As a young budding automotive enthusiast, it was Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars that ignited my obsession with cars. I'm sure you've all heard that story before. I was different though, and by no means treated them like a "normal" kid would. I never raced them on looped tracks, I never crashed them into each other, I only parked them as if they were on a concours lawn or drove them around as if the design on the living room carpet was a canyon road. I only collected licensed cars that piqued my interest, never bothering with fantasy cars or cars with crazy flame paint jobs. I often imagined that I was the CEO of Ferrari and that these were cars in my collection that rivaled the Sultan of Brunei (I was too young to know that he was a jerk). I spent many sheets of loose leaf paper drawing the layouts of my garage and planning which supercars I'd park where.
From there I graduated to a gorgeous yellow 1:24 scale Bburago Ferrari F40 and a Porsche 959 that I "borrowed" from my uncle. I made a friend in sixth grade who had a bureau full of beautiful 1:18 scale cars, bigger and better than my two at home. I knew these were the models I needed to collect. I spent my summers mixing concrete with my father and took my hard earned money to a local diecast retailer's warehouse. We'd always come home with a trunk full of these larger scale models. Eventually though, my interests shifted from car models to guitars and girls in high school, and sadly my models got packed away when I left home for college.
Then one day, I discovered OppositeLock, the off-topic page for Jalopnik. As a newcomer trying to fit in, I noticed several members posting pictures of their Hot Wheels that they had on their desks. I knew that my collection of small cars were still packed away at my father's house, forgotten since my youth, and I quickly retrieved them to photograph and share with the Oppo community. The group's obsession with Hot Wheels spread like wildfire and sparked trades between members, people repainting their cars and swapping on new wheels, and doing full blown photography sessions with their cars.
We quickly realized we needed a home for ourselves, as the Hot Wheels posts became overwhelming. Myself and five others created our own blog on the Kinja network and Live and Let Diecast was born. I wanted our website to be the best in the world. We were well on our way, getting recognition from Jalopnik, The Drive, Flat Out!, Quatro Rodas, and several others. I drove myself to become better, learning how to properly photograph a scale model and taking the time to write up a thought out article. We all inspired each other to become better.
Since then, I've had the honor of meeting so many people who all share my interests in this hobby. In fact, the best part about this hobby is the sense of community among collectors; from skilled photographers to artistic customizers who build whatever pops into their heads. They'll happily trade cars with you to help fill the missing pieces of your collection or share photography and customizing tips. There are those who build scenic dioramas to display their cars on and those who have started their own businesses as diecast model retailers. I've also met a few celebrities who also collect diecasts, like Rod Emory and the guys behind Radwood. I've never learned so much from a hobby, either. I've personally grown as a writer, photographer, and I'm even helping out with a podcast.
Most people do not realize that they're not alone. There are more diecasters like us out there than we think, fascinated by these little tokens of real cars we aspire to own one day. You're not weird, you're not childish, it's all very much a part of car culture. Diecast collecting enables us to have some sort of connection with cars we might not ever have the opportunity to own, let alone see in person.
I've grown up a bit (just a little) since being that kid with the garage plans, and collecting diecast cars helps me to get that collection I always dreamed of having one day. My goal now is to recreate the communities I helped build on LaLD and Instagram here on DriveTribe. I invite you to take a look around the Hobbies Vertical and join our interesting Tribes. We've been sharing some great content for whatever you're into like diecast collecting, RC cars, Legos, or even drawing cars. The Hobbies Community is an open Tribe, so join us and show us why you still like to play with cars.