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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Should Hot Wheels get rid of Super Treasure Hunts?


It is a question we have seen asked a lot.  Should Hot Wheels do away with the Super?

Super Treasure Hunts are a hallmark of Hot Wheels collecting.  One model in each batch has a slightly modified version with spectraflame point, rubber tires, and (most of the time) additional deco.  They are randomly inserted in cases, and you are one lucky SOB if you find one.

And there is no denying they are a blast to find.  Just today, a friend and his son called me to tell me they were in a store, and the pegs looked full.  They asked what to look for, I told them, and they dug in.  No luck, but it was fun for them to look.  And they will look again at the next store.  The fact that you rarely find them is exactly what makes finding one so fun.  I can attest.  I can remember the circumstances surrounding every instant I have found one.  (I have found 4 this year.)

And it works for Hot Wheels.  The hunt for the Super has created a massive amount of additional collectors, many who weren't collecting as kids, or who could care less about cars.  And obviously, the more Hot Wheels can bring in the collectors, the better their sales.  To borrow a term from the fast food industry, collectors are the "Heavy Users" of the toy world.

But Supers have also notoriously brought out the ugly side of collecting.  Collectors harass store employees, destroy displays, and fight each other for the chance to find the Super.  We also see it online, as words like "scalper" and "selfish" are used a little too loosely as a means to knock down someone who was lucky enough to find one or a few.  How many times have we seen someone complain that the reason they didn't find a Super was because of some scalper or employee who snagged them first, when the higher likelihood is that another collector just got there before them and had a very lucky day.

If someone has connections, more power to them.  If they want to spend every night hunting, good for them too.  If that person has made finding Supers a very large priority in his or her life, then let them. If it really bothers you, make finding Supers your top priority too.  I, like most collectors, choose not to, so it is up to me to not be bothered by the guy who does spend most of his life hunting.


But all that ugliness is on us as collectors, it has nothing to do with Mattel.  So none of the reasons we cite above merit the cancellation of the Super TH line.  But there are other problems.  What Mattel has been trying to do something about, although it is understandably difficult, is control what has become a thriving underground market.

I know I open myself up to criticism here, because I am quick to defend many of the Malaysian sellers on eBay, citing that they found the models in street markets and sold them to make extra money.  They aren't always the person who stole the items from the factory.  I have also, in full disclosure, purchased a couple of early release Supers on eBay, although it has been awhile and I won't do it anymore.  I have also linked to sellers in the past that turned out to have stolen goods, and I try to the best of my knowledge not to do that anymore.

I also understand that showing photos of upcoming releases opens me up to criticism as well.  I equate these to spy photos like you would see in a car magazine, and try not to connect them to any sales (again, to the best of my ability).  I am always open to constructive criticism here, but I think these fall in the category of generating excitement about upcoming models, as Lamley has always  been about the models more than anything else.  

With all that said, what I have seen on Instagram lately has been disturbing.  More and more collectors or sellers are flaunting stolen Super TH's on their feeds, and selling them or raffling (a particularly bad scam) them and other hard-to-find models off.  This is not new, but it seems it has grown particularly fast lately.

When you really think about it, the joy of the Super lies in its rarity, and that rare occasion when you find one.  That also creates high demand, which can feed an underground market like we are seeing now.  Sellers like this thrive on that demand, and that hunger to have something no one else has.  Every collector has that gene, it is just a matter of controlling it.  The constant flaunting and trolling of stolen Supers on eBay by collectors outside of Malaysia, and the subsequent reactions and comments, has been ugly to watch.  

So would the abolishment of Supers eliminate these problems?  Not at all.  And frankly, Mattel policing the factory shenanigans is hard to do, but they are trying.  The best way to stop it?  Control your collector tendencies, be patient, and buy your Hot Wheels from stores or legit, Mattel-licensed sellers like Wheel Collectors, A&J, and 1StopDiecast.  Or buy from one of those "scalpers" we all like to vilify, who could be selling it to support his or her family, or further their hobby.

So let's go back to the question.  Should Supers go away?  No way.  They add a different depth to collecting, and I think most of us like the rush of finding one, however rare that occasion might be.  But remember, it is finding one that makes a Super great.  Do you actually think the upcoming Toyota Supra TH would cause as much of a stir if it were a premium model that sold for $3.47.  Nope.  

It seems collectors like to criticize Mattel about a lot of things, and many times it is deserved.  But in the case of the shenanigans we see surrounding Super, including the market for stolen models?  That's on us.  Keep the Supers coming, Mattel.

