Interview with kkwhung (aka Kelvin)
Posted 01 May 2005 - 12:22 PM
DX: Kelvin, itís a real pleasure to have you share with us a little bit of yourself.
First of all, I just wanted to thank those who nominated me for the interview and thanks for having me! I'm definitely not as interesting as many other members who have been interviewed (and those who still have not).
DX: Judging from your diecast collection, I think quite a number of our members are just dying to know more about the man behind the fantastic collection. So to start us off, what initally attracted you to the DX Forum?
DX is probably the friendliest forum online. I usually don't say much in the forum and keep my posts down to the minimum because I used to frequent a car forum that was suffering from trolls and flames wasting bandwidth in that forum, so I made a habit out of it.
DX: Although you may not speak volumes here, your contribution is really top-notch. If you could take us to the "beginning" of your diecast story, how did you become interested in them in the first place?
I think this all started when I was little and I have a huge fascination with cars and probably a huge car nut (especially German cars, I suppose this is largely because Hong Kong has a lot of nice cars, and I have to say I don't know anyone who likes to talk about cars as much as I do. My father used to own a Mercedes as well, and seeing them daily means I had a passion for Mercedes - today, I have more interest in Audi than Mercedes). Knowing my fascination, my parents and relatives (my father has 9 siblings and my has 6) encouraged my interest by buying me toy cars in various scales, so as years pass, my collection have grown quite a bit.
DX: What brand of models did you used to buy?
They were mostly Matchbox, Hotwheels, Tomica cars as well as Micro machines along with the parking garages and accessories that I play "city" with. I also had some Lego as well, and those road plates meant I could also built a city block where I can use my larger scale models there. I also had a few Bburago models as well, but space is a premium so most of my models were the smaller scale cars (and they were cheaper).
DX: What else can you tell us about your childhood?
Since there are limited outdoor spaces in Hong Kong and both my parents work, I stayed at home most of the time playing with my toy cars. Most of my toys have been quite beat up in most cases; although in later years, I started keeping my models in the paper boxes that they come with so the paint won't chip as easily, I also stopped crashing them into each other and instead just roll them around in my "city".
DX: I've noticed many diecast collectors were model kit builders at one point in their childhood. Is this also true of yourself?
Fast forward to around the early 90s, I got a Tamiya plastic car kit as a present. I started building a lot of them and got hooked. Although I'm not that skilled, it was quite satisfying seeing the whole car come together. It also helped me learn the mechanics inside a car. Since most of these models also "roll", I started playing with them too. Unfortunately, the plastic bit always break off so I'm left with models with no wheels. One notable place where I buy my kits is called Universal Hobby in Causeway Bay, I think that was the place where I found out about the HO scale Herpa models. Since they are very small and the model is almost a true replica, I have bought quite a few of these models, and some of them have fantastic details (the 500SL has opening hood, removable hardtop and a pop-up roll bar). I also have a play mat where I roll these cars around (although I know you are not suppose to). Anyway, when the Jumbo Sogo (a Japanese department store in Hong Kong) opened, they had a car accessories and gift section with model kits and car accessories, and that is where I got my first manufacturer promotional model, they had imported a selection of 1/87 Mercedes-Benz models packed in the Mercedes-Benz packaging, and these 1/87 Herpa models are more detailed (they are the premium line that comes with its own display case). I was able to purchase a few from the gift money I get from my relatives during the holidays and birthdays.
DX: You REALLY liked Mercedes models back then didnít you! :wink
At that time, I was very much into Mercedes-Benz, so I only buy Mercedes-Benz models in all scale, that also included some 1/43 Mercedes-Benzes from Herpa and other brands (Schubak and Cursor), which I find much nicer than the 1/87s. At that time, I didn't really take notice with 1/43 models, all that mattered is that they are Mercedes.
When I moved to Canada in 1994 (when I was about 13), I continue building kits, but then I realized they were too expensive (since I only build Fujimi and Tamiya models of the "imports"), so I stopped building them altogether. There was very little selection of HO models, so I went back to Hotwheels and Matchboxes for a while (and video games for the longest time).
