When I was young, I collected Hot Wheels cars. Matchbox too. I remember those John Cleese commercials where he’d slip one into his shirt pocket, and that always made me feel so good. I made my mother buy me a white dress shirt with two breast pockets just so I could stand in front of the mirror and slip into my pockets my two favorite Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars again and again.
I collected them. Like I do guitars, books, Elvis Costello albums, tattoos and Evan bottles, I collected every one of them I could find. They had realistic die-cast metal miniature automobiles with vibrant colors and awesome chrome wheels (and sometimes flake paint). It was magical when my mom would take me to the Wal-Mart and I had a five-dollar bill in my pocket. I could buy five new cars. They were 89 cents apiece. The only problems I ran into back then was which five or six to get. There were so many to choose from, and I knew that at any minute, Matel could go out of business and the Wal-Mart could burn down, and I’d be forever kept from completing my collection. So I had to select the best five.
The Mazdas, the Cadillacs, the Wranglers, and an occasional novelty vehicle, like a news crew truck or a pizza van… I endeavored to collect them all. I had a very strong police force as well. Like twelve police cruisers, several fire trucks and as many ambulances. I had a helicopter to aid in big chases and plenty of the city scapes onto which you could drive your cars for service, car washes, titty bars, etc. I didn’t really ever get into the lengths of plastic track you race your cars down. It was unrealistic to me. I liked to control them with my fingers.
I still have most of my collection. And I’m happy to say that within the greatness of my set there are only two vehicles that don’t really belong. A lunar rover, and some martian transport vehicle. But my dad bought those for me on a business trip, so they are very special to me in their own way. My collection has suffered a bit over the years – I’m missing a couple of Lamborghinis and maybe a ’69 Mustang or something. But most of it is there, in all its glory.
Why am I writing this? Because there’s no hope for rebuilding. Not anymore. Now you walk into the local mart and look at the Hot Wheels and Matchbox aisle, and there’s just no realism there anymore. You have vehicles like the Fast Fortress and the Ultra Rage, the Solar Reflex and the SupaDogg. Uh, what if I want to buy a 2007 Chevy Pickup, like in the olden days? Sorry pal. The closest thing we offer anymore is a suped-up ’57 Chevy Bel Aire with the engine sticking out of the hood. And maybe it’s got some gay ass dragon painted on the side of it or something. All the cars now cater to people who like flashy, wild, futuristic looking bullshit that has never existed, and never will. I’m deeply saddened that I can’t pick up a 2005 Corolla or a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Unless I want the one with the supa-huge tires and the jet engine sticking out the back.
There’s just nothing sacred about the miniature car industry anymore. Everything is a wash. It’s wasted on shit they think kids are going to like – and who knows? Maybe they do these days. But what about the children who want to play with cars and make little cities out of Lincoln Logs and shit like I used to do? The ones who go for realism? They’re just out of luck. Somewhere along the way, the small car business lost its integrity. They sold out.
I guess in one way I should be thankful though. Because that probably makes my collection worth a fortune. Not that I’d ever sell it, you see, but it’s probably a lot more valuable now that you can’t buy them anymore. Think about it. Who would ever have believed that a 1983 Buick Stutz would be worth anything? Spotted here is a picture of a few of my favorite childhood cars.