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Hagerty Employee

Why do we collect toys? Mattel designers and collaborators provide some answers

What is it about toys that puts a twinkle in our eye and a smile on our face? Mattel asked one of its Hot Wheels designers, along with three collaborators, for insight into that question. Their three-minute perspective about "Why We Collect" is the first chapter in a new video series called Creator Stories.

“Everybody’s first car is most likely Hot Wheels,” Cheung says.

   This is why I wish people wouldn't just use superlatives like they don't matter.  Yeah, I'm sure there is a large number of people for whom something from the Hot Wheels line was indeed their first car - that is, if they are under 60 or so.  The first Hot Wheels (according to Google) was released in 1968.  But there were toy cars for kids way before 1968 (I know, I was there, I didn't even have to Google it).  In fact, I actually had a REAL car way before 1968!

   "Everybody" is a pretty wide net to cast.  And yet, it excludes me, because my first toy car was given to me in about 1953 - a full 15 years before Hot Wheels even existed.  I encourage authors to steer away from throwing words like "everyone knows" and "nobody wants" - because when you use a word that includes a wide swath, you sound like you think we all should fit into that swath.  And we don't - not all of us.

   Now, do I like toys?  Some, yeah.  Do I like Hot Wheels?  Do they make me feel nostalgic?  Not really - I was an adult with my own hot rod by the time they made the scene.

Advanced Driver

I've never had any Hot Wheels either, and I very much doubt I ever will. My oldest toy car that's in half decent condition is a Corgi '59 Chevy that I bought new, at Miss Cannon's toy shop in Harvard Square, when I was six. And I have a bunch more, mostly from before 1964, but a few which I acquired post-millennium, including a Boxster, which I got at a local Porsche dealer, for $26, and a couple of Peugeot 404s, one of which may have been my first eBay purchase, both of which were shipped from France, and a Trabant, which my sister-in-law brought me from Berlin.
Pit Crew

Sure… They were not the first toy car brand for everyone but they have indeed been the single most impactful on the largest swath of the living population of the world to date.

Taking the words literally misses the bigger picture framed in the story. When I was a kid in the 70’s my dad gave me his original Matchbox and Hot Wheels. I ended up with a collection of 100’s most of which my kids have now.

When collecting diecast cars as a kid I would line them up like a dealer lot and drive them all around. Some of my most favorite then are part of my real car collection today.

Great little video… toys are art… cars are art… I’m an artist and love to drive. As a result I collect real cars now.