Above: A Hot Wheels 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Hong Kong prototype valued at an estimated $100,000 is displayed ToyCon 2020 at the Eastside Cannery Casino Hotel on March 14, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
SB Nation is one of the largest sports websites in the world. Right now, with the world in lockdown due to the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic, there are virtually no sports activities to cover, save for things that can be done without contact such as the WNBA draft and the NFL draft. So, after furloughing many of its best writers for at least three months, SB Nation sprouted a branch on its website called “Everything is Sports.” Under the new freedom, between made-up redrafts and trade rumors, people like Alex Wong can write enjoyable non-sports pieces such as “Inside the heartwarming world of Hot Wheels collecting.”
Wong’s new piece explores a car world beyond the real-life car world (though, the two have blended into one these days). Collectors have been collecting since the cars were introduced in 1968, but the community wasn’t pulled together until decades later. In the late ’90s, Amy Boylan, who has been the President and Chief Operating Officer for Shelby American, West Coast Customs and Saleen, started in the software division of Mattel. She eventually became Senior Vice President of Hot Wheels, in part because she helped build and launch The Hot Wheels Red Line Club, part of a website and forum for Hot Wheels enthusiasts to gather, share information, and show off their collections. More than 5,000 members signed up in the first six months, and today, that figure is well into six digits.
One of the people embedded in the Hot Wheels society is Sheri Abbey, who customized Hot Wheels and sold them for a profit. Another is James Savel, who owns a Hot Wheels car worth $300,000. Another is Jason Marshall, who is about 15 cars away from owning every Lamborghini Hot Wheels car ever made. In a way, the hunt kind of is a sport, or at the very least, it’s a competition.
The article tells the stories of all three of these people, plus others, embedded within historical facts and complaints of a phenomenon that affects any collector of any kind: resellers. Read the full piece and Wong’s other work over at SB Nation. Below, we’ve included a video of Hot Wheels history for extra fun.