Kenner ssp collection

What Happens When You Collect Them All?

Ron Ruelle model car hall of fame
by Ron Ruelle


It’s a mantra we heard as kids in commercials, on blister cards and  on cereal boxes. For many of us, it was a rallying cry that started us on a path towards collecting action figures, baseball cards, or especially here, diecast cars.

But what does it mean to “collect them all?” For a brand like Hot Wheels, does it mean one of every model ever made? Or every variant of every model? Or just certain eras? Or certain types? Trying to collect every single model ever made by Hot Wheels will require purchasing some that you really just don’t care about much. Or even like. And they just keep making more new ones to keep track of.

On the other hand, collecting a dead brand like Husky can provide a well-documented list of what is truly a finite number of models.

Kenner ssp collection

Brands like Johnny Lightning are trickier. Do you collect only the original Topper cars from 1969-71? Or also the various revivals?

For me, Kenner SSP cars were the challenge. They were made from 1970-1978 in the U.S. (and maybe a bit later in other countries). I had several when I was a kid and set about collecting them in the early 2000s. By 2016 or so, I had one of every model they ever made. Now, some collectors are after every color of every model, which would be a collection well into 600 variants or so. 

Kenner SSP Smash Up Derby Boss Henry Blast Em

I decided to get one of each, with each color represented somewhere in the collection. Even the ones I didn’t like. That got interesting when I could only find a certain color on a car I already had. Do I buy the rare color and replace the other? According to my rules, I guess so.

Kenner SSP Racers

I felt kind of sad when I got the final car up on the shelf. I had indeed collected them all over 85 models, according to my rules. So now what?

In recent years, I have been keeping an eye on auctions to see if there are any upgrades I can make. As toys that were meant to be played with hard, SSP cars often have a “lived-in” feel to them. In a few cases, when someone makes an offer I can’t refuse, I have sold a particularly valuable variant of a model for big bucks and put a cheaper placeholder in its parking spot. Also, there are other accessories such as playsets, boxes, and catalogs to round up.

Kenner SSP Smash Up Derby Buggem Tough Tom

But in the meantime, I often happily look at my collection in my studio/office. Years of collecting a toy series that brought me years of happiness brings me present happiness. At least I finished something in life, right?

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