As kids, we all remember sticking our noses on the glass windows of toy shops and eyeing the Hot Wheels collections seated among other toys. Some of us passionate kids collected money to buy the latest Hot Wheels and clutched at them happily while sleeping. However, this story goes far beyond our childhood fantasies. Its the story of a man who can create a bed out of his Hot Wheels car collection!
How many Hot Wheels cars can be enough for a collector? Well, here’s a man whose Hot Wheels collection has already crossed 5250 cars – this is his story! Meet Laliket Kubal, a Hot Wheels collector who is secretly nurturing a dream. Read on to know more about his journey, passion and dreams.
“One day, I will have a room full of Hot Wheels with walls where cars can run,” – Laliket N Kubal
At the first instance, Laliket comes across as a shy gentleman who loves smiling while others are chatting away. One look at his Facebook profile and you know that there is a constant tsumani of positive thoughts flowing through his busy mind. His cooking stories, pictures of his motorbikes & life with a supporting wife and loving mother, painting Ganesh idols etc summarise his interesting Facebook profile. At present, he is the creative genius at a prominent ad agency in Mumbai.
When he uploaded pictures of his amazing Hot Wheels car collection, it motivated DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter
to narrate his story to the world.
Here are a few excerpts of the conversation.
What are your earliest memories of Hot Wheels cars?
LK (Sits up straight and exclaims): Hot Wheels! Where do I start is a big question! I never started my life as a Hot Wheels collector. I just had a crazy father who got me a lot of toys. I still remember, just like any kid of my times, I had a few Hot Wheels cars, G.I. Joe and HeMan action figures. My uncle used to gift me a lot of toys. At that age, I never knew how to take care of my toys and therefore I lost most of my toys. I miss them a lot. Whenever I meet my childhood buddies, we talk about the toys we shared and the wonderful memories of those days.
When did you turn into a Hot Wheels collector?
LK (lets out a soft sigh and modest smile): My brother Anand and I started collecting a few Hot Wheels cars in 2005. In 2009, I met my crazy collector friend, Laukik Golatkar who I also call my Guru in Hot Wheels collection. He is a gem of a person who owns a superb collection of action figures, Mac Donald toys and merchandise of all sorts. He inspired me to collect Hot Wheels seriously. 11 years and 5250 cars later, here I am with the support of my friends, mother and wife.
You have a lot of rare & special cars in your collection. Can you share any special memories associated with them?
LK (smiles while his eyes bear a distant look): Yes! I have vintage cars, treasure hunt cars and many of the best cars famous for their historic value. There is one car close to my heart, Chevrolet Impala – my grandfather used to own the actual car. My family has so many stories centering on that special car. However, I don’t have a single picture of that vintage car. So, I have kept one Hot Wheels Chevrolet Impala replica as a memory of my grandfather’s favourite car.
I have so many memories associated with my hobby. Long before I started collecting Hot Wheels, I enviously watched & played with my cousin’s collection. He and I used to visit toy stores together, hunting for the latest Hot Wheels.
What about like-minded friends, any special incidents around Hot Wheel car collections with them?
LK(let’s out a full-throated laugh): I also remember the one time I had a fight with my close friend, Abhijeet Patil over BatPod Hot Wheels that Laukik had bought for me. We stopped talking to each other for a while! Everything cooled down when I got another piece from Texas. Yes, can you believe it? Fully grown-up adults fighting over a car!!
Ninad, my cousin got me a special Batman Hot Wheels collection from Texas, that is my best in limited edition cars. I waited for almost 2 years till Ninad returned home to India. It’s my priceless collection!
How did your collection grow to 5250+ Hot Wheels Cars?
LK (pauses briefly before continuing): Well, I use my savings to feed my hobby. Over and above that, everyone around me keeps gifting me Hot Wheels. My wife gifted me 15 cars just after we got engaged, my friends at work gifted me Batman: The Dark Knight Rises Batmobile Tumbler, my school buddy, Adhar got me Fast and Furious collections that has some special rare cars in it. Each car has a special story about how it entered my collection.
I am always hunting toy stores in Mumbai, and across every place I travel. I sometimes carry photos on my mobile so I don’t repeat. It’s difficult to recall all the cars. I also browse through online websites, brand websites, and remain in touch with toy store owners who regularly message me whenever a new collection arrives.
What is this One Car, One Country idea? Please tell our readers more about it.
LK (excitedly says): Whenever I travel, I get one Hot Wheel unit from that country. If my friends are travelling, I ask them to do the same. This way, I get to keep the memories of the country. If a friend gifts me a Hot Wheels from the country they visited, I share his or her name with the car. As a result, I have cars from Philippines (Amol), Texas (Ninad Malvankar), United States (Adhar), Minneapolis (Swarali). I got one Hot Wheels from Bali too.
Which is your absolute favourite car among the 5250+ Hot Wheels Collection that you own?
LK (pauses, smiles warmly, his eyes are cloudy with happy emotions) Among all the Hot Wheels cars that I own, my favourite is the Batman collection. I have a fabulous collection with all the movie cars, Batpods, Tumblr, Batwing, Bat Chopper etc. along with Hot Wheels and action figures of Batman. This is my go-to each time I feel like having a rush of adrenaline through my veins.
Where do you store the cars? How to you manage, given that homes in Mumbai are smaller than in other cities?
LK (lets out a loud sigh): Yes, storing them can be quite a task. I have opened none of the boxes, that way they are safe from Mumbai’s humid weather. I have stored them under my bed, in my wardrobe and in the loft. Once in a while, I check on them to ensure that they are in the right condition.
What is the role of your family in allowing your hobby to flourish?
LK (grins): I am lucky that my mother and wife support my hobby, My wife, Shrutika collects coins, so she understands my crazy passion for Hot Wheels cars. My dad used to shower me with toys, and so did my uncle. We dream of a time when we have sufficient space to keep the cars in a way that I could spend hours just looking at them and playing with them.
Through your life’s journey, which were the toughest moments despite which you never moved away from your dreams?
LK (speaks slowly, in a low voice): My father passed away in 1990 when I was just 6 years old. Losing the main earning member in a middle-class family is unbearable and irreplaceable for the family. We had no food, no money, and life was hell. My mother held on to us and brought us up with a lot of care. The pain that I went through taught me a lot, and my Hot Wheels collection is an example to the world about relentlessly pursuing one’s dream. If one wishes to achieve, one can achieve one’s dreams and more.
Your message to our readers.
LK (smiles confidently and says): However unattainable a dream is, keep telling yourself that you can do it. Then work with all your heart on achieving your dream. It will come true.
Does Laliket’s story inspire you?
Do you have a hobby or passion that you would like to tell the world about? Share in the comments section.
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