For years, I have strictly been a “only buy what I like” kinda collector. The last time I tried to complete a “set” of anything was probably in 1999 when I got the entire Hot Wheels First Edition line. Well, it looks like that is all changing.
About a week ago, I heard an interesting theory- the Hot Wheels hobby has been gaining steam in recent years (I haven’t verified that claim, don’t know how I even would, and am not convinced that it’s true), and with all of the new people getting on board, demand for older releases will rise as more people are exposed to them. Specifically, 1995 and 1996 Treasure Hunts could do well as these are the only two years for which Mattel published production numbers for the Treasure Hunt set- 10,000 and 25,000 of each car, respectively. Now, I am not an investment collector by any means, but I do occasionally check out values of certain pieces just so I can identify a good deal if I ever run across one.
This comment got me looking around, and I found out two things. First, the 1995 cars are still pretty valuable, with the holy Treasure Hunt grail ‘67 Camaro still getting $400 on eBay. Second, and far more interesting to me, is that the 1996 cars frequently demand less than $20 each. So I researched what the actual sets look like and found two more interesting facts- 1996 is by far my favorite Treasure Hunt year and I even actually like every car in the set! A published production limit (at 25,000 I wouldn’t call these rare by any means, but it’s something), reasonable cost to acquire, and a good set? Sign me up!
So begins my quest to complete a set of the 1996 Treasure Hunts. And the first acquisition(s)? The Dodge Viper RT/10.
At this point, you may be wondering why there are two drastically different Vipers here. It’s pretty widely accepted by collectors that the white version with blue stripes and special wheels was the car intended to be a Treasure Hunt for ‘96. But something interesting happened that year- lots, and I mean lots, of the plain red Viper you see here showed up on Treasure Hunt cards. There was a plain red Viper in the mainline this year, leading some collectors to consider this car an error. But, this one is still on a Treasure Hunt card, and to make things even more complicated, a plain red Viper with these specific wheels did not ever show up on a mainline card in 1996. So some collectors consider it a variation.
My opinion? There are 25,000 of each Treasure Hunt car for this year. If there are 25,000 Viper cards with the total split between the red and white cars, I’d count it as a variation. However, if there are 25,000 white Vipers and extra Treasure Hunt cards for the red car, error it is. Which is it? Well, unfortunately, I will probably never know the answer to that question!
Anyway, I will be sure to keep LaLD updated on my quest progress. Hopefully there will be another update soon!