I was graciously invited to post on this blog a while back, but haven't had a chance to share my madness with you...until today.
This all started some years ago, when my shrink strongly advised me to take on a hobby to help me manage the massive stress of being a young design director for a large company. Seeing my blank expression, he recommended something from my younger years, and what immediately came to mind were all the days I spent indoors, away from sports and girls, building model kits of everything imaginable but with an emphasis on cars, sometimes several at a time, in the finished attic space of my family's house. I resisted at first, like any good patient, but then bought my first model kit since forever, and marveled at how I could actually physically feel the stress melting away the minute I put the paint brush to plastic. I began scouring eBay for every model kit I remember building as a kid, in a shameless do-over of my childhood, now armed with infinitely better model making skills honed from years of doing so for work and money.
As a gateway drug, this soon had me looking at die-cast, specifically the detailed 1/43 scale, and thought it would be cool to collect models of every car my family had owned, most of which were not exactly mainstream. Of course, in the process, I came across lots of other interesting cars and soon had several series going: tiny pickups, Kei cars, funky vans, three wheelers, etc etc. It wasn't long before I started taking them apart to apply my model making skills, to detail them further or to make the finishes more. This continued for a while.
One day, in line at Target, I noticed some Hot Wheels and Matchboxes on the impulse rack. I picked them up and was impressed by the much higher quality of the castings, paint and detail compared to the ones I bought with my paper route money as a kid. The wheels were so much better proportioned, they had intricate tempos, and shockingly, they still cost a dollar! One was a cool custom Hot Wheels design, so I bought them both, and immediately went home and took them apart to detail them. I loved the idea of elevating what was in essence a disposable 99 cent toy into a tiny artful collectable. As with the 1/43 scale, I started various series: vintage sports cars, pickups, off-road vehicles, sci-fi/ space looking things, etc. I was able to see past the garish graphics on some Hot Wheels and removed them to make them seem more realistic and tasteful. Fast forward and parts of my house are what you see in the pics below. I thought I was weird for detailing 1/64 model cars, but was pleasantly surprised to find there were many other obssessives out there. Because I am an Architect and Environmental Designer, I'm sensitive to how they are displayed and make an attempt at containing my collection in suitable display cases in only two rooms so they don't take over the house. As such, about two thirds are neatly stored in equal sized matching boxes in my loft, obsessively organized by type and scale, with neat graphically designed labels, and documented in a visual database on my Mac. Yes, I'm a bit OCD…shut up…1/64s make up the biggest chunk of my collection, because they're usually so cheap. They're followed by several hundred 1/43s and various die cast and plastic kit models, as well as promos in 1/32, 1/24, 1/25, and 1/18 scales. There are a few Star Wars ships in there too to ensure my nerd level stays around 9000. The collection totals around 2,500, and of course, is always growing, although from time to time I cull the collection. I'm sure die-cast is not the first thing anyone thinks of as an investment, but I usually sell the pricier ones for more than I bought them for.
Whew, it feels good to get all that off my chest!...(sorry for the pic quality on some images)
I have some pics of some of my detail jobs on Flickr too: