It starts as young as 6 months and continues throughout ones entire life. For those heavily afflicted, it takes over thoughts, corrupts minds, and sabotages sleep. I'm of course referring to the disease known as "motor head." In our younger, pre-driving stages, feeding the urge is pretty simple thanks to Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Tomica, and other model and die cast manufacturers. For some of us, the fun of collecting and admiring our favorite cars in micro-sized form never really fades away. Even more dangerous than a car guy with an obsession for collecting all things car-related, is an obsessed car guy with internet access and a valid credit card or funds in his Paypal account.
The brand Hot Wheels was introduced in the late 60s by Mattel and was an instant smash hit among the youth as well as adult collectors. The 1:64 scale die-cast vehicles mimicked all of the large automakers both foreign and domestic and in fact, some automobile manufacturers went as far as granting blue prints to Hot Wheels designers in search of ultra-accurate copies. Matchbox served as Hot Wheels' greatest threat until the late 90s when Mattel purchased Tyco Toys (owners of Matchbox).
Recently, under the direction of designer Ryu Asada, some new Honda offerings have come about. He was responsible for the Evasive Motorsports S2000, a CRX, and for 2014, an EF chassis Civic. Known for his meticulous attention to detail, the EF Civic features a JDM spec front end, side decals, Spoon-style mirrors and a subtle lip kit. A few have been spotted on eBay for outrageous amounts, but if you can hold off until 2014, you'll be able to find them at your local store or on eBay at much more reasonable amount.
Cast in infamy, the Evasive Motorsports S2000 has set track records, appeared in advertisements, and even landed on the cover of Honda Tuning Magazine in August of 2012. Now kids and adult collectors alike can have their own version of the Time Attack AP2.
Much anticipated is the EF chassis Civic due in 2014, sporting JDM garb all around and a great detail by Ryu Asada.
When it comes to automotive toy collectibles, Tomica is by far my favorite. Its parent company, Tomy Co. of Japan, has been in business since the 1920s, but it wasn't until the die-cast toy boom of the 70s that brought about Tomica's automotive collections. Beyond the standard offerings, Tomica also incorporates a number of special models, series', and limited edition cars, trucks, and other vehicles.
While tracks and garages are available just like any other die-cast manufacturer, Tomica also produces a number of micro-sized gas stations, dealerships, convenience stores, and more. The buildings can link to one another in various configurations to grow into a full blown city.
Though some of the vehicle models were produced just a few years ago, their value is growing quickly. A Civic EG6 and CRX Si (1st gen) can cost upwards of $50 in Japan, and even more when you add shipping costs to the U.S. Honda, Nissan, and Toyota Vitz dealerships were produced, as well as 7-11, Autobacs, bank and post offices, and even ultra-limited and very expensive low quantity pieces like Denny's, McDonalds, and Yoshinoya which can fetch up to $500!
Tomica's Eneos gas station with S2000 and Lotus in the foreground, and an Eneos tanker and noodle truck in the background.
NSX-R special edition with rubber tires and detailed engine bay.
2-pieces of the 3pc Honda dealership complete with a GT Spec NSX in the revolving showroom.
Autobacs shop and garage with GT Spec NSX on the lift and parked in the alley, and don't forget the FD2 Mugen RR on the driveway.
Tamiya is a Japanese company that's been around almost 70 years, and specializes in RC cars, paints and enamels, and incredibly detailed plastic model kits. Available at hobby stores online, and of course via eBay, Tamiya's quality is excellent and they even offer special edition model kits like their Spoon Sports Civic Type R, JACCS Accord, and Takata Dome NSX. Time, a steady hand, and plenty of patience are needed if you want a solid finished product. Many of the Type R and special edition kits include aftermarket wheels like Spoon, OZ, and Volk, and give you the option to assemble the interior in left or right-hand drive configuration.
If you have some skill and a good amount of patience, building a plastic model might be more your speed. These DOME and JACCS versions are unique and come complete with aftermarket wheels, aero, and livery.