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Diecast Collector Owns More Than 300 Models, Worth More Than His Car

People often ask me why I collect Hot Wheels cars. I have several reasons, and I've mentioned some of them before. Two of those reasons have to do with money and space. It's tricky to build a 1/18th-scale display, not to mention any sizes bigger than that.
Diecast Collector Owns More Than 300 Models, Worth More Than His Car 80 photos
Photo: AC Collection
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A 1/64th-scale item, like most Hot Wheels, is two and a half (six cm) to three inches long (seven and a half cm). Once you move to the 1/18 level, you're looking at nine (24 cm) to 12 inches (30 cm) long collectibles. Several cars won't be too inconvenient, but the problem with this hobby is that you always want more. Storing several hundred large diecast vehicles in an apartment could be a logistic nightmare, especially if it's small and you also have a family to share it with.

My first model car was a Porsche Carrera GT

And that's not even considering the cost of it all. I bought a Solido Porsche for my good friend and paid $50. Multiply that by 100, and you end up paying $5,000 for a collection of mid-level collectibles. Once you start looking into products from Autoart, Ignition, or Almost Real, that value can quickly rise to $30,000. But where's a will, there's a way. And most collectors I've ever met are genuinely passionate about the hobby. And it's that passion that helps them overcome any and every obstacle.

I recently talked to Alex, a 34-year-old accountant interested in luxury cars. He used to own an old BMW 7-Series (the E38) but now drives a 2006 Volkswagen Passat. And I was surprised to learn that his diecast collection is worth more than his car. We both have approximately the same number of collectibles on display. But most of mine are in the 1/64th-scale group, while he has gone as far as to purchase 1/8th-scale cars.

I've been following some of his videos, and I knew this would be an exciting conversation, but let's start from the beginning. "Believe it or not, I bought my first scale model car when I was 18. I had just gotten my first paycheck. I went to a hypermarket nearby, and there were 30 cars in the toy department. A 1/24th-scale Porsche Carrera GT from Cararama caught my attention, and I decided to get it. I remember seeing the Autoart Bugatti. Someone was selling one for $90, which felt too expensive for me then. I bought a used one for almost $120 later, even though I never thought I would own one. I felt really happy about the whole thing."

Diecast Collector Owns More Than 300 Models, Worth More Than His Car
Photo: AC Collection
Alex remembers growing up with some small toy cars, but nothing too impressive. Despite being aware of the brand's popularity among other collectors, he has never had an appetite for Hot Wheels products. Slowly but steadily, he pressed on to get the most realistic diecast cars on the market. "At first, I focused on more affordable cars and bought one or two with every paycheck. It took about three years to realize that this was becoming a serious hobby, as I had accumulated quite a few."

I have a decent-sized Veyron collection.

He owns around 300 collectibles, four of which are huge at a 1/8 scale. I'm talking about 24-inch (60 cm) long models, including a Dacia 1300 and Aro 240 from Eaglemoss, a Subaru Impreza WRX STI from Hachette and a Lamborghini Aventador from Pocher. These are all kit cars, and I've discovered he is now building the famous Shelby Mustang: Eleanor. Alex also owns four more items at the 1/12th scale: a BMW M3 E46, an Alpina E30, a Ford Escort Cosworth, and a Ferrari F40. I'm sure he will be one cool dad if he ever decides to have kids!

Alex has rounded up over 200 1/18th-scale cars and is determined to get more. "I started with Solido but slowly moved towards more premium brands, including Otto Mobile, GT Spirit, Kyosho, and Almost Real, just to name a few. I'm proud of my Veyron collection: 10 were Autoart models, and two are from Minichamps. Seeing that I've never forgotten about my E38, I have four tiny replicas I've gotten from Otto Mobile. I'm equally as fascinated by the M3 E46, but recently, I've been focusing on luxury vehicles from Rolls Royce and Maybach."

He has spent almost $2,000 on six premium cars in the past month alone. And he's been brilliant about his hobby. Several years ago, he wanted to document his diecast hobby on video and started a YouTube channel. Today, he's one of the industry's most well-known diecast reviewers, which comes with multiple perks. Every month, manufacturers and stores send him up to 20 cars so he can shoot them in his mini-studio and post them online. Of course, this requires up to four hours of additional work daily, so it's almost like a part-time job for him.

Diecast Collector Owns More Than 300 Models, Worth More Than His Car
Photo: AC Collection
But we all know that doing what you love makes everything much easier at the end of the day. I have only seen his collection from photos and video, but I'd likely spend hours gawking at every single one of the cars in his display. Afterward, he told me about purchasing a limited-edition Rolls Royce Cullinan from a Chinese company called KengFai, and I was curious to know what his shopping list would look like if he had access to a budget of $5,000.

I regretted selling it.

"I would love to expand my 1/12 collection, but few options exist. Still, I've had my eyes on several such cars for years. I would immediately buy the M3 CSL from Otto Mobile, the Autoart Veyron, and the convertible Phantom from Kyosho, and I'd also be super happy about a Pagani Zonda." As soon as I arrived home from our interview, I looked up some of those collectibles, and here's what I found. Otto Mobile only made 999 units of the M3 CSL, and you'll have to pay more than $1,000 to get your hands on it.

As for the Veyron, prices usually start at around $800 but can quickly go up to $1,200. But I feel more at ease paying that much for such a large collectible than any Hot Wheels out there. I realize how big of a Veyron fan Alex is, considering that two of his diecast stories revolved around this model. "This one time, someone called me and wanted one of my Veyrons. He offered to pay four times its market value, which sounded too good of a deal for me to pass it by. Shortly after, I regretted the decision and found another similar model to fill the void."

"I met with another collector to buy a Veyron from him on a different occasion. I examined the car with my eyes and hands and decided to buy it. As I got home, I realized it was plagued by paint rash. I couldn't believe how wrong I was to buy it, as I didn't notice the problem initially. It has been in my head for months, and I can't stop thinking about it. Most people won't even be able to tell the difference, but I know it's there and killing me inside." I was curious to know what his friends and family thought about his hobby, knowing how many different reactions I've had from my loved ones in the past.

Diecast Collector Owns More Than 300 Models, Worth More Than His Car
Photo: AC Collection
"At first, they thought I was spending too much money on this hobby and taking up too much of my time. But they've since changed their mind. I'm not married yet, so I'll see how that goes when I get there." At the beginning of this story, I talked about how difficult setting up a display for one's collection is, especially when discussing larger items. Alex has spent over $3,000 on display cabinets, not even adding the costs of dedicated lighting and gear for his online reviews.

"I must also store the packaging; you can't throw it away. You never know when you'll sell or trade something from your collection. If you're thinking about this hobby, you need to be careful with things like that. I plan on extending the display area, and I need something custom-made for my truck. The cool part is that it features a custom-built trailer from MN Trailers; it's quite big." A photo is worth 1,000 words, so you'll probably want to feast on some of Alex's man cave photos. I'll be sure to report back with more exciting diecast stories soon.

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About the author: Dragos Chitulescu
Dragos Chitulescu profile photo

The things Dragos enjoys the most in life are, in no particular order: cars, motorcycles, diecast cars, and drifting. He's seen (and driven) many vehicles since he started his writing career back in 2009, but his garage currently houses a 1991 Mazda RX-7 FC3S Turbo II and a 1999 Suzuki SV650-S.
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