The 25th Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Convention, held last weekend at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott, was a convention like no other we have attended. There were a few of the typical activities-- autograph signings, a custom car contest, games for the kids-- but the real action took place off the convention floor.
Throughout the hotel, Hot Wheels enthusiasts had turned their hotel rooms into galleries. Display cases filled with tiny toy cars lined beds and dresser tops. That's where we spotted a Hot Wheel that costs more than a Tesla Roadster. Check out a few of the rare finds we saw.
The $125,000 Volkswagen Beach Bomb
We had been told that Mark Mark Meredith and Mike Stephenson had an amazing collection and we were not misled. This Volkswagen Beach Bomb, a Hot Wheel based on the Volkswagen Bus with surfboards hanging out of the back window, is an early prototype that dates back to 1969.
There are a few things that make this little van so special. Like many prototypes, the casting differs from the cars that were actually produced for sale. In this case, the Beach Bomb is rose with black interior and a black top. The size of its wheels are also unusual, as they are larger then normal. The coolest thing about this Hot Wheel, though, is the rear loader. You can actually remove the surfboards from the vehicle. It is a unique item, no other Beach Bomb looks like this one.
If you think that the high-price was just a publicity stunt, you're wrong. The owners told us that someone had already bought this gem.
But the one-of-a- kind Beach Bomb wasn't the only high-priced Volkswagen Meredith and Stephenson had for sale. The Minibus in the photo above is a workshop prototype priced at $20,000. Also, notice the gold bus in the corner of the photo. That one is $40,000.
The Purple Oldsmobile 442
Redlines are Hot Wheels that were produced early in the brand's history, from 1968 through 1977 and we had heard that Anita Smith of Chickluu's Fabulous Redlines was an expert on the subject. Smith, who says that her main interest is in cars released between 1968 and 1973, was selling a purple Oldsmobile 442 for $7000.
The miniature muscle car is revered for its color, she says, mentioning that these early Hot Wheels are "candy-colored pretty little cars." There are only 15 of the purple Oldsmobile 442s in existence. That, too, makes this piece quite valuable.
Smith had another unusual find on hand last Saturday. The case in the photo above may look like it's filled with massive cigars, but they're actually button rolls from an old Mattel factory in the U.K. When the factor closed, an employee came into possession of these and kept them on his property until they were discovered after his death. There were "hundreds and hundreds of them," says Smith. While many of the button rolls had deteriorated over time, there was still a sizable amount that were in good condition. Smith bought half of those.
Andrew Schussman of Patwheels has been collecting Hot Wheels since he was five. At this year's convention, he and his father showcased an impressive collection of early Hot Wheels that included store display models and prototypes, both of which differ from the cars that were actually sold. Amongst Schussman's coolest Hot Wheels finds are the Turbofire prototypes that weren't for sale. These cars date back to 1969.
Schussman showed us what makes this gold Turbofire prototype so unusual and it goes beyond the color. The prototype doesn't have a stopper in it, which makes the hatch "loose and flimsy."
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Heavy Chevy vs. Red Baron
Hanging out inside the Patwheels room was a gentleman who commented that he had just spent $5000 on a Hot Wheel. His purchase was a Heavy Chevy prototype from 1970 in "creamy pink." It was never produced in that style. The collector's prize possession, though, was a Red Baron valued at $25 that reminded him of his youth. Sometimes sentimental value is more important than monetary value.