Brandon has unearthed some of the most amazing collections in the Redline Hobby, thats for sure… lets take a look into the mind of Brandon Nielsen!
My Hot Wheels Story
My Dad and I have always been into “treasure hunting”. Years ago he had bought several antiques and asked me to sell them for him and we could split the money. I was all in right away because I love antiques and looking them up is a lot of fun. So after a while I started looking myself. Buying different things like signs and other odd ball stuff. I would hang the signs and display the weird stuff in my office at work. I loved having them for a while then selling them to someone else to enjoy and turning a profit on many of them. My office included several gas, oil and soda signs as well as one of my favorite items, a Jameson whiskey barrel from the actual Jameson distillery. When we packed up and moved to Oregon I gave it all to my dad, and he still has them.
Since then I moved to Idaho where one day I came across the coolest treasure I had ever found. There was a guy selling a trumpet on Craigslist. I saw it while at work and thought about sending him a message to get a few closer pictures to see if it was worth driving over for, but something told me to just go over there and check it out. So on my lunch break I headed over there to take a look.
It turned out that the gentleman and his wife were preparing to have a yard sale the next day as they had just bought a brand new house and wanted to clean out most all of their belongings. They had retired and were very well off. They had been traveling a lot, going on cruises every month. A lot of the items were priced very low and he was actually offering to give many high dollar items away for free or next to nothing.
Back to the trumpet- I took a look and it was junk. But he then said what else are you looking for? I have these old hot wheels I’d like to sell. I took a look in this old box and there were several carded hot wheels inside. I pulled one out and took a look at it. I thought it had to be some kind of remake or something that came out it in the 90s, but it did have a 1967 date on the back and he said he got them around 1970. I hesitated because it was the only thing he was actually asking a lot for (I thought a lot before knowing the value).
I then decided to pass on them and left his house. But I didn’t make it far. Something kept telling me to go back and buy them. I tried looking them up by searching “custom miniatures” and other text I could see on the card and nothing was coming up but a bunch of newer stuff. Finally, I decided I would go ahead and buy them because I loved playing with Hot Wheels as a kid, or as I called them, “cars”. I thought that even if I didn’t make any money on them by selling at least I could enjoy them for a while, maybe open a few to play with or give the kids. So I decided to go back and buy them.
There was a list of the cars on the outside of the box and I decided to try again and search some of the casting names. After searching a few and not seeing anything, I saw “Beach Bomb” there on the list. I typed that in and it opened up the gate to all the others. I had never heard the phrase “Redline”, but when I found it and started searching Redline with the casting name I about had a heart attack! I immediately called my dad and started sending him pictures. He couldn’t believe it and was really excited because they were the same cars he had when he was younger.
I decided to go back the next day (when the yard sale was starting) and see if there was any chance he had more. I told him they were worth a lot more than I realized and I really ended up liking them a lot more than I thought. “I think I have another box, and my sister had hers here too. I’ll go grab the box and ask my sister if she wants to sell hers.” !!!!!
So he comes out with another 2 boxes full of redlines, track sets, unused cases with the tags and several other items like track pieces, Zowies, ect. I asked him how much and he said per car the same price as the others he had sold to me. “Great! Take my money”! Well that’s what I was thinking anyway! I bought the other 2 boxes and asked if there was anything I could do to help them with the yard sale or the move. They thanked me and said they had already hired a lot of people to take care of everything for them. I started talking more to the gentleman who sold me the cars and he told me he worked for Shell. He worked at the factory and that’s how he ended up with most of his cars. He had retired very comfortably and was just enjoying life with his wife. Great people!
