Hot Wheels swap-meet as much about the community as the cars

Bruno Saltini-Lozano, 7, and Leo Saltini-Lozano, 6, are excited about the additions to their collection.

DAVID UNWIN/Stuff

Bruno Saltini-Lozano, 7, and Leo Saltini-Lozano, 6, are excited about the additions to their collection.

Model car collectors from across the North Island have come together to not only trade items, but to reconnect with their community, attendees say.

Palmerston North man Peter Waters took it upon himself to host a swap meet for fans of Hot Wheels and diecast models when he learned the annual collectors convention might not take place for the second year in a row due to Covid-19 concerns.

The swap meet was held at Palmerston North Boys’ High School, and within two hours hundreds of attendees swapped, sold, or searched for imported miniatures.

Waters didn’t expect so many attendees, but said he shouldn’t have been surprised: “New Zealand has quite a large number of Hot Wheels fans.”

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Exhibitor Harry Parkinson holds his favorite hot wheel, a Nissan Skyline C110.

DAVID UNWIN/Stuff

Exhibitor Harry Parkinson holds his favorite hot wheel, a Nissan Skyline C110.

Exhibitor Harry Parkinson said the community had “easily doubled since the start of 2018” and grown not just in New Zealand but around the world, especially since Covid-19.

For many collectors, it was nostalgia that brought them home.

“I went to the supermarket one day and saw them, and I remember collecting them as a kid…going to The Warehouse…it rekindled my interest,” he said. he declares.

From his pocket he revealed one of his favorite miniatures, a Nissan Skyline C110. Although it was worth over 100 dollars, he had freed it from its packaging.

Aaron Mai pushed his way through a crowd to take photos of the hot wheels for sale.

DAVID UNWIN/Stuff

Aaron Mai pushed his way through a crowd to take photos of the hot wheels for sale.

“At the end of the day, they’re still small cars,” he said.

But personal relationships were just as valuable to him. Most of his friends were also collectors, and he said that meant he had a couch to sit in most places in New Zealand.

Norman Tutaki also had many friends in the model car collecting community, and it was they who piqued his interest in 2001.

Twenty years later, the man from Wellington had more than 18,000 in his collection.

Norman Tutaki came from Wellington to find some rare Hot Wheels to add to his collection.  Pictured with some of his most prized possessions.

DAVID UNWIN/Stuff

Norman Tutaki came from Wellington to find some rare Hot Wheels to add to his collection. Pictured with some of his most prized possessions.

It included a ’55 Chevy Gasser that he bought for $21 and a few years later was worth $3,000.

Only 4000 copies of the model were made. “Most people would kill for one. I have three,” he said.

He had no intention of selling his rare finds saying it wasn’t about the money. “It’s for me. Someone could offer $1 million, and I would still have to really think about it.

Tutaki financed his hobby by selling small imported cars. “You have to be careful with a hobby, it can hurt you financially. Always remember to collect within your means.

Left to right, Estelle Currin, Will Dalgety and Sean Hayden find a less crowded table to look at the collectibles.

DAVID UNWIN/Stuff

Left to right, Estelle Currin, Will Dalgety and Sean Hayden find a less crowded table to look at the collectibles.

“A lot of people collect the cars you’ve seen on the road for the last 40 to 50 years, but these don’t run out of gas and don’t need a warrant,” he said.

Bruno, 7, and Leo Saltini-Lozano, 6, were particularly pleased with their journey.

To know which cars are the best, you have to “look closely” and “see the colors”, Bruno said. The fastest were “usually the smaller ones, not as heavy as a monster truck”.

Despite the armful of toy cars, their mother Maria said they had a strict budget of $10 each. She appreciated that the swap-meet had a range of cars to buy or trade in that were “a good mix of expensive and cheap, some as low as $1”.