Tag: hot wheels

BREAKING NEWS:  MINECRAFT Character Cars , All-New Star Wars CARSHIPS, and New Retro-Entertainment Pieces

BREAKING NEWS: MINECRAFT Character Cars , All-New Star Wars CARSHIPS, and New Retro-Entertainment Pieces

IMPORTANT: My apologies if this entry seems “late” or “old!” I was on-track to have this thing posted early Thursday morning, within a few hours after making these finds. Unfortunately, I have also been experiencing crippling internet downtime issues. But whatever. We might be 2 1/2 days late, but these are still some damn cool finds.

Alright alright alright everybody: I’ma try to blaze through this as quickly as possible with as little extraneous material as I can manage. Why? Because I got a lot to tell you about, I’m about 26 hours later doing so, and I’m worried my internet will start blipping in and out again inexplicably. Note: This internet bullshit has delayed me yet another several hours.

Let’s go back to late late Wednesday night…technically it’s Thursday morning at this point. I went out to the closest Walmart (I find this to be a very relaxing time to shop, both instore and on the roads) and got there about 5am. Not too long ago 5 or 5:15 would signal the dawn (dawn is the moment when the sky first begins to get light, then the morning twilight follows until the sun actually peeks over the horizon, which marks sunrise and the emergence of “daytime” proper), but with the colder months in the mail, it was actually quite dark outside at 5.

I dreamily wander back to the toys. It’s weird, I know I’m not going to find something new every visit and I temper my expectations appropriately, though I also know what it’s like to stumble across that new shit and be totally blown away. My main hope yesterday morning was for the Ragnarok Character Cars or perhaps Deadpool, possibly even something new from the Star Wars trifecta (Character Cars, Carships, Starships) whose release I was unaware of.

What my eyes first landed on caused some minor cognitive overload. Yes, that old familiar “Character Cars” logo appeared, yet here they were on these foreign black and green cards. And there sir you have it, a new set of 6 Minecraft Character Cars! Now I don’t know a whole helluva lot about Minecraft, so I’m just gonna touch on them briefly and save my deeper thoughts for an unboxing day.

Minecraft Character Cars

  1. Creeper
  2. Enderman
  3. Skeleton
  4. Iron Golem
  5. Spider
  6. Zombie

With all that’s been going on I haven’t given these cars a proper look, but from what I have seen, they are pretty cool and unique. I’m surprised at how “neato” these vehicles look and I look forward to bustin’ into ’em in the near future. And by the way, the Spider is damn big – maybe up there with the likes of K-2SO or the Rancor.

As I’m busy scrambling to get all 6 of these and making sure they’re the right 6, my eyes sweep across a few other new things on the shelf as well – namely a few new Carships!

Basically we got 3 new Carships: the Resistance A-Wing, Naboo N-1 Starfighter, & Rebel Snowspeeder.

A-Wing Carship

Resistance A-Wing Fighter

N-1 Starfighter Carship

Naboo N-1 Starfighter

Snowspeeder Carship

Rebel Snowspeeder

My kid always likes to double up on Carships and Starships that would exist en masse in the Star Wars universe and luckily I was able to do just that!

2 A-wings
2 N-1s
2 Snowspeeders

Lastly, the shelves were also well-stocked with the Retro-Entertainment series. Many of these seemed from the previous release, such as Brian’s Skyline from the Fast & Furious franchise, Snoopy’s motorized house-thingamajig, the BvS Batmobile, and the Milano from Guardians Vol .2. However, they also had several newcomers (or possibly re-releases) such as the Flintstones’ main method of transport, the DeLorean as it appears in the third Back to the Future flick, and my personal favorite (so far), the Justice League Batmobile! I picked up 2 for good measure.

Flintstones and Back to the Future III

Justice League Batmobiles

Pretty fucking cool, huh? It’s days like this whre all the endless hunting and searching pays off. And it was cool because it wasn’t like I knew a release date of a particular toy or whatever, so everything was a freakin’ surprise. Anyway, I’m gonna wrap this up and go ahead and publish it because of all the delays. Enjoy, let me know what you think of all the new stuff and as always clue me into anything else new and exciting you know about!

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Three More Down – THE FLASH (Justice League) & Others

Three More Down – THE FLASH (Justice League) & Others

This all actually went down several days ago, I’m just now getting around to putting it to paper. I had a little hiccup during the week that caused me to have to drop everything and go to the State Fair (if I wanted to go at all and avoid weekend traffic). A good time was had by all and although I wish I had some fun “toy news” from the event, the State Fair isn’t exactly a toy place. It celebrates agriculture and the harvest and as such, pretty much the only toys you’ll find are the $$$ handmade, wooden, one-of-a-kind sorts of stuff, juxtaposed with the endless bits of worthless cloth and plastic that comprise the illustrious “prizes” given out by all the game booths.

Anyway, I’ve made a few fun discoveries/purchases along the way. Remember how the big wave of Justice League cars was conspicuously devoid of The Flash? A few weeks later a few Flashes began popping up, but these sold pretty quick and the one or two sellers with more than one were quick to adjust their prices. I shit you not, I watched one guy sell one for $20, the next for $25, then $30, and then $35. I know he had one priced at $40 after that, but I don’t know if it sold. By then I was getting antsy about what it would take to get my own Justice League Flash.

