In-Work on the 2018 Treasure Hunt Price Guide!

Well, it’s that time already…hard to believe it’s been almost a year since the last release!  I’ve just begun researching values for the 2018 Treasure Hunt Price Guide, and I’m hoping to have it released in late-March to early April.  Got some good ideas for some new features, but I’m not going to bog it down too much, due to Amazon’s “price per page” cost…don’t want to drive the cover price up more than it is.

Also, I’m contemplating using the Fat-Fendered ’40 for the cover model this year.  Haven’t finalized that as of yet!  Stay tuned; I’ll post a release statement when the new book has been published!  Thanks so much for all of the support for the previous editions!  I’ve been absolutely astounded and humbled, all at once!  You guys are the best!

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2017 Treasure Hunt Price Guide Coming Soon!

Hey, all!  Hope everyone’s been doing well!  Just a quick post to let you know that I’m just about done with editing the 3rd Edition of the Treasure Hunt Price Guide for 2017.  There are some new features that have been added, such as:  Short Card Values, a Rare Treasure Hunt Gallery, where you’ll get to see some of the priciest models, and a Year-by-Year Value Synopsis that will examine each year of Treasure Hunts, and their trending values, good and bad.  In addition, of course, to the 2016 Treasure Hunt line.

Thanks so much for the amazing support you’ve all given this project!  It’s been a very humbling experience, and a pleasure to write this series!

~Neal Giordano

PS:  The release date for the 2017 version is looking like it’ll be in early April or so.  Mid-April, at worst.  I’m a little ahead of the game this year!

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The Yellow Submarine Rides Again…

Back in 1956, in Liverpool, England, a 16-year old John Lennon led a band called “The Quarrymen.”  They would play small gigs here and there, but would become more complete in 1957 when they were joined by a 15-year old Paul McCartney.  Though they didn’t know it at the time, one of the greatest songwriting partnerships was born at that moment.  In those early days, another aspiring musician named George Harrison, who somewhat idolized John, would follow “The Quarrymen” around.  He would eventually join the group in 1958.  By 1959, the other members of “The Quarrymen” would depart, leaving the group with just John, Paul, George, and whatever drummer they could find.  Other band members would come and go, and the name of the band changed several times, but they all finally agreed to call themselves “The Beatles.”  Ringo Starr joined them in 1962, and the lineup was set.

After being turned down by every record label in London (D’oh!), the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, finally got them a recording contract with EMI’s small label, Parlophone. The Beatles released their first album on March 22, 1963, and would release an astounding 13 albums in only 7 years.  No other rock band since then has even come close to that kind of production.  To put it in perspective, U2, as prolific as they were, released 13 albums in 29 years!  The rest of The Beatles story is well-known from there:  They made profound changes to the music industry by writing their own songs, utilizing innovative recording techniques and issuing amazing album covers.

Finally, it was time for the band to be exposed to the American scene.  On February 7, 1964 thousands of screaming teenage fans greeted them at JFK Airport in New York.  On February 9th, The Beatles would appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, which launched the “Beatlemania” craze in the United States.  The rest, as they say, is history.  The Beatles would go on to become one of, if not the, most influential bands the world has ever seen.

Fast forward to present day.  Mattel has decided to honor Beatlemania by issuing a 6-car set, and the demand is expected to be high.  Early releases are already on eBay, and they’re selling for $20-25 or more.  You can pretty much associate that with the “newness” factor; some folks just love to throw their money around when they get that “gottahaveit-itus.” But, I do believe this set will retain a much higher-than-average value than some of the other recent subsets that Mattel has issued.  As you can see below, the card art is reminiscent of the old album covers…funky and 60′s-looking.

And, to add more fuel to the fire, collectors will also get a chance to grab a newly-released for 2016 Yellow Submarine.  This one has also already hit eBay, and I’ve seen some go for as much as $60.00.  While that’s insane to me, this model is almost guaranteed to be cherry-picked from cases and pegs everywhere.  It’s NOT going to be an easy find.  And, the value on the secondary is going to reflect as such, even after the new-ness wears off.

