Late last night I went on a search for some old photos, and in the process encountered photos of my old Hot Wheels variation collection. I had a few minutes of fun going through them, trying to remember what it took to acquire many of them, and what it took for me to get rid of them.
But that is the thing. Collections change. Back then, variations were incredibly popular. The variation forum on HWC was bursting with visitors, trying to find out what the latest variation was, and where it was being found. Variation collectors hoarded Treasure Hunts as trade bait, using them to entice the unknowing collectors who didn't know how rare the variation he reported finding really was. That obsession with variations has certainly died down in the last few years, and many of those collectors have vanished.
And I was as heavy into it as anyone. My goal was to build up a collection of the rarest of the rare of that era, and I was pretty successful doing it. But over time, I realized the variation obsession was pulling me away from why I really got into collecting - having mini replicas of the real cars I really liked. I decided to adjust my approach, and the variations were one of the first parts of my collection to go.
And it was worth it. I sold off my collection of about 50 super-rare variations, and used the several thousand dollars I got in return to help pay for new furniture in our new house. That worked out very well.
But I still look back fondly at that collection. I don't regret letting them go, but I still enjoy looking the photos. I have since created a small collection of wheel variations on models I collect, but nothing will ever top that collection I had during that variation-obsessed era.
But I have a few minutes, so I thought I would show some of the best variations I had from that era. Some many of you will be familiar with, others not at all. But you can learn a bit, in case one of these pops up around you. Here are some:
2005 - 1969 Dodge Charger with flames (5-spokes and FTE):
2006 - Toyota AE-86 Corolla in grey (FTE & 5-spokes) and white with 3spokes:
2006 - Nissan R32 Skyline with 10-spokes
2006 - Nissan Titan with PR5 & Kmart Cuda with 7-spokes
2006 - Ferrari 430 with black interior & '55 Chevy Panel with black grill
These are just a few, but they represent the variations that garnered a whole hell of a lot of attention back then. The FTE Charger with flames to many is considered the grandaddy of variations, and let's just say that selling that model by itself bought a fair amount of furniture. And with the JDM obsession of today, there is no telling what the 10-spoke Skyline and grey AE-86 Corolla would fetch. Neither have been on ebay in awhile, but the last 10-spoke Skyline sold for over $200.
But of all these, there is one that continues to intrigue me more than the others. It is a variation that has basically vanished. There was a handful traded for, sold on ebay, and of course found. But in the last few years I have seen or heard nothing about it, other than from quite a few collectors who are still looking, and who are willing to pay very high dollar amounts for one. It is the 2006 First Editions Dieselboy with red OH5 wheels:
Funny that unlicensed models like this rarely grab the attention of collectors, but like the Pink Bedlam before, this one sure has. There is a story behind it, and from what I remember it involves everyone's favorite Hot Wheels JDM designer, Jun Imai. The Dieselboy is one of Jun's designs, and this version in black with a red window is the first release. The standard version came with chrome OH5 wheels, not red.
But a few collectors who found early cases were finding the Deiselboy with red wheels. They were reported, and no one thought much about it, until an explanation was given. Apparently the Dieselboy was planned to be released with red wheels, until Jun changes his mind, and switched it to chrome. But that was after a small number were completed in red. Soon demand for the red wheel model skyrocketed, as it was clear it would be in very small numbers.
(And funny enough, this was the second time in 2006 that Jun changed his mind late. He did the same with the 2006 First Editions AE86 Corolla. The grey models above were the original plan, until it was decided to make them white. Of course a few grey models were released, and we all know how sought after those are.)
The time was actually very bad luck for me. I saw one on ebay for a cheap Buy It Now price, and bought JUST IN CASE it would end up rare (remember, I was a little variation obsessed at the time). I bought it, paid for it, and that short window before the seller sent it, the news about its rarity broke, and the model never arrived. I don't know if there were shenanigans or not, but nonetheless, I was not going to get another one for the same price. Alas, I ended up trading an expensive redline for another red-wheel Dieselboy a few months later.
Then they all vanished. Since selling mine about 6 years ago, I have not seen one at all. Surely there could have been a few that popped up on ebay and I missed them, but I have not heard from anyone who has been successful in acquiring one.
It would be interesting to see what would happen if one does appear on ebay. Maybe this article will shake one out...