Hot Wheels

Collecting can add zip and zest to your life. Many collectors collect for the pleasure that each item brings to them. However, there are some who think each treasure found will become an investment. As appraisers, there are many times when we are forced to give clients unpopular news.

Recently we were asked to appraise a collection of die cast Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars from 1988 to 1999. The collector had a room with over 450 Hot Wheels, all in their original boxes or cartons and in excellent condition. He believed his vast collection of toy vehicles would double or triple in value. 

An amassed collection won’t likely offer you what you are looking for, especially if it lacks specificity or isn’t narrowed down by certain criteria. For toy car collectors, to get a return on the cars you’ve collected, you must belong to a specialty club and find a buyer who’s willing to pay a higher price for a specific type of vintage toy car. 

Another collection we appraised was a rather large assortment of Hummel figurines. Most people have one or two, but the avid collector may have dozens. Before eBay narrowed the buying world and opened up once-locked markets, Hummels were expensive and regulated. 

A few years back, a buyer would have been able to head off to Costco and buy a four-inch “Merry Wanderer” for less than $100, compared to one that was purchased in Europe in 1985 for over $250. Values have shifted, and what once was a collection of merit is now a memory. 

But to the keen collector who knows the history of marks and symbols, the first ones still hold value – only to the buyer who is looking. 

No matter what you collect,  be it Matchbox cars, Hummels, shrunken heads or those little Snow Baby figurines – collect for the joy they bring. The search is half the fun. Having what you searched for in your collection gives you a feeling of fulfillment and a job well done in your quest.

— Contact Jeff at or A-Z Appraisal & Estate Consultants,

5525 N. 12th St., Phoenix, Arizona 85014.