Justice League Flash

Well well what the hell – just then, the ever-vigilant C. stepped in to tell me of a Flash for sale on Amazon, although it would take it like 7 or 8 days to ship. I was still pretty satisfied with this because the vehicle was available for it’s regular retail, $3.99. The biggest kicker was that it was listed as an “add-on” item, a really shitty practice Amazon has started for god knows what reason. It goes like this: Amazon will offer up an item for $3.99 and call it an add-on item and tell you that you’ve got to get your cart up to $25 to actually purchase this item. The good news is that at least the $3.99 counts towards the $25 total. The bad news is that there is no other way to buy an “add on.” I could understand if $3.99 was the “special add-on price” and then you could buy it for like, I dunno, $5.99 or even $8.99 as a standalone, but the way it’s set up right now, it’s like some kind of arbitrary discrimination based on how much money one has spent. Amazon is a really great vendor to deal with in a lot of ways, but this add-on shit just feels shady.

Regardless, I snagged a couple of rarer vehicles from Blaze’s catalog (I’ll show you those a little later!) and patiently waited for The Flash. According to Amazon, the site would receive more on the 8th and ship them then. Continually outdoing themselves, I actually had the package on my porch on the afternoon of the 6th. Again, big thanks to C. for making me privy to the opportunity. The thing is, I had actually looked on Amazon before all this, but check it – it was listed fucking bizarrely – like “Justice League Vehicle 1” or something equally retarded and not including the word “flash” anywhere in it.

I am 1,000% appreciative of tips like this and I’m super glad to hear any information that any reader may have to pass on – thanks again for those that have helped and thanks in advance to those that are bound to. Also, please keep in mind that I’m open to trades or helping to track down goodies you may have a hard time finding.

Ticking off Justice League Flash means finishing off the DC pamphlet – cool I guess but now what’s coming!? I wish we could be hoping for Steppenwolf and Parademon Character Cars, but right now, things don’t look so good. We will be getting some kinda “exclusive deco Cyborg” on or around November 1st in the form of a 5-pack…along with 4 other cars that most of us will probably already have…

Overall I like the new Flash car. The old one looked sort of backwards. The new one skews a bit towards the more traditional car-shape, but the paint job does a decent job of representing the character’s beetle-like armor(?) we’ve been seeing in Justice League previews.

Interestingly, the shop.mattel.com site had both Deadpool and Loki listed (maybe Armored Hulk too?), with a special “Notify Me” button whereby the user would receive an email when the cars were available. Well, as of a few days ago, Loki had disappeared (along with the new Hulk, if it was ever there) and Deadpool was just all grayed-out with the typical out-of-stock “More Ways to Buy” button lit up. Where the fuck were my notifications, Mattel? Ugh. It’s confusing to me why in this day and age companies seem so disconnected from their products. Look at the highly automated systems that govern the nationwide inventory of places like Walmart, Amazon, Target – these systems are wildly impressive. Yet we aren’t at a point where I can’t type in some shit like “hot wheels deadpool character car” on an official Mattel site and in .0235 seconds get a list of exact locations where I can buy the damn thing within a 5, 10, 20, 50 mile radius of my zip code? Better yet, why doesn’t Mattel hold on to some of them and sell them via their site? I mean I know they do this with some of their stock, but fuck, look at all the shit that isn’t listed for sale – and then take a moment to look at how much of the shit that is listed is straight up out of stock (most likely permanently).

(shop.mattel.com actually has some pretty interesting stuff listed for their Star Wars stuff…more on that later – perhaps!)

Feeling a bit despondent about Loki but also a bit incensed at eBay’s prices, I was faced with that age-old question: do I get it now and revel in the fact that 4 weeks later I wasn’t forced to pay twice as much…? Or do I get it now and kick myself in the ass when it’s on shelves everywhere for 20% of what I paid for it in a week’s time…? It’s a hard thing to gauge. Like Guardians 2 – I only ever saw the first wave of those 4 times at 2 separate stores. As for the second wave, well, I saw Drax once and Gamora twice, both at Barnes & Noble, and I’ve yet to see Nebula or Mantis “in the wild.” But then Spider-man: Homecoming dropped and pretty much every Walmart and Target has kept a steady supply of the new Spidey and Iron Man along with Venom, Doc Ock, and Rhino.

So when considering Loki, I started thinking I should err towards the “rare” side since we still hadn’t seen any sign of Valkyrie or Armored Hulk. Does it actually mean shit when the “set” is divvied up across multiple cases released at different times? Fuck if I know, but I do notice that the more they seem to “trickle” out online, the less likely I am to just see 4-6 new Character Cars go “BAM” on the shelf 1 to 2 weeks later. At the moment in question, there was a single Loki up for sale, and judging from what the others had sold for, I decided it wasn’t awful and I saw that it certainly get worse. So I bit.