We are all about the joy of collecting.  Let's keep the Super TH's part of that joy...


46 comments:

  1. I disagree with killing off the Super Treasure Hunts as well. Here in Malaysia, the scalping situation is so bad that almost every part of the Hot Wheels supply chain is in on it (as shown by the stolen Super Treasure Hunts). But killing them off would make things worse, as the scalpers would simply turn all of their attention towards the more desirable licensed models, making the odds of getting those even slimmer. Never mind that some "hobby stores" are selling mainline cars at 4 to 5 times regular price due to said desirability...

    While I'd like to blame the massively inflated prices in the region (RM 7.90 for 1 mainline at a retail store as of the last time I checked), I think that is only an aggravating factor. Considered that the same thing happens for literally every series out there, regular or premium, I wonder how long the Malaysian collecting scene can continue as it is.

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  2. Get rid of them. They're more trouble than they're worth. Of course, I haven 't found one since 2010...

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  3. I used to hunt the hunts but now I just let them come to me. If the factory employees are the problem maybe it's time to bring those jobs back to home soil where it can be better monitored. This is not rocket science, there is a problem in my business I fix it. You might say cost of moving is to high but comprimising your product could hurt it anyway in the long run. You should never let corruption go on in any business it only leads to more. If your employees are not loyal they should be gone not your product.

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  4. The biggest problem with $THs I see is that the "gotta-have-it-now" people are what really drive the market, and likely what has led to the apparent factory theft and scalper mentality. So many people are just too damn impatient and will spend anything to get that new model (and honestly, this is more than just for $THs). Hell, I remember when the '56 Ford panel truck first debuted as an FE back in 1999 (I think?), the first few eBay auctions to sell one went for insane money, well over $100 each.

    Though some of this mentality may also pertain to how the VW Bus came about and quickly became non-existent at retail.

    Outside of K-Days, I have not found a $TH at retail. I only have I think 8 in my collection (2 from K-Days, others basically from trades). But that doesn't mean I want them to go away. I like them for the car itself, $TH label be damned. I remember when the e-sheet of the '80 El Camino TH was shown at a spring Nationals convention few years back, we couldn't quite tell from the images but I saw it and loved it. It wasn't until a while after that it was realized it was to be a TH/$TH. I didn't care, I just wanted it because it was an El Camino.


    But I will stand firm with my belief that those that spend crazy money for the first one to surface are the reason the $TH market is so out of whack.

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  5. I love the hunt. I don't expect them, I just hope that maybe someday I'll find some. Last week I went to a Wal Mart and walked out with four Evo Supers. No help or payoff, just in the dump bins. I've found six supers this year just on the racks. I like having the little bit of extra excitement when looking for the new mainlines.

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  6. Move the factory to guantanamo bay.

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  7. As far as I'm concerned, Mattel has already gotten rid of the Super T-hunts (I'm in Europe...)

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  8. I think they should create more, this is not the market from 20 years ago, there's a lot more people collecting than before, punt a super in each 2 or 3 boxes and prices will low and there will be more opportunity to find them in a store, i have 8 years collecting, never found one

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    1. ive been collecting for 15 years and I have only found 6 supers in the wild. Problem is I live in the over populated southern california, which seems like 1 out of every 5 people collects hotwheels in some shape or form.

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    2. but yes they should put more in each box if they are going to continue with supers, there are more collectors today then ever before.

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  10. this is why i love to focus only on models that interest me first, and forgeting the TH and $TH. And this is also why i hope matchbox will never have chases pieces...

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    1. try collecting jdm only care since 2000 and now those are the ones you have to be lucky to find.

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  11. To many scalper in my country, they store up every interesting model of reguler hotwheels, such as supercars (ferrari, lamborghini, mclaren, etc) even mini cooper and austin van.. they took everything, just like dementor, they took my happiness away, there's no more "diecast for fun".. Lately i never found any interesting models every time i hunt..

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  12. I am glad you have asked this question. Because I often discuss this with other collectors.

