“Isn’t there a famous expression: ‘The person who dies with the most toys wins’? I think I’m a leading candidate for that right now.”
So says Bruce Pascal, a die-hard collector of Hot Wheels, who owns a whopping 3,500 of the tiny metal cars. He keeps them organized by year and color in two very special places: his very own “ultimate man cave” of a warehouse and his special “Hot Wheels office,” where he stores 1,100 of the collectibles that were made between 1968 and 1970.
He also displays them digitally, for the world to covet, on a very organized website, featuring rare models such as hand-painted flying colors from the 1970s, prototypes like the orange striped Volkswagen Beetle and Aqua Turbofire, and preproduction scale models. On his Instagram, with more than 5,000 followers, he also shares snippets of his massive collection; his most recent share — a snap of two still-packaged cars from a recent Hot Wheels convention being hawked for a combined price tag of $195 — got over 300 likes and led to a swift sale.
Pascal says he first got “hooked” on Hot Wheels when he was 7 years old, in 1968, when his parents brought one home to him. “It was just an amazing toy, because it was an exact replica of what the cool 16-year-old kid was driving down the street,” he recalls. Today, he’s such an expert that Mattel, the company behind Hot Wheels, recently hosted Pascal at its headquarters, where he gave a speech to designers and marketers to try to “explain the mind of a collector.”
His “ultimate favorite car” in the collection, by the way, is his hot pink rear-load Volkswagen beach bomb — the rarest Hot Wheels in the world. That model, even in a more typical color, fetches at least $20,000 — a ton of cash for a tiny car, but not the most that Pascal’s ever spent on one. “The most I’ve ever spent on a Hot Wheel is in excess of $50,000 for one car,” he admits. “It’s a lot of money! I am sure I’ve spent over a half a million dollars collecting Hot Wheels.”
However, the car lover says, “I’ve always looked at this with one eye on investments. You can’t look or stare at your stock or bond every day. It’s a lot better to look at a 1968 Camaro. Trust me, it’s much more fun.”
And that’s what it all comes down to, according to Pascal. “How can you not feel like a kid picking up these tiny little 1/64th scale Hot Wheels? I’m proud of it,” he says. “I’m a kid.”
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