Loki

Loki is a fine looking car, and honestly it’s one I wish we’d gotten like 3 years ago or whatever. The horns are wacky and exaggerated just like Loki’s, and the matte, understated color scheme help to remind us of his time as a villain – even though I think he’s being played up as one of the protagonists in Ragnarok.

About a day later I decided to take stock of the Vulture situation…the fact that this one didn’t come out with the rest of the Homecoming stuff and was accompanied by no new pieces from Homecoming was a bit disconcerting. Looking at the “Sold” stuff surprised me even further – I didn’t expect so see just how few had made it over to eBay. Sellers caught on quick though – the first one sold for like $10, the last one was just over double that. So I carefully monitored the “Vulture situation” for the next 2 or 3 days…nothing popped up. Finally I got a hit – the guy was open to a Best Offer and free shipping and we came to an agreement. Yeah yeah, it was a little more than I wanted to pay, but a) the free shipping softened the blow a little, b) this is one of those cars that I could see potentially skyrocketing (as far as Character Cars go), and c) I bought it late Friday night, the guy shipped Saturday, and it was at my mailbox Monday morning. Can’t beat that. I’ve noticed that about 15-20% of the time, sellers with small items that they’re willing to ship for free are damn eager to knock off $0.35 wherever they can, and something that could’ve gotten here in 2 days for $2.48 ends up taking 6 days for the SUPER SAVING MEGA RATE of…$2.16 or some shit.

Vulture (Spider-man Homecoming)

Vulture is a good looking car, even if he was a less than stellar villain. I just wish we’d seen a frickin’ Shocker alongside it. Essentially the car reminds me of a more masculine, angular version of Wasp. He’s a bit on the plain side, but really, I can’t fault it too much when considering the source material. If you ask me, as dopey as the comic version was, he still had a bit more panache than this “more realistic” version conjured up for today’s movie-going audiences.

And that is that, my friends fiends friends. This still leaves Deadpool and Thor as far as cars that we know are out there. Honestly there are some pretty cheap Deadpools online, but the Thors seem to be in a similar boat to Loki, with slightly lower costs. I know Thor is just a repaint, but he be purty damn cool lookin’.

Now stay right there! Or at least resign yourself to check back very soon! I have some abso-smackin-frickin-lutely CRAZY NEW NEWS! And YES, I meant to get to it right about 24 FUCKING HOURS AGO but I couldn’t cuz my DAMN INTERNET was all UP AND DOWN like a vidja game! So sit tight young padwan. I got some bombs to drop.

Hot Wheels THOR RAGNAROK 5-Pack

No, this is not the splendifurous update that I’d hoped for, where I announce the ubiquitous distribution of Thor: Ragnarok Character Cars for all. I sincerely hope that day is coming, but after seeing the craziness on eBay for the last couple of weeks, I’m not so sure what is up with these cars.

Thor Ragnarok Pack

For now though, I guess we get the next best thing: 5-packs! Hot Wheels loves putting these out – essentially they are collections of cars, mostly Hot Wheels Originals, with decor and graphics that pay homage to certain heroes, villains, and the like. (If you’re new here, I tend to call these things “fake” characters cars for lack of better term. It was just some simple verbiage that my kid and I developed to talk about them; if you have a better term please let me know!) I have a soft spot for these simple but detailed tributes. Although not as enthralling or immersive as character cars, the unique graphics and careful usage of color give them a unique appeal.

Thor is embodied in the Aristorat, a design I’m not typically fond of – there’s something about that “rat rod” look that I just don’t care for. Now this may not crack my “Top 5” but the shiny gray gives it some curves and cuts down on the general clunkiness. The pops of red bring it to life and I love the graphics.

Thor - Aristorat

Night Shifter is presented to us as Valkyrie, who should be getting her own Character Car soon enough! The Night Shifter has always had a speedy, futuristic feel to it, though the effect can sometimes come off as “Frankenstein-ish” or mish-mashed. Fortunately Hot Wheels landed on a color scheme that basically defines “electric,” with a dark, metallic blue and chrome accents. This car looks positively charged with power, and the “Valkyrie” text and graphics give it an appropriately futuristic appeal.

Valkyrie - Night Shifter

Ah yes, and here we are at good ol’ Rodger Dodger, one of the few cars I think actually looks kinda cool with that big-ass blower sticking up. It’s got a nice mix of muscle and curves, and while usually “friendly” looking, the matte black gives it a stealthy, ominous quality befitting a super-villain, in this case Hela (who I know fuck-all about).

Hela - Rodger Dodger

Next up is the terribly mundane Rockster, supposedly acting as some sort of amalgamation of Thor & Hulk. I can at least appreciate the half-and-half artwork though. Appropriately coloring the front and rear rims is a standout effect, and I think it’d be great if they’d do the same for the windows!

Thor and Hulk - Rockster

Last up is the Hulk himself, his essence imbued within Hot Wheels’ hot-rodding ice-cream truck thingy, Cool One. It’s just kinda big and weird, but it leaves a nice bit of blank real estate on its sides for artwork and graphics. It’s a bit boxy and pudgy for my tastes, but the big, gladiatorial-esque Hulk-head painted on the sides is appreciable.