    If Mattel really cared, about the collectors( heavy users) they would have a track line that was exclusively wacky fake Mattel original cars. And an auto enthusiast line that would only feature real cars( I know some say this is what match box is, but when a police motorcycle is the same size as a f430 truck, the realism is lost). Supers should be 2-3 a box, this would be justified as most stores are increasing prices of mainlines over a dollar, and more supplies could keep up with the demand. Driving the black market price down. If they dont do this the should get rid of it, it has brought the worst type of people into the scene, and what was created as a treat for collectors ( when they decided to make supers there was not a social media and blog presence like today which is largely to blame for all the hype and struggle for the average collector to find a decent mainline. ) Has now turned into something where people that do not even collect or like care know what to look for to turn a quick buck. That was not their intention. So now, they have created a black market and it is up to them to either continue to make good quality cars, and let their products drive demand, rather than this super hyped market that fuels the black market. I think the real riders line is a good attempt at that. Sad thing is, years ago there wasnt really a JDM market for hotwheels, and I have noticed that the more they make, the more hype there is, and harder it is to get castings. I remember the early 2000s when everyone wanted low riders, and muscel cars and would gladly trade a skyline for it. Now everyone acts like every datsun 510 or nissan skyline is gold and charge absurd prices.

    Like $20 for the new real riders z or 510 when you can buy the entire box on wheels collectors for $62 shipped?!?!?!?

    Mattel needs to keep up with demand, and I disagree, I think any collector would happily buy the Super supra if it was a 3.45 cent car, I am willing to pay for the extra quality and availability. There is no reason a super should cost $30 when its case is currently out, not the market is overflowing with noob collectors that have more money than common sense and will pay it just to say that they have it. Do the research before you pay for over priced supers. This buy everything you see to create a low supply that cant keep up with the demand needs to stop. I hope that Mattel can figure it out. Also I would like someone to address the situation of Targets not having anything new for the last 4 months. I check daily and it seems like maybe one small box a week is being delivered. Instead of the two boxes a day norm that was happening before xmas.

    Also Walmart should stop allowing people to buy the entire shipper. Like what happened to the Porsche and F AND f SERIES. PURE SCALPING.

    Finding a super in the wild is a great feeling though, but one I would gladly trade for removing the frustration of not being able to find anything for months, for the ability to pay 3-5 dollars for the model I want.

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  13. The only people who get Supers around here are the store employees. I would rather they cancel Super T-Hunts and bring back the Boulevard Series. I would rather pay $4-5 dollars each than have to buy them off a scalper for $30

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    1. i totally agree man, at leasr boulevard series i have chance to get the car i want, dont need to fight for the car, keep checking walmart/......

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  14. I'm really not sure. I recently went back and re-wrote an article on THs, and took out a lot of the former things I had said about "scalping" ruining the hunt. Without question it brings out the worst in collectors, but is that Mattel's fault? I actually like the current way they handle both Super and regular THs with only clues a collector is likely to recognize (unlike the green bar and Trea$ure Hunt label era). I'm honestly not sure why the aftermarket values them so highly though and it's disappointing to see the "premium" lines costing $3-5/apiece with Spectraflame and/or RRs fail almost annually. Regardless of our opinions, though, I don't think Mattel has any thoughts of canceling Supers. They reliably get collectors so excited about each new case. So for most of us we'll just have to keep hoping to get lucky.

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    1. I understand what your saying but I really believe the reason the Premium lines fail is because of poor casting choices and themes that no one is really interested in. If Mattel put out a line of real world cars with minimal tampos and real riders they would sell like hot cakes

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    2. It is actually worse than the green bar era, with sites like this and other social media, everyone knows what to look for without even knowing what to look for or paing attention to suttle differences.

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  15. No. I like them, as for only a dollar, I get the same thing as a premium line $5 car.

    Producing too few isn't the problem. It's the greedy employees that steal them, and greedy others who hoard the ones they can find, like the individual that found 70 something at once, and bought them all to resell.

    I say stores need to crack down on their employees stealing them, and perhaps figure out a way to stop the scalpers.

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  16. I disagree in the fact we can't blame Mattel for what is going with the secondary market. I don't believe the marketing or business operations behind didn't realize or thought this stuff wouldn't happen at all. I don't believe these people at Mattel are stupid. There is a reason why Hot Wheels are sought after especially the STH. All this generates more brand awareness, more people hunting and at the bottom line is sales. If Mattel truly wanted cared about the real collectors(not saying that they don't are all of them don't), this is an idea. Make the STH a two-fold thing. Keep the STH coming out in cases, making it the hunt still fun for people, but also offer a mail in. Collectors go to the stores to buy are(plus to look for TH and STH). The real collectors will buy cars and if you buy "x" amount cars or spend "x" of dollars in cars, then you have the opportunity to mail your invoice as proof of purchase to get a STH. This way, I think scalpers will be not motivated anymore to hoard and employees steal as real collectors will still have the opportunity obtain a STH through collecting. But it will still be available to find on the pegs, bin boxes or through buying cases for collectors. From what I see people will buy more mainline to get theSTH. Yes, there might be more out there(a little more), but you know what, at least collectors will have the opportunity to have them and the hunt is still available to find them in the wild.

