The toy car club

Written by Shikha Sharma | Updated: Sep 29 2013, 13:40pm hrs
Theres nothing in the world that quite matches the marvel of a well-made car for them, nothing that makes their hearts beat faster. They dont like to boast, but most own huge fleets of models both rare and vintage and sometimes one in 10 different colours. At their homes, the models occupy a place of pride, next to trophies.

Welcome to the world of car-model collectors a community of car aficionados who live and love cars and delight in collecting scaled models. Most of us collect small cars (1:64 scale) as they are affordable but also because we can stock as many as we want, without worrying about space limitations, says Vineet Bakshi, who has more than 1,000 models at home.

Its a motley group of people men and women from the automobile industry, graphic designers, photographers, writers all of whom share a common passion for toy cars. Members get together regularly to swap cars, show off their latest models and regale each other with stories of their latest and greatest finds.

Three months ago, the group started its own Facebook page, Photography- Automobile Models, where people are encouraged to post pictures of car models. The group has 350 members. Small toy cars are cheap, everyone has a camera these days and talking about cars is really fun. So we thought, why not start a place to begin serious conversation about automobiles The idea is simple: make the car look as real as possible. Put it on a table-top, inside a flower pot, near a small rock, and click pictures. Its that simple, and that hard, Bakshi says.

You know a photograph is done well, when you accidentally mistake a toy car for the real thing. And thats where the magic lies... to blur the lines of reality, he says.

The group doesnt restrict itself to collecting only a particular type of car, though Hot Wheels, the Mattel product, which first came out in 1968, is clearly in the majority. Other makes like the matchbox series (also by Mattel) is quite popular too. Then, there is the treasure and super treasure series and limited editions of Mattel cars finding one of these is equivalent to winning the lottery in this circle.

Many members, now middle-aged, started collecting cars as children, then dropped the hobby for a few years only to pick it up as adults. Several members said they collected the toy cars because they cant afford the real ones, while some have both kinds.

But why collect toy cars in the first place Its fun, its playful and it takes me back to my childhood days, says Paranjay Dutt who writes for a popular car magazine and delights in collecting toy cars from the 90s.

In fact, for some, the hobby borders on addiction. Its a hobby that ignores common sense, sanity and reality alike. You hit every toy store on your way three times a day on the way to work, at lunch and on the way home from work hoping against hope that one of the stores will have something you have on your wish list. And when you dont find it, you hunt, till you find what you are looking for, says Bakshi.

Receiving that odd stare from parents and children is also something most members are now immune to. I am a sifter. I go to a store and like to study all models in detail before buying the ones I want. People look, but I dont care any more. The cars are for kids, including bigger kids like myself, Dutt chuckles.