Hulk - Cool One

And there it be, the Thor Ragnarok 5-pack of “fake” character cars…maybe we could call them tribute cars? Like "Character Tribute Cars"? Hell if I know…anyway, a nicely decorated set of cars – Valkyrie and Hela are among my favorites of this whole style.

Another Walmart Exclusive Set – FORZA MOTORSPORT

Another Walmart Exclusive Set – FORZA MOTORSPORT

Alrighty, this set of 6 is a little more recent than the last set I touched on and probably only appeared a week and some change ago. I love seeing Hot Wheels put out these sexy, super-exotic, and practically unattainable cars. Here in America it’s all Formula or Stock or Indy racing, but the Euro-centric scene of Forza gives us the best of luxury and performance via its focus on Grand Touring.

So show of hands, any Forza fans out there? Personally I’m not much of racing game sort of guy myself. I like the less realistic types of racers and those that integrate bits of combat – stuff like Mario Kart and Wipeout. But I piacked up Forza Motorsport 5 as one of the launch titles for the Xbox One and enjoyed it (and played it) a helluva lot more than Ryse and Dead Rising 3 combined (the other 2 titles I got at launch). Now I’ll admit I left several of the little assist features on, but it was still amazing.

Forza One and Two

Maybe a year later Forza Horizon 2 caught my attention. I went into it not knowing anything, and I was blown away by the open-world aspect of the game. This is truly one of my favorite video games of the 8th gen. I’ve had Horizon 3 sitting around for months now, but have yet to get around to it.

So yeah, even though I’m not a car guy, I gots some history with and ‘preciation for the Forza franchise. Let’s have a look!

  1. ’09 Ford Focus RS – Really? A Ford Fucking Focus? Why not one of their beautiful GTs? Or something super-exotic like the Venom?
  2. McLaren P1 – Yes yes and yes. This is exactly the sort of car that defines Forza and although I’d prefer a cleaner paint job over all the racing livery, I still love the look of this car!
  3. BMW M4 – I never thought BMWs were all that visually impressive, but eh.
  4. Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 – There are Lambos I like better than the Huracán, but the smooth curves here work well with the minimalist Xbox livery. Probably my second favorite of the lot (behind the P1).
  5. ’13 SRT Viper – It’s hard to argue with the inclusion of a Viper from a performance perspective, but in world of mid-engine, fusiform marvels, the Viper tends a little strongly to the American muscle side of the spectrum. I do like the curves though, and the green and black color scheme bring back memories of the original Xbox.
  6. AMC Javelin AMX – I’ve never even heard of this, have you? I mean it looks like something from the Dodge Charger family straight out of any F&F flick. Not sure if its shape evokes much of a javelin (more like a battering ram) but overall it’s a good-looking albeit somewhat familiar vehicle.

Forza Three and Four

These Forza games are loaded with cars – maybe hundreds. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Forza Motorsport 7 is due out soon (or possibly already out) and I assume that’s what this line is celebrating. I think it’d be fucking awesome if Hot Wheels would throw all their weight behind something massive, like a casting of every featured car from a new or upcoming Forza title. This could be too big, though they could release several smaller series like these…but hey, it’s whatever. (WTF did I say that…)

Forza Five and Six

That’s gonna do it for this one…what’s next you say? Well as always there is degree of Batman/Batmobile stuff left to cover…and I also have a lot of just straight up 2017 Mainline stuff I’d like to share. Then there’s some puzzles, a fucking big ass $$$ toy, and more new stuff in various areas. That’s not even everything, just the shit I can think of that has some sort of temporal significance. So go ahead and pour yourself another beer, or coke, or friggin’ FIJI (that’s foreshadowing) and see if I’ve got anything else on deck just yet…

New Walmart Exclusive Hot Wheels Set – “Digital Camo”

New Walmart Exclusive Hot Wheels Set – “Digital Camo”

Realistically I guess it’s been a few weeks since this popped up…maybe something like 3 to 5, but it’s weird because I’ve only seen these offered at a couple of Walmarts.

One and Two

Now…”digital camouflage”…is that a thing? An actual term? IDFK but when I saw the obvious camo designs and bright colors and some hard edges (hexagons in one of ’em) the term “digital camo” came to mind. So that’s what I’m calling them. Basically we’ve got 8 trucks overlayed with slightly different shaped camo designs with markedly different prominent colors. I’m not really sure if these would stand out much on their own (I do have a soft spot for the green one though…) but as a set they’re quite nice looking.

Three and Four

All in all the trucks are pretty standard, beloved, American staples. So let’s run down the list:

  1. Hummer H2                   
  2. Humvee                 
  3. 2009 Ford F-150                   
  4. ’83 Chevy Silverado                 
  5. Custom Ford Bronco                   
  6. Chevy Blazer 4×4                   
  7. Baja Truck                   
  8. Off-Duty                 

Five and Six

And hey, I guess that about wraps it up, eh? This is fun set because although we often see sets of vehicles that are related for whatever reason(s), rarely is the set so visually themed and so clearly defined. Plus, you can now stealthily creep through all sorts of environments, from jungles to deserts to glaciers to volcanoes! Your digital fucking camouflage! Enjoy it, boys and girls! And sorry for the lack of pictures, I just couldn’t bring myself to rip these open yet!

