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 ( )

Looking for the old article archives?  Click here

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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 ( )

Looking for the old article archives?  Click here

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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 ( )

Looking for the old article archives?  Click here

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Sweet Mystery!

(Originally published on May 15, 2015)  In this blog, we’ll take a look at the mystery of the Cadbury Range Rovers, which tend to be among the most valuable Hot Wheels promos on the secondary market today!

Hot Wheels Cadbury Rover Hot Wheels Cadbury Range Rover

When you look at these Rovers, you don’t really see anything that stands out.  But, believe it or not, the purple version is currently exceeding $600.00 on eBay, while the yellow version recently sold for more than $1,100.00.  Seriously.  They sold for even more than that a few years ago.

So, what is it about these models that makes collectors break out their wallets in record amounts for a promo? The wheels? No Real Riders here…just plain ol’ Construction Tires. The deco? Hmmm…no. Simple “Cadbury” and “Cadbury Flakes” deco. Special paint? Again…nope. Metalflake purple and enamel yellow…what you see is what you get.

No, the REAL hype behind these two models is the accompanying myth. There is absolutely NO doubt that these are very, very rare…it’s rumored that less than 25 per model exist, although this has never been truly substantiated. Also, it seems that a few more show up as the years go by. But, the story behind the Rover is the main selling point. You’ll hear really some really interesting versions! One depicts the story of how the transport tanker shipping them to the Middle East sank around the same time Desert Storm was actively in progress, thereby dooming the ship’s cargo to include those precious Cadbury Range Rovers to the bottom of the ocean. However, try doing some research on cargo ships sinking in that area during that timeframe, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find even a tidbit of information that even remotely helps to support this story. True of False? You decide. It could have happened with very little fanfare, which makes it a difficult story to research accurately.

In a Hot Rod Magazine article over a decade ago, M. Strauss wrote the following excerpt on these mystery Rovers: “The Cadbury Range Rovers were produced in 1990 for Cadbury, a snack food company based in Great Britain for a 1991 giveaway promotion in the Middle East. The Range Rovers never arrived. The promotion was during the same timeframe as the Kuwaiti invasion and Operation Desert Storm – supposedly, something happened to destroy the shipment. It is easily assumed all were destroyed, but what really happened to the shipment of Rovers is unknown. Only 10 examples of each are known to have surfaced – some in Los Angeles – some in England.”

Obviously, more have surfaced since this article was written, but I think this is the best way to summarize this mystery. They were intended for delivery, and never made it, for “whatever reason.” That’s that. The fact of the matter remains: We may truly never know the true story of the Cadbury Range Rovers. In present times, more are being found in the Middle East and in Great Britain, so it stands to reason that if the original shipment was truly lost, it’s possible there were some left behind that WEREN’T shipped. This happens on a fairly regular basis, either through disqualification by Quality Assurance, employee cherry-picking at the factory, or some behind held for give-aways.

Regardless, if you want to add one, or both of these storied promos to your collection, you’ll need to be ready to fork over some serious disposable income! Good luck finding them.

Until next time…

Neal Giordano Founder/Editor

Looking for the old article archives?  Click here

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment