QotW: What made you start collecting Hot Wheels?

After hearing of Hot Wheels’ 50th anniversary and Jun Imai’s departure from Mattel, I began thinking back to when I started collecting Hot Wheels. It was the “Toyota AE-86 Corolla” that set my heart afire. To see the beloved Hachiroku next to the Camaros and Mustangs was indeed a treat, especially since I had searched seven stores to find it. But at least I was able to. Today, Japanese Hot Wheels are the hottest things on the pegs and impossible to find. I have many Hot Wheels now, many JNCs mixed in with the fun fantasy models.

Jun’s designs not only kickstarted a new hobby of minicar collecting, but also helped create a stress-free oasis in the form of my office desk collection. I may not be able to go for a daily touge drive, but looking at all the JNC Hot Wheels on my desk transports me to winding roads with my arm perched out the window.

What made you start collecting Hot Wheels?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What JNC would your mom actually enjoy driving in?

When we asked what chariot your mom would enjoy driving, we were expecting something safe and simple. Instead, we got a glimpse into why so many of our readers are JNC crazy: mom was also a fan! Citizen Patrick revealed that a Mitsubishi Diamante was the family’s preferred stealth fighter.

Diane Krey-Wesley — Mary from the Ken and Mary commercials herself — suggested either the Gloria or Kenmeri, as long as it had an auto, a stipulation that even my own mother demanded after wrestling with my family’s AE82 5-speed.

Christopher‘s mom seemed to take any chance to drive J-tin despite the family being big into domestic runners, sampling everything from a Prelude to a 280ZX. That’s range!

In the end, Alan‘s comment takes the cake with his mom opting for the underdog of Toyotas: the Tercel. And not just one, but four! I’ll let Alan give the details and show that even a Tercel can win mom’s seal of approval over and over again.

In succession, there was an ’80 three-door 5-speed that gave up 3rd, 4th and 5th in a spectacular way at 450k miles–a family friend pulled off the hatch and used it at his junkyard for a parts getter for another ten years until it rusted away.

Then there was an ’86 5-speed three-door which ran to 300k before rust got out of control.

Followed by an ’87 4WD 6-speed which even had A/C–great for volcanic Chicago summers, though 4WD offered no discernible advantage over the others in slush.

Last was an ’89 three-door 3-speed auto, which was my first car and then my brother’s. It had no rev limiter or tach, but would rev up to what sounded like ~9k RPM–perfect speed for neutral drops. I beat the hell out of that car and it always wanted more. Drove like a shopping car with a stuck front caster–boring but simultaneously wayward.

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39 Responses to QotW: What made you start collecting Hot Wheels?

  1. Jamie says:

    I began collecting Hot Wheels as a kid, and I sorta got out of it as I became a teenager. A couple of years ago, though.. I came up on the original Japan Historics set at Walmart. It blew my mind seeing cars like the 2000GT and Kenmeri replicated by Hot Wheels, so of course I grabbed them! I began looking into the brand more again after that, and that led me to taking up collecting as a hobby again. But for the most part, iit stemmed from me not being able to afford another project car at that point in time.. so I had to get my car fix from somewhere. Collecting filled that role perfectly!

  2. BlitzPig says:

    When I was the age when most of you guys started collecting Hot Wheels, I was collecting Matchbox and Corgi. Far better as they were scale models, not cartoonized toys.

    Now I have a small collection of 1/43 die cast models, mostly Ferraris, from the better European manufacturers.

    Hot Wheels were always just too toylike and cheesy.

  3. JB21 says:

    When I quit smoking, I had to replace one addiction with another. Besides, they are a dollar each at a grocery store (sometimes, $.88 with your saving card), so I started picking one up every time I go grocery shopping. Cheaper and healthier than smoking, cheaper than a candy bar at a cashier, and I don’t take it seriously at all, so it’s a casual collection that accumulates.

  4. Samuel Ace says:

    I started picking up and when I was a kid and over the years as I got older I started collecting hotwheels and than in 2009 the year I graduated high school I found my very first treasure hunt at a grocery store and on that same day I found another treasure hunt at Wal-Mart and that is what got to really start collecting hotwheels and I have been collecting hotwheels ever since and I will be collecting hotwheels for the rest of my life.? happy 50th anniversary hotwheels congrats.?

  5. Raul says:

    What made me start actually collecting them was due to the fact i became a auto tech and started getting more and more into cars my friend was into hotwheels and showed me how detailed these toys were and how much they seemed to look like the actual car amazed me. The casting that made me get into collecting like a crazy madman is that datsun 510 from the japan historics first car culture set. Now i collect all kinds of hotwheels models and diecast cars

  6. Rizqi Dawami says:

    I started collecting hotwheels when my classmate gave me a hotwheels ’68 Ford Mustang. That’s where I start I wonder what hotwheels, but at that time I have not thought to collect it. Until one day hotwheels released the gran turismo Series, I was told by my neighbors that the most sought-after model in the series is the R32 Skyline GT-R. I began to look hard and when I was thinking to stop looking for it, I just found it !!!

  7. Dennis Portillo says:

    My dad started my collection when I was born, I was hooked. I stopped around high school because I was embarrassed to tell what my hobbies were to anybody, after graduation, I got back into it and was hooked since, everyday, morning before work, during work, and after work, I’ll go searching for what I like. When I don’t got the money to fix up my car, I go spend it on Hot Wheels.

  8. Rob M says:

    Collecting Hot Wheels was not a conscious decision for me. I never even started buying them until my son was born. After he turned 1 I noticed he was obsessed with cars (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree), and started buying him the occasional Hot Wheels.

    It wasn’t until I started buying cars and hiding them from him, still in the packet that I realised I was hooked!

    I’ve since realised that a pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled, so “my” special cars have come out of the packets – one at a time – for my son to enjoy with me. No “playing crashing” with these ones though.

  9. Robby Morris says:

    I started collecting to help keep my mind clear. I had to give up everything when my daughter was diagnosed with ATRT which is a rare brain and spine cancer. I had to give up my actual cars so I figured collecting would help fill the void. She is tough but it definitely left her with lifelong issues. I usually take her with me when I hit stores.

  10. Don Vito Valentino says:

    When i was a little boy y mom always bought me diecast car because of her guilt feeling for leaving me for work, so i have plenty of it, but as i child i didnt understand how much they worth so i tent to break em. And now im 16 and realised that i used to have such a collectable item, i even have the acceleracers that doesnt cost that much back then. I feel i can i have a fortune if i didnt destroy kept my cars properly, so now im starting to collect them all again and im so in love with datsun 510, i hope i can own a datsun 510 at some point in my life, and maybe i can collect real classic beauties. Thats my story

  11. vballin says:

    I collected as a kid, but at the time I would collect every one that came out. I stopped for a long time until the Jun Imai era began.

  12. エーイダン says:

    It was actually my mother who triggered it. It all started with a Motormax 1979 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country Wagon. After a while I dove headlong into the collecting. When I was 12, all I wanted were ’50s cars. When I was 13, it was whatever cars my Mom’s friends had in the ’80s and when I was 15-16, EVERYTHING had to be Right-hand drive. By time I turned 17, I was just an import fanatic.

    My Mom said when I was 12 that it wouldn’t be long until I was no longer interested at all in toy cars. Ha! Here I am, 7 years along the line, and at age 19 with a ever-expanding collection. Tomicas, ’70s Corgi Juniors cars from the UK and a ton and a half of Hot Wheels from the ’70s through until today. I can remember the days I bought almost all of my favourites, because most of them I got on those rare trips to the city or out West to Dauphin on the weekends in the summertime. In away, I guess I hold onto the happy times with my collection, because when I think of certain toy cars I collected, I can easily be reminded of the day I found that particular car. Maybe it’s a song that was in my head that day I recall, a conversation I had that day, or just something funny to remember, or just a thought I had and then Bam! there it was, on the pegs and I just had to buy it.

