By Doug Kale
Meet collector Colin O'Brien
Colin is a collector from Silcon Valley, California and fondly remembers his original 1968 Hot Wheels.
Kale's Diecast Toy Cars: Hello Colin! Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me about Hot Wheels collecting. Let's jump right into the questions.
KDTS: What was the first toy car you ever collected and do you still have it in your collection?
Colin O'Brien: I have no idea what Hot Wheel was the actual first but I have three (Aqua HK T-Bird, Red Continental, and a Pink Grass Hopper) left over from the original hoard (two older brothers) that we shared as children. There was two I was really hoping would turn up and I spent years finding just the right one to replace my memories. Both were purple, a HK Cammy and a Coupe. Luckily, I have their replacements in my collection today. But of the three I still have today, one stands out and I consider it more priceless to me than the infamous RL Pink Bomb we all adore. For me, though, it's the Aqua T-Bird. Being the original owner, when I admire it today, I see an incredibly well loved car that I am responsible for every chip, rub and all of the miles it earned and wears as a badge, proudly, today with a seat amongst my minty possessions.
KDTS: How long have you been collecting diecast cars?
Colin: Since the first Saturday morning cartoon appeared in 68' when I was 4. My older brothers would get one and then the competition was on. I remember growing up in Silicon Valley, before Silicon was invented, and the valley was consumed in fruit tree orchards. Then a Toys 'R Us moved into town. Getting a .69 cent toy in those days took quite a lot of prying of my parents as money was so tight growing up. We had a 65' Cutlass growing up in those days with a Shell station fairly close to us. However, my Dad was a $5-of-gas at a time kind of guy and getting a full fill up was unheard of, thus missing those Shell promotions that went on for years. 90% of the original hoard came from Toys R Us.
KDTS: What's your favorite diecast car brand?
Colin: No question, Hot Wheels. We had several Match Box cars but when HW's came out, we gave the MB's to the "girls".
KDTS: What is your favorite vehicle or casting?
Colin: I know it sounds trendy today, but honestly it was always the Camaro and Corvettes. And even though today I prefer the US models, as a kid, loved the HK's because of the "black steering wheel". Not sure what it was but in those days, the folks made us "go outside". Lived on a court with 7 houses and all had kids my age. Lots of HW dirt towns were created and imaginations were spectacular. That "black steering wheel" just made me feel like I was driving that car.
KDTS: How many cars do you think you have in your collection?
Colin: Funny you should ask, I just hosted a contest over on ChickLuu's Fabulous Redlines website. The task was to guess have many HW's I have in my "HW Mancave". I offered two cars up to the winner and provided clues each day to narrow the answer down for the participants. The winning guess was spot on, with 1469. i'll added probably 30 cars since so I would say 1500 is more likely today.
KDTS: What's your most valuable item in your collection?
Colin: Tough call, I have quite a few. The most valuable doesn't always mean "rare" but I equate value and rare together. I have a carded olive Rolls Royce that is 1 of 9 known. A blue Open Fire, unpunched/carded, blister pack turns lots of heads with its rarity. Many loose minty redlines from 1968-73. My 73's are pretty extensive, but honest to say, scoring a minty is tough as the enamel paint is susceptible to chips since their birthdates in '73. Just recently, I was fortunate to become the custodian (I use this word often as these cars will be around long after I am not) of a Blue Black Roof Nitty Gritty Kitty in NM(near mint) condition.
KDTS: Is there a hard-to-find car you're looking to add to your collection?
Colin: I'm passionate about completing my '68 Custom Barracuda bow. Of all the cars to absolutely love, the last four I need are pretty difficult. Need both US & HK Olives, Aqua with Purple Interior, and another "Bigfoot", the HK pink. Other than this, I will have the elusive Magenta Sugar Caddy. I have a passion for tough cars in minty condition. Remember, "Buy the Best..once."
KDTS: Do you have a interesting toy car-related story you wouldn't mind sharing with our audience?
Colin: I have many and many have heard most of them so I want to share this. The friends I have made over the years within this hobby have been invaluable. Remember those three childhood cars I have today? It was those three that I carried with me in a shoebox from age 12 through five residence moves, a college degree and raising a family. It was in 2012, when I pulled that shoebox down and found the cars. It reminded me of wonderful, innocent times and made me smile. Right around the time I lost my parents, thinking of found memories was comforting. I looked up on ebay their values if any at all, and was blown away at what I saw. So the madness began and I found CFR (Chickluus). Amazing bonds and history in a community loaded with knowledge and amazing advice. It is this community that drives my love of the hobby.
KDTS: Colin, I totally agree. There are lots of great people in the hobby . What advice or tips would you give to a new collector?
Colin: Same that has been past down to me many times, and of course I didn't listen, but it rings so true today and I live by it. Buy the best you can get! Better to spend the money once!
KDTS: Thank you, Colin. The photos of your collection are amazing! Thanks again!