Ask Brad

Ask Brad #2: Hot Wheels Hunting, 2019 RLC, Color Variations & MORE!

You guys have been asking some seriously awesome questions via the #Ask Brad inbox. I had to really dig deep for this round of questions, but alas, here are your answers: 

Willie Bell, Sr. • Jacksonville, Florida
Q: Two Questions:
(1) Will there be any HWC/RLC PROTOTYPES for 2019 like 2018?
(2) Any word on how the Rewards points for the Hot Wheels RLC will be in 2019?
A: Hey Willie, I have two answers for you:
(1) What I’ve been told is that the HWC/RLC “Prototypes” will not be returning for 2019. From what I’ve also been told, those took about 10 hours to make, EACH! If you just factor in the wages involved with 10 hours of work, that $299 price-point isn’t really worth it for Mattel. I don’t know this is the exact reason why they won’t be making them, but I have to imagine it plays a big role.
(2) No word on RLC Rewards points. If 2018 was any indication, we probably won’t know until November.

“Aroto” • Enfield, Connecticut 
Q: Did I miss when the 2019 Red Line Club Membership is available?
A: They go on sale TODAY over at

Image courtesy of Mattel.

Rich • Michigan
Q: Color variations such as same car just one noticeably darker or lighter. Does Mattel keep track of this variation or is this a real error. I heard it’s because there were more than one run of the car and they didn’t match the correct paint. I wonder if the assembly just ran low on the color before they were able to restock. What are your thoughts
A: Great question, Rich! When you see color variations on Hot Wheels that are a shade or two darker/lighter, this can be caused by a multitude of things. First off, every planned variation in the Hot Wheels lineup (as of 2011) has its own SKU/Toy#, so thats how you know that. “Shade variations” — as I like to call them — are not planned, and many collectors (like myself) don’t recognize these are actually variations. Now, each person’s collection is different so if you wish to catalogue these as such, you should! …but it won’t be easy. A standard Hot Wheels mainline car is believed to be produced in excess of 1,000,000 pieces. In order to produce that many of one car, multiple tools of a casting are needed. Some castings, actually have the exact “sub” tool that was used, on them… but it is likely hidden as (from what I’ve seen) its usually on the inside of the casting. NOTE: See image below. Numbers circled in red are what I believe indicate the “sub” tool / run. Each of the four parts of a casting have a number under the tooling number. Paint can vary — though it shouldn’t — from run to run, or over the course of a run which lasts about 3 to 4 weeks. Also, you may have seen that some releases are literally painted over older releases. I have an example of a Beatles Kool Kombi I got, that was literally painted over the Surfs Up release. This can certainly cause a shade variation if some are primed with a different color than what was used on the previous release. Apart from those, differences in temperature/humidity over the course of the run, at the plant in Malaysia, can also cause a discrepancy.

Orange Track Diecast

Hot Wheels Sub Tool Numbers inside of the Morris Mini casting

Stephen James • Los Angeles, California
Q: Two Questions:
(1) First question, how much of a disadvantage does working a regular 9-5 job do for me collecting?
(2) Secondly, how come stores don’t penalize people going through the shipping pallets and so on?
A: Hey Stephen, two answers:
(1) If you’re asking me honestly: little to none. So many collectors that are “seasoned hunters” have 9 to 5 jobs — including myself. Hunting before & after work, and during your lunch break can be key. Many use online inventory tracking software, while others (like me) prefer to hunt when & wherever they can. Personally, I have a family, kids, a full-time job where I work 9+ hours a day AND this blog which adds about another 3-4 hours a day. If you are that busy, you just have to make the time. I can assure you others in your area do, and those are the ones that score. Knowing what stores stock when is key if you are going to be an “efficient hunter” like myself who has limited time to check retail. The cars are out there, but you have to beat your competition. Make some collector friends, and hopefully you can help each other out in times of droughts — or even with information.
(2) Attacking pallets… hmmm. Well, it really depends on the store on how/if they want to penalize collectors for doing so. The store with the craziest variance in policy has to be Walmart. Some stores have employees that will let you, while some will go as far as call the police and ban you from their store. Thankfully, I have never been on that side of things as I almost always ask first, but in any population, there are a handful of people that always seem to take things too far. I’ve heard of collectors getting kicked out of stores, but I assume that is after multiple warnings. So, to answer your question, I do think stores penalize collectors for raiding pallets… but its most likely reserved for those that are repeat offenders. Don’t be “that guy” that gives collectors a bad name at your local retail stores. As in life, be courteous, and hopefully that nets you what you are looking for. If anything, your conscience will be further at ease.