Seven and Eight

So I Went to a Toy Show Last Weekend

From reading all this stuff you might think that going to a toy fair is no big deal for me. Well you’d be wrong. Despite having a lot of my free time revolve around arbitrarily valued pieces of plastic, I’m really not in with the whole community – I guess that’s what this still unnamed blog is about to an extent. I mean I shoot the shit with a few guys at the used toy store and their outlet at the flea market, but that’s about it. Being that I share most of this stuff with the kiddo, he’s pretty much my sidekick when it comes to this stuff. If I see an event pop up, I’m not all that likely to go on my own, but if it’s during a time I have him, we sometimes make it a point to go.

That being said, I remember one event in particular we went to; I even made special arrangements with the ex so that he could stay a little longer. I live in a smallish but rapidly growing town about 10 – 15 minutes north of the state’s capital (Raleigh). So we’re not right in the middle of the biggest hustle and bustle, but we are within driving distance, and we’re big enough to have our own little things pop up from time to time. Anyway, this little “mini Comic-Con” was being advertised a few months back. I shit you not, it was a drab little affair in some upstairs storage loft with about 8 fat guys dressed in Batsuits and Spidey suits of varying degrees of quality, awkwardly peddling the same ol’ over-priced Batman busts, Harley Quinn comics, and life-sized Deadpool figures. It was laughably pathetic and immeasurably disappointing.

Now I know I can’t let one crap show monopolize my opinion. I know even the best things have bad days. I guess one thing that turns me off from the get-go is that these things are almost too nerdy. I mean I know that’s the point of the whole thing – to nerd-out free of judgement and with like-minded folks – but it’s almost intimidating. I wish there was a slightly more casual side to these things where I didn’t feel like the guy I was talking to ate slept and breathed Wolverine…or Gwen Stacy…or Constantine…or who the hell ever. It’s kinda like Magic: The Gathering. I actually sortta like playing. If I had some friend who were into it I’d probably go out of my way to play regularly. But have you ever been to these “events” regarding Magic? They are so damn nerdy that some sort of foreign asexual wave overtakes me and instantly triggers several points of discomfort

Alright alright, I don’t want this to turn into a full blown rant, so let’s get back to the toy show in question. I actually hadn’t planned it out at all; my son wanted to go to the flea market the previous weekend but for one reason or another we had to put it off, so I said we’d be sure to go the next weekend, which turned out to be this past weekend. The flea market – well, I’m sure there are others in Raleigh (the other major one closed a year or two ago, but there are smaller soirees in muddy parking lots often called “flea markets”) – but the flea market is up at the Stat Fairgrounds. NC has a spectacular State Fair every year (it’s coming up in just a couple of weeks!!!) to celebrate agriculture and the harvest and yadda yadda. It’s pretty cool really, and from what I understand is one of the largest and most popular state fairs in the Southeast, if not a reasonable contender for one of the best in the country. Ok, I just did a cursory look at “best state fairs usa” and the NC State Fair clocked in at number 6 on one list and number 7 on another. Not bad, I’d say. There’s really something for everyone: loads of food, crazy rides, beautiful lights, a ton of folksy and traditional stuff if you get there during the daylight hours…it’s just a fun place to be.

Any-damn-way it looks a lot different when it functions as the flea market for the other 46 weekends of the year. (The fair itself spans 2 weekends, and the flea market is closed for 2 weeks before and after to allow for setup and dismantling.) There are several other buildings on the premises, and I have no idea what they’re for, but on the weekends various buildings function as interesting shows and exhibits. I never really think about it until we’re up there and see the signs, but they host all kinds of stuff like car shows, gun & knife shows, reptile shows, and naturally the occasional toy show.

Ticket

My real admission ticket!

Last Sunday happened to be one of those days! The spread was impressive, but pricey. About half the room was devoted the cards and the other half toys. We glanced through the area of cards quickly; I was hoping to see some of those old sets of comic cards or maybe some of those weird throwaway card games from the 90’s. We saw a few comic-ish cards, but they were mostly inconsequential and the majority of vendors were stocked up on baseball, football, and basketball.

The toys side was much more interesting, and a welcome refresher from the piecemeal, sunbleached, and often stained remnants of childhoods found at many flea market stalls. In fact, I was surprised at how much stuff was NIP and what wasn’t appeared to be in great condition. Now don’t get me wrong – this wasn’t creme de la creme material all nice and neat and boxed up – it was fairly modern stuff. Lots of Star Wars…and I mean LOTS. I think they really overdid it with The Black Series and what should’ve been a nice little collectible line turned into an oversaturated mess. Buyers must’ve felt this too, because there were loads of these things for sale at $15 to $20, when they generally retailed for $19.99. Remember those K-mart exclusives that were snatched up in droves? What a disaster.

Action figures were well-represented in general, including lots of discontinued stuff from movies in the MCU that have come and gone. Are they worth much? Who knows. The superhero market is pretty oversaturated as well, bringing me to both DC’s “Multiverse” line and Marvel’s “Legends” series, both comparable to The Black Series. The issue with these is that literally dozens, if not hundreds, of different figures were made, yet the same 8 or 10 are all that appear on shelves for a given time period. This leads to individual items that are actually worth a decent amount because they are in fact rare, but unfortunately they end up as part of a series that fans are generally disenchanted with overall. It’s kinda like spotting that Walmart-exclusive Diablo figure for $50 – “hey that’s not bad, I might actually buy that had I given a damn about the series in the first place and bought the other matching figures.”

Good ol’ TMNT had a few reps in da house, and by that I mean the original toy line that concluded back in the early 90’s and those insanely valuable toys that dropped at the end. There was a smattering of other stuff – overpriced LEGO figures, a few larger vehicles and playsets, and a few other bits and pieces that children of the 80’s and 90’s probably remember.

Hot Wheels were surprisingly well-represented as well. Now if you asked me, I would sortta condense things and say, “I collect Hot Wheels” but realistically my collection is a little more honed in and more geared towards my personal tastes rather than what’s actually deemed valuable. You can certainly find Character Cars amid the others; they’re great for a quick cash grab and people don’t mind dropping 4 or 5 times the price for 2 or 3 discontinued or hard-to-find cars that would complete their collection. I saw Looney Toons, Mario, Muppets, Marvel, DC, Spongebob, Despicable Me 3, and Star Wars cars at the event. (This only excludes Toy Story, Power Rangers, and DC Super Hero Girls subsets.)

But collecting Hot Wheels, really collecting them, is all about vintage specimens and grabbing up limited production, exclusive, and commemorative items. I had fun sifting through them nonetheless and so did the kiddo. Unfortunately I had limited cash on hand so I was trying to be frugal with my purchases…I hope to know what the hell is going on next time and show up and little more prepared!

Arkham Knight Back

Our final spoils were pretty small though. I went ahead and let my son pick out something he really wanted first of all. He made a good choice too: back when Arkham Knight was all the rage, there was a beautifully detailed yet woefully short-lived series of action figures based on the game. For $20, we snatched up the Arkham Knight himself. I have no idea where he put the toy in the week since our visit, so I took a quick shot of the back card!

We made a lot of cool find when it came to cars that were really hard to pass up, and though I can’t remember everything we were bombarded with, I trust we made the right decisions! He really digs the Twin Mill design, not to mention variants like the Twin Mill II, Twin Mill III, and the “Tooned” Twin Mill, and he made a great find: a ZAMAC Twin Mill III back from 2014!

Twin Mill III Zamac '14

At that same booth, I found a couple of cool things as well. One of them is Ecto-1, the iconic car driven by the Ghostbusters. Now I have a lot of versions of the Ecto-1, but this was unique as it came from one of those Walmart exclusive series’ that never made its way to any Walmart! (Around here, at least…) And then I got another Ecto-1; this one was released around Halloween with other Halloween-themed vehicles and its very own Halloween-themed paint job!

Ecto-1

I’ve got a lot of Ecto-1’s, but this might (I think) be my first run-of-the-mill, non-special, non-fancy Ecto-1.

Ghostbusters Collection

See now, this car was part of a set that should’ve eventually popped up en masse at Walmart…never saw one here or the other 6 to 10 Walmarts I visit frequently and semi-frequently.

Halloween Ecto-1

So cool!!!

Ghostbusters Halloween

Halloween 1966 Batmobile

My “big spender” item was yet another Hot Wheels. This one was also taken from a limited Halloween series (though it doesn’t appear to be the same series as the aforementioned Ecto-1) and is one of those things I’ve often oggled at online…a freakin’ purple & orange 1966 Classic TV Series Batmobile! Fucking cool. It was a little more than I would’ve liked, but a quick search on eBay told me that I’d be unlikely to ever snatch it up online for any less, especially with shipping included.

Halloween 1966 Batmobile

Oh and I almost forgot: when we were up front getting our ticket, the woman let my kid pick out a toy for free from a small stash. He grabbed an Easter car from some time in the past and it’s pretty cool looking. I’da picked the same damn car.

Easter 2014

Sith Infiltrator

Oh OH and I almost forgot again as I sift through this little pile of stuff at my feet. A long time ago, like, when I was a kid, the most cost-effective way to build up a collection of starships from Star Wars (among other franchises) was via MicroMachines and those tiny little flimsy plastic things, albeit with exceptional detail. Well, we still have MicroMachines, but I’d argue they’re of a much, much lower quality than they used to be. Sometimes it looks like they’ve been painted by the blind. Sometimes a small appendage would break off while removing it from the packaging. The worst is seeing them there in their package, already contorted into hideous versions of themselves.