    My collecting is also how I landed my current job at a hobby store, Dan’s Hobby and Train Station here in Winnipeg. I was pretty much a familiar customer until I decided to lend a hand and eventually found myself a job, working as a salesman.

    My Hot Wheels, Corgi and Tomicas are my prizes, my trophies because some of them took me forever to finally find.

    Sad to see Imai go though, he was really one of my heroes, right up there with Jeremy Clarkson and singer George Belanger. I always looked forward to his designs, and some of the best I have he designed. Datsun Wagon, C10, C110 Skylines and S30 Fairlady Z.

  13. Joseph P says:

    Growing up, I never really grew out of buying toys or building model kits, but Hot Wheels was a more recent introduction to my love of toys. Midway through my teen years , my dad brought me to Fry’s Electronics, and while we were getting stuff, I noticed there was a 1st gen NSX in the pile of Hot Wheels. I couldn’t keep my hands off of the pile while I kept on digging through and found some great cars. Since then, Hot Wheels has really taken over my general interests in toys. I think it may just be because of how much I really appreciate these toys and how well they reflect off of car culture including the $1 ones that are commonly found. I really can’t help myself but look for good looking Hot Wheels. They’re so great and bring me so much joy in a world where I’m being stressed out quite often.

  14. demonviper says:

    Well I had a kid and it was a boy. About the time he turned one, I decided to get him toys that I would play with when I was a kid. So I bought him the best thing one dollar could buy, Hot Wheels car. The First Hot Wheels car I bought for him was the Nissan Skyline GTR Kenmeri. The first Hot Wheels car I bought as a collector was the Nissan Skyline GTR Kenmeri. And ever since 2012 i’ve gone on crazy collecting/shopping sprees, coming home with bags full of Hot Wheels sometimes hiding some in the trunk so that the wife wouldn’t get so angry. It’s been a fun ride, i’ve even been able to showcase my collection on my Youtube channel which has basically turned into an all toy channel. It was sad to hear the news that Hot Wheels designer Jun Imai has left his position with Hot Wheels, he brought so many cool cars into our collection of Hot Wheels especially all the Datsun/Nissan cars.

  15. Jaeson Rey says:

    I started collect July 2004
    My oldest brother was a major hotwheels collector…when him and his wife got separated she took his collection and gave it to her father who was also a collector.
    He was devastated and said he would never collect again. The next year 2010 my middle brother (I’m the youngest) had a son, he thought collecting hotwheels/monster jams would be a fun bond with his son. They loved it!
    In 2004?my brother was passenger in his best friends car , when they were struck by a drunk driver. My brother died in this accident… it wrecked mine and my nephews world to say the least. It was then that I decided to start collecting with my nephew as a way to bond with him and remember his father.
    We have been hooked every since.
    Getting to see some of my favorite real cars made into hotwheels has made collecting even more fun. Thank you
    It is always awesome remembering my brother EDDIE

  16. Faturochman says:

    I started collecting hotwheels when i was 6 ,me and my classmate brought a hotwheels track to school so i want too,and then i bought the new track with sets of 01 Acura NSX it was a cool car,from hobbies playing with my friend and when I go to the mall my parent always let me to bought the Hot Wheels i bought the Hot Wheels I love and Hot Wheels have many colors in design,after that in 2007 my friend who playing hotwheels with me was moved to other city he gave me his hotwheels so many and the most favorite is Nissan Skyline R32 i’m so lucky,and from that day i want to collect the hotwheels without race again and started to looking for other Nissan Skyline ,i don’t know why but the Nissan Skyline is the most hotwheels make me want to hunt the other hotwheels,the other factor make me collext the hotwheels is my parents if we went to the Departement store ,i always bought 1 or 2 hotwheels,until 2011 i got the Nissan Skyline H/T 2000 GT-X i still don’t know what special from the Japanese Car Nissan Skyline i just love the detail,design amd the name,now until now 2018 my father always brought me hothweels when he returned from his work ,that’s make me still collect hotwheels until this day,i’m looking for the auction in my country to get the special hotwheels with the worthy price,and now i love all Japanese Cars,i collecting the Toyota AE 86 Tofu car from Initial D anime,it’s special hotwheels that i have,hotwheels make me reunion with my childhood with collecting hotwheels i met many community of hothweels,diecast and i can make a friends,swap meet,gathering,soany colours when i collecting my hotwheels

