Monthly Archives: April 2008

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: The Short Card “Lane Mates” & Checklist

It’s never dull collecting the Disney Pixar CARS. There is always something going on – and of course, when there’s nothing going on – there’s still something going on.

And apparently instead of designing CARS RV’s or the Cozy Cone Motel playset, the project group that made sure there was a Buzz & Woody in every store on every shelf corner on every street all over the world has finally finished their work – and moved onto something everyone felt was long overdue.

Mainly, Purple Ramone on a new card.

Waiiittt? Whhaaat?

Man, I should start reading those petitions I’m signing in front of Target.

Yes, our long national nightmare is over.

Purple Ramone is finally here on a short card.

That is what you’ve all been shouting from the rooftops, right?

Mattel has introduced a growing number of CARS on smaller cards called “Lane Mates.”

It is everything you ever hoped for on a backing card and just a little bit less.

You know what the regular card backs look like for CARS?

Yea, these are shorter – hence the name ‘short’ cards but in actuality, they are called ‘Lane Mates’ for the checkout lanes …

According to sources, they are NOT a K-Mart exclusive as I first thought but will be gushing into Mattel pipeline soon. I was just surprised that since Kmart received them, they might be an exclusive but nope … they’ll be available soon to Mattel wholesalers so no need to go the eBay route if you’re a completist.

While in theory, Mattel is saving some money using less paper and ink, the oddity is that the cards are custom (examples below) – see where Ramone or McQueen poke out “off” the scene? That is a custom cut – with all (except Barney Stormin’) of the previous 100+ cards from the line, other than the printing, the cards are all exactly the same cut and shape. With these, out of few examples below, we already can see several different CUSTOM shapes. If you order a couple million, it doesn’t add much to the cost but it’s odd because the few pennies they are savings in paper & ink, Mattel is plowing back into the custom die shape … strange if this is solely a cost savings measure …

Sure, retailers might like it because they can stock a few more rows & pegs but that also means they have to order more so it’s not a huge difference maker …

Is this merely to provide Kmart with an ‘exclusive’ but nothing that WM, Target or TRU care a whit about? Retailers and retailer buyers from a ‘competitor’ don’t really care about packaging exclusives especially as ‘mundane’ as smaller cards. So this might be a safe way for Kmart to get an exclusive that don’t affect the relationship with the much more important WM, TRU & Target.

Casual buyers don’t really care – only ultra completists will care.

What’s really amusing is the back art … or lack thereof … the back of the short cards art?

A photo of the regular card.

I hope they extend this concept. They can do an even smaller ‘mini’ card that will feature the ‘short’ card art on the back … and eventually just do a blister shape CAR with the art of the ‘mini’ card on the back … how small can you go? How small can you go?

And of course, “Collect Them ALL!”

Though what’s disappointing is that the ONLY art on the back on ALL the cards is LIGHTNING McQUEEN … so that would fall under the ‘money savings’ category obviously …

Thanks “Mike” for the photos and the update on the card backs!

And what the Mattel Hot Wheels short card looks like:

“Husker_Crazy” has been kind enough to give us a running checklist so far …

Bling Bling Lightning McQueen
Brand New Mater
Chick Hicks
Crusin’ Lightning McQueen
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dinoco Helicopter
Dinoco Lightning McQueen
Doc Hudson
Lightning McQueen
Lightning Ramone
Radiator Springs McQueen
Ramone – Purple
Tongue Lightning McQueen

UPDATE: There is a a A & B Case – each also with 18 cards/CARS. As soon as I have a full breakdown, I’ll let you know. Presuming only Box A is out, there might be up to 18 Lane Mates cards/CARS or the more likely possibility of 14-16 …  How much overlap is there with case B?

Some people have asked about their collectibility value and to that, I say – yes, no, maybe …

Mattel is using its best Jedi mind power, ‘These are the CARS you are looking plus many more in larger card sizes.’