So, there you have it.  While The Beatles were well before my time on this Earth, I can appreciate all of their contributions to the music industry.  I’ll give it a shot and try to find all of these models, but I’m not expecting it to be easy!  You could say I’m expecting “A Hard Day’s Night.”  (Ok, that was lame…sorry)  Until next time!

Neal Giordano Founder/Editor ( )

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Ahead of It’s Time…The 1990 Acura NSX

Thinking back to the late-80′s and early 90′s, there are quite a few cars that could easily be classified as “ahead of their time.” The 1990 Nissan 300Z comes to mind, along with the Delorean DMC-12. I still see some of these on the road, and, with some slight obvious exceptions, both look like they could still be somewhat newly-released.  The designs are both retro and modern, all at the same time.  That was the beauty of some of those early models.  But, another model comes to mind, even more so than the aforementioned:  The 1990 Acura (or Honda, as it was back in the day) NSX.  Mattel nailed this one as a New Model for 2015; the details are fairly accurate, and the stance is almost exact. As a Hot Wheels model, it was released in red, then white.  Following that was a Spectraflame blue Treasure Hunt issue for 2016, along with a blue counterpart in the Mainline.  If some styling aspects remind you of a jet fighter aircraft, it’s not accidental, because the NSX team turned to the General Dynamics F-16 Falcon for inspiration.

So, what makes the 1:1 ’90 Acura NSX tick?  Here are the basic stats:  Its mid-mounted 3 liter V-6 engine is a naturally aspirated, double overhead camshaft, 6 cylinder unit that produces 270 HP at 7300 rpm.  A 5 speed manual gearbox delivers the power to the wheels.  Top speed was around 168 MPH.  A curb weight of 3009 lbs ensured the power plant was more than capable of providing an interesting thrill ride, with a 0-60 time of 5 seconds.  By the way, “NSX” stands for ”New”, “Sportscar” “eXperimental,” if you weren’t already aware.

In the end, the Hot Wheels rendition seems fairly faithful to the original, although it looks to me like the height of the HW version is slightly exaggerated.  For most of us, that’s as close as we’ll get to a real one, since a 1990 NSX in very good condition sells in the 42K to 79K range, depending on the mileage.  Another thing to keep in mind:  Repairs on the older NSX’s are somewhere in the Earth’s stratosphere.  If I fork out that much for a car, I’ll buy a new one!  In the meantime, I think I’ll stick to the 1/64 version!

Neal Giordano Founder/Editor ( )

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Frosted Oat Mag Wheels With Marshmallow Cars!

I think many of us can relate to Saturday mornings when we were kids; was there anything better than sitting in front of the TV to watch cartoons, with a big bowl of cereal?  Not to me, there wasn’t.  I’d watch my favorites, ending with “The Bugs Bunny Show” at 11:00, followed by some WWF matches.  Then, it was off to play outside for the rest of the day.  I have a lot of fond memories of those Saturdays!

Around 1990, Saturday mornings would become pretty special for kids who loved Hot Wheels.  Ralston, a cereal company (among other things) released a Hot Wheels-specific cereal named, aptly, “Hot Wheels.”  I think I bought a box or two back in the day, but I honestly can’t remember if I liked them or not.  But, one of the best things about it?  You got a free Hot Wheels car as the “prize” in the box!

Now, I don’t know about you, but getting the prize out of the cereal box was a fight with my sister, on a normal basis.  We’d go tooth and nail for whatever it was.  But, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have gone for these, simply because she despised Hot Wheels.  If these had been around during my childhood, it would’ve been a snap to snag them all. Provided, of course, that I could’ve talked my mother into it.  Let’s face it:  Most kids’ cereals back in the day were all sugar, so your choices could easily be predicated on what prize was in the box!

