7 months ago

Collecting die-cast: A sophisticated hobby

Photos by Fahim Nafis
Photos by Fahim Nafis

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He was only in class 4 when his uncle gifted him a set of 100 matchbox cars. Since then he started to grow an interest in collecting miniature automobile models. However, he lost all of his beautiful cars during an apartment move three years later and soon lost interest in collecting car models due to a lack of resources.

But in 2017, things started to change interestingly. It was the night before his Applied Physics exam, he turned to YouTube for assistance to comprehend inverse friction. There he found a video where things were being explained with the racing of a Toyota Trueno and a Mazda RX 7. And the long-buried love began to rekindle. In his words, "Physics couldn't reach my head but the cars got inside!"

That person is Shariful Islam Shawon, the present admin and page runner of Die-Cast Collectors of BD, one of the most popular and active die-cast groups in Bangladesh. In a conversation with the writer, he talked in detail about his car enthusiasm, the business of die-casts, the pros and cons in this sector, and so on.

Shariful Islam Shawon

After watching that video, he knew that he must get those model cars and collect many more. So with a friend, he searched for them and eventually, he bought his first Hot Wheels there. But Shawon was new in the game and had little knowledge about cars or how to collect die-casts. So he started looking for people who collect miniatures like him and his search finally paid off. He came to know about Die-Cast Collectors of BD.

The group was founded by Zahir Ibne Majib in 2015. As time passed, Shawon gathered lots of knowledge and information about cars and die-casts. So, his merit and enthusiasm made him a moderator at first and then an admin of the group within a short time. Eventually, the senior admins got busy with their personal and professional life and all the activities of both page and group are now vested in him.

"I got the idea to start buying and selling Hot Wheels cars in 2018 from one of the admins. So I purchased three models for Tk 150 apiece and posted them for sale in that group. It didn't take much time to sell all of them for a little profit," said Shawon about the beginning.

Shawon mentioned the most expensive car model, "It is a BBR Ferrari Enzo. This special model was gifted to Michael Schumacher from Ferrari. It is not handed over yet to the buyer. Next month I will get it. And it is sold for Tk 80,000."

Photo by Fahim Nafis

Though collecting Die-casts is not a popular hobby in our country; those who are passionate about it, have grown a strong community. From that, Shawon has got a few investors for his buy and sell. With them, collection and buying-selling of rare models from abroad have become easier.

Shawon is a B.Sc graduate from BGMEA. The reaction from his family was not pleasant at first for obvious reasons.

"I've received both positive and negative comments. But eventually, they understood that this is not just collecting toys," he said. Still, some of his friends mock him for doing this. But when passion gives both inner pleasure and monetary benefit, there is nothing to be bothered about.

At present, he has over 700 Die-casts in his collection and he has sold many more in different scales. But there is one model, a '90s Corolla that he will never sell to anyone for any value.

"I don't have many childhood photos. Many of those got lost during that apartment shifting. Afterwards, I found one photo where I was just a toddler standing in front of that car. So the collection of this car is close to my heart."

Die-cast collectors convention 2019

It is not always pleasant to remain active alone in this sector. He has to deal with different types of people at home and abroad. In his opinion, foreigners are more professional in the business. On the brighter side, most people in our country are more friendly and helpful and accept any unintentional mistakes.

Shawon wishes to arrange a grand get-together with all the die-cast collectors across the country. He is waiting for a good sponsor to arrange that program where he will get to collect and share knowledge from experienced and new collectors respectively.

For those who are new in the diecast collection scene, Shawon has a piece of advice. "They should explore and gather knowledge on different Die-casts first. They should learn on their own, not by listening to others."

People have different interests. While some enjoy reading novels or watching movies, others like collecting stamps, coins, or different vintage items. Collecting die-cast is not so common as a hobby in our country. It is considered a childish act to collect miniature car models. But for the collectors, it is a passion and a pleasant experience.

Social media groups like 'Die-Cast Collectors BD' link all of these die-cast collectors, allowing them to exchange ideas as well as buy and trade various models. These groups have created a strong fraternity and bond among the collectors beyond business.

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