We like to promote a sense of automotive inclusiveness here at CarAdvice / Drive.
Regardless of whether you are a fan of the Euros, a JDM die-hard or like to venture outside the big-brand box, you can rest assured that you are among friends and that this is a safe space.
With this in mind, we feel it is time to draw attention to another side of automotive enthusiasm. One that might not get the broad awareness and social voice it deserves, and one where you may feel at times it is hard to speak up about.
We’re talking about being a grown, functioning and mostly responsible adult who covertly or otherwise buys little toy cars. Lots of them. Every chance you get.
I still remember my first. My brother and sister share a birthday (four years apart no less), and on this date in the late 1970s, with all the attention rightly on my siblings, I was given a ‘little something’, too, by way of a bright orange Matchbox BMW E9 3.0L CSL.
The original was by my side for many years to follow, but was eventually lost or left, and for my 30th birthday I sought out and found a replacement as a nostalgic gift to myself.
In the 16 years hence, things have progressed somewhat, and there is now a mass, well into triple figures, of pocket-sized motorcars secreted away in containers at the office.
And their number grows by the day.
Need some milk? Why walk to the servo on the corner, or whiz down to the local mini-mart, when the bright lights of a large-format Woolies are just another 10–15 minute drive (in good traffic) away?
Here the milk is just as cold, but that two-metre-wide section in aisle 12 and its rich and varied bounty of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars is why we’re really here.
Find a few, throw them in with the shopping, and get back to real life. Put them on a shelf, in a drawer or just in a box for another day, as like me you are now custodian of an impressive car collection, like some miniature Sultan of Brunei.
And, as one ‘collector’ to another, I’m here to say that it’s okay.
As when you look closely at the range, these harmless and affordable blister packs have been designed by someone just like us, especially for us.
Would a six-year-old understand and respect the inclusion of such renowned automotive icons like a Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R, a Volvo 850R Estate, or even the magnificent, but very elusive, Mercedes-Benz W124 500E?
The designers and product managers behind the scenes at Mattel or Majorette know all the right strings to pull to keep you going back for more. Hell, some of us (looking at you too Kez) are known to make multiple stops on that regular grocery run, just to scour shelves for new variants, colours or that damn 500E (which is proving particularly hard to find).
I feel it is time for me to come clean about this hobby of sorts, and I think that you should too.
Just to ensure I was among friends, I asked around the CarAdvice / Drive office to see who else shared my passion of ad-hoc trolley fillers...
I'm one such tragic person who trawls through the K-Marts and Targets of Sydney in search of those elusive finds.
My latest chase is the Hot Wheels Nissan Skyline GT-R set. It appears that re-sellers keep beating me to the punch, however. As much as I respect the hustle, it's a shame there's no Hot Wheels court of law.
It's gotten so bad that a close friend of mine, when out shopping, always sends me photos of what he finds. If I like, I pay, and grab at a later date. I have about 20-odd vehicles in his possession that I still need to collect.
I commit to the chase not just for myself, but more for my son – who's taken a shining to cars in general. We also purchase Tomy Tomica models from Japan, as to create a more worldly collection.
I have a modest Hot Wheels collection, mainly comprising rally cars and modern classic Euro and Japanese vehicles. But my favourite is the miniature Subaru Impreza WRX STI 22B, which sits alongside my stack of other Subaru WRCar and 22B models. I drove well out of my way to buy it from a gentleman in Melbourne's outer east back in 2019.
Then, two months ago, I came across an original poster of a Tomica Nissan Skyline R30 Super Silhouette on Marketplace. It wasn't until I turned up to the seller's front door that I realised it was the same fellow who sold me the Subaru Hot Wheels back some 18 months ago.
While most are content hunting Hot Wheels at the local supermarket, I've unfortunately developed a habit of branching into the more expensive 1:43 detailed scale models made in resin and diecast.
I wasn't even that into Hot Wheels as a kid, but after spending time with mates who are too far gone, I've been peer pressured into 'investing' in these neat scale models that are usually found on eBay or at specific model shops. My collection is still modest in size and I hope to keep a lid on it, though that's easier said than done. I have friends who have filled up entire apartments full of models, their collections running into the tens of thousands of dollars. The claim is that they'll be able to resell them at a later date for more money, but that's a bet I'm not willing to make.
Favourites in my collection are a burgundy-coloured Singer 911, Lewis Hamilton's purple Pagani Zonda 760, and a dark green McLaren P1 GTR with orange accents.
Hot Wheels was definitely a gateway drug. I used to hit up the local Kmart and Target when on lunch break in search of unique models – especially those as part of collections.
I'm one to take the cars out of their original boxes – I can't stand it when collectors display Hot Wheels in original packaging! Reminds me of car collectors that don't drive their cars.
I wish my problem was buying the Hot Wheels versions. I have enough issues buying the real things...
It’s a meagre collection, for now, filled with cars that have some meaning for me. It’s really all about the thrill of the hunt, that search for something elusive amongst the hot rods and crazy concepts that are so commonplace today. They can get in the bin.
The joy of finding a Merc W123 Estate, for example, is addictive. And all for a few bucks. Am I recreating my childhood? Absolutely!
So, with this being a safe space, it is time to come clean about your Hot Wheels habit. Let us know what your collection is like, and what you’re currently on the hunt for, and we’ll leave you with the patron saint of grown-up Hot Wheels fans and his magnificent Instagram account:
View this post on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
MORE: Everything Culture