The times I actually hate my diecast collection.

Love/Hate. It’s accurate with a toy car collection. There is not much in between.

You can’t be a collector if there isn’t some aspect of love for what you are collecting. There are a million reasons why someone might get into collecting. Hopefully it relates to the joy of something.

But there are also a million reasons why – usually diagnosable – someone might get TOO MUCH into collecting. That is a constant battle for a serious collector. Something that can bring a lot of joy on one hand can also bring a ton of frustration to those around them as well. That is an article I will write someday in depth, but needless to say I am very cognizant of what being a collector can do, and I set very specific limits. Doing this whole Lamley thing developed from a need to make the time spent on my collection productive in other ways. Writing, photography, building a brand, relationships, etc.

I have found a nice balance, under that #tranquilcollecting tag I use. Collecting has to be a joy, it can’t be a burden on me or my family, I focus on things I like, keep a small network of fellow collector friends, and I try to avoid at all costs the vitriol that can emerge from the social media aspects of collecting. Oh, and try to not get overwhelmed by my collection.

It is that last point that is really hard. And that is where the love/hate swings really happen. As much joy as I get from singular experience of seeing a new Hot Wheels Car Culture gem, or putting together a few Tomica Limited Vintage cars, there is a ton of frustration that comes from the global aspect of having a collection. It can be overwhelming. Too f*#%ing much.

I’m there right now. This weekend worked out as a time for me to go through the collection and try to clean it up. It is very important for me that everything have a place. My rule is if my collection can’t fit in my small office, I need to cut it down. So now is the time.

Some of the clean up involves getting the extras out. Unboxing cases are donated, items sent for showcases go to storage, and a whole lot of cardboard is broken down and put in the recycle bin. Donating those models is something, obviously, that I love. I know the hospitals I give them to put them to very good use, and I am glad the way the blog and channel is set up, I can do that. I know my friends at Mattel and A&J Toys are happy the stuff they send end up there as well. It is a cool silver lining.

But it is the additional burden of having a collection that can so overwhelming. Maybe you feel that, maybe you don’t. But I have to think there are times you look at all the stuff accumulated and wish you could make it vanish in a split second. But then again, you know there is a decent amount of money and time locked into those items, and it would be nice to get some of it back. Time is gone, but maybe you can recover a dollar or two on the stuff you no longer have space for.

And that is where the vicious cycle runs its course. I like my small collection. I like when it doesn’t take a ton of space. I like so many new items coming out. I like having space for them. I also like getting rid of things, and through a transaction transferring them to someone else who can get joy out of them.

I don’t like the time it takes.

I am honestly not writing this to offer a solution, I am just writing about the experience it is to be a collector, and wonder if you go through the same thing. The joys outweigh the frustrations, but the frustrations can be burdensome. The intimate view is great, the global view a pain. Do you feel that too?

The key is to pursue a tranquil approach, set specific limits, and stick to them. Correct those limits when you don’t, but always be open to what you enjoy. A vicious cycle it is.

I will get through this weekend, hopefully have a clean, spacious office, and I can pick another weekend to take some time and list a few things that others might want. The frustration will wear off. I will enjoy making a video, or get a photo from Mattel of something coming that I will get super excited about, or enjoy the next mix of TLV to arrive. The joy will always conquer. For now.

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jtl46

24 thoughts on “The times I actually hate my diecast collection.

  1. I feel the same way sometimes, wishing I can have a better place, bigger to display more of my beautiful collection. It’s hard when most of the cars I collect are customs I did.

    Anyway, hope in the near future I can expand to what I have now just in my home office.

    Alberto

  2. Yes I feel it too. It becomes the point when trying to manage stuff is difficult. It grows like a weed.
    But i love the hobby. There just so much good diecast but you have to draw the line somewhere . It is one of these things that every collector of anything has to deal eith at some point. I am glad you wrote this article. As for the answer, everyone has to find their own solution. It is part of the hobby of keeping any type of colection in check.

  3. Feel the exact same way…if I could snap my finger and make half of it go away, but in the back of my head what if there is that one car that might be worth a couple of bucks (sit down and sort and price them put)…changed my collecting habits slightly…if the model doesn’t spark joy don’t buy it. Stop buying two of everything enjoy one because you won’t get rich from this stuff and it piles up after several years and its hard to get rid of (some exceptions to that rule). No special trips to Walmart or target.