Anyway, these car promos are easily found on eBay today, and they’re pretty affordable, with an average secondary value of $5.00 or so.  Sometimes, they’ll be higher; other times, lower.  But, they’re out there, should you decide to chase after them.  Unless, of course, you still have them from your childhood, or your own kids’ childhoods!  :)  Pictured below are some of the ones that were available. Do a search on eBay, and the rest should come up, with many still in their original baggie.  It might just bring you back to a time when Saturday mornings were fun!

Neal Giordano Founder/Editor ( )

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Star Trek Gets a 50th Anniversary Nod From Hot Wheels

Space:  The Final Frontier.  These are the Voyages of the Starship Enterprise.  Its five-year mission:  To explore strange, new worlds.  To seek out new life; and new civilizations.  To boldly go where no man has gone before.”

And, so goes William Shatner’s voice-over intro to “Star Trek: The Original Series,” or TOS for short.  Gene Roddenberry’s creation ran from 1967 to 1969, and was canceled after 79 episodes.  The abysmal Nielsen ratings were the cause of the show’s demise, indicating that, simply, very few people were watching the show.  I don’t have to tell you the rest of the story; even the most casual Sci-Fi fan knows that it was a major hit during its re-run era, spawning off movie after movie, and several new, re-imagined TV series like “Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG),” “Deep Space Nine (DS9)” and more.  A truly big hitter in the space TV show era, it paved the way for other hits to flourish, such as “Battlestar Galactica” and “Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century.” Even George Lucas can give a nod to the show for helping “Star Wars: A New Hope” become such a mega-hit, because there was already an established audience.  Even as I write this, a new Star Trek TV series is set to hit the airwaves in January of 2017.  Nicholas Meyer, who wrote/directed in “The Wrath of Khan,” “The Voyage Home,” and “The Undiscovered Country” Star Trek films has signed on to co-create and produce the upcoming series.  There may be no end in sight to the Star Trek phenomenon.

An admission:  I’m a fan of almost all of the aforementioned shows/movies.  It took me a few years to get into TNG, as the writing during the early years was “blah” at best.  But, it did improve…tremendously.  The episodes that featured the Borg were some of the absolute best-written, emotion-driven storylines ever.  DS9 on the other hand?  Never liked it.  From the pilot episode on, I just couldn’t get into it.  But, as a kid, I truly enjoyed Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rodgers (even though the storylines for Buck Rodgers could sometimes border on the ridiculous side of things.  But, hey…it had Erin Gray, AKA Col. Wilma Dearring and Pamela Hensley, AKA Princess Ardala in it, which made the show worth watching in itself!)  Heck, even before those shows, I got into “Space: 1999,” which was a truly underrated show for its time, as well as the “Thunderbirds.”

Anyway, in homage to all that “Star Trek” has accomplished, Mattel decided to do a tribute to the shows by first introducing the U.S.S. Enterprise into the Mainline a few years ago.  These were insanely tough to find in the early days, but they became more available, once the hype wore off.  Then, there was a dedicated line of diecast ships which sold moderately well.  Finally, in 2014, a 6-car set was released in the “Pop Culture” line.  These were good sellers right off the bat, but…many ended up being peg warmers in the end.  The card art was cartoon-ish, as was the deco on the cars themselves.  The castings weren’t very inspiring, either.  The gem of the bunch for many was Uhura’s Jeep Wagoneer.

Now, in 2016, Mattel presents us with another “Star Trek” subset in the Pop Culture line. I think they definitely got it right this time.  The card art is absolutely fantastic…some of the best yet, IMO.  And, the set is a nod to the 50th Anniversary of the show.  The castings improved as well, with the coveted T1 Panel Bus and desirable Deco Delivery and Quick D’Livery models in the lineup.  In a nutshell, this is a really nice set, with the minor exception of the graphics.  They’re cool, but suffer from that dot-matrix-y problem that has plagued the Pop Culture line over the years.