The drive home felt like an eternity! I was so excited to see what other great cars were in these other boxes. At this point I thought I had an idea of the value and I was getting excited to look up each casting. I counted the cars and there were about 190 blister packs and just about 12 loose mint cars. I joined a couple facebook groups for hot wheels and posted pictures asking how much they might be worth and how to sell them. I hadn’t even taken them all out of the boxes yet. I immediately got bombarded with literally over 100 messages in the firs 5 or 10 minutes. I couldn’t even read them all! I had a ton of offers varying from around $20 per car to $50, then a guy named Timothy Watterson contacted me to help me with evaluating the values of the cars. He was very kind and literally took the time to write down, by hand, every one of the cars I had and an estimated value. He never pressured me or even asked to buy them. I still thank him to this day for that. Meanwhile, I was trying to catch up on messages and had several extremely rude messages. People calling me names, saying I was “fishing”, and booting me out of their groups. However, there were more kind people than there were jerks so that’s a good thing. Most people were just telling me how great they were and how amazing the find was and to let them know when they come up for sale. Jeff Rabe was one of the kind ones. He had lined me up with a few potential buyers and was also not pressuring me or trying to make offers, even though he wanted some of them.
After reviewing the list from Tim I decided to list them for sale as one lot. Totaling the values from Tim added up to be about $56k. So I decided to list them as a lot for $45k. I got a few more hateful messages and comments after posting but ended up selling them within a day or so. I had a couple really goodoffers from people I still know to this day, but most all of them required me to ship them and I was too terrified to do that. Then a guy from Colorado said he would drive up, pick them up and pay cash. His offer was $32k. He was a reseller on Ebay and told me he was going to list them all individually and there would be plenty of room for big profit still. I appreciated his honesty, as well as the offer to pick them up and pay cash/verified money order. I took the listing down and we planned to meet 4 days later.
During that time I went through the cars more, laying them out and seeing which colors and castings I had. There were so many cool cars, included two nuclear hot pink Pythons, Beautiful yellow Olds 442, Bye Focals, Gold and Purple Cords, too many to list! And I really started to like them more and more. I started wishing that I had just sold doubles and kept one of each casting. Then when the day came to meet him I packed them in the car and actually started feeling a little sad about it. I think I had only had them around a week or two total and I was already starting to get attached. We met and he took a look at each one and we went into the bank together. After the money transaction was complete I helped him load them into his truck, and at this point I was feeling heart broken!
After selling them I decided I wanted to take the money and start buying some to collect. I had no idea what I was doing and started just buying everything I saw and paid way too much money for several. As the year went on I started learning more and really tried to focus in on what I specifically wanted to collect. I placed a few want ads and started searching Ebay and other selling websites and apps. My dad joined in right away and we were partners immediately, always searching and showing each other what we find and even buying things together occasionally. (He lives in Utah and I’m in Idaho)
He really enjoys cleaning up played with cars. Not restoring but just cleaning, wheel swapping, ect to bring them back to life. He also sells a lot on Ebay and that helps with income since he is on a medical retirement.
Years went on and I began learning more and more. I came in contact with Anita Smith, who I didn’t even realize was Chicklu, and she was another very kind and generous person. When I would find something I though was rare I would send it to her to ask what she thought about authenticity and value. She also never pressured me in any way to buy anything, or even asked to buy anything. She just helped me with any question I needed and was always very kind about everything. I was very happy to meet her, Tim, and Jeff in Las Vegas for the Jackpot 2020 event, as well as many other wonderful people who I had been in contact with by just Facebook and CRF.
FINDS ALONG THE WAY
The first find was still definitely the biggest! However through the last 4-5 year or so I have found some other pretty rare cars. Most all of them I just happened to look at Ebay at just the right time or saw them posted locally on Craigslist or Facebook market place.
My first big score was a Purple Black Roof Cougar. I was on a work trip in Chicago when I saw them come up for sale here in Idaho. There were only 2 pictures, one of the wheel case with all the cars jammed in there, then then another where I could see the black roof on the cougar. I had no idea if it was authentic, but I knew it was at least a hard to find car and worth a gamble. So I sent him a message offering more than what he was asking and told him I could pay cash and pick them up. He immediately agreed and took the listing down. Now I had to ask my wife to pack up the kids and go pick them up! She met the guy and was able to buy the cars. She sent me pictures when she got home and I started getting pretty excited because the car appeared to be untampered with. I sent photos to my good friend Anita and she shared with some of her other collector friends to help verify that it wasn’t restored in any way. Turned out to be completely original!