It wasnít until a trip from Canada back to Hong Kong around 1995, I went to visit Universal Hobbies again, to my surprise, they had some Mercedes models in 1/43 made by Minichamps. The prices were quite good so I bought several. I went to another Japanese department store called Seibu in Hong Kong and found a Mercedes-Benz 190E E 2.3-16 Evolution 2 race car with the Zung-Fu livery from the Macau DTM race (the one AUTOart will release very soon). Since I have seen that race on TV back in 92', I had to get it.
DX: I know that you now have a lot of Minichamps models. How did you become interested in those?
After that trip, I took notice of them, and that was the time we found a place up in Richmond Hill that can order Minichamps models, and my father, being a very generous person, bought me some more Minichamps models (all Mercedes). During that period, we also found some nice Mercedes models available at the MB dealership (namely the W124 pre-facelifted models). Unfortunately, the store in Richmond Hill was shutting down, but I was able to purchase a few more Mercedes models at pretty good prices when they had their clear out sale.
DX: This sounds like a case of you being in the right place at the right time.
It was quite sad to see that store go since that was the only shop I know that carries 1/43 Minichamps models. Shortly after that, Pacific Mall opened up in Markham, and Kuramae Hobbies was one of the few stores that stocked 1/43 models. When they first opened, they had a huge display of 1/43 models, but most of these models were not for sale. On the way to lunch up in Markham one Saturday, my parents noticed a store called Mini Grid, and we stopped by after lunch to check it out.
DX: I know Mini Grid has been around for at least a couple decades and run by the Maxwell family (including Scott Maxwell who won the LMP675 class at the 2000 Le Mans). What was your first impression of the store?
I was amazed by the inventory they had, since some of the Minichamps models were on sale, I bought a few more models, this time they were not Mercedes and I suppose this is where I opened the can of worms...
DX: What sort of influence on your diecast collecting has the internet had?
When I first started going online in 1996, EWA was probably the most prominent online dealer for models. They were not as large and busy as today and they were willing to deal. When I have saved up some money, I would purchase a bunch of models at a time to save on shipping and ask if they are willing to give me a discount for my large purchase (they didn't have that club discount then). At that time, I was collecting only street cars, and I display them out of the box (I had bought some cheap grass mats and trees so it looks like a diorama on my bookshelves, I also have books on the make/model of the model so I would use them as a backdrop). A little mishap with the new cleaning lady dusting my models meant I stopped displaying them out of the boxes.
While my collection was small and manageable for me (with a good mix of street car models), Minichamps started producing more race cars rather than street cars, since I had some money to spend when there are little street cars available, I decided to venture into race cars. I started off buying race cars of the street cars
DX: So with the mix of street and race cars in your collection, how do you display them?
I display them together, which looks quite nice. My collection of 1/43 models were growing and I managed to complete the 95' DTM grid of Alfa Romeo, Mercedes and Opels (there were more than 26 cars). At that time, I have only purchased Minichamps, Vitesse and Schuco models and selected few models available at my local Mercedes-Benz dealer (I would tag along when my father bring his car in for service).
One key turning point I suppose is when I got my driver's license when I was 17 (when I could drive by myself), since I have access to a family car (a Toyota minivan), I was able to travel around Toronto to look for models, in a way, that also meant I got to drive a lot, which I enjoy very much.
When I visited one of the diecast stores in Toronto back in 98', they had a Lexus GS400 on the shelf made by a brand unknown to me. There were only a few models available (the GS400 and Range Rover). Since there are very little Japanese cars and Range Rover modeled that time, I bought the GS400 and was amazed by the details on the model.
I started buying AAs and bought some older UT models when I found them available in another shopping mall (Pacific Mall). Although I didn't buy many of them, AUTOart did leave a very good impression and I had hopes to get more of them. When the 1/43 line came out, I ended up buying most of the 1/43 models rather than buying the 1/18 since the core of my collection is 1/43s. To this day, I think Autoart makes the best 1/43 street cars available.