  4. I just started collecting at the end of 2018 when I came across the team transports and now have around 3000 cars and trucks. I feel the same way at times. I, like you, have to have a place for everything. I have two full rooms dedicated to plastic 1/25 & 1/24 scale models and diecast 1/64 scale Models and still have space but see the day where I may run out. For now I’m enjoying the collection, but give me a year our two of the way it’s going and I’ll need to thin things out.

  5. A collection is always a statement about what is not being collected as much as what is. When I see patterns emerging, like concept cars, vans, French cars, or 60’s British roadsters, I am energized to look a little harder, and I lament the ones I neglected to snag long ago. So I still can kick myself for not getting the Hot Wheels Alfa Romeo Carabo in 1975, when I had the chance, but such is life. But I love every single one that I have found, and added to my little collection. Jay Leno, the Peterson Museum, or the Schlumpf brothers have nothing on me as far as I’m concerned. Tranquilcollecting is an excellent mantra, and one I abide by. Maybe one day I’ll do a youtube series on landmark Toyotas, Brazilian market cars, or Lotus.

  6. Totally hear you on this topic.
    I’ve recently sold off most of my collection. Just the nostalgic pieces and less variants etc… I held on to it’s easier to enjoy what I have now and not be overwhelmed by it.

  7. I have been collecting 26 years since my son was 3. I had 14,000 items in my collection. I pared it down. I had a room all set up with it on display. I stored my collection away so my son could move back and get back on his feet. I’ll get my room back. For me I’m not overwhelmed. I wish I had collected differently. I would not have felt the need to have every new thing that came out. I’m going to pare down again. I still love it and I love vintage toys. My only thought about my collecting was letting go of my most valuable pieces. Lured by the value I sold things that have increased in value massively. The RLC Silverado. The candy stripe gasser and the BRE Bluebird signed by John Morton. I have no regrets but I wish I had them now to sell. I could almost put a new roof on my tiny house. Still having fun after all these years

  8. The response I get from being a collector/buyer/seller from the outside word that have no clue of what this hobby is about is mostly positive. It is the ones that are closer to me with the questions, comments and the negative remarks that I don’t understand and get no support. It is always that ” here we go again”, “Hot wheels again”, “Grow up”, it is just a toy. Sounds like a personal problem, but I am sure all collectors have experienced one of these words. It is a balancing act where this hobby should come in play when everything else is said and done if you have a family. And, even then you will hear it again. Like I say, as long as it does no harm to me, or any others around me, and gets me to enjoy it and puts a smile on my face, I don’t see a problem with that. I disregard all the haters. Yes, I call them haters, because they have no hobbies or anything else to enjoy in their own lives, that they get jealous. One advice that I can give is, collect what you like to see more often in your home. Try to stick to a specific scale and make if possible. And, don’t collect everything you see you like because it will never end. Get the ones you love. And one last thing, to downsize your collection, you can help other collectors to begin their collecting by giving them a few of the ones you don’t need and the ones they like.

  9. I feel the same. It’s fun that I’ve got lots of rare stuff in my collection but I’ve also got too many rare stuff to go through until I find the one I’m looking for my next photoshoot. I’m not living in a spacious house so all my stuff are just in boxes, so I never had the chance to take my collection out as it’s too much burden to clean up. I always wish I had like a wall display or something, maybe in the future that’ll be nice.

  10. I stick to 1/64, and prefer station wagons (!!jtl46!!!), Porsches, rally cars, and the few cars I have owned or lusted after. I was going to collect Fords, but the Mustangs became too numerous, so I am cutting down to Shelby Fords only. I also avoid the $$$$ versions with a ceiling of about $20. Red Line Club? What’s that? At least the mainline are only $1. Paying $5 for a $1 product AND THEN shipping irks me. So those tend to be no-sale items.

    I am looking to trade several Treasure Hunts (last three years) for those recent Volvo white/blue wagons, a P1800 or two, and Ferrari Daytonas & FFs. If you are winnowing any of those, please email.

