"Everything in life is luck." — Donald Trump
Although I would love to say that skillful collecting and blood-hound instincts uncovered the find I am about to describe, it was my lifelong love of Redline Spectraflame blister packs that was responsible.
In the early 1990s my wife and I visited New York regularly and often went to the Greenwich Village street fairs. At one such event, a gentlemen was selling mint, in-the-box old-stock regular wheel Matchbox cars for $5 apiece. I bought about a dozen but, in retrospect, should have taken all he had. That was quite a bargain even back then.
When I examined them at home in pristine, unplayed-with condition, I was hooked. I decided to look for all the models I had when I was a kid, but with one condition: they had to be mint, in-the-box, just like these.
Matchbox and Hot Wheels went hand-in-hand at most toy shows on the east coast I attended. I was soon finding some Hot Wheels at these shows, although in fewer numbers than Matchbox. It was at a small show in Shrewsbury, PA that I saw my first Redline blister pack, a Heavyweights Dump Truck. The blister was badly faded but the bubble was intact and the truck pristine. I purchased it for $20.
This experience reminded me of the awesome late 60s Redlines packaging I knew as a kid. Although I never convinced my parents and grandmother that I “liked the Hot Wheels better because you could do more with them,” I honestly loved them both. They each have strong points as far as play value is concerned.
And so I was hooked again! I started to look for the Redline models I remembered, which were few in comparison to the matchbox models.
Do any of you remember a 1990s era monthly paper called “Toy Shop”? This was my early source for acquiring Hot Wheel blister packs not available in my area. It was in that publication I learned of Hot Wheels newsletter-sponsored conventions. I remember calling Randy Pratl from his regular full-page ad inquiring about the conventions. He told me how to subscribe the newsletters and where you could get tickets to conventions. Now things were really getting cool!
I joined — HWN# 2937 — and the first convention I attended was in Atlanta, where the hotel conditions were a fiasco! Ok, I admit it. This was my first exposure to early Redline Hot Wheels stuff, so I probably would have slept in my car just to see it all.
We set up for room to room trading and then ventured out to see what others had brought. A few floors down I happened to walk into an older gentlemen’s room who showed mostly Blackwall stuff. To my amazement, he had a bunch of Grand Prix blister packs sitting next to a freshly opened case.
I had never seen a Grand Prix blister pack in a green color scheme before, so I purchased four of them at $25 apiece. All I remember were a purple Brabham-Repco and green enamel McLaren. Back then, I collected cars and colors with no regard to value as long as they were in mint condition and packaging. That was my only criteria as I did not have a lot of knowledge. I did not even own the first Tomart book yet.
Back home, the cars were put into the old style proTech packs — the only kind available in those days — and hung on the wall in my toy room. About 8 years ago, I rearranged my collection in chronological order. I placed regular Redlines, Spoilers, Grand Prix and Heavy Weights in respective groups, and changed to the new proTech vintage edition packs.
Every winter, starting in December, I try to sell a few of my extras. Since the Elite Redlines Guide
came out last year, I was curious what it said about the value of my cars. I started with the Grand Prix series, and with book in hand, headed to the toy room. There I found two McLarens: a Light Blue US, and much to my amazement, what appeared to be a green enamel HK.
I thought there must be a typo. I found Rick Wilson’s Grand Prix website in the book’s credits and contacted him with my story and photos. He confirmed my hunch. The first car I had purchased in Atlanta was indeed a green enamel HK. My discovery had been sitting in my toy room for most of my collecting career!
Now I’m interested in finding out more about this car and also collecting other colors of Grand Prix cars. In minty blister packs, of course!