars only for personal gratification and they aren’t overly concerned with the condition of the toys themselves, then they will have many opportunities to find the models and years that they are interested in.




If, on the other hand, a person is interested in the financial gains that can be found through the sale of classic Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars in great condition, then their prospects will be greatly diminished by comparison.




As with any hobby, though, it’s important to remember that if you have no passion for it, it won’t last long. However, if you have a serious love and affection for Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, then you will find that collecting them will be incredibly rewarding and the number of unique and original cars and trucks that you will find will keep you busy for many, many years to come.




Getting Started


Collecting Matchbox cars or Hot Wheels can be rewarding for just about anyone, whether they had the joy of playing with them as a kid or whether they have only recently stumbled on the exciting world of collecting. For many people, it’s not about the monetary value of the toys themselves that matter but the connection to their youth.




Yet beginning any collecting hobby demands that the individual establish their goals and limits, otherwise a fun and rewarding hobby has the potential to became a dangerous and costly obsession.


 



Budget


When you want to get started collecting Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, the first thing that you will want to do is set a budget. Determine how much you are willing to spend on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis on your new hobby. It’s a good idea to determine all three of these factors because one week you may stumble across a car that you can’t pass up, but one that also exceeds your weekly or monthly budget.




By establishing a budget limit, you ensure that you won’t overspend, turning your hobby into a financial nightmare. Once you set a budget, stick to it. Unless you find a first year original Matchbox, in it’s original matchbox-style package, in mint condition at a price you can’t pass, then your budget will help keep you from overspending.




Determine what kinds of Matchbox cars or Hot Wheels you want in your collection




If you are interested in finding the Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars that you played with as a child, then you will have very specific years to look for. If, on the other hand, you are interested in finding as many early editions of the cars from when the company that released the Matchbox cars was Lensney Company in England, long before Hot Wheels were even introduced, then you will likely need to look toward other collectors who are willing to part with them.




The older the edition is, the fewer there will be in existence, which means that the price for each one, even in poor to fair condition, will increase.




Many people find that starting out a collecting hobby is much easier and more gratifying when they focus on the more readily available items first and then gradually focusing on the harder to find models later on. This is akin to collecting coins. Most avid coin collectors began their collection with the common, everyday coins that they would find as change in their pockets. As time wore on and their collection grew, then they began to look for the less common, harder-to-find coins.




The reason that this is preferable to most is that in the beginning of any venture, gratification reinforces the desire. If you set out to only collect hard to find items, then it will be easier to lose interest and give up because there simply aren’t as many of these collectibles available and certainly not in the range of affordability for most people.




Keep it simple in the beginning and expand when you have a handle on the process.




Where to Find the Toys


There are a number of places that are ideal for locating these Hot Wheels and Matchbox collectible cars. The first and easiest place would be online. Through auction sites or online stores that specialize in these collectibles, you will likely be able to find some of the less classic models for sale at lower prices.




Antique stores commonly have Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars for sale.




Flea markets are a hotbed of unloading unwanted items for many people, as are garage sales and tag sales. Since many children growing up have a small collection of their own Matchbox cars, when they leave the house and head off to college and to build their own lives, the parents are left to get rid of many of their toys. These Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars are often sold in bulk quantities, meaning you can find a number of cars for very inexpensive prices. Within some of these sales one might even find a small treasure of special model or collector’s edition.




Displaying the Hot Wheels and Matchbox Cars


When you collect Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, you most likely will want to display them for guests to see, to look at, and recall those moments of their youth when they too used to play with them. There are a few options that you can use to display these toys.




The first is a manufactured case designed specifically for Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. The case will have a narrow compartment for each car situated just behind a sheet of clear plexiglass. This case will likely be able to be mounted on the wall or placed on a shelf. There are also different size cases to accommodate different size collections.




The Matchbox cars can also be displayed loosely on shelves, depending on the individual’s design preferences and the type of cars that they own.




You can also make your own case out of fine wood, such as oak or maple. This is an elegant way to show off some of your new hobby’s prized work at acquiring these toys.




Frequently Asked Questions


Are Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars really worth anything?




As with any collectible item, the value of that item will depend on many different factors. The first is the condition of the item. Matchbox cars from the early days of their release, such as when they were released by the Lensney Company as opposed to Mattel, in their original matchbox style packaging, can be worth quite a bit of money since they tend to be rarer. Also, demand will be a factor in determining the value. If there are many people who want a particular Matchbox car, for example, then the price of those items will be driven up.




It’s not likely that Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars that were used and played with extensively and manufactured in the late seventies and eighties, however, will be worth much money at all. Still, for enthusiastic collectors, the value of these cars are often measured in factors greater than money.




How do I get started collecting Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars?




Getting started on collecting of any type of memorabilia is relatively simple. With Matchbox and Hot Wheels, though, there are a number of entry points for people to get into. The first thing is to determine what level of collector you want to be. Are you only interested in collecting to make money, to find toys that have high monetary value, or are you interested in collecting the cars that were produced during your childhood years?




There are a number of groups online that share information and their passion for collecting Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars with other people. It is here on these discussion posts that you can learn a great deal about collecting these toys, the value that some of them hold, where to find the best selection, and even books that others have written to help you in your quest.




I used to have a ton of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars as a kid. Is there any way to find out what ones I might have owned?




Avid collectors can help you determine which models were released during those years of your youth. There are also books that you can purchase that will show the different cars, models, and types that were release in different years. Special collector’s editions will also be highlighted here.




Where can I find Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars to buy?




Online is the fastest growing method of tracking down Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars to purchase, but there are far more available that haven’t made it onto the listing of the World Wide Web just yet. Visit any number of antique shops, tag sales, or garage sales and you’ll likely find these cars. Flea markets are also a boon to collectors around the world. In many cases, however, the condition of the Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars in these places will likely be lower and the original packaging may no longer be part of the collectibles. In these instances, the collector will likely be more interested in acquiring them personal posterity, rather than any financial incentive.




Conclusion


Being able to collect items from one’s youth is an incredibly powerful emotional connection to the fond memories that people have, but forget about through the natural course of time. Collecting Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars can be a rewarding hobby for the dedicated enthusiast. Whether you show them off in a collection or put them away for a future generation, these toys are iconic markers of millions of childhoods around the world.




Getting started with any collecting hobby requires some time and patience and education about the different types of items, their values, and what to look for. There have been a number of imitations through the years, so it’s important to look at the markings underneath the vehicles to be sure that you are getting the genuine item.




Sometimes collecting items requires a person to have money to spend, but when it comes to Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, there are many opportunities to get started that won’t cost much at all. Many collectors state that it’s the action of finding them that they enjoy most and that actually acquiring them is the bonus. Each collector will need to determine what they define as a success and what they are willing to do in order to obtain the type of item they want. Ultimately, though, there are many collectibles available for people around the world and one of the most exciting and fun ones happen to be Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars.