Collectors love to love on the #’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser affectionately referred to as “The Candy Striper”. Collector demand (or should we call it lust?) has driven the price as high as $460 recently which is just absurd for a release of a car that was limited to 4,000 pieces. But hey, collectors can’t seem to get enough of it — some of which have collections of just this release — paying whatever it takes to buy more and more.
But what is it about this release that drive collectors crazy?!?!?
Well, if collecting over the last 20+ years has taught me anything, its that Hot Wheels collectors love pink — especially spectraflame pink! The notion of spectraflame pink being “more rare” therefore “more desirable” has been instilled in our DNA as Hot Wheels collectors ever since the early spectraflame pink redlines — which were more rare. The legend says that these were produced in smaller quantities because their sole purpose was to attract girls to Hot Wheels. Not sure how many girls it got to toss their Barbies aside, but man, do the collectors flock to it. Case in point: this release.
Beyond that, how many Hot Wheels specific releases are referred to as “The [BLANK]”? Talk to just about any modern collector and mention, “The Candy Striper” and they will know you are talking about this #HWC Special Edition #’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser.
I have a feeling some of you are saying, “well, yes, plus the #’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser is an uber-popular casting”. Yes, it is NOW, but back in early 2015 when this went on sale, the casting was certainly well-liked but its following was no where near what it is today. In fact, when this went on sale back in 2015, it didn’t sell out in minutes … or even hours … it took a full day to move all 4,000 units. Granted, they were limited to 1 per account and HWC had as many problems as it does today, but it still took a full day when other releases around that time sold out in less than an hour. Its hard to imagine now, given the epic pedestal this one now sits on in the eyes of collectors.
Personally, I knew this was a must-have from day one. I was drawn to the clever name that seemed like a perfect fit for a spectraflame pink #Gasser. Credit Hot Wheels Graphic Designer, Steve Vandervate for knocking this one out of the park. And if you aren’t familiar with the man we call “HWCVan” on HWC, you should really consider buying a Red Line Club membership and see the samples of his work that he posts on the RLC side of the HWC forums. He has a follow-up to The Candy Striper, titled “Gassa Nova” which he has already sneaked pictures of.
The Candy Striper is one of those releases that could be a cornerstone in anyone’s collection for a number of reasons — and, I feel like if you are daring enough to open yours (especially if its the only one you have), you deserve a crowd. I had held onto mine for a couple years waiting for the perfect opportunity to free it from its plastic prison so when John over at LamleyGroup.com announced he was having a Diecast Liberation Movement (DLM) Party at the Los Angeles Convention last October, I figured it was the exact stage the heinous act of devaluing a grail deserved. There were so many great cars that were opened that day, and this was merely one of them, but it was an experience I will never forget — especially after Hot Wheels Designer, Brendon Vetuskey signed the discarded card and drew a “replacement” #’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser on the back window.
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Finally opened my @hotwheelsofficial #candystriper #55chevybelairgasser at the 1st ever @thelamleygroup #diecastliberationmovement #lamleydlmparty. It was quite the rush, especially when #hotwheels designer Brendan Vetuskey signed my card and drew and #gasser in its place! Thanks 🙏 👊 @tuske427!!!
So why are collectors so crazy in love with The Candy Striper??? I’m not sure I could give you even a handful of reasons that would justify the madness. The car isn’t even the highest quality car #HWC has put out. Its a mainline casting — the premium tool wasn’t developed until 2017 — and, it doesn’t even feature “Hand-Polished Chrome” #Spectraflame Paint like a lot of other HWC cars have. It came at a time when the inferior “Spectraflame over Chrome” process was being used. The car also features #Real Riders that were sold at retail — albeit in the premium lines.
By now, you’re probably like, “We still don’t know why collectors infatuated with The Candy Striper!?!?!” Well, if Marston & Lana have anything to say about it, I’m sure they would tell you that each collector has their reasoning…. 😉