“groverdill” • Pennsylvania 
Q: What determines whether a mainline car gets a metal base or a plastic base? Both are used intermittently.
A: I assume you are talking about the Hot Wheels mainline. As of a couple years ago, every mainline car must be comprised of four (or less) parts. Typically those are the body, base, windows and interior. If a casting has a metal base, it will have a plastic body (and vice versa). Typically, your “track star” / “fantasy” castings will have metal bases / plastic bodies as it allows for them to have a low center of gravity, making them more compatible with track sets. Licensed “realistic cars” will typically have a metal body / plastic base because that is the look diecast enthusiasts (and some licensors) have chosen. There is a perceived quality about a car with a metal body over that of one with a plastic body… whereas in the case with the base, its all about practicality.

Orange Track Diecast

Metal vs. Plastic Base Hot Wheels castings

Wilbert Johnson • Missouri
Q: I’m collecting the 04 ZAMAC Hot Wheels cars and I would like to know if you knew how many they made that year?
A: To answer your question: 36. The 2004 ZAMACs were all part of the 2004 First Editions and released exclusively at Toys R Us — at least they were intended to be, despite the reports that some later showed up at Target stores. They came in these “”teal stripe” cases. If you’re looking for the list of all 36, the Hot Wheels Wiki has you covered.

Orange Track Diecast

Hot Wheels ’69 Dodge Charger from the 2004 Toy R Us Exclusive ZAMAC cases

“omz” • Texas
Q: How true is it that K-mart will be not doing the k-days anymore? …as many of the stores have been closing lately. Now its more difficult to go these events, and even moreso here in Texas.
A: Not true. Kmart will be holding the next event in March despite there not being a set date — yet. In a lot of areas around the country, Kmarts haven’t existed for several years now. Most collectors have adapted to buying cases off the Kmart web site, but even that can come with its own challenges. Personally, I have no idea how these events are continuing into 2019 and will be surprised if they even last until the end of the year at the rate the Sears corporation closes its stores.

Ted • Wisconsin
Q: How difficult is it for Mattel to modify or update a casting? I am referencing the 1955 Nomad, which has gone through many versions since 1969, especially on the newest version, which seems to be a cleaner casting than previous versions.
A: Good question. Glad you referenced the Nomad. There are many factors that the Hot Wheels team weighs in deciding to modify/update a casting. Over the years, the tools that are used to make Hot Wheels will wear out from repeated use or become unusable if they sit too long — especially in that humid Malaysia climate. Hot Wheels tools must be replaced all the time. Once that is the case, a casting will go through a retool. In most cases, you probably don’t even notice that a casting has been retooled; but as of late, the design team has definitely taken a more proactive approach to upgrading the tools to run more efficiently. Designers will also try and improve the look of the casting — as was the case with this latest retool of the Nomad you referenced. Hot Wheels designer, Brendon Vetuskey is a collector at heart and saw fit to retool the Nomad with the stacked lights up front giving it a look that more resembles the original casting and another popular casting of his: the ’55 Chevy Bel Air Gasser. Castings have also been modified to fit the mainline requirements of four pieces, while others have been lost because of that rule. Tooling obviously takes time and money, so usually there is pretty significant reasoning behind it. Since design is typically lower on the priority list — behind things like safety and efficiency when it comes to the number-crunchers that approve these things — the designers have a relatively short time table to review, and come up with design solutions, when a tool does needs an update.

“hwrcool” • Minnesota
Q: Will Hot Wheels be issuing a 2019 Special Edition Chinese New Year (pig)?
A: I haven’t heard/seen anything yet, but given that we’ve seen Chinese New Year cars for the last several years in the mainline, I have to assume that we will. Last year, the Hotweiler (2018, year of the dog) showed up in E/F cases so that does put us a little behind as a “year of the pig” car hasn’t showed up in A thru F this year.

Tony Schmaltz • St. Louis, Missouri
Q: I was wondering if Hot Wheels discontinued the 1969 Firebird Trans Am model? It was one of my favorites and I haven’t seen it in a long time.
A: You’re right. I don’t think we’ve seen the ’69 Pontiac Firebird T/A since 2013 when it was part of the Mystery Models. The bad news is that it has now been six years, and that is a significant milestone. A Hot Wheels employee once told me that if a Hot Wheels casting goes six years without a release, it is most likely a #Discontinued Casting. If a Hot Wheels tooling didn’t break — causing the casting to need a retool — then it probably became obsolete/unusable while sitting for six years. Chances are, with the other Firebird castings Hot Wheels has released more recently, they’ve essentially replaced this casting. Sorry to say as I hope I am wrong in this instance for your sake.

Orange Track Diecast

Hot Wheels ’69 Pontiac Firebird T/A with Race Team livery

THANK YOU ALL for your awesome questions! Keep them coming. Let me know if you are enjoying this, below — no questions though. To be part of the #Ask Brad segment, please fill out the form below.


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