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    1. I like this idea... It saddens me to go to displays and see them destroyed. They are up high enough to keep little kids off them sooo that leaves an older "collector" going thru the display. Plus the fact of so called collectors hoarding 30 pcs of a mainline. I mean really? Let me purchase the mainlines I like and let me trade that receipt in for a STH. I refuse to pay $30-$50-$60 for a $.99 car.

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    2. the only reason a secondary market exists is because mattel fails to meet the demands. but I think they secretly like the hype, its bad for their customers but good for their bank account.

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    3. But then the problem of hoarding would be worse as now the people that come in and buy every Escort they get their hands on will actually be getting rewarded for it. Unless I'm misinterpreting your mail-in idea.

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  17. I don't think they should go away. There are these guys that even take all the highly sought after mainline models and scalp them on ebay. These assholes are always going to be around, personally I have never found a super in real life. I found two regular TH's and that was really exciting, just the feeling when I'm walking into the store knowing that there is a rare chance that someone may have left me a super is reason enough for me to keep collecting. I don't get it when people buy them online, totally defeats the purpose to me. I also hate when I go into a store and the rack is absolutely torn to shreds, often I leave it much better looking than when it was before I looked through it. One day I'll find a super, and that's going to be awesome. Let the assholes be assholes, they're always going to exist and they're always going to be assholes, but sometimes assholes have things to do on new case day.

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  19. Personally, I believe that t-hunts are one of the worst things to ever happen to the hobby. The hype tends to bring out the worst in fellow hobbyists, as well as attract non-hobbyists (scalpers) to the pegs. Is it Mattel's fault? No. Not at all. Collectors need to take ownership for their own behavior.

    I'm a vintage collector, so I don't really have a horse in this race. However... I find it bothersome when fellow hobbyists care more about a "super" $0.99 toy car, than the hobby itself. Since when is it acceptable to tear up store displays, make a mess of the pegs, or get into fights? It's not. If you're one of the folks misbehaving in order to acquire a t-hunt, then it's clear that you are in this hobby for all of the wrong reasons.

    So, should t-hunts go away? No. There's no going back now. However, I think it's in the best interest of this hobby that we do the following: 1.) Hold fellow hobbyists accountable for their behavior. 2.) Buy from reputable sellers on eBay. 3.) Always be generous to one another. Enough said.

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  21. I have to agree with VeeDub here. I mean, I'm frustrated enough that up here in Western Canada, I can't get an Escort or Loopster to save my life. And I don't want them so I can make a buck (or 100 bucks) off them; I want them because they're cool. Which is why I don't need more than 1 or 2; I just want them for my collection because they're nice designs and castings.

    In fact, I'll go you one further than no more STHs; if I had my way, and I was president and CEO of the HW division, I would recommend that all retailers can sell no more than one or two of a single model to somebody on a single visit. I read in this post that collectors are the "heavy lifters" of the hobby. I don't buy that. I'm sure that it's still the kids and their parents that are making the most purchases of these; further, the more examples of interesting cars we see on the pegs, the more kids will be interested in HW in general, leading to more sales. Heck, I'd go as far as saying that while I'm sure producing umpteen Bull Whips and RRRRRoadsters is cheaper because you don't have to deal with licensing costs, if Mattel was to start rolling back on the fantasy castings and spending more resources on making more replicas, they would be better off. Sure, the pegs may not look as full--because they won't be stocked with 1,000 Sting Rod IIs that nobody wants to buy--but I'll bet dollars to Dinkys that more people--yes, kids, even--would actually be interested in what HW is doing.

    And don't you think for a minute that kids can't tell what they're looking at when they see a McLaren P1 on one peg, and a Poppa Wheelie on the other; while the 'net and social media are doing their fair share to kill our hobby (because scalpers use these mediums as advertising platforms), it's doing very good things for the car industry as a whole. Now, kids no longer have to drop $15 bucks on a copy of EVO Magazine to learn what the Corvette Z06 is all about; they can find that for free on their tablets. And now, in my perfect world, they can put their money (or their parent's money) where their mouth is and go by a C7.R at Wally's. Which won't be a problem to find as it is now (again, in my perfect world), because Mattel has smartened up and started focusing more resources on building (and licensing) more castings that people actually want to buy.

