I spent many hours building plastic scale models when I was a kid. Mostly cars, but I built a few planes too. I loved to go to Hobby Haven, a really cool hobby store in the Metcalf South Shopping Mall just a couple of blocks from where I grew up. While I was occasionally able to purchase models, die-cast cars, and slot racers, I mostly just drooled over all of the cool stuff while the rest of my family went clothes shopping.
I continued to build models until my mid teens, at which point I started to spend more time messing around with computers, playing guitar, and working on my first car. Despite having collected many die-cast cars and plastic models, all of the ones I had when I was younger have unfortunately been lost over the years. In my mid forties, I got the bug to start collecting and building again, though, and I’ve since purchased a few vintage kits on eBay that I built when I was younger, along with some new kits. Check out my scale modeling YouTube channel TheModelHaven for more info on my current projects.
Before I began building model kits, I started collecting Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. When I was old enough to start getting an allowance of $1 per week in the late 70s, I bought exactly one car a week from the local Kmart. By this time, they were more often Matchbox cars because they tended to be a bit higher quality and generally more “stock” than the Hot Wheels of this period. I had few hundred cars at one point, but unfortunately all but one of these orginals have been lost over the years. The one I have remaining is a formerly pink 57 Chevy that I bought in 1979 when I was ten and promptly painted over rather sloppily with black Testors model paint.
Since the dawn of eBay I’ve bought a handful of these old cars back, but I’ve also started collecting the newer Hot Wheels, Greenlight, M2, and AutoWorld cars. New Hot Wheels cost about 94 cents, less than they were in the last 70s! If you factor in inflation, they’re much less expensive now. Aside from the plastic bases, though, the new cars are generally better quality than the old, with better castings, better paint, and more precise tampos (graphics over the paint). The other brands I mentioned range from $4 to $15 each, but they’re higher quality models with more detail. Hot Wheels also sells premium lines of cars with metal bases and rubber tires that are usually about $5 each.