The Hot Wheels Garage: 14 January 2013

January 14, 2013--First off, Happy New Year to everyone! Wishing you all the best in 2013! I know it's been over 3 months since the last article, and for that, I apologize. It was a busy 4th quarter for me, and it's finally over! I should be back to at least monthly columns, going forward.

Ok...almost all of us peruse eBay for Hot Wheels. Many of us, for Redlines. Personally, I've gotten some fantastic buys online, and each purchase was well below "book" value, due to the state of the economy over the last few years. It's definitely a buyer's market out there, with a few exceptions. That being said, there are a lot of folks selling off their collections in order to meet life's unexpected situations. A sad story for the seller, but a good opportunity for the buyer. So, there are quite a few Redline auctions out there to be had. Many of the sellers are quite knowledgeable about their hobby, and can give a very good description, in conjunction with clear, precise pictures to portray what's up for sale. Some others, however, haven't got much of a clue. Too many sellers, either mistakenly, or on purpose, hype up their auctions for "mint" or "near-mint" Redlines, when it's pretty clear that this isn't the case. Take a look at this picture from a 2012 auction for a Custom Camaro...get a few thoughts together as to what you see, and we'll go into it after the pic:

Well, first off, this is one beautiful Camaro, and it's a very tough color to find! I'd welcome this one to my collection without hesitation. Now, for the flaws: Some chrome loss on the center of the hubs, roof scratches and some "flea bites" in the paint. A possible chip on the front right quarter panel, and another possible scratch on the rear deck lid. Still a fantastic car, for sure.'s the description the seller used for the title of this auction: "Custom Camaro, C9, MINT-GEM." Again...beautiful car. But, is it worthy of that lofty a description? Unfortunately, no. And there's the inherent problem with sellers "over-grading" their cars. Usually, pictures can tell the story, which is the case, here. But, there are a plethora of auctions where the car is touted as being "mint", and the auction is accompanied by a picture, or pictures that are too fuzzy or out of focus to corroborate that claim. That's where the buyer takes his/her chances on an accurate description.

Back to our Camaro, where the seller graded it at a C9. Based on the flaws that I've observed, I calculate (and I'm being generous...hardcore Redline collectors hold their cars to an insanely strict standard!) this Camaro at about a low C6, which would place it in the "Excellent" category. It's not mint. It's not a C9. It IS a solid, collectible model that would be worthy of addition to anyone's collection.

So, how do we grade our cars? Is there a single, set standard? Yes, and no. It's fairly apparent that not all collectors agree on the true grading of a car, and each uses his/her own set of standards. Again, many hardcore collectors won't even add a car to their collection unless it's Near-Mint or Mint. But, what we do have is a fairly "set" calculator of values, based on the flaws on the car. This calculator is something I featured on WAY back in the day, and it seems to be fairly accurate. I forget where it came from, since it's been so long. But, it'll definitely give you a solid idea of how to grade your Redlines (and other models, really).

Have some fun, and play around with it. I'd disregard the Model/Value features of the calculator, though. It's fairly out of date, as far as those go. But, you can plug in present-day MINT values and get a current value, along with a fairly accurate C-Rating for your cars. Be honest in your assessment when you're inputting the characteristics of your cars...that'll give you a reasonable idea of it's true condition. And, as always, don't be afraid to ask sellers questions on eBay or other online auction sites. Good Redlines are a fairly pricey acquisition, and you SHOULD be particular about what you're buying!

Hot Wheels Condition Calculator

Use the drop-down arrows to select the best condition in each category of your car, and the new value will be displayed.

Wheel Chrome
Tampos / Stickers
Plastic Parts
Model (Optional)
Mint Value (Optional) Example: 50 = $50.00

Adjusted Value (Estimated Value)

Chips - Used to impact the number of paint chips present on the car. Chips can be caused by a car banging around in the case, or by a bad paint job (in the form of flaking or pinpoint chipping).

Scratches - Identifies the amount of scratches present on the paint finish.

Paint - Separate from chips or scratches used to identify paint problems such as darkening (toning), hazing or dullness. Toning is caused by lesser quality metals used in the casting. This was common on Hong Kong models.

Chassis - Identifies problems such as darkened or cracked metal on the base. Also measures the amount of original shine still present. New cars, with a metal base normally carry a shine similar to a newly minted coin.

Wheels - This category captures the amount of silver chrome still present on the tires. Look at all four tires and estimate the amount of silver still present.

Tampo / Stickers - Tampos are the pad printed paint designs, which were used on post 1973 models. These are sometimes worn or smeared as are the printing on the stickers.

Plastic Parts - Used to identify any potential problems with the plastic glass or any other ad-on parts such as plastic spoilers, wings, boats, surfboards, etc.

Model (optional) - This determines the rate of depreciation based on the Model.

C10 C9 C8 C7 C6 C5 C4 C3 C2 C1
Common 100% 85% 75% 55% 40% 20% 10% 5% -- --
Desirable 100% 90% 80% 65% 50% 30% 20% 15% 10% 5%
Rare 100% 95% 85% 70% 50% 30% 20% 15% 10% 5%

Mint Value (optional) - If you know the book value of a mint example of this car, enter that amount here. The calculator will generate the approximate adjusted value based on the condition.

Rating - The Condition Calculator uses the standard C1-C10 scale to assign a rating. (C1 worst... C10 best). This product does not get into the C9.5, C9.8, or C9++ delineation, as that is basically believed to corrupt the grading scale.

Description - A common rating description is also assigned to the car. Some collectors prefer the description over the "C" rating.

Adjusted Value - When a Mint Value is entered, this amount reflects the approximate value based on the reported condition. This is by no means is intended to be absolute. The true value depends on the specific, model, color and current market conditions in addition to the condition.


Neal Giordano Founder/Editor

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