Thank the damn heavens that Hot Wheels began manufacturing high-quality diecast versions of said starships. Hasbro must’ve noticed the gap as well, because some time way way way back during the days of the prequel trilogy, they developed the Titanium Series. These are arguably more detailed than their Hot Wheels counterparts, often including moving parts! Anyway, I like both, and I wish I had more of the older ships from Titanium Series, if for no other reason than that they made lotsa ships that Hot Wheels hasn’t. And lo and behold, I stumbled across a Sith Infiltrator from Hasbro for a cool $5. I also happen to have a Sith Infiltrator courtesy of Hot Wheels’ Starships series and a lucky break on eBay (the card was ripped and the guy was letting it go for like $6 and a very reasonable shipping charge). Nowadays it looks like the Infiltrator is hella cheap, but if you go back about a year ago, it was at least a $12 – $20 item. At any rate, it’ll be fun to compare the 2, which is all I’d really intended to say about it!

Sith Infiltrator

Sooo there you have it. Like I said, not a huge haul, but I think we made some good picks. If you really want a lesson in poor money management, stick around for a few entries and I’ll get into what I bought not 30 minutes later at one of our favored stalls over in the flea market area….

We got LOTS of fun stuff comin’ yo way mah peeps: a couple of exclusive Walmart collections, the dumbass spending move I mentioned above, some new pieces in a couple of unexpected areas, some new puzzles I ran across…it’s nuts man! Nuts!

Strange New STAR WARS Track Sets and Play Sets Popping Up (Mos Eisley Junction & Crait Assault Raceway)

We all know that Hot Wheels is known for their high quality, diecast vehicles. Most of us also know them for their elaborate tracksets and courses, though these are typically relegated to the “kids side” of things and don’t always make much of a splash in the collector’s arena. In fact, I’d be comfortable wagering that a lot of new and/or casual Character Car collectors are completely oblivious to tracksets that they “need” to own in order to have a complete collection of cars!

What I’ve written here is sort of a brief history of Star Wars tracksets. If you want to skip down directly to my newest finds, click here or just scroll down to the turquoise line.

To briefly recap, let’s go back – way back – to a time before Force Awakens. The promise of new Star Wars material was hot on everyone’s mind, but toy companies and retailers weren’t quite sure how to best profit off the hype, so we just saw a massive surge of Star Wars stuff. Character Cars were still a very common appearance, and I want to say we were somewhere near the end of the transition from “blue cards” to “black cards.” It’s entirely possible that you never even saw the relevant Star Wars tracksets had you not taken a second to look down at the shelving underneath the hanging racks of cars.

It was here that you could find the Throne Room Raceway and TIE Factory Takedown for at least 6 to 9 months. Both contained exclusive vehicles not found anywhere else: a Jedi Luke and Ezra Bridger respectively. Now Hot Wheels would go on to release a Jedi Luke / Rancor 2-pack, however this Luke sported a slight but noticeably different paint job. Ezra was released singly as well, but as a “battle damaged” version instead of the “clean” one in the trackset.

Not sure that you’d call these tracksets, but around the same time these Battle Blast Lightsaber Launchers could be found as well – I mostly saw them in Barnes & Noble. They were basically a launcher and short piece of track angled upward meant to propel the car into the air albeit in a somewhat controlled manner. Luke (in his pilot gear) and Vader were the first 2 out and were pretty easy to find. In the months surround Episode VII’s release, 2 more could be found, one with Kylo Ren and one with – surprisingly – the “clean” Ezra Bridger.

I can’t pinpoint a timeframe real well, but I’d say sometime around the transition from 2015 to 2016 when the peak of Force Awakens hype was dying down, I suddenly became aware of the Starkiller Base trackset. Now I never saw this on the shelves of any store, and it wasn’t exactly the hottest selling item online either, but it came with someone very important: Finn! I guess it never really hit me before then, but suddenly I was like, “oh yeah, they haven’t made a Finn car despite all this other Ep. 7 stuff!”

Fast forward a month or two (maybe three) and the Rancor Rumble started popping up. For whatever reason – maybe because “Rancor” was in the title – this set gained a little more visibility than most others. It’s exclusive was a Gamorrean Guard, which would be a great addition if we could get some more of Jabba’s court in the mix (Bib Fortuna, the skiff guards, Weequay, that mean-ass droid, bikini-clad Leia…). Still kind of a cool, off-beat choice.

In the lull that follows the tracksets seem to concentrate solely on Carships. There’s the big Death Star Revolution thing (not sure if I got the name right) complete with battery power 2 exclusive Carships, which turn out to be battle-damaged versions of both the X-Wing and TIE Fighter cars. (Ships?) This set was pretty everywhere and can still be pretty easy to find. Next was something like “Imperial Assault” which included a battle-damaged Millennium Falcon. Never saw this in stores, but it’s all over the place online. Finally there was a set like “TIE Striker Takedown” or something, and it’s stayed pretty well hidden even online; it’s exclusive is a battle-damaged U-Wing.

Fast forward again to late 2016, on the eve of Rogue One, and it seems like these sets may be a thing of the pass. (Though to be fair, sometimes you do have to dig to find out about them.) During this period promotional shots of a Rathtar Escape set begin appearing, but of course this makes no sense because the Rathtars were from Episode 7 a whole freakin’ year ago and have absolutely no place or mention in Rogue One. The specifics of it completely befuddle me, but for whatever reason, this thing saw the light of day this past summer. (I wrote a whole article on it if you’re interested.) And what do we get for our wait? A barely perceptible battle-damaged BB-8. Can you hear me rolling my eyes yet…? I mean I’m ok with the clean vs. worn-and-torn versions to an extent, but to go to the trouble of calling it an “exclusive” and packaging it with another $20 – $50 worth of product just to paint a couple of scratches and scorch marks on it begins to feel a little like gimmickry to me, and I don’t like it. I suppose this is one reason I haven’t bothered to collect the damaged Carships, as much as it seriously bugs me not having them.

