Volume IX, Number 5

O F F - T H E - S H E L F

The following editorial reflects the personal thoughts of Doug Breithaupt relating to our common hobby of miniature cars. It is intended to generate discussion
relating to 'Tales of Toy Cars'. Your letters are welcome and may be submitted via e-mail.

The Last 30 Years

Sometimes it is easy to let the 'Baby Boom' generation control our world. I was born right in the middle of that population bulge and it has influenced my life more than any other demographic trend. Many of you reading this right now were also born between 1949 and 1964. While those born during these 15 years have forced many changes on our world, our primary topic here is limited to toy cars. It should be no surprise that this same generation is the driving force in the collection of toy cars. I think it's time for that to change.

The toy car era from the mid-1950's to the mid-1970's has been the primary focus of collectors. Red-line Hot Wheels and regular-wheel Matchbox have long been the yard-stick by which all other toy cars are measured. As wonderful as these toy cars are, few under the age of 35, have any childhood memories of these collector icons. While the discretionary income of the baby-boomers continues to drive the toy car collecting market, this may limit the future of our hobby.

At toy shows I see far fewer 20 or 30 year old collectors and far more who look like me. Is the toy car hobby following the toy train hobby into the twilight years? Sure, kids still play with toy cars but for the past 30 years, Red-lines and regular-wheels have not been children's toys. Think about the generation of toy cars before your childhood. How much do they interest you? Matchbox models of the 1950's will never be my passion. I never had them as a child so they do not generate the memories that are so much a part of collecting. Early Tootsietoy and Dinky models are even more removed from my formative years. Of course I admire these models and may add a few to my collection but they will never be as prized as the toy cars I first had as a child.

It's easy to identify your era. Just think back to the first toy car you can remember. For me it was the Matchbox Jaguar 'E' type with candy-apple red paint and sexy wire wheels. Any toy cars before that time will never create the same emotion for me.

If we want to create the same emotion in new generations of collectors, it is critical that the toy car story beyond the mid-1970's be told. Some readers questioned the inclusion of a feature story on Kenner's Fast 111's in TofTC. These models of the early 1980's are seldom collected by baby-boomers. What was your reaction to this story? Did you move on quickly, wondering why would anyone want these toy cars with weird rear-bumpers?

Many stories of toy cars from the past 30 years have been included in TofTC and that will not only continue but increase. While we will also continue to feature stories on classic models cherished by the boomers, let's face it, many of these stories have already been told, perhaps ad nauseum. This issue's feature is about another post-1980 story, the General Lee Dodge Chargers.

Many stories from the last 30 years deserve our attention. Manufacturers like Real Toy, Revell and Road Champs have made very important contributions to our hobby but with little recognition. Topics like the turbo cars of the 1980's, the Japanese imports of the 1990's or even (gulp) the SUV in small-scale, should get equal time with classic European exotics or American muscle cars. Toy car manufacturers have given boomer collectors a steady stream of '57 Chevy, '70 Mustang and VW Beetle/Bus models and we still want more. Do we need dozens of different versions of these same cars while many of the models that inspired the children of the 1980's and 1990's are neglected?

The only way to bring more under-40 collectors into the hobby is to give them what they want. TofTC will continue to do that.

Which Matchbox Jaguar model did you play with as a child, the XKE of the 1960's or the XK8 of the 1990's?

Is Kenner's 'Stock Shocker' Fast 111 model a toy car you would want? It seems few Baby Boomer collectors do. Of course the resulting low value means I could find it for just $2 at a toy show.