Around 2000 (when I graduated high school), I found eBay and the slope became more slippery for me.
DX: I think a lot of members here will agree with you on that! :tempted
One of the first items I bought was the Mercedes Benz 190E Evolution set, since I was a newbie, I ended up paying a lot of money for it because I got carried away bidding against the other buyer. After the auction ended , I got an e-mail from Kyle (Yamix), who is the founder of the original 1/43 club in Yahoo.
He invited me to his club and I started participating in that diecast forum where I've learned a lot about the hobby, the resources available as well as model information, availability and future releases, which is how I started gaining my knowledge on models, brands...etc. At that time, I started using Excel to keep track of my collection. With the Minichamps catalogues I have purchased over the years, I have also created a "wish list" based on the models I wanted to buy from those catalogues, (I did eventually able to get all the items in the list in 2002 I think). There was a problem with this strategy however, whenever my wish list is shrinking to only the future releases, I would ended up starting another new theme so the list just keeps growing. However, I did have a great time searching for the models, and in the process met a lot of people and made some good contacts that were willing to help me locate some models in Germany. Back when I was in my early University years, I actually had a lot of time to surf on eBay during the summers, to the point where I browsed through all the listings in eBay Germany to hunt for the models I was looking for. I was also able to buy quite a few nice items on eBay, including my Macs. That was also the same time I started collecting date of the prices the Macs are trading hands on eBay, as of now, I have about 4 years worth of prices paid for the Macs, and I am always amazed by the prices some of them are going for these days (At one point, I listed my collection on eBay, it didn't sell though, and when Minichamps announced new releases, I decided then I would keep them).
DX: So aside from finding your cars through eBay, did you get any from other places?
In the past 5 years, a lot more stores went online and there are a lot more choices and selection as the industry grow (even in 1/43 alone). I was able to buy a lot of my models online from Germany at lower prices. It wasn't until last year that I found another store here in Toronto that offered good prices and selection, so unless they are not available, I am now buying all my models locally. In addition to the increase availability, BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes all have a boutique/display for models set up in their dealerships now, making it even easier to buy models. In the past, I was only able to buy them if I have the part number, simply because the parts department doesn't have a clue about what I'm talking about.
DX: Up until now, your interests seem to focus around European cars. Have you had an interest in cars from other continents?
When I discovered DX last year through the search engine and saw the models available now through member's new arrivals (namely the Australian cars, which really interests me), I developed an itch for more 1/18 models. Since my wish list was very small and I had made some money from my summer job, I started buying more 1/18 models, they are mostly AUTOart, there are some Kyoshos BMWs and three Australian model (the Ford Falcon, Holden 40th anniversary and Ultster), along with some models not made in 1/43 and models of cars I really like (so I have both 1/18 and 1/43).
DX: There goes DX corrupting people once again. :giggle :giggle
That didn't last however, as some of you might know, I have sold a chunk of my 1/18 models. I have also sold a lot of my 1/43 models in the past year, this is mainly because I realized I simply have too many models and as new releases come out, I felt obligated to purchase them (so I have the whole set/collection), which I felt is not what I wanted to do with my collection. When I was unpacking my models after the move, I realized I simply have too many models and I have no where to display them.
1/18s in particular, they are too hard to display without proper display cases, but I can't put as many compare to 1/43s). A lot of my models are just stacked away in my room. Since I am also quite fussy when it comes to my models, it makes it worse with the number of models I have. Subsequently, I have sold a lot of my Porsche and BMW race cars, my Opel DTMs, and some models that have appreciated in value to fund my other diecast purchases. It was also pretty cool to be able to meet some of the local collectors here in Toronto as well. I never knew there are that many collectors in Toronto. Even though it was pretty hard for me to decide to sell the models, I was glad I did and I now have a clearly defined collection objective.
DX: Like collectors who have been in the diecast hobby for a number of years, their focus changes from time to time. So what is the make-up of your collection like right now?
