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Hot Wheels Redline Grading & Values
This section will hopefully help take out some of the confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to grading and valuing Hot Wheels Redlines.


Grading of course is subjective and everyone has a different approach whether they choose a number grading system like 1-10 or the “poor/good/excellent/near mint/mint” grading system.  Either system works in its own way however each is flawed by the fact that no two people usually look at something the same way.  Also, some terms such as “near mint” and “very good” are too ambiguous and leave too much room for interpretation.  I have always said jokingly, “everything is near mint, just how far away is it?”  In addition, use of the 1-10 number system can cause too much “grey area” in that each flaw can equal a .1 increment.  So, a car with five chips can equate to a 9.5 when in reality it should grade at 8.5. 

 Another subjective matter is setting a value or price.  How do you come up with a price for which you would sell a particular car and at what price would you purchase a car?  Unfortunately, there is no formula or precise method and because of changes in the market, what is hot and commands high dollars today may not be hot tomorrow and its price will fall.  Therefore, you are left to use your best judgment, research recent sales of like items in similar condition, and most importantly, determine what is right for you. 

 The one thing though everyone does agree with is that condition is everything.  When it comes to designating a value or price, the better condition items command more while those in lesser condition fetch far less. 

 So, how do you determine condition and value?  First you need a benchmark or better, a starting point for which to grade from and that usually means to start with the best of the best.  Most collectors refer to a casting that is the best of the best as mint condition.  As a result, mint condition deserves the highest dollar value.  By definition, mint usually means in perfect condition as when first made.  Ah, ha!  If you look closely at most castings, you will find some minute flaw such as a micro chip, slight edge wear, a slightly dulled base, corner nick, wheel chrome loss in the center, a factory casting or paint flaw, broken red line or even a slight scuff on the front or back glass that would result in a less then mint rating.  Packaging is yet another factor and a bent or soft corner, discolored blister, cracked blister, vein or crease on the card, discoloration to the card, staple holes and punched or un-punched blister packs are just some examples of what would equate to less then mint packaging. 

 As you can see, exceedingly few examples loose or packaged would meet the mint criteria.  With that said, a grade that is a little more forgiving would be best suited for providing a starting point as that would be a condition much more obtainable. 

 By definition pristine usually means immaculate – so clean and neat as to look as good as new.  Pristine would fall right in between mint and excellent.  Mint of course being perfect without any flaws, pristine being immaculate where there might be one or two very insignificant flaws, then excellent being very high quality with only several minor flaws.  As a result, pristine is a more appropriate grade to give a near flawless casting, loose or packaged, which is as close to perfection one could expect to find.

 Determining values is also very subjective and ultimately, buyer and seller establish the price of any one item at the time of its purchase.  So, being there is always “wiggle” room in prices, a value range would be better rather then designating a single price. 

  The following scale is a more simplified version of its predecessors to more accurately assist you in determining condition of both loose and packaged items including track sets and accessories.  By eliminating those few grades that are indistinct or too close to another grade such as “near mint” and “very good,” you will be able to grade more precisely without having to determine things like “shows signs of play wear” vs. “has been played with” or “only minor flaws” vs. “has a few minor flaws.”

 Mint – Perfect, no flaws.

 Pristine – Immaculate, only a couple minor flaws. 

Examples regarding loose; a minute chip, a slightly bent axel, a very small amount of wear along a sharp edge, a slight wisp of toning, insignificant tarnish to the base.

Examples regarding packaged; a very slight vein on the card, very slight shelf wear on the box,  very clear blister without dents or cracks, un-punched card, un-opened box. 

 Excellent  – Very high quality with a few flaws. 

Examples regarding loose; a few small chips, a slight scuff on the roof, small area or spots of toning, edge wear, slightly tarnished base, chrome loss or breaks in the redline on the wheels.

Examples regarding packaged; several veins on the card, a feathered corner or two, slight crease to the blister, slight crush to the box, slight discoloration to the box, minor tear, possibly played with set or just the contents removed from the box but put back with all contents intact.

 Good – Signs of play wear. 

Examples regarding loose; medium sized chips, scratches, turned down wheels, 50% chrome loss on the wheels, tarnished base, scuffs on the windows, noticeable toning through out.

Examples regarding packaged; blister may be slightly separated from the card or have a small crack, a wavy or bent card,  slight discoloration to the blister, weak or worn box, definite signs of play time but still displayable, complete contents with slight wear.

 Fair – Very well used. 

Examples regarding loose; many chips or areas of missing paint, many large scratches, very bent axels, little to no chrome on wheels, heavy toning through out.

Examples regarding packaged; card is weak and frayed, has many creases or a slight tear, the blister has pulled away from the card or has many dents and or cracks, the box has torn or missing flaps or shows damage to the sides, badly damaged corners and several pieces missing from the contents.

 Poor – Deplorable. 

Examples regarding loose; majority of paint missing, kid applied paint, very worn wheels where the edges are chewed, severely cracked or broken windows, missing parts such as the hood, door or even axels.

Examples regarding packaged; the card is badly torn or a large piece is missing, many cracks and crushing to the blister, extremely worn or severely damaged box, many missing or damaged pieces.

 It is important to note that when determining the condition and value of a packaged item, you must consider the condition of the casting itself as well as the packaging and any track pieces and accessories.  There are many times when one would be in better condition then the other, therefore, you should classify the item overall at the lesser condition.  For example, you may have a pristine casting with a very tiny chip on the front fender but the card has a large crease running through the center and a crack along the seam of the blister – this would rate overall at good even though the car is pristine.


Copyright 2012 © ChevyMuscle Toys (Edward Wershbale)