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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to store a Matchbox car collection... (or maybe, lessons on visualizing how big sixty-five hundred is...!).

If you're a toy collector, chances are you struggle with questions like:  "How much is too much", or "I like so many types of cars, how do I decide where to set my boundaries" or most especially, "if a Matchbox car is so small, how does a collection of them manage to take up SO much space!!!". 

20 years ago, pre-kids, and having only (a paltry!) 2000 cars, I had the luxury of having an entire room devoted to my hobby...  but those days are long gone.  Now my collection lives mostly in an attic closet, under the eaves of the roof, with a few more boxes scattered throughout the basement and in other closets.  When I want to find a certain car for this blog, I start pulling out case, after case, after case, after case...   Pretty soon my room looks like these photos (or in many cases, much worse!).  And pretty soon after that, my wife gets upset about what a mess it is, or about how much "clutter" I have, and I try to cram it all back into a closet and pretend to be a normal 42 year old again... 

These photos give a glimpse of what part of a roughly 6,500 piece Matchbox car collection looks like... 

I'm convinced that I learned basic math skills from a Matchbox case.  They almost always had 12 car trays.  Most cases either held 2 trays (a 24 car case) or 4 trays (a 48 car case).  Later, when the see-through Plano "Jammers" came out, they also held 48 cars, preserving the case logic.  When Matchbox sold the red "Matchbox Across America" 50 state cases (top of the big pile in the foreground above), they advertised it as holding 50 vehicles.  In my mind they were cheating, assuming you could double up some motorcycles and other small cars.  In reality, the cases had 4*12=48 slots...

Occasionally you saw a 72 or a 36 or a 12 car case, but they were rare.  Rarer still were the real oddballs - the 40 car cases, or the steering wheel shaped 20 car cases.   So most cases held some multiple of 12 cars.  Even now, when multiplying 12 times 6, I think about the trifold 72 car cases (spread out on the right side of the floor in the photo) and get to my answer. 

The 24 for small/48 for large numeric consistency also makes it easy to estimate collection sizes when your collection moves from monstrous to overwhelming...  Just round up by 1 or 2, and count by 25s and 50s...   By that logic, the biggest stack of cases in the center rear of the above photo has roughly 550 cars in it.  The slightly smaller stack to its left has roughly 400 cars in it, as does the tall stack in the foreground.  The smaller stack to the right (again center foreground) has only 200 cars.  The assorted cases scattered around the remainder of the floor and table have another 950 cars in them, for a total of roughly 2500 cars. 

Now that those 2500 cars were out of the closet, I could actually crawl into the closet, taking the below photo...:  

There are 30 Jammers style cases there (a few are hidden by other cases or out of range of the camera angle, holding roughly 1500 cars.  The various cardboard boxes shown hold probably another 300 cars.  Then there are 13 smaller Rubbermaid containers, each with about 100 cars individually wrapped up, for about another 1300 cars.   A few more smaller containers in the closet add on another 100 or so cars, for a total of about 3200 additional cars. 

In other places in my basement and closets I've got a few larger Rubbermaid containers of unopened MIP cars, (maybe 300?), plus another several boxes of cars (500?) that I plan to sell someday - junky cars, cars I don't like, duplicate cars, etc.   These add maybe another 800 to my estimation, for a total of at least 6,500.  I work with numbers and statistics for a living, I don't think I'm estimating overly high.  If anything, I'm probably low.  I'm sure that if I really thought about it, I'd remember a few other places that I've stashed cars... 

6,500+ cars?!?  Yikes...  Please don't sign me up to be a candidate for the TV show "Hoarders"! 

On the other hand, if the 10 year old version of me could see this collection, I would be very, Very, VERY happy with myself...! 


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