Monday, September 21, 2015
So what happened to the Hot Wheels Collectors Website?
This is not a piece of investigative journalism, nor do I know anything about what is going on. All I know is that the update that hotwheelscollectors.com went through a few weeks ago has been a hot topic of conversation.
Truly, I haven't paid too much attention. I am an RLC member, and do check the site a few times a week, and all I have really noticed is that new topics don't seem to pop up as frequently as they used to. It seems a little less crowded.
But that has been happening for awhile. A few years ago, forums were the place to get your diecast information and engage in diecast chat, and HWC was the premiere place. Variation discussions, RAOK posts, store finds, complaints about Kdays, it was all there. But in the last couple of years, collectors have discovered social media. Newer, younger collectors from all over the world already had a grasp of Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and especially Instagram, and now the older collectors are catching on. Instagram especially has exploded with diecast content, and communities are naturally forming all over the web. These social media options have caused a mass exodus from most forums, and while I don't know numbers, I am sure that is the same with HWC.
But the folks at Mattel know that, and have been dealing with it. Hot Wheels and Matchbox have both expanded their presence on social media, and collectors are embracing it. And they were smart to revamp HWC to incorporate more social media aspects, including the Hot Wheels Twitter and Instagram feeds on the front page. If they still can't direct traffic to the site, the RLC club and RLC models could be in danger, as less collectors are there see the offerings.
So the site update was definitely the right thing to do. The problem is it hasn't gone too smoothly. From what I have heard from collectors, the mobile platform didn't work, the forum is awkward, and most importantly, the HWC shop and Tuesday sales haven't gone as planned. Even today the much-anticipated (understatement alert) Candy Striper '55 Chevy Gasser was supposed to go on sale, but it was cancelled due to fears the website was not ready for the onslaught.
Since I started hearing about this, I have jumped on the forums to try and get an idea of what is going on. Lots of talk about a Waiting Room that was built to keep the site from crashing during popular sales, and some pretty angry comments about it.
I don't know if I have a specific take on what is happening. From a collector perspective, I most certainly hope I have an equal chance at the upcoming RLC models, including the Gasser, Toyota 2000GT, Gulf Camaro and Porsche, and so on. I don't want to have everything right on my end, only to be kicked off because of a volatile website and lose out on buying the model.
But I also can appreciate that Mattel won't put these popular models on sale until they know things are working the way they should be. We have already waited long enough for the Gasser to go on sale, and a few more weeks to ensure everyone has an equal chance is not a bad thing.
But then again, why was this not considered prior to launch? It seems that not all aspects of the site were considered, and the launch was a bit hasty, to say the least. It really is a shame, because the launch of this new site was really an important thing for Mattel and collectors. There really is no excuse for how bad the launch has been.
I am willing to give Mattel a break, but I know many of you are not. Of course that is your prerogative, but based on some of the comments I have seen there might be TOO much frustration. I think this will all be figured out, and all those who wanted to race their pink Gassers down the track will soon be able to.
I feel for many of those guys over at Mattel. This 2013-2014-2015 run of bad luck in the Redline Club is extraordinary, and not in a good way. The multitude of delays and mistakes and bad product and frustration has been epic. I have to think there are many Mattel employees, and collectors alike, who just want to see this membership run end, and move on to a possible new 2016 membership year.
We just need to end this disastrous year, and maybe finish it off with a special model for all those that endured it. Maybe a gold plated Datsun Wagon personally signed with a motivational message from the Mattel CEO himself. Oh, and a box of chocolates.