And then, as the world begins gearing up for The Last Jedi and the end of summer is in sight, the Millennium Falcon set pops up alongside the very first pieces of Episode 8 merchandise. It’s a nice big set with all sorts of sounds and an exclusive Chewbacca, though it just looks to be a darker version of the Chewbacca we’re already familiar with – no change in casting or decoration or detail, just some lighter browns and grays replaced with some darker ones. We can safely ascertain that this is the first of the new wave of tracksets because it features the new white packaging whereas the ol’ Rathtar Escape still sports a mostly black package. (I wrote a short piece on this trackset as well.)


And finally, in what I’m pretty damn sure are the days leading up to Force Friday II, I spotted 2 more as-yet-unknown sets online: Mos Eisley Junction and Crait Assault Raceway. For what it’s worth, the Mos Eisley set is subtitled with the “Character Cars” text while Crait Assault specifically identifies with the “Carships.” Through some clever usage of Amazon Prime, I got both of these for about $60 of what they would’ve cost individually plus they made it to my door about 13 hours later.

Mos Eisley Junction

Mos Eisley Junction

The Mos Eisley set is…well…weird. It functions more like a small (read: damn small) hub that’d be best suited to connect larger sets. Hot Wheels is always quick to advertise the fact that nearly all their sets are connectable, but what I feel like they blatantly ignore is that most sets rely on gravity to work, i.e. place the car up high, let it roll to a lower point. So yeah, we can connect them…but to what effect? Some kind of odd, mutant staircase? And where’s the convenience? I dunno. Maybe I’m not imaginative enough. Maybe I need to see others’ visions realized to understand the potential. Anyway, Mos Eisley Junction is rather small, so small that I wonder what kids are expected to do with it. But hey, that’s not why I bought it, right? I was after that exclusive. And right there on the box, it says, “Exclusive R2-D2 Character Car.” That was all I needed to see before buying it.

Exclusive R2-D2

Go ahead and grab your R2 car. Can you tell any difference?

However, now that I’ve got it, I seriously cannot tell the difference between the car in the set and your everyday average R2 Character Car. I mean I have examined this shit up and down, had my kid inspect it, made my mom look at it…there’s nothing that appears to be any different. No painted on scorches, scratches, or smudges…no differences in color…design is exactly the same…I can’t figure it out. It is fucking weird. Did I get some kinda bum set? Doesn’t look like it. I am, for the time being, 100% bewildered.

Crait Assault Raceway

Moving on to more obvious pastures, we have Crait Assault Raceway, a more straightforward trackset. Basically 2 cars start off at the same point, and due to atmospheric variation or human error or an unlevel foundation or quantum fluctuations, one car either finishes before the other or they slam into each other in a spectacular crash. Yeah, this is just what I wanna do with my collectibles: slam ’em the hell into each other! At any rate, the exclusivity proclamation is cleverly if not confusingly worded on the package. In the window you’ll notice 2 Carships, and the text reads: “Exclusive Poe’s Ski Speeder Carship & First Order TIE Fighter Carship.” Ambiguous, ain’t it? Well I’ll go ahead and set the record straight. Neither of these is “battle damaged,” so I guess that’s good. The FO TIE is not an exclusive, as we saw a couple of weeks ago when it dropped with the other new carships. The FO TIE is definitely a new member of the Carship crew, but it is not an exclusive.

Exclusive Poe's Ski Speeder Carship

The actual exclusive is Poe’s Ski Speeder. Again, I like this better than the clean/damaged approached, but check it out: Poe’s Speeder uses the exact same casting as the regular Resistance Ski Speeder and simply replaces “Resistance Blue” with some red color that we’ve never associated with Poe. I mean I guess it’s cool to give one guy’s machine a different and recognizable look all it’s own, but remember all the love that Poe’s black-and-orange X-Wing got in Force Awakens?> Now, remember how much of it we actually saw? (In case your forgot, it was blown up: not in the sky in some glorious dogfight, but on the ground – and not after a movie of associating it with Poe becoming familiar with it – but in the first fucking scene!)

Crait Assault

Keeping up with Character Cars is hard enough: for every 6 or 8 released, there seems to be another 1 or 2 lurking a 2-pack somewhere. For everyone big wave or two there’s an oddly ill-publicized trackset to be found. Hot Wheels is obviously very committed to this line, but it’s just so strange how readily available some info is compared to how hidden away other chunks are. I’m sure other tracksets will pop up (give us one with bodhi bodhi bodhi dammit) and who knows – I might find out 2 days later or 2 months later! If you ever find out about one, let me know! I mean I like to think I’ve done my research, but honestly, I wouldn’t even be that shocked if some old-ass set came to my attention out of the middle of nowhere!