"Oh, around 11,400 or so. Kind of obscene."
My cousin has a problem. Addiction. Obsession. Or maybe just an awesome hobby! Andy is a rabid collector of toy cars of all types, but by far his collection is composed of Hot Wheels cars. The grand total comes to over 11,400 cars. He has them stored in a database, but the purchases never stop, so when I phoned him he couldn't give me a precise number. In fact, I try to find cars for him as I travel, but I always fail. He's only interested in cars with soft-rubber wheels and they're not exactly labeled clearly.
As a young lad, I won't post the year to protect his youthful age, Andy bought a Red Line Hot Wheels "TNT Bird" - a Ford Thunderbird with a bulging engine eliciting visions of a car that would rip up the pavement of unsuspecting road. He still has it.
Lined up behind it are more of his original acquisitions. If you look carefully, you'll note the car racks go from floor to ceiling and wrap around the room taking up nearly every square inch of wall space. Andy's wife is a saint. In fact, she's an enabler in my opinion - an enabler of the best sort.
Andy was explaining to me the significance of the wheels and gets so complicated that I can barely keep up with him. He's an engineer after all. On the topic of Hot Wheels Redline wheels: "When hot wheels first came out they had red line tires. There were three generations of those tires, after the red line went away they called them Basic wheels or black walls. The originals with the red lines are the most sought after. They were originally two-piece wheels, this is what collectors really like. The follow-on single piece wheels were cheaper to produce and they replaced the two piece wheels." Now Hot Wheels is all over the map on their wheels as I've discovered in my shopping expeditions.
By far the most interesting cars are his truly old ones:
1956 Matchbox Marshall Horse Box - a toy version of a horse truck. It can fetch anywhere from $60 to $272 according to Toymart.
My photography skills were missing on the day I shot some of these pictures, so here's the picture found on ToyMart:
Next to it in my picture is the 1957 Matchbox Bedford 7-ton Tipper. Here's a better picture, though the cab color is different:
Of course no collection would be right without Ferraris and Andy has plenty of them, but the one that caught my eye was his Hot Wheels 1971 or 1972 Ferrari 312P with the single-piece wheel design. It's beat up, but I can imagine the "vroom-vroom" sounds emanating from a
younger Andy as it raced the Living Room Gran Prix.
And let's not forget Batman!