This is update to our previous post – it seemed easier just to refresh the post entirely instead of trying to shoehorn it into the previous post.
Being a completist in the Mattel Disney Pixar was fairly simple in the first 12 months but got much more difficult in the last 6 months and it’s going to get harder and harder – some of which you can chalk up to mistakes … some of which you can only say is that Mattel is pushing the limits of what to sell.
And part of it is understandable, if Mattel makes “slightly” different versions (known to collectors as ‘variants.’) that are not really significant differences, is it really Mattel’s fault if we’ll climb over broken glass to buy it? If Mattel slaps a NEW motif on the front of a card and we fight tooth and nail to own it along with the “blank” version, who’s fault is that really? (By the way, I’m THAT guy who is a completist so if I’m naming names, I”m putting myself at the top of the list )
But it is a fine line. Because while most collectors want an actual chase to hunt down all the items to complete the collection, there is also a limit to how much hassle you want to go through. If the collecting is too easy – then what’s the point, right? But conversely, if it gets too hard or too annoying, people eventually just throw up their hands and gives up. And that’s a snowball effect. Eventually if a few retailers stop ordering or cutting back, then the manufacturer cuts back.
THE EBAY EFFECT
Of course, now with eBay – you get the best & worst of the situation. Prior to eBay, sometimes there were very obscure releases or special tie-ins that you NEVER heard about because if you didn’t live in St. Louis but now, if a pet store in St. Louis issued a diecast car for a month, you can find someone selling it on eBay … conversely, before – you might spot it in some tiny store selling for $20 – is it a good price? You have no idea because some guy in a flea market in St. Louis might be selling it for $.85 because there, they are awash in this car but now, the WORLD sets the eBay price between $.85 and $20.00 or more. This was the situation with the WM 8 over the last days of summer … in some cities, there is a WM for every 50,000 people but here on the West Coast, it’s more like one WM for 1-million people so 144 CARS in a pallet will be valued differently depending on where you live. If you have 10 WM within a 20-minute drive from you in a location with 500,000 people, the CARS will be of much less value to you than some on the West Coast where there is 1-WM per 20 mile radius … so in essence, eBay actually serves to re-distribute in ways that WM cannot (or another retailer). Of course, eBay also feeds the frenzy – if people sees that eBay prices are worth the effort, instead of buying 4 or 8, they are now buying 32 … but eBay pricing reflects supply & demand nearly instantaneously … for instance, while there are plenty of auctions for the Mini Adventures playsets, there is not much action going on there – supply without demand means nothing.
So, just to recap some of the jargon:
Canon or Not
People often asks if a particular CAR counts as part of the line, “is it canon?” or is it an accessory – in particular, does Frank or Bessie count?
Here’s my opinion.
If you answer YES to any of the following criteria, yes it’s canon:
a) Is it issued on a single or multi-pack blister card by Mattel?
b) Is it in scale?* (well mostly, diecast toys are never 100% to scale to each other or otherwise).
c) Is it mostly metal?
Bessie & Frank are both plastic and NOT in scale … but neither is the blimp however, the blimp comes on a card – Bessie & Frank do not. In actuality, Bessie & Frank fail on the three criterias. Bessie & Frank do NOT count as part of the CARS set … you are free to collect them but they are not official.
Mistake CARS still count like white rimmed FHH or Rollin’ Bowlin Mater – they can answer YES to all three.
The only CAR that barely makes even though it fails on two counts is the Mack cab portion. It is IN scale to the other CARS even though it’s all plastic and it does not come on a card … I would consider it to be part of the line – especially since he’s sort of a main character also … and he can answer YES to Part B.
Chase figures (or in the case diecast CARS) are items that you have to “chase” after. They are usually “short-packed” in a case. For instance, in typical Mattel cases of 72 Hot Wheels, there is one car that is only one to a case so that is the ultra valuable one to chase after. Fortunately, even when Mattel was packing mostly older CARS to each case, there was nothing held back to one per 10 cases or one to 50 cases … but Hot Wheels collectors were fooled by Mattel when they couldn’t find Lizzie in the beginning (and that she was a “girl’ figure – usually the choice for shortpacking because a) girl figures don’t sell as well as boy figures in predominantly boy figure lines and b) the pattern for shortpacking usually is the ‘girl’ figure – so collectors naturally presumed Lizzie was the shortpack because she wasn’t on the shelves … and later of course, the infamous two months of Crusin McQueen selling for $80 to $150 dollars because they thought he was a rare chase figure. Of course, Mattel just says, “huh?” if you ever ask them because they go by theory, what YOU don’t know doesn’t hurt THEM (in the pocketbook). In Hot Wheels parlance, chase is “Treasure Hunt.”