Filed under Advertising, collecting, Film, Gadgets, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Mini Adventures – Packaging Variant or Just Confusion

You can debate whether Mattel simply doesn’t know what they’re doing or they are purposefully trying to sell you an extra card …

On the back of the RADIATOR SPRINGS FIRE DEPARTMENT card for Ramone & Flo, it lists them as themed “Race Rods.”

Other Cards that show them correctly.

The ACTUAL cars match the photo, that little dot/blur on their back quarter panel area? The Radiator Springs Fire Department logo so these are the Fire Department Ramone & Flo … even if their OWN card is confused by what theme they belong to.

The Checklist of what’s out is here.


Filed under Advertising, CARS, Checklist, collecting, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Media, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: The Contact Numbers & Websites

© Copyright Disney/Pixar

Collecting CARS is nirvana and we’re all a giddy as schoolboys and schoolgirls – life could not be finer, full of rainbows, 32-oz steaks and free parking … well, at least for the first 3 days 🙂 … after that, we tend to get a little grouchier.

So, if collecting CARS or buying CARS is not entirely 100% the way you like … go straight to the source and politely tell them how you think things could be improved upon …

Mattel doesn’t have email but they have 800-numbers:

Canada- US: 800-524-8697 (hearing impaired: 800-382-7470)

You can write them at:

Mattel, Inc
333 Continental Boulevard
El Segundo, CA 90245-5012

You can also let them know what they think about their website.

After you join the Hot Wheels Collectors Club, you can post to the forums including:

The Site Feedback Forums.

The Off-Topic Forum (as there is no specific CARS Forum though you can send the webmaster an email and ask them why not:

NOTE: Both sections above will require you to sign up to view.

In Europe:

Mattel Europa, B.V.
Gondel 1
1186 MJ Amstelveen
The Netherlands

(or check their international customer relation website front page)

You can contact Target by email or phone here. Or if you’d like to comment on merchandise (or lack there of), here is the ‘merchandise’ email form.

You can contact WM by email or phone here. Or the merchandise comment email is here.

TRU contact email form is here. Or by phone – 1-800-869-7787.

Or if you have any sins you wish to confess.


Filed under Advertising, collecting, Computing, Internet, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Media, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: The UK/Scotland Report


From reader, jackdaddy2008 who has thoughtfully agreed to give us a report on CARS availability in the UK, specifically – Edinburgh, Scotland … If anyone else wants to report in from anywhere else on Earth, send it via email – make sure to include a couple photos …

SUBTITLED: So Who Really has all the Disney Diecast Cars in the UK?

On Thursday April 24th, I visited every retailer of Disney diecast Cars in Edinburgh to research their availability. For those of you who do not know, Edinburgh is the Capital city of Scotland and fourth largest UK city. It is very similar to London in regards to retail and has all the stores that most if not all towns and cities in the UK have. Chances are that you can buy more Disney diecast Cars in Edinburgh than you can in most American towns and small cities of similar size and demographic. Not as good choice or variety, but probably more units.
I visited –


(MET COMMENT: Humm, a slightly nicer building than the one we house our retail toys in …)

I must have looked at over 1000 die cast cars. Yellow Ramone, Green Ramone, Fred, Buzz & Woody, Sally and Dinoco McQueen are in abundance. Most stores had dozens of each. But not a lot else.

(John Lewis stores)

(MET COMMENT: UK Disney Store – the US Disney Stores do not carry this much stock of anything, let alone CARS … though now that the stores are coming back in the Disney fold, that might change however).
The much anticipated ‘new’ releases Anime Chuki and Lighting Ramone were not on any shelf. NOT ONE!

Ghost light Ramone, Pit Crew Fillmore, and Pit Crew Doc were not anywhere to be found either. Considering they have been out since February, this was quite surprising.
Only a few of the more recent releases (November) like RPM64, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mario Andretti etc. were available.

Sainsbury’s (probably the best retailer for Cars in Edinburgh) had all the pit row race launchers. Considering Octane Gain has never been released over here (Target is not in the UK),I found this surprising. Then I saw the price. £7.99 ($14) each! A movie moment is £5.99 ($12). Why are we being asked to pay this? I bought all of mine from the states for half that including insured shipping!