Next big score was a nice Pink SFT that I purchased on Ebay as a BIN with at 5 car lot. Again I though it was probably going to be a repaint or restoration but it also turned out to be original! I held onto it for a few month and decided to auction it off on Ebay. The new owner was very happy and called me personally to thank me after he received it. Another great guy in the hobby!
Another cool find was a lot of about 12 baggie cars. The seller told me he had cleaned out a house several years before and there were some track sets. He took the cars and trashed the box and other parts. At this time I had not seen cars in baggies so I thought that perhaps someone could have just put them in plastic themselves, but the cars looked like they were in mint condition so I didn’t mind paying the asking price. Once I got them Anita again helped me with evaluating. They were all original and turned out to be more valuable than we thought. I listed them on Ebay auction pretty soon after I bought them and the blue Mustang sold for about $1400.
I was fortunate to find yet another nice Pink SFT a year or two later. The seller had it listed as “chipped paint” and only 2 angles of the car in a group with others. It didn’t look chipped at all to me in the photos so I thought that the sides I couldn’t see must look pretty bad. When I got the car I was completely shocked. It was in fantastic condition with very few small chips along just the edges. I held onto this one for a while as well and recently just sold on The Toy Peddler. Another great guy boughtthe car and he is very happy to add it to his collection.
The latest and greatest find was a Purple 312S, White Interior Proto from the nephew of a formal Mattel engineer. This was actually the first time that I found something really good from my want ads. This is why I started posting them, to uncover some kind of crazy employee cars or other rare castings. Finally found one! The collection was a total of 7 cars, including a Prototype Camaro, and a very nice Aqua Cougar. The other 4 appear to be normal production cars with play wear. The guy said that his uncle was like a father to him, and he would bring him a car every time a new one would come out. He said he had about 200 others and had sold them all for $2500 about 15 years ago. He couldn’t believe when I told him that 2 of his cars he showed me were more valuable than the amount that he sold the other 200 cars for. He was very happy and very kind as well. I told him to keep at least one for sentimental value and he insisted that I have them all. So now I have the only known Purple White interior 312S!
I have found several other hard to find castings as well as some great minty condition collections and many blister packs since then. I truly think I am totally blessed with good fortune and great timing. A couple examples are 2 Purple Porsche 917s for $24.99 each BIN on ebay, thought for sure the seller double listed accidentally because the pictures were exactly the same, but behold when I received the packages there were 2 near mint Purple 917s! I was also fortunate enough to get a pretty good sized blister pack collection on a buy now on Ebay as well from a former Shell gas station owner. Lots of Chargers. I’ve had a few good buys from my ads, but I tend to usually overpay for everything because I either the sellers tell me they are selling only because they are in a bad financial situation or I just get excited about a color or variation that I haven’t had yet. By overpay I just mean that I could not sell them for what I bought them for, however one of the things I love about this hobby is that 95% of the time when you buy something for your collection you can most likely sell it for what you paid or even more. So it’s like being able to enjoy the cars on the shelf or in my case for a while for free or even make money from something you really enjoy!
I know these are small find compared to what many collectors have uncovered, but I think in the relatively short time I’ve been collecting I’ve found some pretty awesome stuff. The future excites me because anytime it seems like there couldn’t be anymore rare discoveries something amazing pops up as just being found! Like an Over Chrome Mustang recently found!
I am just very blessed and fortunate to have found these things and to be a part of such a great community. It brings me great joy and my dad loves it too. It’s brought us even closer when we were already best friends to begin with. It’s a great bonding experience and I hope my son one day gets into collecting as well.