Still…definitely a set worthy of a Star Trek fan.  They should be in a galaxy near you soon, if they’re not already.  Happy 50th, Star Trek!  And may Scottie, Dr. McCoy and Spock all rest in peace…

Star Trek Pop Culture


Neal Giordano Founder/Editor ( )

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Hot Wheels “Prototypes?”

pro·to·type ˈprōdəˌtīp/ noun:   ”A first, typical or preliminary model of something, from which other forms are developed or copied.”

If you’re any kind of a regular on eBay searching for Hot Wheels, you’ve most likely come across an “Ultra-Rare, Un-spun Prototype!”  The un-spun thing runs rampant across eBay, and guess what?  It’s making money.  Lots of money.  Throwing that “prototype” word in the auction verbiage apparently causes oddities collectors to whip out their PayPal accounts in record time.  What’s the common theme of all these auctions? Look where most of them are originating:  Maylaysia.  Yup, our friendly sellers in Malaysia love to help out U.S. collectors by providing us with exciting and “rare” Hot Wheels that are one-of-a-kind.

While it’s been an ongoing thing for quite a few years, we saw it amplified in last year’s Super Treasure Hunt Lancer Evolution.  This version had a ZAMAC body versus the standard black body, as well as Redline Real Riders versus Blackwall Real Riders.  I won’t even tell you what the thing went for, but it was well over $200.00.  Insane.

So, was this a prototype?  Nope.  It was a one-time knock-off that most definitely originated from the Mattel factory, but likely by a line employee who got creative, made the changes, took it home and put it on eBay.  Here’s a tip:  Mattel isn’t going to stop the manufacturing line just to make a few one-offs, then continue on.  Keep this in mind as you’re bidding on these “rare variations.”

Another popular “proto” is a wheel change.  Oh, yeah…since that Porsche is sporting a mis-matched set of Pro Circuits and 5-Spoke Mags, it’s definitely gotta be a rare prototype, right?  Unlikely.  This is one of the more popular scams.  It’s not difficult to do a wheel change without even drilling out the posts.  You’ll see many of these originating from Malaysia, but they’re being sold in the U.S. as well.

The next popular “prototype” available is the ever-present “un-spun.”  These are all over eBay, and you’ve likely seen them.  You know, the disassembled car with intact posts that haven’t been touched?  Yep, those.  Prototype?  NO!  At least, not by the standard definition of the word that I indicated at the beginning of this blog!  Any Malaysian line worker can snag a few models before they’re assembled and call them an un-spun prototype!  The word just doesn’t fit, folks!

Lastly, there’s the good ol’ variation wheel swap “prototype.”  That rare variation of wheels that no one else seems to have.  These are pretty common, and can command big bucks on the secondary.  Rare?  Sure.  From the Mattel factory?  Likely.  Made by a line worker, or swapped out by another collector?  Good possibility.

Ok, so this blog has been very negative toward the “rare prototype” segment of the Hot Wheels hobby.  I get it.  There are definitely legit prototypes out there, for sure!  But, you really have to do your homework to ensure you’re not getting hosed.  These things are bringing in a lot of money, and mostly to Malaysian sellers.  As long as collectors are snatching up these perceived “rare” cars, it’s a problem that won’t go away anytime soon.

I’m not downplaying protos completely.  But, you have to know the difference between what is essentially a common (and sometimes purposeful) error and a legitimate prototype.  Some indicators of real protos are blank bases, off-colors, resin models (obviously!) and more.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, both to the seller and the Hot Wheels community. There are plenty of collectors to get differing opinions from!

Now, this….this is the epitome of a Hot Wheels prototype.  Not many were made, as the body was found to be too narrow for the track Superchargers.  So, the body was modified to incorporate side wells for the surfboards, giving something for the Superchargers to grab onto.  THAT’S a prototype!  ;)

Got any prototypes in your collection?  Tell us about it by leaving a comment below!