After looking at over 1000 die cast cars during all my visits, I only found 1 car that was worth buying. I bought a Mr. and Mrs King Movie moment that my son doesn’t have open. The same store also had the other 4 cars that would have been worth buying to sell. Rusteze movie moment and red Mia & Tia. I decided to let someone that needed them have them.

The Manager at Toys R Us revealed that they have 16 cases of new cars that are on a delivery pallet in the warehouse cellophane sealed! According to him, the rep from the seller (MATTEL?) has to give them clearance to open it. Basically they won’t until the other cars have sold! I half considered buying all their peg warming stock to flog at a loss on eBay just to get access to all their cases, but obviously I woke up and didn’t ask! It occurred to me that he was talking crap, and that most probably, the staff open all the cases and take the good ones. If we have to wait until they sell 32 yellow Ramones, then we should get those cases when the second movie comes out. That will be a nice bit of nostalgia!

I have watched staff meddle with cases before. It was in Jenner’s last year. An assistant was putting new cars out (Tex,Ferrari etc.) but pulled all the newer and rarer ones back and took them away? I wonder where?

When I was consulting a big retailer recently, all their staff used to get first choice on newer cars, and although not as blatant and dishonest as Jenner’s way, the cars would still be gone before the average consumer had a chance to get them.

So why do the staff open all the cases and take ‘the good ones’ before the consumer gets a chance to buy them. EBay obviously!

Recently, ALL of my Cars purchases have been on eBay. I have spent over $1000 this year alone. Shouldn’t that money have stayed in Britain? When I got home from my research I looked up eBay and found Chuki – dozens available from UK based sellers at a starting price of £5 ($10). Her buy it now prices was £10 $20) and there wasn’t a live auction with under a day left that hadn’t secured £7.50 ($15).

Maybe, there is a financial agreement involving eBay? They probably make more in listing fees than retailers do in sales/profit margins? And they don’thave a stock holding or delivery process.

I used to buy Cars to sell on eBay, but I have decided not to anymore. It’s just not morally right in my opinion, GROSSLY profiteering off someone else’s desperation for a child’s toy doesn’t help me sleep at night! If I was buying cases as a business, then yes I would, but going to the shops and clearing the shelves won’t happen anymore. I think it is lowlife stuff.

So why is it that the Cars are so scarce that we can only get them on eBay? Apparently if you look for them in America (go to one or 2 shops twice a week) you find new cars.

(MET: It varies from place to place)

The movie was a great success when released. Kids and adults loved it, and when it went to DVD it sold well, particularly as a Christmas gift. Merchandise sold well too.

At first, buying merchandise was great. The Golden age of Disney Cars collecting!
The Disney store had every die cast vehicle available and restocked weekly.Toys R Us were the same and most retailers with a decent toy selection did ok too. If you wanted to get a toy car, you went to the shop and bought it. Playsets, gift packs and race tracks were easily found.

Then something happened.

Like most consumers, MATTEL probably didn’t know how well die cast 1.55’s would sell, and released the 12 back cards, initial play sets and then 16-backed as test markets. If sales were good, (which they obviously were) then they would release more items and choice.

This is where I think they simply got it horribly wrong.

Supercharged was launched (remember how exciting it was when buzz & woody came out?!)………..THEN………Sarge was recalled……….Consumer demand went throughthe roof……………Mattel!……….. Staggered……hesitated……..slowed the market down!


Mattel will most probably say –
“……….. The credit crunch has affected sales and production……..”
“…..sales in the Fisher price division were down 13% percent….”
“……….it’s the retailers ordering systems fault….”
“……….the recalled Sarge affected consumer confidence and sales slipped…….”
“………..they cost too much to make…………..”

I have some answers to all these claims.

The credit crunch has mainly affected the housing markets, high pricedluxury good purchases and business start ups. Joe average is not going to stop buying $3 – $10 toys because of it and there is no evidence that they ever have or will. In fact, people feeling the pinch financially will probably spend more time at home, rather than go away for the weekend, eat out etc. What happens when people stay at home more? They find cheaper ways to entertain and amuse themselves, for little kids that’s usually with TOYS!

