For everyone who wanted a set in the US, I hope you got in under the relatively relaxed time constraint and I know for international collectors, you had to jump through some hoops.
This is a general recap and an assessment of the situation.
First, it depends on what kind of collector and of course, your general stance on collecting. If you’re an ultra completist mint-in-box, mint-on-card collector, of course you have to have this. If you were not able to get one, there will be plenty of opportunities on the secondary market in the next few weeks. As “Noel” mentions, there will be buyer’s remorse or someone who bought 4 and now, everytime they walk by the room, the extra sets are quietly ghost-like whispering ($345 dollars, $345 dollars … or in the case of those who bought 4 and didn’t tell their spouse … “dead man walking, dead man walking.”) (including the RLC membership) … or they get it in their hands and the thrill of the chase is more enticing than actually finding it … conversely, there are those who wanted it and rashly decided to sleep in or doing something silly like helping the needy (I’m kidding! I’m kidding!) or of course, you happen to live in a country that Mattel doesn’t recognize (America, Canada – you’re okay … Cuba, Iran, Libya, or Sudan – not so fast … England, you say? – sorry, not on my list. Portugal – nope, not on the list of countries we recognize …
Historical Pattern Pricing?
The only real history for CARS exclusive box set pricing is the 2006 Factory Set which sold for $149 plus $12 for shipping + $30 for RL membership or @$190.00. The problem is that in its time context, it’s hard to measure against any other sets. Again, I am not arguing whether you want to, need to, or not buy it. That is entirely your decision, I’m only speaking of its pattern of pricing and sales. The only real problem is that between the time Mattel announced it and when it was actually sold/or released, the market had changed. Because by the time the set became available in October 2007, Mattel has switched to the Supercharged card design while the Factory Set was still the desert art – also by the time the set was available, we were awash in CARS from the early WOC releases, the WM 8, the new 3-packs and the holiday Movie Moments – all diminishing interest at some level and taking money off the CARS table as it were – just as if the set had been released during the summer CARS drought (pre WM8), who knows, it might’ve sold in 15-minutes only because people had CARS money budgeted but nothing to buy … so it’s never easy to do direct comparisons because each circumstance is so different.
Because you can argue logically for and against anything collectible. So, while I’m generalizing a bit, basically, after the set went on sale on the Red Line Club and sold out in about 3.5 hours, there was virtually no movement on the secondary market (most sold for around $200 so if you include the membership cost, virtually no profit) – not necessarily that it was a bad set – only that it arrived when we were awash with literally dozens of CARS in various packs so most people’s interests were on other CARS – so when most of the auctions on eBay didn’t generate much interest, sellers stop listing. And then you get a seesaw supply/demand/pricing pattern. Then later, when one person lists it as a BUY IT NOW for $400 and it sells – suddenly, more auctions appear but add in a few more auctions available then, the equalibrium price gets pushed down to $250 – at that price, sellers drop away – waiting for the next high benchmark and cycle … and of course, what is profitable to one seller is not-enough for another. It all depends. Basically, patience is a virtual. If you don’t have to have one this instant, you might pay $150 less than the next guy for this set but then again, maybe it’s worth $150 extra to you not to have to keep checking eBay. In college, $150 might’ve bought us a UPS truck of ramen but after you’ve been working a while, $150 is half a day’s work … and just like some of you happily pay for a $150 dollar bottle of wine, many of you think anything above $10 is foolish.
The one thing with this set is of the 500ish floating around there – I’ll bet 475 are unopened since my feeling is only true hardcore collectors bought this set – now, what % vow to hold onto it until their last gasp of air on Earth or what % are willing to part for a hundred % return, that’s difficult to say … but its size also plays a factor into it – sometimes people just want to sell it because it’s so damn large in addition they don’t care anymore so if they can reasonable get their money back – SOLD.
The Future of the Speedway Set?
Again, it depends on why you are buying this. If you are merely buying this as an investment, like most things, the price will ebb and flow – while people like to cite “real investments,” how’s that Enron stock working out for you? Or instead of buying MIcrosoft 15 years ago, you bought 2 years ago … just like the guy who sold a Speedway set for $360 on ebay earlier today … the guy made a $60 profit for 3 minutes of work – to him, clearly enough return while another listing is at $1,000 – what is it’s real worth? Well, we know have a pretty reliable secondary market – eBay … and sure, action figures (or toys) can be fickle but it’s impossible to predict its future value. Things fall in favor, things fall out of favor – from art to first edition books to fashion. Sure, most toys nowadays are always going to be available mint-on-card or mint-in-box but honestly, after a while people forget about them or there are so few listings on eBay, at long as you have 2-4 people actively seeking that thing, prices will stay high. Some things going in favor of this set, it’s limited, and until Mattel releases the remaining 22+ Piston Cup racers, the 22+ CARS are truly exclusive & limited. But again, while people might care today or 5 years down the line? It’s impossible to say. That’s exactly like saying “what is the right time to sell my stock?” There is no answer because if I said, I could guarantee you that in 10 years, the set will sell for $1,000 … presuming inflation isn’t too crazy, that’s a nice return on your money but if you just got out school and you’ll be changing jobs and moving 9 times in the next 10 years, how much is it worth to you to schlep this giant box from place to place – all to make @$75 a year return? See, you can figure it a thousand ways.
Or on a practical level, is the value diminished if I said every CAR will be released? Maybe, maybe not. Because the final interested party is going to be the ultimate decider. They might have every Piston Cup racer but think, man it would be nice to have that mantle-piece set even if it means repeating their collection – or Mattel could go all crazy and release a freakin’ Speedway set EVERY year and if you buy ten, you get a complete racetrack (along with 10 more Lightning McQueen’s) … even with that, maybe people will still just clamor for the first one?
So, there’s no predicting the future. Not only that, every set that sells after the first few weeks will face different circumstances … some completely un-connected to CARS, eBay or even your particular auction. Same goes for opening or not opening it, its final value can be seen from all vantage points … like the $1,000 example above – in the early stages of your life $750 (profit) is a lot of money but later on in life, it might not even buy you a wedding cake … and of course, that’s not a guarantee … what if it will sell for $500 in ten years, not even matching inflation … in other words, is it worth $10 a year to open and play with it? Or maybe it’s $2,000? Maybe in ten years, you’ll be worth $50 million, then what’s even $2,000 to buy a set of memories of 2008? I don’t know and no one can say either absolute with any certainty about any purchase or investment.*
So, bottom line – it’s your money & your purchase. Have the fun that you think is the way you want to go. Whether that’s encasing it in argon and a museum case to admire it, whether that’s to open and twist-tie them or whether it’s to see the Speed Racer funnel launcher will really shoot a CAR across your ceiling. Have fun!
*Okay, you can buy T-bills and you know your return but not exactly exciting.