  17. Lachlan says:

    I started collecting hot wheels because I got sick of seeing my little brother bury his in the backyard, so I bought my own ?

  18. Ricky Robertus says:

    Hello ! i’am Ricky from Indonesia.. I started to collect some model hotwheels at 4 years and stop at 10 age and continue at 14 years old until now.. I remember at 4 years old i really like datsun 240z.. My focused is Datsun 240Z, Nissan Fairlady Z and Fugu Z.. All of them i bought too much.. And finally hotwheels made some Japan Historic 2 .. I collect sets Fairlady Z yellow.. So i believe that hotwheels can make some happines for all boy who love JDM car.. I hope can collect a lot of fairlady models!

  19. Neruso says:

    Circa 1993 would probably be my earliest memory of hotwheels. My first Hotwheel actually came in a McDonalds kids meal hah. It was a red car similar to the one from honey I shrunk the kids. Shortly after I discovered the same logo found underneath the little diecast on a big sign at Kmart and the rest is history. I spent most of my 5 dollar weekly allowence on these little guys and as I got older my taste went from Shark cars and neon green wheeled fantasy rides to Japanese, Euro, and even some American cars lol. Thanks to the amazing guys at Hotwheels I can afford to own cars I can never have in real life haha.

  20. Matchthebox says:

    I was told a story that as a toddler whenever my mom comes home from work she would sometimes bring home a toy car so I would stop crying. Ever since then I would be dropping by a bookstore or an emporium to look for toy cars. I would be getting brands like Matchbox, Hot Wheels, Majorette and even Tomica. One thing I always remember is the toys given by my godmother as it will always be Japanese tin toys whether battery operated or not. Then I shifted interest but eventually returned to my first hobby and would say it was my mom and godmother that got me started.

    • Matchthebox says:

      I was so excited just writing on how I got started collecting that I forgot it was Hot Wheels specific. It actually started during my pre teens when a friend of mine showed me his first redline Hot Wheels. I don’t recall if it was in spectra flames but when he showed me the tracks where you can slide your Hot Wheels I was hooked. One of the cars that I acquired was Tom Daniel’s S’cool bus which is a funny car that looks like a school bus that you can lift up the body. But of course. my first Japanese Hot Wheels is the first edition Datsun 510 and my collecting continues.

  21. Anthony Persaud says:

    I started collecting them to see if i could get some hard to find ones. Then after some time i started collecting them for my nephew’s and niece to play with and enjoy as i did when i was their age. All in hopes to get them into cars. Hopefully it works out lol. And yes i take the hotwheels out the package and play with them aswell.

  22. Sam Jackson says:

    I started collecting after my 5th birthday party. My best friend of the time bought me a Tooned Ferrari 360, a car I still have today (albeit heavily played with). I got hooked almost straight away. I would spend the £2 a week pocket money I got on two cars every week, and every time my pocket money went up, so did the number of cars I bought. I now have a thousand strong collection, with all sorts of JDM, USDM and Euro stuff, including almost all of the new Car Culture lines, and a 1/500 Chevy Camaro from the 2013 SEMA show. It’s something I’ve always done and will probably always do.