Wrong wheels, missing eyes, etc … A mistake in the individual production of the CAR and escaped whatever quality control they had. It’s worth a few extra dollars on eBay as there are collectors who will buy it but it’s hit or miss and not a huge return on your money. You might make $2 or you might make $10 above and beyond what you paid (as long as you did not open it) but hardly something you can count on to make a huge profit. Because unlike “coin or stamps” errors that might be worth thousands or even millions … mainly because there is not that much quality control in toy manufacturing plants. But if you are a regular seller on eBay, an error car will usually always sell and every once in a while, you do hit the jackpot where you can make a substantial return on your investment of $3.50 so again, if you’re a regular seller, why not … for people who don’t normally sell on eBay, it can be a time consuming hassle to photograph and post so what is your time & effort worth? $2? $10? $20? Note – “ERROR” is different than “VARIANT.”
(Sally missing Porsche logo)
Wrong name on card in front or CAR placed backwards. While an error CAR is almost certain to sell – unless you have some high starting price, high reserve or bad photograph – error packaging is a much iffier proposition and it’s unlikely you’ll get a very substantial return on your money … For CARS, it would be hard to see a situation where you’d get much action on a packaging error – for instance if a ROBIN action figure were labeled BATWOMAN, I could see collectors might find that funny since people think Robin is girlish but for CARS, hard to see where wrong packaging = humor = big return but who knows?😉
(Tex & Dinoco McQ with Luigi, Guido & Tractor name plate)
An evergreen toy line is exactly like the tree that stays green – only in this case, it keeps shooting off money Any toyline you see year after year on the shelves is evergreen. It is the goal to create to create an evergreen line (for every company – not just toys!) but not always easy to do … as you know, if people could predict hits, it would just be too easy …
Say, does that plastic hook on glued to the back of the CARS look like the letter J – by golly, it does – maybe we should call it a j-hook. Okey dokey!
A mail-away is just that. You buy something, fill out some forms, clip some UPC’s (usually) and in return, you get a limited edition something. Disney/Mattel has it down to science with their recent Blu Ray mail away where all you needed is a computer. In the UK, they had a buy six, get a free mystery car (redemption was Vinyl Toupee).
An item that hangs there for a long time keeping the store pegs company.
WM is Walmart, Tarjay is Target (the French speaking pronunciation to indicate that Target is a little classier than WM ;-0 ) and TRU is Toys R Us. KB is of course KB Toys. Others that might creep in include: TDS for The Disney Store, DW for DisneyWorld and DL for Anaheim Disneyland.
Sealed Boxes or Factory Sealed Boxes
Is exactly what it states – it’s packed at the factory and sealed so while you might have some advanced word on what’s inside, it’s actual contents is NOT a guarantee or promise – mainly because toy companies hate to promise anything including color, size or quality so you get a vague guideline as to what might be in it – it’s not as bad as trading cards where you tend to get 65% repeats of the figures/players you don’t want … but at least be glad even in the worst of times, you could only get one of each old figure and not a box of a Dale Jr. and 17 Sheriff’s. And of course, if it’s factory sealed, that should mean it was un-tampered with at the distributors. And for 2008, we got offv to a good start and thought things were normalizing but now, not so much as with the changes just announced … in other words, told you so.
A subtle difference, a variant is an “approved” production difference.
Unlike an error that is an individual’s mistake in painting or assembling the item, a variant is reproduced hundreds or thousands of times which ironically can become more valuable – especially if they actually spot it in mid stream, fix it and then continue that line without making any other changes or notation. But usually a variant tends to be sought after because it’s an official offshoot of the main trunk line and collectors want to be complete. In action figures, it’s sometimes subtle paint change – in McFarlane action figures, maybe the socks are down instead of up … in Star Wars, it’s a extra couple yellow circles or the longer lightsaber … in those lines (in particular), variants are immediately more valuable because Star Wars collectors are huge in numbers and McFarlane sports figure collectors know that each variant – while intention is limited or very limited … CARS, on the other hand, so far have not been very limited even when they make changes.
