Reader Matt asks about its future value … while there is no definitive answer, here are some things to keep in mind.
There’s not a lot of history to gauge, for some collectibles, there are some similar things like you can look at the Speed Racer Barbie and compare it to a “Fast & Furious” Barbie and sort of project its future worth and you also have a reasonable expectation of how others display, hide or protect their Barbies to retain their value.
With this set, there is not much to go by – first, there are not very many examples of “general interest” $300 sets of diecast available even limited to 1,000 pieces around … sure, there are $300 1:24 or 1:12 scale diecast CARS but 98% of collectors would shrug to name them … CARS, everyone knows but will people care 5 years or 10 years down the line? Yes, most likely – especially with the sequel coming out in 4 years but if every Piston Cup racer gets re-released, does that effectively negate its value to the racetrack & box … so MAYBE only a Mattel cardboard still sealed and NEVER opened retains the maximum value for this set? You could argue that – let’s say 100 never get opened and the Mattel box is mint and in 5-10 years, it’s worth X.
But what is that mythical X amount worth to you to just store, carry around and preserve a cardboard with something inside? (temperature controlled surroundings – like a closet instead of the garage, etc …) That’s something only you can answer – you just have to look at the prices of the sets selling for this first week – one person made approximately $50 return on buying & selling the set, another person made about $475 after costs … of course, your age, your income and your interest play a great part in valuing things – and of course, the return and effort is all relevant. You might list a magazine you see is selling for $20 because if you sell it, you can just drop it in an envelope to ship it but if you could make $20 selling an old ‘fridge, would you bother? For some people, it’s easy and fun to photograph an item to list for sale, for others – it’s tedium and work. Or look at baby boomers and muscle cars, 40 years ago, even though a muscle car was usually around $4k, scraping together that kind of cash was impossible but now, $60k to buy a driveable muscle car (not even a museum one), sure, why not – just as with this set, for most adults, they remember their college days – who had $300 dollars they could spend randomly then but now, it’s a bottle of wine for a special dinner … 6 hours later, what was that we drank?
So, let’s say a totally sealed box is worth $2k in 10 years, is it worth it to you to know you can have $2k in a 3 foot box? But because the set is so uncommon and Mattel never got around to releasing two of the CARS in any form (they got distracted by the 11,000 CARS in CARS2 🙂 ) maybe even the open ones are worth 90% or about $1,800 so is it worth $20 a year you’re “losing” to play with them? Or for those number crunchers, note – right now, your set is worth about $700 with minimal effort to sell and maybe $750 with a little more effort … so, even at $2k in 10 years, your appreciation is about $150 a year – not a bad return on $350 in 2008 but that’s if everything plays out accordingly. What if in 10 years, the set sells for $700? Then the appreciation has hit in 1 week and growth essentially went to ZERO for the next 9 years and 50 weeks – now, not such a good investment … things are impossible to predict. There are some toys – even recent ones that worth twice what the store sold them for and of course, there are dozens of examples of toys worth $10 and like a real car, depreciates to a few dollars (in CARS, someone paid over $150 for a Crusin’ McQueen on a SC card – now maybe $2?). Conversely, the Motor Speedway set would’ve returned 30% in TWO hours even before the RLC Club offer closed … worth it or not worth it to you to sell right then and there – there was a profit just waiting to be made.
And as I noted before, you might actually have more bidders for an open set because some people think – if I buy a sealed set, I won’t want to open it – defeating the purpose of buying it so they might be willing to pay nearly as much for a set you had fun with and that they have no excuse not to also play with … I sold off a bunch of redline Hot Wheels that were well played and loved – some even missing wheels but they did not sell for a lot less than ones in much better condition … presumably because they had no excuse not to swap out the wheels or repaint them. And to circle back – you never know – all those people who were eager for Roger Clemons to go into the Hall of Fame so all their memorabilia would be worth tons more … now, suddenly, that rookie card they paid $800 for? Now, not so much.
I think it comes down to this. Whatever happens happens. One reason why Hemi muscle cars are worth so much – a lot of people thought, why bother with a Hemi for a few hundred dollar more for just 20 or 30 more horses … now, worth several hundred thousand dollars more or people who bought DeLoreans because they thought they would be classics – very little actual appreciation – you never know – so just be true to yourself. Some things retain value in spite of everything and other things are pristine but no one cares. Because you can argue that spending $340 on a thing you store away is not the best way to spend $340 also, right? It’s all perspective – so as everything is all about the Star Wars … either stare at your kid and say, “these are not the CARS you’re looking for …” or the other thing 🙂
If you like to collect and keep them in cards, mint and in boxes – neatly organized – great. You do that. We might want to buy them from you someday. If you & your kids want to chip them and smash them – great, that’s what toys are for and in some way, you are contributing to the greater good of all collectors and you’ve take one more off the market as it were 🙂 … so there’s value and there’s value – there’s value in taking out your objects and appreciating their beauty or the value in play (whether with your kids or just yourself) … it’s one thing not to hang a Van Gogh in your 2-year old kid’s room 🙂 and another to not play with a mass produced item … and don’t get carried away in trying to determine appreciation and depreciation for everything. Because like the baby boomers who might be spending $60k to buy their childhood dream, if your net worth is now $1 million, what’s $60k … what are you saving it for? Same with this set, maybe it is worth $3k in 10 years but if filling a tank of gas is $300, big whoop, right? 🙂 and 😦
So, you do the voodoo you do and I will re-enact the great crash in the Piston Cup race – get out a grinder to all the CARS and smash up Mood Springs … make a diorama and sell it for $5k 🙂