For every Malaysian kid, the iconic logo that resembles a burning tyre with flames coming up is nostalgic. Almost all of us have memories of our time with Hot Wheels. You might think that there’s no real value to it besides being a toy that most kids would eventually grow out of one day, right?
Not for Uncle Chia, nicknamed Uncle Hot Wheels, who is Malaysia’s biggest Hot Wheels collector. Since his first collection back in 2003, Uncle Chia now has over 10,000 Hot Wheels in his collection. That’s more than the biggest toy store we’ve been to.
His enthusiasm with the die-cast series began in 2003 when his brother gave him a 1:18 scale model of a Ferrari. Fascinated by the detail and intricacy of the Italian supercar miniature, he put it on a display desk and admired it for hours. Uncle Chia didn’t stop at one car, though. He went to 7-11 to buy more and soon he started going to Amcorp Mall, PJ – a collectors’ haven – to get more pieces for himself.
As you know by now, Uncle Chia is no ordinary collector. His love for the models go way beyond collecting. Show him a Hot Wheels and he can tell you when it’s made just based on the model’s tyres! He can distinguish the differences of a model based on slight variations of the design – like the wheel rims, tyres and bonnet design. Now that’s a skill.
Since his first Hot Wheels back in 2003, Uncle Chia has spent over RM100k and his massive collection is estimated to be worth around RM200k to RM300k. The pieces were sourced from all around the globe including Indonesia, Japan and America. His most valuable piece in the collection is this Japanese Nissan Skyline piece from the Sweet Rods Premium Series which is worth a cool RM800.
His love for the brand has even reached Hot Wheel’s HQ in the US. Steve Vandervate, Hot Wheels lead designer of the premium and collector segment was in town for Art Of Speed (AOS) 2019 and went to visit Uncle Chia. Who could resist taking a peek at Uncle Hot Wheel’s hot collection? It’s like a museum!
Having over 10,000 pieces in your collection, you’re definitely gonna have some storage difficulties. Uncle Chia rented a an entire house just to store his collection and thanks to his background as a former engineer, he put his knowledge to good use and came up with the idea of showcasing his Hot Wheels on display racks similar to the ones you see in tile shops.
Back in September 2018, Uncle Chia’s passion for his hobby was given recognition. 600 pieces of Uncle Chia’s prized collection went on display at the National Art Gallery for the “Re-Inventing the Wheel” exhibition. He was among four Hot Wheels collectors that were selected for their collection’s uniqueness.
When asked, “Why so hot for these wheels?”, he simply said:
“Passion. That’s the only word. I love everything about these models. I can spend hours just sitting and admiring these pieces. I love it all so much that I can never choose a favourite. Every time I pick one, I find myself drawn to another, then another, and then another!”
He continued to express his devotion for collecting these miniature cars by saying:
“This collection… hobby… Makes me feel young! I’ve made so many friends over the years, all of different ages; kids, adults… We’re all in love with Hot Wheels together!”
Whatever you want to call it, passion or obsession, Uncle Chia’s love for Hot Wheels gives him infinite joy and there’s nothing better than to immerse yourself in the things you love. As a collector myself, I find Uncle Chia’s passion infectious.
Now, do you regret throwing those Hot Wheels away? Show your mom this article.
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