Big things with little cars
Big things with little cars

Collecting Hot Wheels/Matchbox, a first world problem

Illustration for article titled Collecting Hot Wheels/Matchbox, a first world problem

Ok, so we all know the frustration that is collecting Hot Wheels/Matchbox. As these are both owned by Mattel and suffer pretty much the same issues I’ll use Mattel from here on to encompass both brands.

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So when it comes to buying casts from Mattel it’s a well known fact that it’s going to be a crap shoot if you are looking for a specific type or variant. This is despite the fact that there are many outlets stocking the product. There seems to be a few factors that are part of this problem.

To start with the way Mattel package and distribute the cast is just bizarre when you step back and take a look. I can’t think of any product other than a bag of random mixed sweets that are distributed like this. To try and explain what I’m getting at we need to imagine we are standing on the factory floor at one of the manufacturing plants for diecast. There are obviously production lines that produce each type of cast, then those are sealed on the correct cards. From there they would go to the final packaging line to be put in the cases in the correct numbers. All good up to this point and obviously the casts are tracked and are identifiable. Now once they go in the case they seem to lose their identity and become a random cast from that time on as far as the selling and distrubrution folks are concerned. I totally understand why this is done as it makes ordering and so on streamlined.

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It also creates this huge problem for collectors as the ratio of killer to filler casts in a case is not great usually. Out of 72 casts there can be as little as 4 highly desirable casts with the rest just filler. So then we have the issue of supply and demand. The casts we want to find are rarely there with so many not even hitting the pegs due to shop assistants running eBay stores on the side. This is a huge problem obviously as some stores never ever have anything worth getting so the peg warmers do their job and new stuff takes forever to be ordered as they just don’t sell. When a new case does come in its treasures are once again mysteriously absent from the now red hot pegs due to the amount of warmers hanging in close proximity!

Then there’s the issue of the much hated scalpers. The ones that somehow get to the new stuff as soon as its out and strip the pegs of anything that’s remotely popular. This is the start of the vicious circle, for many buying from the scalpers is the only way to get the casts that the scalpers took in the first place! Ugh!

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So how could Mattel make this situation better? Can scalpers be made jobless? Can collectors ever be happy? Can we achieve world peace?

Well I think I have a solution to the first three questions at least and it shouldn’t be that difficult to implement. As a bonus Mattel would increase their profits making it possible for an even better future for us all! Maybe even leading to world peace!

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Ok so way back in time it was possible to go to a local toy shop and look at a Matchbox catalogue. Once you’d found a model you wanted you could ask if it was in stock. If so all good and you purchased it and went home to play with it. If it wasn’t in stock the shop keeper could order the model and it would arrive with the next possible delivery. This was done without a computer or the Internet, astounding! Ordering like this is still possible with many products but for some reason not the casts from Mattel any longer. With all of this new technology ordering a specific cast should be even easier than it used to be surely? We all know it’s not the case at all with Mattel.

It should not be that difficult to also package smaller cases with just the one type of cast. This could be done at the point where the casts are divided into the normal cases we have now. So then shops could order multiple casts of the type that sell the most. Supply would be able to close the gap on demand and scalpers would have a hard time in a now ‘flooded’ or satisfied market. The hobby could actually grow as hunting frustrations become a distant memory. It should not be that difficult to put a system like this in place and I really believe the extra profits would far out way any cost associated with setting up a system to deal with selling their products like most other manufacturers do. It’s not rocket science.

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This seems too obvious and an easy fix to a few issues within the hobby. I must be over simplifying or missing something? What do you think or do you have any other ideas? Is my thinking way off and I need to just get over it?

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