  11. Thank you for writing this article. I’m a fairly recent returner to collecting, after a long hiatus since I was a kid. It’s good to read this kind of article that let’s others see inside the mindset of the seasoned collector. It’s not just about the cars, and this story helps keep things in perspective. Again, thanks!

  12. Great article, I know very well where you are right now. I am there, too. One of the aspects of this hobby I love so much is discovering something new. A while ago, I got fond of the older “cheap” stuff. ’80s Yatming, Welly, MC Toy etc. Read a lot about it, learned a lot and went on a treasure hunt to find quite a few cars. Got me some very nice mint models, but also some lots and barn finds. Now, there is a big pile of diecast in my basement and I am running out of storage. Even for the ones I want to keep. So I have to sort out my collection to gain space before I can even start working on the new stuff.

    I always find it hard to start clearing up the collection. If you want to tade or sell, it is a lot of work. Sorting, taking pictures, uploading them, packing them up, bringing them to the post office and keeping track of all sales and trades.

    The biggest danger I think is the urge to get all new stuff and the urge to get something complete. Luckily, even the castings I like and collect have some variants that are extremely ugly or just way too expensive. No way of getting them all, so no need to get them all. So I only collect the ones I really like. Sometimes, I even go “shopping” in my collection. Picking out the gems to keep, and putting the rest for donation/trade/sell.

    One aspect you did not mention is the frustration when you went to the 50th store and still did not find the 2 ordinary mainline cars you want to buy from the current case. Everyone else already has them, and posted his prey of a dozen multiples on facebook. And you have the feeling you are the only one living in a diecast desert. And I am not talking about $TH – the chance to find these over here is very close to 0. Not a single store within 50 miles got the 2019 Hot Wheels Bugatti – no chance except eBay.

    But no matter if you clean out your collection or do not find the models you are looking for – in the end this makes space and money to get you something else to enjoy for your collection. So it might be worth it…

  13. I wouldn’t say I get “frustrated” with my collection. I just have a set of rules to go by. I used to collect everything under the sun if it was Shelby or Cobra related. Every Matchbox model. Every Hot Wheels variation. I used to buy Pop Culture models when a new casting would debut in the line. It gets to be too much. My rule now is; if I haven’t taken it out in over a year or I’ve forgotten I even have it, get rid of it. Prune the interest tree. Make room for what’s next. The older I get, the more I narrow down my collecting habits. I’ve moved to a strict policy of realistic vehicles and only what really interests me. Car culture is a big part of that. I really have gotten into very rare and higher quality stuff. Less mainlines although, I do buy a select few. I will dabble in other brands like Greenlight, M2 and Auto World but I am VERY picky. Too much can get out of hand quickly. When M2 released the Hako Skylines I made a point to collect that casting and all the variations. That ended real quick after they released what seemed like hundreds of versions. I love clearing space for new things. Every few months I will rethink my collection and see what I can do to prepare for something bigger and better. The article is totally understandable.

  14. The key, at least for me, is to set a more defined limit to what I can collect, and not like most collectors do it. Take nothing from models that goes past the Php500 (US$10) retail price point, and of the cheap ones, collect only the licensed castings. From there, the choice is whether or not it can complete a theme (say, “modern GT racers” or “sports tuners”) or story in my head (because I’ve been drafting a series of short stories that involve some cars in my collection), or if it’s a real-life car that I like a lot (like the LaFerrari or the McLaren F1 GTR). It’s much easier that way, and helps develop and narrow my tastes. I reckon if I get the means I can shoot for the TLV stars, but for now, I’m happy that there are good basic and mid-range options coming out, because they’re satisfactory.

  15. Last week, over 250 of my eBay auctions closed. These were all Matchbox items from 2005-2011, including Rigs, Superfast, Lesney Editions, Best Ofs, and several others. I made a decent chunk of money, but more importantly, simplified not only my collection but my life. Four large plastic bins are now empty. The closet I kept them in breathes a sigh of relief. The wife is a little happier.
    These were models likely to never see display space. All wonderful models, but not exactly the kind that bring me joy. I prefer my Matchbox from the regular wheel era, including the transitional Superfast models. As we get closer to building our next house, as the architect, I could not justify the amount of space such a collection requires. And, I could not justify building more closets to bury away the models I’ll never truly love.
    So, they are gone now and many more will follow later this year. Some of the money from the sales went towards the purchase of (1) MIB #75 Superfast transitional Ferrari Berlinetta in the rare green color. It showed up last Friday, and I don’t think I could have been happier. This model will be in my new display case when we move into the new house. I traded 250+ models for 1 and a bunch of cash. That makes my collecting experience a positive one.