I'd have to say about 75% of my models in 1/43 are Minichamps, 4% for each of AUTOart, Ebbro and Vitesse. The rest are a mix of different brands. In 1/18, I'd have to say 90% are AAs, the rest are either Kyosho, Minichamps, or UT. The latest count for both combined is about 1650 models at the moment. Whenever I receive a model, I make a habit to record it in my Excel sheet, so I will have an updated inventory to make sure I don't buy the same model twice (which actually happens often even with the list strangely). I'm starting to warm up to Red Lines, although they are much more expensive than what I usually buy, I have to say the quality is quite good. It is unfortunate that they are priced much higher than the standard Spark models.
DX: Well, Kelvin, thank you so much for sharing a little bit of yourself with us all. For folks who want to see your McLaren website, click here. Itís been great getting to know you a little better through this interview! To close, do you have any final words to the DX community?
Thanks for having me and welcoming me into this great community! :cheers
Posted 01 May 2005 - 01:52 PM
Posted 01 May 2005 - 10:35 PM
Posted 01 May 2005 - 11:55 PM
A fascinating read. Thanks also to DX (in this case Felix) for doing the interview and hosting it!
Cheers chaps! :goodpost
Posted 02 May 2005 - 12:34 AM
Posted 02 May 2005 - 12:43 AM
Posted 02 May 2005 - 02:05 AM
I hope I was not one of the collectors that :tempted you into some australian cars, but they are sure a good buy :wink
Posted 02 May 2005 - 03:33 AM
It's always great to hear about fellow collectors,
Posted 02 May 2005 - 04:31 AM
I really enjoyed reading this :nicejob :nicejob
Its neat to learn more about other collectorslike Kelvin, he has been a fixture in this hobby for a long time and has always been more than helpul to others. :cheers
"When politicians are arrogant enough to think they can plan and control life better than free people, people suffer."
E Rod_017, on 23 July 2012 - 11:34 AM, said:
Reason why 1:43 scale cars aren't that popular because most people including me(sorry it I offend) consider them toys and not Collectable model cars. .
Should you collect 1:43?
In my opinion, no if you can afford 1:18 models. First of all, most people will think of them as toys, while 1:18 models can look as something classy if you have a few.
Like things in a smaller scale? Try Scale143
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Posted 02 May 2005 - 05:38 AM
Kelvin, I don't know anyone who knows more about 1:43 models than you.
Posted 02 May 2005 - 05:57 AM
and 50 other such dangerous words.
Posted 02 May 2005 - 06:35 AM
Posted 02 May 2005 - 08:02 AM
"I believe you'll do quite well, but only time will tell. If you got the Bear or the Bear got you. . ."
Posted 02 May 2005 - 11:03 AM
Kelvin, thanks for taking the time to share your details with us :cheers
Posted 02 May 2005 - 11:06 AM
Thanks for the interview Felix!
Mike: I was most impressed by the Ultster and the Sandman, I can't stop drooling when I saw those pictures. Although I really appreciate the details on 1/18 models, I just don't have the space for them anymore.
I always enjoy meeting other collectors, it gives me an idea of what everyone's collecting habit and it's refreshing to be able to talk to others about diecasts.
Posted 02 May 2005 - 11:55 AM
Thanks for giving us a little background on you Kelvin and thanks to Felix for getting the info out of you .
Did he use the contents of his secret little black bag :confused
Posted 02 May 2005 - 02:30 PM
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Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is pretty much the same.
Posted 03 May 2005 - 05:34 AM
It's always great to know more about the person behind the screename.
Felix, you dun good with the interview.
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Posted 03 May 2005 - 08:34 AM
Kelvin, Thanks for letting us know a lil more about you, :cheers
and Felix, Excellent interview! :nicejob :nicejob :nicejob
Posted 03 May 2005 - 10:05 AM
Posted 03 May 2005 - 01:35 PM
kkwhung, on May 2 2005, 01:06 PM, said:
Posted 03 May 2005 - 02:07 PM
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