Of course, there are product variants and packaging variants such as the recent NEW & “blank” CARS cards:
So, the full rundown on the variants of the line so far are:
Boost (Thailand – more lavender/copper in bright lights than China – more correct purple)
Sally (Thailand – tampo decals different slightly)
The King (Thailand – wheel well 1mm further away)
Fabulous Hudson Hornet (incorrect white rims)
Fred (No license & with Fred license plate)
TJ (TUF GUE license plate & with TUF GUY license plate)
Kori (Angled ‘press’ badge & level/straight ‘press’ badge)
Pace Car/Charlie Checker (WM red tail-light/3-pack yellow tail-light)
CARS PACKAGING VARIANTS
Lizzie (No ‘promotion information’ on card back)
Sarge (No ‘promotion information’ on card back)
Wingo (No ‘promotion information’ on card back)
Fillmore (Spelled wrong on front & back as Filmore)
Fillmore (Spelled Filmore on the back)
Starting with WM 8 (September 2007), all “new” releases and some quasi-new (Ghostlight Ramone on WOC card) come in two versions – NEW & “blank.”
And the last term is the Blister Card
This is known in the biz as a blister pack as it has a plastic display area – most of them also have a hook built in or in this case, added so it hangs on a peg – or a j-hook because it’s shape is like the letter “J.”
This also includes the multi-pack versions.
12-Back Desert Design
16-Back Desert Design
Supercharged Cards (21 to 23 various)
Night Speedway (Wal Mart) & Target Exclusives
World of Cars (14-15 various)
Desert/Classic Art Multi-Packs
Supercharged Movie Moments Multi-Packs
Movie Doubles (TR Exclusive)
World of Cars Movie Moments Multi-Packs
Piston Cup Race Off (Launchers)
(our blog post on all the other card backs is here).
SO FAR … Through January 1, 2008, you have many ways to go:
“ONE is GOOD ENOUGH”
The smallest collection would be just ONE of each version so once you got LIGHTNING MCQUEEN with the 12-back card design, you are not buying him again in the 16-back version nor the Supercharged version since they are the exact same CAR only with a different card. Or since you have BOOST & SNOT ROD in the Movie Moments 2-pack, you are not buying them again on their own cards.
Of course, this is not 100% accurate as you will have some doubles – depending on if & when you bought the multi-pack (like you might’ve already had a Sally but bought the multi-pack to get Crusin’ McQueen).
Now, the count of 86 is slightly ahead as it includes Flea & Flik which may not arrive until early spring but you’re mostly set to early 2008.
This also includes the Red Rimmed Fabulous Hudson Hornet & the “incorrect” white one even though both are identified simply as Fabulous Hudson Hornet.
Options Within …
THE NOT ACTUAL PART OF THE MOVIE VERSIONS:
“Rollin’ Bowlin’ Mater” does not actually appear in the movie but he is part of three sets:
The Mattel 2006 Factory Set
Rollin’ Bowlin’ Game
& 2006 BJ Warehouse 6-pack
Since he doesn’t appear in the movie, you can argue against his inclusion but Mattel sought fit to include it in the Factory Set and Pixar has obviously signed off on it at least three times … You could just as easily argue that the white rimmed Fabulous Hudson Hornet is also incorrect as he never appeared in the movie (Doc Hudson “dressed” as the Fab Hudson Hornet is always with red rims). But if you want to delete RB Mater, that’s 85.
Speaking of which, the Blu Ray Blue McQueen is also not actually from the movie … so if you go by strict rules, you’re done to 84.
This also includes the variants of Sally & The King. I have looked at the photos and I say me’h but that’s up to you if you want to add to the total. The King & Sally do look so ever slightly different – personally, they are so slight, I don’t really count them but that’s your choice. If you agree, you are at 82.
Kori Turbowitz also comes in two versions, a straight/level sticker version and angled. Fred with and without license plate, Charlie Checker with red or yellow back lights and TJ with license plate that reads TUF GUY or TUF GUE. All are pretty slight but all are official variants. If you exclude them all, you’re at 78.
Of course, there are some who argue that planes are not cars even if they appear in the movie – if so, your count is 76. And Mack is all plastic also – 75?
If you need a checklist, go to our EDITGRID checklist and click on the TAB marked OPENER LIST (whether you open them or not is your call).
This is the minimal collection up to now to be considered a “completist” and a solid way to go.
For instance, if you’re not opening them, then you can just collect the FIRST card the CAR makes an appearance and stop there to call it a day since next year, all of the 2006 CARS will be re-released for at least the second if not the third or fourth re-release … BUT all EXACTLY the same car.
“ONE OF EVERY CARD AND NO MORE”
The next choice up would be if you collected ONE of every cardback variation release including duplicates such as 3 LIGHTNING MCQUEEN’s available as a 12-back, 16-back and Supercharged card, etc … This would generally qualify you to be called a completist. But this where the river diverges into what you consider to qualify as a complete set … some options to consider from here on out … and whether you want to collect EVERY packaging version & variant or not …
The count is around 231 COUNTING every variant and every version of every possible released on blister cards including multi-packs (including the new launchers & gift packs) and some not technically on blister cards.