Neal Giordano Founder/Editor ( )

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Hot Wheels 70′s Playsets: Thundershift 500

Let’s take a trip back to the mid-70′s.  To Rhode Island, say…around Christmas time.  The winter is throwing everything it has at the hapless citizens of this New England state.  While we were waiting for the gale winds to die down (which would immediately lead to extreme sledding down the cemetery hill), we were pretty much relegated to staying inside.  Sure, we’d fight to go out, but our parents always gave us this look, as if

we were just absolutely stupid.  But, since it was Christmas Day, we were in no rush to meet up and show off our new stuff.  There was serious playing to be done.  I opened up one of the larger gifts, and found a new Hot Wheels Thundershift 500 racing set.  Now, up to this point, the only other Hot Wheels set I’d had was the Road King Mountain Mining set which, while cool, didn’t do much more than plod along with the yellow rig truck that came with it.  The artwork on the Thundershift set indicated that there might be some serious racing involved! (Although…I wish I still had that mining set; tough to find, now!)







I went downstairs and opened everything up, carefully laying out all of the pieces and decals.  Following the directions closely (at least as well as a kid seething with excitement, can, anyway).  After I got everything together, I sat back and admired my handiwork.  It looked like everything was in place.  I got to the most important part of the set (the cars!) and instantly loved the yellow Monte Carlo Stocker and the red Torino Stocker.  They looked like they were right off a real racing track, and I appreciated the details that were put into the racing tampos.







Now it was time to see if this thing actually worked.  I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t become completely frustrated with the set within the first 10 minutes or so.  You had to nail the timing of the car in order to keep it moving around the track, and the slightest error in judgment sent it flying into the clear protector above the launcher, halting your progress.  In all honesty, it was pissing me off because I wasn’t gifted with patience as a kid!  Another hazard was putting too much behind the shift when you did time it correctly, because you’d sent it flying off the track.

The shifters themselves had some friction to the pull, so it wasn’t a free-for-all with the process.  As the car would pass a point, you’d pull the shift back toward you to continue the lap.  If you timed it right, it was a thing of beauty.  Time it wrong, and *blam*….off the track.  After a bunch of practice, I got pretty good at it, and could keep my car lapping on a consistent basis.  My friends weren’t as good, so the schadenfreude was on, right from the start.  I was a vicious competitor.





With all that being said, I would rate the Thundershift 500 as one of the better 70′s Hot Wheels sets.  It was fun, competitive, pretty well-built, and a challenge to learn.  You could pick it up quickly, but mastering it took some time.  It was also a lot of fun trying out different Hot Wheels on the track, too.  Some worked really well…others, not so much.

Finding one on the secondary market today can be somewhat costly, although I’ve seen some real bargains over the years.  It just depends how many collectors are bidding against you, in the end.  But, if you’d like to find a decent, complete version, it’ll likely run you anywhere from $80.oo and up.  I’ve seen them go for more than $130.oo.  A lot of coin, for sure…but, it’d be worth it to relive the memories from those cold winters!

Until next time….(first two pics are credited to

Got any fond memories of a favorite Hot Wheels track set?  Tell us about it by leaving a comment below!

Neal Giordano Founder/Editor ( )

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K*Mart Collectors Day Confirmed (Finally!)

So, after a few months of guessing when the next K*Days was going to be, it’s finally been confirmed for February 20th, 2016 @ 9:00 am.  Be sure to check with your local store to ensure they’re participating in it, or check the list of stores over at

To be quite honest, I don’t even know how any KMarts are still open; both KMart and Sears (who owns them), are doing so poorly that many of the stores have already shut down, or are in the process of doing so.  It’s not hard to see why; how many KMarts have you been in where the shelves were a mess, the merchandise was beat up, and there wasn’t an employee to be found anywhere?  Too many times that I can personally recall.  It’s a shame, because I have a lot of good memories of being dragged around KMart stores as a kid.  I’d disappear from my mom as soon as they’d put that “Blue Light Special” cart out. You know, the one with the flashing blue light on the pole?  Yup, that one.  That cart called to me like a mermaid to a sailor.  I’d grab the cart and run up and down the aisles with it, pretending to be a policeman.  With several KMart employees chasing me, not far behind. I got in more trouble in that place….