    I also don't have one iota of pity for the scalpers that, as Lamley's writes in this post "are doing this to feed their family." If that's the case, then I'm sorry, you'll have to find another job, just as thousands--nay millions--of people have had to do since the beginning of time, when a company closes or downsizes. Just like I've had to do, just like I'm sure plenty of people on these boards have had to do. That's life.

    I also agree with the poster that said they don't buy the fact that HW doesn't know--or didn't predict--about all the scalping going on at factories in Malaysia. Kill the STH, find away to provide a better balance of what retailers across the world are going to be getting, and that factory scalper problem will go away, and quick.

    I just want to keep enjoying this hobby, and attracting more people to it, and I don't want to deal with the frustration that I can't get an Escort, because I've got more to do with my time than camp out at Wally's day and night. An Escort that I on;y want because it would complete my FnF collection, and look mighty good in my display case.

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  22. Can I ask a question as I am new to this and there seem to be some knowledgeable people here? If the Rrroadster is supposedly a super TH does that mean every RRRoadster is or does it need to have a distinguishing feature? Because here in Adelaide, Australia they seem to be common enough. The store I was in today had 7 on the one hook!! Am I missing something? Cheers.

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  23. They should make more because whenever i go to look for one they never have any super treasure hunt even if the pegs are full.

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  24. I have contacted the Corporate Offices of Mattel concerning the Hot Wheels 2016 Super Treasure Hunts HW Flames '52 Hudson Hornet #7 since all you see on the Ebay site are cars being sold from Malaysia and here is the address where they are coming out of: Kuala Selangor, Selangor, Malaysia, which shows up as a Hotel! The other sales are coming out of Georgetown Malaysia ... I mean come on! It has become so frustrating to deal with inside thefts, as a searcher of the pegs, I dream of finding such gems but when the drive is taken out by these thieves, it takes the oomph out of my sails. But reluctantly I will take in the Wally Worlds and the K-Marts and where ever else they elusive STH's are hidden in search of my next big score. Will Mattel contact me back? I seriously doubt it, but if they do i will post their reply here. jack Lewis KEEP ON HUNTING!

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  25. it would be interesting that if for one year, every car based off a real model was a STH? rr and spectraflame paint.
    or...just eliminate STH and move this style to a separate line exclusively for adult collectors.

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  26. Thats why mattel make those damn crap expensive Red Line models which can only be sold to us collectors only.....in asia we should pay 10 times for that RLC.....

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  27. Flood the market. Put one in every case and never again put them in a virtual vending machine for $8.99.

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    1. I to think an employee could be taking advantages , but hopefully not!

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  28. If they dont do this the should get rid of it, it has brought the worst type of people into the scene, and what was created as a treat for collectors ( when they decided to make supers there was not a social media and blog presence like today which is largely to blame for all the hype and struggle for the average collector to find a decent mainline. ) Has now turned into something where people that do not even collect or like care know what to look for to turn a quick buck. That was not their intention. So now, they have created a black market and it is up to them to either continue to make good quality cars, and let their products drive demand, rather than this super hyped market that fuels the black market. I think the real riders line is a good attempt at that. Sad thing is, years ago there wasnt really a JDM market for hotwheels, and I I liked your blog, Take the time to visit the me and say that the change in design and meniu?

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  30. My son (5 yr old) and I started getting into hot wheels. Going down to the park in front the beach and building long tracks for kids to come an play. Awesome! Recently we've gotten into trying to find treasures. Of course with school we can't be a store before opening to get the the section. Although what a fun reason to show up late for a dad/son special day. We haven't found one yet. I have the list in my phone but they're always picked through already by the collectors. And it's always trashed. I was thinking that maybe instead of actually finding the treasure itself maybe there could be a system where you have to find cars that spell out a word or something more interactive, then if you do you can send in your proof for the car. More work, you have to pay more attention to all the cars... etc. something that would require an effort that might allow the kids to actually get some for their collection. At the targets here they out the stock out overnight and any opportunity is gone by 8:10 am by a group of regular collectors that basically trash it and leave. I actually went this morning after my hike, two targets and a toysrus -- hHtwheels laying everywhere on the floor. Kinda lame. I have no problem with kids searching, working hard for the big payoff, but now it's really just about a bunch of older guys with little respect for the displays. I get it - there's money to be made. I'm nudging my son into other interest. Playing a lot of Anki Overdrive instead.

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