Keeping track of a big toy collection can be a chore, so I tried an app to help manage my Hot Wheels.
Technology to the rescue?
As a Hot Wheels guy, I’m always looking for fun stuff to make the hobby a little more enjoyable. As with any collecting hobby, part of the fun is organizing your stuff. That might mean sorting baseball cards into binders, organizing books year or, in my case, keeping track of which Hot Wheels you have and don’t have. Tracking a collection is an easy task to start but as your collection grows it gets more complicated and soon you might find your simple spreadsheet just isn’t enough. And since I’m a tech device person, I looked to see if there was anything out there for helping me keep track of my Hot Wheels. There is one but it’s a wolf in a sheep’s clothing.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Hot Wheels Collector app is the price. At $5.99 it is certainly at the high end of the app price scale. Most apps are only a dollar so even apps that run $3 are seen as expensive. Especially considering many apps don’t have a way to try-before-you-buy, you’re hesitant to drop more than a buck on something might end up not using. The Hot Wheels Collector app doesn’t have a trial so you have to be willing to throw $6 down the drain if you don’t like what you get…and unfortunately this app is not worth the price you pay.
- Decent presentation and design
- Lots of fields for tracking
- You can export to Excel
- Expensive – $6!
- Inconsistent car data and photos due to user-generated database
- Limited search options without photos
- Tedious to enter your own data and search
The test drive
The allure of the Hot Wheels Collector app is the “database” of cars that is already available when you start. However, the database of cars is entirely user-generated from other people using the app. This might not sound like a bad thing but when you crowdsource data you open yourself up to a Wild West of information if it’s not managed well…and this isn’t. There doesn’t seem to be any governing body moderating the data and the result is an overwhelming number of cars that have varying degrees of information which makes you feel uncertain about the accuracy of any of it. You’ll see a lot of duplicate entries for cars when searching which gives you this sense of uncertainty when trying to add cars to your personal collection list. Is this the right car? All of this also results in varying qualities of photos. Most car photos are of them carded but some are out of the box. Some photos are blurry, some are crisp and some are just poor. It’s a crap shoot and that’s not something you want when you want to take inventory even remotely seriously.
Searching for cars to add to your collection doesn’t let you browse by picture so there is a lot of back-n-forth clicking between search results and pictures to make sure you’re adding the right car. The search filtering aren’t very deep either, limiting you to keyword searches rather than being able to search within years or classifications. The chore of using the existing database to create your own collection is tedious at best and frustrating at its worst.
If by chance the existing database of cars doesn’t have the Hot Wheels car you want (or you just don’t like what you find), you can add a car yourself. You can type in the name, enter other details and add your own photo, however, this is where my previous warning about crowdsourcing really kicks in. If you don’t like what someone else entered or just can’t find it because of crappy searching options, then adding your own car just pollutes the existing pool. Of course, there’s no reason you have to use the existing database at all. You could add all your cars and photos yourself and just use the app as a record keeper, but for $6 you might as well just use Excel or whatever method you’re currently using. Don’t forget, this is on an iPhone…the screen is small and the buttons are even smaller. You can run the app on an iPad but it doesn’t help much.
Few redeeming features
The Bads certainly outweigh the Goods when it comes to this Hot Wheels Collector app but there are a few places where it’s not too bad. One of those areas is in the data fields it offers. You have your obvious stats like name, color, model year and description but it also includes some extra fields like purchase date, current value, condition and even storage location. For some reason there is also a “Loaned to” field…just in case you rent out your car collection on the weekends. The presentation of your collection in the app isn’t bad in that you can make it look like cars on a shelf but this cute design doesn’t make up for all the other shortcomings. This is definitely not a case where you can judge a book by its cover.
The Hot Wheels Collector app does let you keep track of your car collection but the questionable database of cars makes building and curating your collection incredibly frustrating. This app would be a lot more useful if there was a central database that kept track of names and details so everyone has faith in the accuracy of the data. This is where Mattel should step in and release their own collector app. They have all the data, all the photos and everything a collector wants. Instead of giving Mattel (more of) my money for a app, people are buying this Hot Wheels Collector app for $6 and getting little in return. I’d rather give that money to Mattel and have good, quality information at my fingertips. So outside of your own methods for tracking your cars, you’re better off just using the features at the Hot Wheels web site.
However, if you know of any other apps for tracking collections like Hot Wheels, leave a comment and I’ll check it out.