Despite the many cars made, a lot of them fetch good prices in the collectors' market. Early cars in what was considered a girly Hot Pink finish are much sought-after these days. Because of a reduced range in 1972 and 1973, cars of that vintage are also highly prized. The Hot Wheels Holy Grail, of which only 25 examples are known to exist, is the Rear-Loader Beach Bomb, based on a VW Bus. A Hot Pink version once sold for $70,000.

The most expensive Hot Wheels car, however, must be the one-off model made in 2008 to celebrate the brand's 40th anniversary and the fact that the company had reached the landmark of four billion cars produced. It's a 1:64-scale Custom Otto, encrusted with $140 million-worth of diamonds, plus some rubies for the taillights and a splash of white gold here and there.

At the close of business on February 5, 2009, Mattel's share price was $12.68. Compare that to General Motors' $2.86. With some Hot Wheels products performing better than many stock portfolios and Mattel worth more than GM, if there's one piece of wisdom we can pass on to future generations, it's hang on to your toys.

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