This includes the CARS production variants (albeit small variants) of Kori, Fred, TJ & Charlie Checker.
Now, personally, you can decide what you consider to be a “completist” so you can start subtracting from this total … starting from the strongest arguments for inclusion to the weakest:
This also includes the oldest packaging variant of 2 Fillmore’s as Filmore and the more recent packaging variants of the 8 WM cards and 4 WOC cards that come in two versions, one reads NEW on the front – one does not.
Since part of being a completist is really collecting everything that is clearly visible as “different.” And it’s hard to argue that a large NEW stamp/motif is not readily apparent … but you can subtract the 12 cards with the words NEW on them – putting you at 219.
While Mack (the cab portion) is not even technically metal, he is in scale and certainly a huge component of the movie so I like to believe he should be included but you can not count him if you so choose. You can also argue that he does not come on a card. You are at 218 if you subtract him.
The Rollin’ Bowling Mater argument again? Only available on 500 cards but presumably most people who own the 500 sets of the Factory 2006 Case are not going to open it up so is that the equivalent of owning the Rollin Bowlin’ Mater from the Bowling Game or the BJ Warehouse box (not technically on cards?) and if most of the Piston Cup Racers are only released in boxes, are you really not going to consider them as part of the set. So, you can subtract Rollin’ Bowlin’ Mater but I think the argument is pretty weak to exclude him … if you do, you’re at 217.
Now, the biggest divergence of the two completist camp is probably the multi-packs. Personally, I see them as the box sets. If it’s different, I’m willing to collect it but I don’t see a point in collecting as a Supercharged and not as World of Cars (when I already have them as a Desert back Movie Moment 2-pack) – though I believe a completist should own every version of Lightning McQueen on every card version as an individual card … is that logical? Hard to say but to me, here’s my argument is that everything on an individual card is the main line. To me, multi-packs and box sets are a supplement to the line. so, if it’s a repeat of something on a card, what’s the point? Do I need the Townies set when I already have all 5 “townies” on individual cards? If it’s UNAVAILABLE at the time on an individual card, then yes, it’s part of it but as nice as Darrell Cartrip & Bob Cutlass are as a set, if they are already on individual cards, what’s the point?
Though I’m going to consider that as long as it’s the first release, I’ll count that … so I’ll count Sarge & Fillmore during its first release (as a MM set) but not on World of Cars cards as a set … so that count minus “repeats” of any multi-pack including the TRU ones … That’s a WHOPPING 33 CARS deleted or a total of 184.
The new Piston Row Race Off Launchers? They are on cards but technically, the launchers are accessories and all 5 and later with Octane Gain, all 6 are repeats … so delete them? You are at 178.
By that same measure, you could subtract the 9 Target exclusives (3 Easter, 3 Pumpkin trays & 3 “ornaments”) and dismiss them merely as packaging versions – this is where you would diverge into whether you are a completist individual card collector or a complete completist … prior to the WM exclusive releases, I was more dismissive of them but since the WM exclusives will be re-released as regular World of Cars CARS in 2008, it’s harder to dismiss these just as repeats … but subtract 9 if you are not collecting them. Now it’s 169.
There are three releases of the 12-back CARS that came without the “License to Win” promo info. (see our card back post for details). Only Sarge, Lizzie & Wingo are also available WITHOUT the promo info – if you don’t care, subtract another three. Now down to 166.
There are Thailand versions of Sally & The King that differ slightly – again, personally, I don’t think it’s very significant (Sally’s Porsche logo & license are smudgier & The King’s rear quarter panel is narrower). Frankly, I have looked and looked and I think these might be more error versions than variants. Not collecting them? 164.
There are now 5 oddball Canadian cards that by most appearances seem like part of the US line (no other languages to tell them apart ON THE FRONT, the five cards are CARS that did not appear as SC in the US: Rusty, Dusty, Flea, Flik, Dinoco Helicopter & Yeti, the Abominable Snowplow – yes, YETI appeared in the US on a SC card but not with his full moniker) so if you’re not counting these … 159 …
Blu Ray McQueen – not in movie? That’s 158.
Though in my opinion, a completist is either 231 or 184 … I think the two completists paths are either:
OPTION A – Everything on hanging card
OPTION B – Everything on single cards and anything new on multi-packs …
Because with LAUNCHERS & the 3-PACKS coming … you might have to decide now.
