I have gone through several eras as a collector. There was the most important era, when I was a kid and no one got in between me and my Matchbox and Hot Wheels. After that, I returned to collecting in about 2004/2005 while living in Southern California. I don't know what brought me back, but I have enjoyed it since.
From about 2005 to 2008 I was obsessed with one thing: Hot Wheels variations. And I was not alone. I still think those years could be considered the golden age of variation collecting. Starting with the Pink Bedlam in 2004, if a wheel or tampo vari were discovered, there was mad dash to find one. Crazy trades were made, prices skyrocketed on ebay, and there was a lot of fun had. I have many crazy stories on how I acquired certain variations, and I will share some of them as I profile the variations in the future.
About the time I moved away from SoCal, I decided that my pursuit of variations was bordering a bit on unhealthy (my wife would say "bordering" is not the appropriate word). So I decided to move away from variation collecting and the hunt and back to collecting toy versions of cool-looking cars.
So I sold everything.
I did not keep one model. The only remnants I have are the photos I took outdoors behind my house. Since then my photo skills have improved, and I have enjoyed collecting a lot more. It still revolves around cars I like, and that is why I DLM most. I still collect variations, but only on cars I like, and I still have a knack for acquiring them.
Since I still have these photos, I thought it would be fun to dive in occasionally and profile some of these classic variations from a few years ago. And if I am going to do it, I might as well start with the King of All Variations - The FTE Flamed Charger.
Some might dispute my claim that this is the King of All Variations, but I can't think of anything that has achieved the legendary status that this has. It may have been the Pink Bedlam, but considering this is a popular casting, a rare vari of a rare vari (the 5sp Flamed Charger), and looks pretty darn cool, I give the nod to the Charger.
Plus, it might mean something that I sold it for $925 in 2007. Yes, it is not the $70,000 that Rear-Loading Pink Beach Bomb commanded, but that is a lot for a variation that came out in 2005.
As far as history goes, the Flamed Charger is a combination of the Muscle Mania Charger released in blue in 2005, and the 10-pack exclusive Charger that was blue with flames. The blue on both models was the same, and both had the rear white stripe. What was different was the 10-pack model had a black interior and the basic range model a grey interior.
Clearly the body of the 10-pack model was accidentally mixed in with the basic model, and a few of the 5sp Muscle Mania Chargers were found with flames. The carded flamed Charger with grey interior instantly became a must-have variation, and I was lucky enough to acquire one from Mexico.
It was soon after that Hot Wheels released the Faster Than Ever cases, which contained basic range models with FTE wheels and no Treasure Hunts. The Charger was one of those models, and it was soon after that the first FTE Flamed Charger was found. If I remember correctly, only four or five are accounted for. I acquired mine from a collector in the midwest who pulled his from an FTE case. I then sold it for that ridiculous price a year and half later when I sold my whole variation collection.
I guess those that were found are now tucked away in some very lucky collections. I should try and find out where. The one I sold I think has traded owners since, and I have lost track of it. I was very happy to have it, but am now happy it is somewhere else. I haven't missed it since I sold it. Worrying about blister condition and card crispness as these models age is not very fun.
My collection before I sold it:
I have many more photos of the old variation collection, and it will be fun to revisit some of these on the blog...