  23. Lore says:

    You don’t collect HotWheels, you grow up and live with them. They’ve been scattered around the floor since I was a little toddler and I still keep buying them as if it’s some sort of addiction, trying to grasp to my composure because the will to play with them and make the engine sounds with my mouth is still high, at age 19. HotWheels is a lifestyle, and it seriously contributed to my passion for cars and motorsport.

  24. Riondy says:

    It was started when I saw a hot-rod car from Hot Wheels (I couldn’t remembered what model it was) from my brother. Later, next few years, I was getting my first Hot Wheels called Phantom Racer (everything was all about fantasy cars when I was thinking about Hot Wheels) but it’s already totalled now. When I was at junior high school (2011), I’ve began collecting 2 Hot Wheels’ cars: 2009 R35 GT-R & yellow 458. I was stopped collecting diecast from HW (& some brands) until I’ve graduated from senior high school, I was back collecting HW again, with the AE86 Corolla becomes my first JNC from HW & soon, my collections had expanded from 2000GT to Fairlady 2000 (SR311). I’ve gone so addicted to collect some JNCs from Hot Wheels, from mainline to premium ones, until I decided to stop after I’ve got the Hako Van. There’s one thing that I regret after I’ve decided to retire: I haven’t got the Blue-on-White Hako GT-X from Japan Historics 1 (with roll bar) & its first edition (Green-on-White) which both prices have already skyrocketted.

  25. Jack says:

    Well I saw this episode of Jackass with Ryan Dunn…

  26. JP says:

    My wife would always make me go with her to Target and I started sneaking one (or two or three) in the basket every time we went as a joke. I have a few hundred cars and I still do it, but now I can blame my son. ?

  27. Wiley Severyn says:

    I have 2 reasons really
    The first one is that I love Seeing my dream garage in a small scale and my grandfather collected military miniatures and I did Likewise with hot wheels

    The second reason is that in one of my classes me and a friend got a bmw 4 and “stanced it” by cutting the axels to give it a lowered look to it. Ever since then I love Hunting for new models. My favorite is the “Mad Manga” the bosozoku Style car based of the Kenmeri gtr ?

  28. Antonio says:

    Hola buenas:
    Mi primer Hot wheels fue el Nissan Skyline 2000 Gtx h/t en negro, el llamado
    “Hakosuka”. Lo vi colgado en el stand de la tienda y me enamoro sus líneas y su espíritu que aún a día de hoy me sigue mostrando lo bonito de la old school japonesa. Gracias a él tengo una colección muy bonita basada en modelos de la JNC y otros modelos míticos de Japón.
    Gracias por leer mi mensaje!

  29. Hw_J says:

    I used to play with hotwheels and matchbox as a child growing up in the 80s. What really got me into serious collecting as an adult is actually kinda fortuitous.
    I was always into cars growing up and was on the way home from sevenstock in Fontana. Decided to stop at a nearby Albertsons market to buy groceries when I spotted a hotwheels shipper/display near the produce area. Before that day I’ve never even noticed anything hotwheels or toys related since I was a kid.
    But I did stop and look that day. The first car I saw on the front was the one that end up starting the whole collection. Probably because I was at sevenstock surrounded by all the rotary goodness, the one I first saw is the sa22c rx-7 in red with white stripes. I picked it up and gave it a close look and thought “wow they make really good stuff nowadays” so I end up looking through the display and see what else was there.
    I ended up with a “few” cars at checkout lol. If I recall correctly they were the sa22c Mazda in red, blue aem Honda s2000, a yellow Enzo, and a white Gallardo. Still got all of em today, kinda wished I didn’t pushpin the cardbacks to the wall for display though.
    Thanks to JNC and Jun for all the amazing cars through the years. I can honestly say now through that red Mazda, y’all got me into this. 🙂

  30. Rayson says:

    I started collect at a later time actually (I was already in University by that time). I do get Hotwheels / Matchbox occasionally as a kid but never really appreciated them back then. Until one day when I was shopping at Wal Mart and randomly spotted a JDM hot wheels (Datsun 510) the person in front of me was checking out. I immediately ran to the Toy section and realized Hot wheels started to offer those niche JDM models……..