ANYWAY…I digress.  I’m not particularly stoked by these events, but I do attend them…just to mingle with local collectors and talk shop.  Over the past few years, the cars available for the mail-in promotion just haven’t caught my interest enough, so I haven’t been motivated to buy 20+ pegwarmers to justify it.  In the past, I’ve bought my 20, received a so-so promo, and gave them all away to kids on Halloween!  Not sure what I’d do with ‘em all, anyway.

Of course, the hot topic of these events usually revolves around Treasure Hunts.  From what I’ve seen, the Regular Treasure Hunts are often found in each individual case.  As they should, since many collectors now view them as nothing more than a glorified Mainline issue.  But, Super Treasure Hunts…well, that’s the draw.  Our local gathering in Raleigh, North Carolina has been pretty much shut out for Supers over the last couple of years.  Very few have been found in the cases.  I managed to snag two Hudson Hornet Supers during the last event, but those were the first ones I’d found in more than 2 years. Hopefully, the mixes are good for this time around.  We’ll see!

Most of us know what to expect at these events; you arrive before 9, get your ticket, and wait to be called up, if you’re fortunate enough to be picked.  Some of the inherent problems I’ve seen in the past?  The biggest one is Joe Collector, who brings his young kids, wife and parents to the event.  Now, before you crucify me for saying this, make no mistake:  I do realize these are toys and are meant for kids.  I have ZERO problem with involving kids or family members WHO ARE COLLECTORS.  But, when said relatives win a case and Joe Collector is the only one pawing through it while the kids are off and running around the store, well…yeah, that’s kinda crappy.  It’s all about the Super Treasure Hunt, in the end.

But, it is what it is.  As for this event, I’ll definitely buy my 20 cars, since the promo is the ever-luminous Blown Delivery.  I won’t double up and buy 40…I don’t need two of ‘em. Also, I’m stoked about the Sublime ’15 Dodge Challengers (all 4 KDays exclusives shown below) for two reasons:  1) I own a 1:1 version myself (red, not Sublime), and love the car!  2)  I need more Challengers for the NCHWA Club Car that I’ll be starting in the next month or two.

So saddle up on February 20th, bring the kids, grab your ticket and hope for the best! Take the hobby for what it is:  A fun pastime.  If you think your MOC common cars on the blister are going to put your kids through college when they’re ready, well…you might want to pick another investment, ‘cuz this one ‘aint gonna cut it.  Have fun, folks!

Have you had good/bad/indifferent experiences at KDays?  Tell us about it by leaving a comment below!

Neal Giordano Founder/Editor ( )

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Batman Gets Recognition as a $uper Treasure Hunt!

Well, this should get interesting on the secondary market!  Batman and Treasure Hunt fans alike can celebrate the release of the 1960′s T.V. Batmobile as a $uper Treasure Hunt!

I’m not sure where this one will end up, value-wise, but initial sales on eBay have the loose (you know, the Malaysian factory versions!) Batmobiles selling anywhere in the $66.00 to $126.00 range.  Crazy, for sure.

Batmobile Super Treasure Hunt

So, what’s the long-term value projected to be on this one?  It’s hard to tell, for now.  As any knowledgeable Treasure Hunt collector knows, the values on ANY $upers tend to be highest upon initial release, then experience a major decline in value as the “new” factor wears off, and more become available.  BUT….this one isn’t just any old Treasure Hunt.  It carries the Batman lineage, which will endear it to collectors…who, in turn, may continue to bust out their wallets to drop high bucks on this one.

I don’t anticipate this one being any different from the others before it…a decrease in value will most certainly affect it within a couple of months, but I also believe that the theme of this model will keep it slightly above the other 2016 issues.  It’s definitely one of the more anticipated models, for sure!

It also doesn’t hurt that the potential blockbuster “Batman vs Superman” movie is coming out soon, either.  In any case, good luck finding one!

Until next time…

Neal Giordano Founder/Editor ( )

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