The 13% lost by Fisher Price somehow having any relevance to the way cars have been produced and sold is ridiculous. If Cars IS the new Star Wars, then Mattel should be enjoying record profits and not worrying too much about FisherPrice. How often do opportunities like Cars come along for a toy company to exploit?

If there is a problem with the retailers ordering systems, then they should be changed. If stores have 20 yellow Ramones and 15 Buzz and Woody’s lying around collecting dust and the retailer selling them refuses to order new Cars product until they sell, then the manufacturer or owner (whoever is the main marketer) should intervene and solve the problem!

The recalled Sarge did not ruin sales, if anything it put them up, because toy collector’s ears were pricked when it happened and they started collecting. The market probably grew. Sure, I accept that some people shied away due to the health risk, but how many and essentially, FOR HOW LONG?!

They cost too much to make? Well if that’s true, add a buck to the price and release more new ones that currently sell on eBay at twice and three times theprice.
MY THEORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Just look at this years release schedule! I count over 50 announced as being released in 2008 as still to be released, and its now May.

If the much criticised Motor Speedway of the south set is a tester, sneakpeak pre sale of single cars, that number is over 70, and with Christmas nearly looming (yes in retail it starts looming in July), MATTEL have set themselves a huge task getting these Cars out before then! I estimate that in order to meet demand and give themselves a good shot before Christmas, they will have to release 70 different packaging styles of Car in 6 – 7 months, which is 10 amonth!


The problem in my opinion is the way they are sending the cars.

The policy of 12 cars nobody wants or needs in a case with some that we do needs to stop.


There is no excuse for 32 yellow Ramones, 15 buzz and woody’s, 16 Sally’s and 13 Dinoco McQueen’s to be on the shelves with nothing else! Neither is it acceptable for my 4 year old son to only be able to get the newer toy car forhis collection at 300 times its rrp.

If the newer ones were more common, the eBay thing would cancel itself out (some cars struggle to get shelf value now).

Also, people feel ripped off, not just financially, but time wise. Parents think ‘what’s the point’. This should be fun not a job!

I would like to get a petition done; start right here on this forum!

Get as many signatures as you can for the revision of case shipping from MATTEL, so that we can all get the Cars we want at the right price, hopefully before we die.
Failing that, MATTEL should just deal direct with eBay.

Has that happened already without them realising?

(MET COMMENT: Not to shill our own book but several chapters in the book is devoted to the retail distribution situation we have had to put up with and our speculation 🙂 or 😦 )

(MET COMMENT: So, thanks Mark – clearly passionate about CARS 🙂 …).


Filed under Advertising, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Media, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: New York Comic Con Panorama

Thanks to reader “HisWill” who got a chance to go to NY Comic Con last weekend – he also got us a great panorama shot of CARS and of course, what’s coming by examining it closely.

The full sized panorama shot is up at our FLICKR page.

While there is nothing new that we haven’t seen in part at other trade shows, it’s clear that it’s ready for regular “average” people to look over … so presuming our earlier predications are correct that we’ll get one or two in the next few boxes, here’s what definitely coming – and hopefully sooner than later in the new few weeks & month(s) …

And yea, that Tumbleweed McQueen is pretty weak – I had no problem with Cactus McQueen but a collection of lichens on his head is pretty weak …


Filed under Advertising, collecting, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Lightning Storm McQueen Exclusive at San Diego Comic Con

PLEASE NOTE – This post & this website has moved to – to read the latest Lightning Storm SD CC News, please click on the link above or click on the logo. Thanks!

Mattel displayed a Lightning Storm McQueen at the recent NY Comic Con – as the big exclusive CAR available at the SD Comic Con in July, 2008.

(more photos at

ToyNewsInternational has a great closeup/PR Photo that solves some of the mystery of what may be exclusive about it.

