Darthvaderr Store

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Exclusive Interview: Mike Zarnock - PART ONE

As a collector, I am as curious as any other collector out there about Michael's success. I have read a couple of Micheal's interview and decided that instead of just having to ask him about his life successful story, I wanted to really understand his deep passion and love for cars. For those who are new to collecting die-cast cars... Listen Up! this is Mike Zarnock better known to the world as the living Hot Wheels encyclopedia aka Hot Wheels Historian. Michael's views on Hot Wheels has always been taken seriously and is indeed a very highly respected figure in the world of Hot Wheels. He is a 2 Time Guinness World Record holder! First in 2003 and then again in 2007! He is in the record books for owning the "Largest collection of different model cars". He is featured in the 2008 "Ripley's Believe It Or Not!" book #5 “Prepare To Be Shocked!” and the 2011 "Ripley's Believe It Or Not!" book "Utterly Crazy!" February 2009 Michael was inducted into the "Diecast Hall Of Fame" and later that year Mattel Hot Wheels ® honored Michael by reproducing his old Altered Roadster Race Car as part of their Nostalgic "Drag Strip Demons ®" Series!.

Micheal with the 2009 Diecast Hall of Fame inductees

I have segmented my Q & A into three areas of his life - Personal Collection, Customizing and Rare Cars and lastly Moving Forward..
1) How and when did it start? what started it?
I started collecting Hot Wheels cars back when they first came out in 1968. I collected all types of toy cars as far back as I can remember. I was fascinated with cars, any kind of cars. My dad was a body man and I would go with him sometimes to the shop. I saw a lot of cars and trucks as I was growing up. I was always trying to soup-up my Matchbox and Slot cars to make them look as real as the cars on the street. I used to read "Hot Rod" magazine and would drool at all the California Custom cars. Since I lived in New York, we didn't have that many cool cars at the time. The ones we did have were only out for 5 months of the year do to snow and bad weather the other 7 months of the year.
One day I was riding my bicycle down to the local shopping center to look at the models. I walked into "W.T. Grants" and saw a new display of diecast cars. Well, when I saw "Hot Wheels with California Custom Styling", I went crazy! All these way cool cars with mag wheels and red line tires already on them. Blowers popping out of the hood, side pipes or Zoomies, and trick paint. I was in Hot Rod heaven.  After that, I was hooked and it was Hot Wheels ever since!

2) If you weren't a collector, what other hobbies would you have gone into?
I really don’t know how to answer that question. I mean, I’m a car guy, so there really isn’t any other type of hobby I could have found. My whole life has been nothing but cars, so it’s kind of a given thing that toy cars would be in my life. Real car and toy cars go hand in hand.
Here's Mike in 1981 with the `23 "T" Roadster that he used to race on the East Coast.

3) How do you finance your hobby?
I’ve always bought my toy cars with the extra money I have. Now it’s a little easier since I have a little more money.
Mike signing autograph together with Chris Walker at Las Vegas 2009

4) Do you insure your collection of cars?
Yes, I think any considerable size collection needs to be insured.
The Famous Wall at Mke's home

5) How did it feel when Guinness told you that you are a record breaker?
It took about six months before I heard anything from Guinness. I waited and waited and then one day I got a huge envelope in the mail. It was an amazing feeling when I got that Guinness certificate. There was my name along with “Hot Wheels” in the Guinness Book Of World Records! It was one of the greatest days of my life! 

Mike featured in Ripley's Believe it or not!

6) Your son Chris started collecting Hot Wheels, Do you both collect the same stuff?
No, Chris collects specific things. He mostly likes Steering Rigs and the `56 HiTail Hauler. He also likes to do customs. Me, I collect anything that I find with the Hot Wheels logo on it. I love packaging as much as the car inside.
Mike with sons Chris and Codye

7) Between blisters. box sets, baggies, loose... do you have a preference?
As I stated in the earlier question, I love packaging. I’m not much for loose stuff, I like to get as much of the different package styles as I can. I really like the artwork from the different eras of Hot Wheels. 
Various types of Hot Wheels available in the market
Baggies - normally found at conventions or with promotions

 Blisters - most commonly found at the stores 

 Box Sets - made with Promotions and also available at the stores 

 Loose cars - mostly available through eBay or trading

 Oil Cans - available at the stores or special promotions

8) Do you collect different types of carded cars such as international cards or Japanese cards?
Yes, I have packages from all over the world. I think it adds so much to any collection.
 US and Japanese card

9) What sort of maintenance do you provide to your collection? How do you take care of the cars to keep them from being dust-free, rust-free or even faded cards ...etc
All of my collection is in a humidity controlled environment. I keep the rooms at 55% or less humidity. They do get dusty once in a while, but all I do is dust them. 

10) How about Matchbox, Johnny Lightning, M2...etc. Do you have any of those cars? if yes... Which one do you collect? if no... why do you not collect them?
I have all of them! Before I started writing my books, I collected just about every kind of die cast I saw. I have a huge Car Carrier and Tow Truck collection and it’s filled with every die cast brand that you could name. I have Matchbox way back into the grey wheels, Johnny Lightning, Dinky, Corgi, Husky, Tootsietoys, Racing Champion and I love the M2 Car Haulers! I actually have those on the mantle of my fireplace in my office! But now I don’t have the luxury to be able to buy all the other brands. I’m focusing on trying to get the really rare Hot Wheels stuff for my collection.
M2 Good Year Hauler

11) Between Variations and paint errors, is that a grey area or there’s a clear difference between them.
It’s all up to the collector. It’s like the shades of Spectraflame colors. There are many of them and they all stemmed from one color. I call them “Color Swings” and I’m sure that you’ve seen some really drastic differences from one shade to another. If the Redline guys can have red and red rose and rosey pink and pink and then creamy pink, I think we can have a color swing on red from light to dark.
A variation spotted by Mike 

12) What is the largest amount of variations you have ever discovered in one car?
Off the top of my head I would say the 1996 Street Cleaver. It has like 9 Variations.
A variation of 1996 Street Cleaver

13) some collectors keep their cars in the blisters/box/baggies and some take them out, what is your view on this as a collector?
It’s all up to the collector. I’ve seen guys buy a $140 Redline and rip it open because the rest of their collection is loose. That really does bother me though. It’s a part of history that they’re tarring up. If you want a loose car, buy a loose car. Don’t buy a packaged one and rip it open. Heck, I’ll go find a mint loose one to trade you!  These things are getting very scarce and if they don’t stop doing that, there won’t be any left....
 A purple Sky Shoe Deora could easily fetch a whopping $1K

Books By Mike Zarnock

 Hot Wheels Variations: The Ultimate Guide

 Hot Wheels Accessories: The Ultimate Guide

 Hot Wheels Variations: The Ultimate Guide

 Warman's Hot Wheels Field Guide:2007

 Warman's Hot Wheels Field Guide:2010

 Hot Wheels Warman's Companion

Warman's Hot Wheels Firld Guide: Values and Identification

Hot Wheels Prototypes

Interview was conducted by Ronald Wong aka Darthvaderr
The next part of the interview will be featured on 1 April.

No comments:

Post a Comment