Since American toy maker Mattel introduced Hot Wheels in 1968, the die-cast toy cars have been a well-beloved staple in many nurseries. A lot of automobile manufacturers joined in the craze and licensed Hot Wheels to make scale models of their cars, providing original design blueprints.
But even though the toy cars were initially created for children, they have also become extremely popular with adults who religiously collect limited edition models that come in scales of 1:64, 1:43, 1:18 and 1:50.
The obsession with Hot Wheels has also reached Indonesia. Collectors spend a lot of time to hunt rare models online and have even founded communities to talk about their passion.
The Hot Wheels Photography Community approaches this hobby from a different angle - through the lens of a camera.
“I began to collect Hot Wheels around four years ago because I thought that these toys would be great to photograph,” Jodi, a graphic designer and co-founder of the Hot Wheels Photography Community, recalls.
He founded the community - a Facebook group - to be able to combine two of his passions: Hot Wheels and photography.
“We share our knowledge about Hot Wheels but also discuss the techniques of taking good photographs of the cars,” Jodi explains. “Our members - currently around 9400 - are mostly from Indonesia, but some are also from abroad, like Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Brunei and the Netherlands. They also have different backgrounds, there are students, doctors, civil servants and businessmen.”
The shared interest in Hot Wheels and photography created a strong bond among the community members, and Jodi says that he truly enjoys making new friends from all over the world.
To keep things interesting, the community founders organize photo competitions each week.
“This also helps our members to refine their photography skills,” Jodi explains. “Besides that, we review each others’ photos on a regular basis.”
It is a rather challenging task to take good photos of Hot Wheels because of their small scale. To make them look life-like in front of real backgrounds requires a special technique.
Jodi says he owns around 300 Hot Wheels, most of which he bought online, while others he obtained through barter or as a gift from friends.
“It is much more convenient to buy Hot Wheels online rather than going to an actual toy store because there, the selection will be limited,” the 39-year-old says, adding that his cars are placed in shelves at his house
When people ask him why he is still playing with little kids’ toys, Jodi only laughs.
“There is a difference between playing with Hot Wheels and collecting Hot Wheels,” he explains. “For instance, we need a lot of strategies when we hunt a certain model - and I am sure that a child wouldn’t grasp this concept yet. Add the photography, and this hobby is definitely for grown-ups too.”