At larger Comic Cons (aka: Convention), toy companies will often offer an exclusive to draw interest in the line and of course, their booth.

There are four aspects that can make a figure/car/item special at these shows.

Number Distributed/Sold


Accessory (Special/Variant)

Item itself as “variant” version.
What does this mean for CARS & Lightning Storm McQueen?

Number Distributed or Sold Options:

Not Very Limiting – Available Outside Show
Somewhat Limited
Extremely LImited

The first option of exclusivity is simply the number produced or available at the show. It might be something that is not very limiting – you’re allowed to buy 1 per day (they stamp your hand) but you can buy one everyday of the show or perhaps, Mattel has teamed up with an online company so during those 4-5 days of the show, you can buy from them also (or even from the Red Line Club). Based on previous examples & likely Mattel history, this is unlikely, you will most likely be only able to buy only one at the show and at best, perhaps 1 a day which leads to the most likely scenario, that it’s somewhat limited. What that number is hard to guess but it’s a number where Mattel doesn’t have to take any back (home) so most likely, a few thousand. Now, it could extremely limited such as 100 given to vendors and a few raffled off but my guess is since Mattel announced at NY Comic Con it would be at SD, most likely, you have a reasonable chance of buying one. (What’s reasonable?, be my guest to guess 😉 )


Sticker on Card
Unique Card

Packaging pretty much goes hand in hand with the exclusivity. It’s pretty rare for an item at a show not to get some indication its unique – otherwise, of course, it’d be easy to forge when the “regular” one comes out later. The laziest is some sort of sticker on the regular store/retail card saying “SD COMIC CON EXCLUSIVE!” But most companies go to some effort to make it much more enticing – another cheaper way to go is simply to create a unique paper card and staple it to a plastic baggie – while not exactly the best way to go design & esthetic-wise, it is different and to collectors, that’s acceptable though virtually everyone hates the plastic baggie method. The last two are most desireable and of course, immediately add value and make it a collectible and that is some unique packaging – in the case of CARS, a unique SD Comic Con blister card and or in a special box

Accessory (Special/Variant)


So, when the “common” Lightning Storm McQueen is released, ) … will there be a clear plastic stand, the same missiles? – part of the variant possibilities are the accessories? They look pretty detailed and finely painted – will the store bought ones be as nice and as detailed? (It may just be a hand painted prototype anyway).

Item itself


And finally, in addition to “special” packaging & accessories and “limited” in numbers, the CAR itself might be a variant version available only at S.D. Just got the word – NOT LIMITED in availability!

From the Toy News International PR Close up photo, we can see it’s chrome.

Versus plain ‘ole Dinoco McQueen …

So, will there be a chrome Dinoco Blue SD Comic Con Lightning Storm McQueen with variant rockets on an exclusive plastic stand in an exclusive blister card in limited quantities? The mind boggles.

FULL UPDATE HERE. Briefly, it’s a Blue Rangburg chrome with a plastic stand AND the black base. As for packaging, we will have to see though the good news, not limited in quantity.


Filed under Checklist, collecting, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Mini Adventures Banshee


The Mini Adventures Screamin’ Banshee is coming in early May.

Here’s what the final box looks like (though Mattel may not have color corrected this file as the drawings show banshee as yellow but from the box art, he probably is yellow?)

The following are photos from Toy Fair (February 2008). It looks like they re-configured it to save on some packaging space – and now, it looks like we will need to assemble the “scoop” as well as the two tires on the other side of the Screamin’ Banshee.

From Toy Fair 2008, here are some shots of it out of the box …

It does seem cool, it can scoop up CARS in the front and the escape (from the back or side?) According to ChildrensToyCloset, The Screamin’ Banshee also features

… a working claw, swinging crane, red lights and fierce growling sounds.”

You also get Mini Mater.

Here’s the screenshot from the film, you can compare scale …. (too bad we lost the spike tires …).

Our sponsor, ChildrensToyCloset has it up for pre-sale already.

If you are collecting the Mini’s or thinking about it, here’s the checklist.


Filed under Advertising, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Media, Retail, Toys