If this is the avenue of collecting you’re pursuing, then from our EDITGRID checklist, you can use either the BY WAVE or BY NAME & PACKAGING tab sheets.
“THE ULTIMATE COMPLETIST”
180/231 … 260/262
So while 184 to 231 will cover 95% of the “completists,” there are those that need to be complete COMPLETE – then this is your category.
Because in addition to being complete above, are you really complete? Because there might be up to 39 CARS on the Supercharged cards that come in with poster (folded underneath) and the without-poster version. Though we’re not sure of the exact number since it looks like the white rimmed Hudson Hornet ended production before the posters were offered and Sarge was recalled and stopped at the factory and there were 41 different SC CARS & cards, 39 is probably the correct number though there is some dispute about Mater also (Counting Mater as no-poster would make it 38 but close enough for now) so counting the 30 would put the new number at 260.
Also note – limited to 500 is the Mattel 2006 factory set which is a box containing all CARS released in 2006 including 2 CARS never before featured on individual blister cards (Rollin’ Bowlin’ Mater & Dirt Track McQueen).
Counting these 2 would be 215 or 245 so far but since if you got a set, who is going to break it up? In fact, I’ll bet 95% of people never will even break the seal … so can you really count it – or is it just an oddball anomaly? I would say since it’s limited to 500, most people are not going to consider this set part of being a completist – it’s a nice bonus but sort of like being hit by a meteorite … (it might hurt but eBay will make up for it )
And the rarest of all – there are 50 Red Rangsberg CARS given to attendees of the brainstorm session of Mattel’s charity event, the Children Affected by AIDS foundation dinner & auction.
As far as I know, none have turned up on eBay so far so complete completists have ONE special CAR to look for …
Of course, there are the ULTRA COMPLETIST who has EVERY box set, every playset with CARS, every track, every accessory that came bundled with a car (storage launcher, playmat, etc ) every released. Good luck with that!
And if that’s not difficult enough time/money/storage wise … there’s always the international sets – Canadian, EU and possible Australia/NZ?
It helps to be a little crazy to collect the line😉 but you can also see there’s lot of ways to slice & dice this line and there are completists AND there are completists … because no matter how complete you think you are there, there’s always more and you have to draw the line … are you collecting EVERY box set? – you going to buy both the Piston Cup race sets (both versions with the track but each comes with different CARS)? You going to collect both the Desert Art Flo’s Cafe along with the Flo’s SC TRU Exclusive Flo’s Cafe playset? See, the only checklist is the one you, your & you (and your banker) agree on … so good luck!
It in the next few months, you will have to decide how complete of a completist you will be as Mattel is already showing their hand of the same CARS but in different packaging (exclusives in 3-packs, launchers, etc, etc …) so you’ll have to decide if you really, really want one of everything as long as it’s on a different or just the first card version of that particular CAR.
We might already be getting some pushback from a number of collectors in this line –
the Launchers are the first CARS item in a long time that are not flying off the shelves – essentially $48 for 6 CARS most people already own but for a plastic accessory. Several completists I know are not buying the Launchers which for the long-term collector may or may not be good news as if sales are not that good and Mattel cancels the Launchers sub-line, will people want to come back and own them? In other words, people might think it’s just too much to collect 36 racers plus Launchers (presuming that everything gets released) so they are not willing to commit to the line right now but if Mattel gives up after – say, 10 Launchers, will people decide they do want to own them since it’s only 10? Or will they just dismiss them forever like the myriad of box sets that just the same 15 CARS packaged 15 different ways? So, if you’re buying as a completist with an eye to sell them, something to consider.
To a lesser degree with the Gift Packs (3-packs), clearly the Gold Mia/Tia one will sell but the re-rimmed Dirt Track Doc Hudson with two CARS everyone owns?
Mattel seems to be at the edge of what is going to sell. The individual CARS on blister cards – the interest is definitely still there. The rest? People do seem to be getting pickier or giving on saving an extra complete set so … that’s good or bad news depending on what you’re doing.
(this also seems to applying to the MINI ADVENTURES line – sales seem slow)
Where are we?
2006 was the era of Mattel being surprised this thing had legs.
2007 was the year that Mattel was going to sell us everything but they got blitzed by the lead & recall issue.
2008 – YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET. 2008 will be the year Mattel will perform a surgery strike on our wallets.
So, give or take, there will be a minimum of @150-300 CARS before 2008 is over – counting repeats on cards/in multi-packs and in sets.
Yea, that’s right, I said 300.
Read ’em & weep.
Think we should band together for some CARS COLLECTOR Public Storage discount? or😦
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