    Now I have a few boxes filled with all the hotwheels I bought from Wal Mart the past 10 years!

  31. Adam Anasa says:

    My dad brought me home my first one when I was 2, it was a Firebird funny car where you could lift the body off, and it had a T. rex on it. I’ve been hooked since that moment.

  32. John says:

    I started collecting because I’m a HW Freak

  33. ram says:

    I had quite a few matchbox and hot wheels as a kid, but eventually grew out of them. Then when I was about 25 I found a huge dump bin of matchboxes at a Costco type store so had a bit of a dig and emerged with a red 1985 Toyota 4Runner. I thought it was so cool that matchbox chose to make this model so I started looking out for them more. The more Japanese models I discovered the deeper down the rabbit hole I fell. Nowadays I go hunting for hot Wheels a couple of times a week, the thrill is in the chase!

  34. Mr. Bill says:

    My Dad began collecting in earnest in the early 90s. Every Saturday included a tour of retailers’ shelves and at least a monthly Hot Wheels collector show. I was reaching my 16th birthday when I told Dad that, “If you’d just save the money you spend on Hot Wheels, you could buy me a car we can both enjoy!” Alas, his reply was then and evermore would be, “You’re going to buy your own car with your own money, but here…take this triplicate die-cast of a Japanese vehicle you like instead. Notice the wheel variation between these others I have of the same card number…these will be my retirement someday.”

    I now have hundreds of Japanese classic cars in die-cast form that my Father bought me. I’ve even had a few life-size models I could drive around, but those were bought and paid for by yours truly.

    I had to get a job and learn how to keep it in order to buy my vehicles, but my Hot Wheels collection has always been a Dad-Donation enterprise.

  35. Greyfox says:

    My Father used to collect them when he was young, Matchbox, Corgi, Hotwheels (including the original redlines), so my brother and I have been given and look after those.

    I had toy cars since I was 2 years old in the 80’s. One of the first I had was the Lancia Stratos, the failed wide body road racing variant, something I have never seen since. I kept them all and had quite the collection from various brands, of which there were many throughout the 80’s and 90’s, some better than others… (Anyone remember ‘Roadchamps’?).

    When I got older though I decided to give them away to someone, who managed to lose and destroy them all in less then a fortnight. I re-started collecting some Hot Wheels to an extent primarily because they finally made a DeLorean, and because they were making Japanese Classics, stuff that was never available back when I was a kid. I also have a Takara Tomy Mitsuoka Orochi I acquired when in Tokyo some years back.

  36. Michael Jue says:

    Technically, started collecting Hot Wheels when the first 16 were released. I was 10 or so. Had probably 150 when I gave it all up (lost interest, discovered the opposite sex, haha).

    Then one day in 2015 or so, I happened upon a 350Z Hot Wheels car matching my daily ride. Bought it and kept it on my home office desk. Late last year, found a Datsun SRL311 at the dollar store. I think that triggered my growth spurt and since December ’17 thru ~March/April of this year, went wild and my “collection” ballooned to about 800 – all manner of JNCs, modern Japanese and on the other end, hot rods and street rods. Cars of my youth as it were. Lots of collectibles in there too.

    But most live in boxes, in their packages. Now I only buy them when I happen across ones I like. I could live without most of them except the ones that match my real life cars… S30, roadster, Z33. Those account for about 100 of them. My prize: the BRE 240Z I had signed by Peter Brock last month.

    • Sibbs says:

      “My prize: the BRE 240Z I had signed by Peter Brock last month.”

      Well that’s a hell of a lie. Peter Brock died 12 years ago.

  37. Adam says:

    For me it was seeing my dream car in a hot wheels form, a kenmeri skyline gtr. This was back when I was in high school too, around 2011. I was surprised to see it & very happy to see the support for cars like that, especially now too.

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