  16. I collect 1/64 Diecast, antiques and Plastic Cars/Military Models too. That has made a miserable mess that I never should have let set sail. I have cut the Models down by 1/2 (which was a huge accomplishment) but the diescast part is growing way too fast.

    I think personally I have some hoarding issues. Much of what I have has specific memories of people and things attached to them and I have a lot of anxiety over letting them go. Especially things that have memories from parents or family. It’s constant anxiety and something I wouldn’t wish on anyone really. It makes the collection a burden. Often times I catch my self sitting on the floor staring at everything and I simply can’t figure out what to do about it. On a brighter note, I have found that chipping away at it by pairing down works as long as you are determined and continue to work at it.

  17. I started off collecting main line hot wheels and at $1 each I thought how bad could this be. I’m now out of control I just buy everything and I don’t know why. I spend so much time and money looking for this stuff and when I find it I’m like what’s next and I spend no time enjoying what I just found. I’m now at the point where I’m thinning out my collection as well. I really need to narrow down what exactly I want and like not what I think everyone else would like.

  18. I’m going through it right now. I have a bunch of stuff listed on ebay. The worst part is taking the pictures, uploading them, editing them, and coming up with a description. I don’t mind boxing them up (I have plenty of boxes – my wife’s side piece is named Prime) or going to the Post Office to ship them and I certainly don’t mind the cash.

    What got me to this point is thinking about what a burden it would be if something happened to me and my loved ones have to deal with it all. The worst part is that they know it has actual monetary value so they wouldn’t just throw it out. And going through what I’m going through to sell a tiny fraction of my collection so far has proven to be something I wouldn’t want set upon me if I were them.

    Of course I’m heading back to Japan in a couple months and… well, all bets are off there.

  19. When you do get fed up with that wall of cars, I will gladly give you my address and pay the shipping. But really, I have an insane amount of toy cars. Storage has not been an expense I have to worry about since I have an extra house in another state. I get to visit my collection every couple of months and add to it. That allows me to sort and see what I have to add new stuff to. Like, I am waiting to add the new blvd silverado if I get one, and then I will re-visit my silverado collection. I am lucky. But I know other collectors and people who accumulate things that are not lucky, and end up spending way more than what anything they have is worth on storage and taking up space. I remember when I first recognized I had a hw addiction. At that time I said that I will limit my collection to a thousand cars and just keep either getting rid of things or not buying new ones to keep the size reasonable. Well, that simply has not worked. But if I did have to spend money to keep the collection, I am positive that it would quickly be disposed of. My daughter has even volunteered to help me take it out to the curve for pick-up.

  20. Really good to broach this topic – when does your collection start owning You? I have another beef which might sound strange and won’t make me too popular with the diehards; it’s this…how many more diecast are going to be made before we realise we are helping to burn the earth? I speak as a lifelong Matchbox FANATIC, but if you look at the number of ranges and scales now being made – it’s crazy. Enjoy what you can, buy pre-owned, beg Mattel to stop making Hotwheels. My life would be easier if they stopped!! Oooh..controversial!

    1. I hate to be this guy, but I find it funny that you think Mattel should stop making Hot Wheels. As long as there’s a demand for them (which obviously there is), then I think Mattel should continue making them. Besides, Hot Wheels has been around for over 50 years, so I don’t see them going away anytime soon. 😉

      1. Both brands aren’t played out fairly tho. Mbx’s home wants the brand back here……. Hotwheels plagues here everywhere ironic?!…… One shop Mbx……… Why??……

  21. I don’t even know how many cars I own because I don’t have a place to display them. They are all in boxes waiting for a room in the house to free up.
    I scaled back on the basic $1 cars unless I really like the model. I’m leaning more towards the nicer styles like Team Transports and Car Culture. Having said that I still only buy what I like. Sometimes I say to myself that if someone would buy the entire collection at once I would do it. But then I don’t know if I would… Someday I hope to be able to display these.
    Thanks for the article.

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