So, last week some random guy appeared in the LaLD scroll, dangling a Black Friday discount to get you to patronize his start-up diecast retailer. A few of you did. The rest were probably wondering, “What the...who’s this now?” To the former group, the random guy offers his thanks. To the rest, perhaps a proper introduction is in order.
Thirty-five years ago, at the age of five, I won a kids’ art contest sponsored by my father’s employer. Decades later, I found out that the contest was rigged and that I had been pre-selected to win despite having no discernible artistic ability, but that’s not important. What is important is how I chose to spend my prize, a $10 gift certificate to an upscale toy store: I was going to buy a Jaguar.
The car bug bit me early and hard, and even at that young age I had the soul of a collector...and the taste of a grown-up. I don’t know how I became aware that there was a more detailed class of model car than the Matchbox and Hot Wheels that I cherished (and still do), but the moment I got my hands on that gift certificate, I knew that the only way I wanted to spend it was on a candy-apple red Corgi 1:36-scale Jaguar XJ-S. It was the sexiest car on the market in 1980, and I could think of no finer model to start my collection of “big boy” model cars. (That’s the very car I bought that day in the photo...judging by the chipped paint and worn bumpers, my collector’s mentality found a worthy adversary in my boyhood need to play.)
I added a few more Corgi models to my fleet over the next few years, but in my hometown of El Paso, Texas, there were few other higher-end diecast options available in the early 1980s. Thankfully, Road & Track’s semi-regular “Cars In Scale” feature kept me abreast of the wide variety of amazing model cars the rest of the world had to offer. In particular, I was fascinated by the new 1:18-scale cars from Bburago; I loved classic Ferraris and Bugattis, and the Italian modeller clearly spoke my language. In 1984, during a family vacation in southern California, I finally had the opportunity to acquire a Bburago (my favorite, a Ferrari 250GTO...yep, same one in the photo. Don’t ask about the Christmas decorations.) Thus, my fate was sealed. I was a Model Car Collector.
Not long after, however, something even more fateful happened: one night, I dreamed that I owned a model car shop. I woke up in a state of euphoria...a model car shop! What an idea! Spending every day surrounded by the miniature treasures I cherished, and sharing them with like-minded enthusiasts? It sounded like paradise! I began to assemble lists and literature, documenting every diecast model that I became aware of. One day, I thought, I’d make that dream a reality.
And then...high school. College. Career choices good and bad. A family. The big 4-0. A minor mid-life crisis. Stock-taking. Brutal honesty about personal happiness. And finally, a question: “That childhood dream about owning a model car shop...what exactly are you waiting for?”
So, this past September I launched Model Citizen. My goal is to curate a small but important selection of great 1:18- and 1:43-scale cars, with a particular focus on classic and contemporary European and Japanese sports and racing cars, (and a sprinkling of American muscle thrown in for good measure.) I don’t intend to carry every high-end diecast model on the market, just the ones that strike a chord with me, and hopefully with you too. I’m extremely grateful that LaLD has given me the opportunity to offer some special promotions to the members of this community, and I look forward to sharing some of my insight into the model car world with you and learning from yours.