Honestly my favorite part about collecting is “the hunt”. It’s such a thrill to find something rare or a specific casting or color you have been looking for. Whether locally or online, waiting for the package, opening it and hold the car in my hand brings me the feeling of both excitement and happiness. I am just very blessed and fortunate to have found these things and to be a part of such a great community. It brings me great joy and my dad loves it too. It’s brought us even closer when we were already best friends to begin with. It’s a great bonding experience and I hope my son one day gets into collecting as well.
APRIL 9, 2020.
A NICE NEW CHAPTER TO THE STORY!
Recently the Anita Smith posted my Hot Wheels story on TTP. In the story I explain how first BP collection I had stumbled upon contained a Yellow Olds 442. It was my favorite car out of the bunch the second I saw it. Such a cool looking car! So over the years since then I have been thinking how awesome it would be to find that exact car. Thought it would probably be impossible. Then just yesterday as I’m scrolling through Facebook I see a photo of a yellow Olds 442. It was just enough to see that little crease, but I wasn’t sure yet. Could it be it??? So I asked the person that posted it if he would post a full picture of the BP. And sure enough, it was THE ONE! The owner had no intentions of selling, but after chatting (me trying to negotiate for a bit) he told me he had read my story on TTP and understood how special it would be to me, and he made the tough decision to let her come home.. forever this time! And now here we are, the very next day and I have her in my possession!!! Thank you so very much Alex Hertzog !!!! And Thank you Anita for posting my story! I will love her for ever and never let her go!
This one was an interesting story. I hadn’t looked on craigslist for a while within the 300 mile range of my house, So I decided to look one morning and I see a listing for a blue Deora and antifreeze for J car. The Deora looked purple in the picture. However, I thought i would at least ask for a few more pictures. The price for the Deora was $65 and the and the antifreeze, oh wait I think it was a J car, was $95. It had been on for almost a month so I thought there was no way it would still be available. So I tell the guy that the car may be much more valuable if it is in fact blue and all original, he said he had it since he was a kid. It was still too hard to tell if it was blue or purple by even the extra pictures he sent to me because he had an older camera, so I told him I would pay him $100 now and then much more upon receiving the car if it were actually the blue one. He insisted on sending both cars because they said they were asking if anyone wanted both it would be 125, when I got the car it was sure enough blue! I called them and they wouldn’t answer. So I sent a message and said I need to pay you a lot more for this! They would not accept anything more, so I said again, please let me send you something. They again said they were just happy to sell them and I was the only one who had contacted them, so i just sent them another $300 anyway and said they had to at least take that. I gave them the money gram number and they didn’t reply or answer my calls, so a couple days went by and they still hadn’t picked up the money or written back to me. Then, out of nowhere I get the notification the money was picked up and the only text I get was “Cheers”— I wanted to pay more but I thought if it was too much then they wouldn’t pick it up!
And Brandon knocked it out of the park with his recent pink SFT sale on The Toy Peddler! This was his pink SFT # 2 not shown in above pics! Brandon sold this SFT on The Toy Peddler and he paid ZERO listing or final value fees, as all Redline categories are FREE to list. CONGRATULATIONS!
**OCTOBER 2020 UPDATE!**
“I was extremely blessed and fortunate enough to pick up a sweet employee collection this week. Couple really tough cars, including an Over Chrome Fleetside, White Interior Red Baron, No Pat Pending Camaro, alternate interior McLaren (thinking proto?) OHS Mustang,(non painted engine!) and many others with unique paint finishes.”
The super rare “over chrome”Fleetside sold at an astonishing $9988.88 on eBay, and the white interior Red Baron sold for $9500 on a live Facebook auction!
Congratulations to the buyers, but what is even MORE incredible is that Brandon donated the funds for these sales to a good friend of his that is battling ALS.
BRANDON AND HIS POP!
Well, stories like this definitely give all of us collectors hope that there are still things out there to be found! Do YOU have a story to tell? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org , and we just may feature your story HERE!