Week 12: Datsun Bluebird 510

My wife and I hosted Thanksgiving, a combination event also celebrating Racer A's fourth birthday.

I began the day a bit stressed, however, as when we began planning earlier in the month I was employed, and by the time guests arrived, I was not.  I unexpectedly lost my job of more than seven years, and while I've been upbeat (see Week 11), the fiscal concerns of being unemployed during the holidays were difficult to shake that day, especially given the onslaught of buy-buy-buy ads on TV, radio and even the net.

As the guests arrived, those concerns simmered down, and we had a great meal, with wonderful food and drink additions from everyone. Nobody finished hungry.

I am thankful for the dinner, and that I didn't burn anything down while frying the turkey outside in a propane-fueled fryer, but what I am most thankful for is how great of a time Racer A had.

No huge gifts, black light bowling, throngs of kids, coordinated Transformers napkins, cups and balloons, or singing rats. Just family, a few gifts, and ice cream cake. But the celebration was sincere, and so was his smile.

For any regular readers of Daddy's Matchbox or my other blog, Thought Bubbling, you know I don't do serious, at least not unless it is disguised as humor, so this straight-forward account is a-typical. Daddy's Matchbox, however, is also a type of snapshot of my time on this planet, measured in weeks and toy cars, so I wanted to try to do justice to this very real Thanksgiving, because I was, and am, thankful. Life can be filled with so much clutter, hollowness, and commercialism, and yet so little appreciation.

Watching Racer A blow out his candles, I knew we all had pushed past that for that moment, and man, that was truly something for which to be thankful. Nothing but real, and no matter what anyone says, that's not always easy to do.

So how can a 1969 Datsun Bluebird possibly fit into this week's blog?

Because this car just made me smile. No symbolism this time, or thematic purity, or connection whatsoever to my real life. For this week, I simply picked a car that made me smile. For this week, that was truly enough.


A Daddy's Matchbox confession:

When I began Daddy's Matchbox three months ago, I purchased one car each week, with no thought to collecting (I'm not the collector mentality and am a bit of a minimalist with personal possessions).

These little cars can be addictive, however, and as time went on, I became enamored by the chase -- finding a Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt, waiting for new models to be released on certain days, keeping an eye out for flaws, etc.

I began reading about their history and learning about the collector community. And, as the 2010 models were wrapping up, I began stocking up and my collection grew at more than one a week, especially when I found the occasional two-for-one sale.

I really like these little buggers.

Given my current employment situation, I've discontinued the multi-car purchases, but I don't have guilt about a weekly addition, nor do I feel it ties into the empty commercialism I strive against. In addition to being affordable, there is an innocence and a childlike fun to these cars I find satisfying when contrasted against the hectic, complicated and at times noisy and harsh world.

Now don't think I'm going to go and get all soft and sweet -- I wouldn't do that to you.

But if you find my hobby juvenile or worthy of a solid shake of the head, give it a try sometime. After a tough day, go to the store, pick yourself out a car, and simply enjoy it. I won't tell anyone if you don't want me to.

But I bet you end up adding at least another car to your collection at some point, even if you do it on the sly.

Featured Hot Wheels is number 37 of the 2009 New Models collection. Photo taken by my wife Rochelle Luckwitz on her Android phone.


Week 11: Land Rover Discovery

The Matchbox I selected for this week is about adventure, beginning with dreams of a park-rangery, outdoor living, brown-bear-you-get-out-of-that-garbage-can adventure. (The selection is also about being aquamarine, my color of choice.)

When I finished high school in 1981, I had plans of becoming a park ranger. I became an English teacher instead, and soon thereafter moved into the editorial world, a far cry from patrolling trails and giving tours of Old Faithful. I'm not sure what happened -- must have read my class schedule incorrectly.

Between the Nissan Skyline and the Hollowback (Week 10's car selection), my +7 year run as an editor at a company, part of an overall +16 year run in the editorial world (+18 if I count proofreading for a print shop), came to a close, and now I'm revisiting those park ranger thoughts.

Not in the sense of chucking it all in at age 47 and becoming a park ranger, though. 

The parts I am revisiting are the ideas of choice and adventure.

As a kid, job thoughts are not based on limitations, but on the premise you just pick what you want, like from a menu, and it is the dessert menu -- employment aspirations from my children over the years have included rock star, race car driver, video game designer, dragon, basketball player, fix-it guy, spy and actor. 

Then you grow up, make a bunch of decisions, respond to a bunch of circumstances, and get swept away by a whole bunch of external factors, and somewhere, amid the responsibilities and drudgery, many of us (most of us?) lose that sense of adventure and that feeling of choice.

Somehow, blessedly, as a result of a bunch external factors,  a bunch of circumstances, and a whole bunch of decisions, I've managed to rekindle that spirit of choice and adventure, and man, what a great feeling.

I say spirit of choice and adventure, because the responsibilities and the realities remain, as does the hard-fought platter of experiential hors d'oeuvres I've gained over my life that are too tasty to toss out, so going the rock star route at this stage probably isn't going to work for me, but what has changed is how I view the future, and how I view making a living.

What a phrase -- making a living

Tell you what, let's revisit this topic down the road, say Week 31, and I'll give you an update on how I'm doing.

For now, I'm living life and rediscovering the adventure of the story and the story of the adventure.

Right now, I'm living my own aquamarine Discovery.

For me, adventures and stories are almost the same, so below are five random stories from my career retrospect so far:
  • Stuffing envelopes for New York's Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) for invites to a gala featuring a who's who of famous folks (this was a part time gig, and for a 20-something Ohio bumpkin this experience was astonding.)
  • Proofreading proofs and plates at a shop printing pornographic video/sex toy catalogs. I even got to make sure the black dot hiding certain areas was placed correctly.
  • Cooking at the historic Old Port Tavern in Portland, Maine when it burned in the mid 80s. (The fire had nothing to do with my cooking, thank you, and it is not related to "The Great Fire of Portland" of 1866.) 
  • Manning an answer line for a company that sold television/electronics remote controls -- did this actually happen?
  • Age 14 -- sitting in a cement bunker hand-loading clay pigeons into a manual skeet flinging machine, listening to someone yell "PULL!" and hearing the shots fired over my head.

Matchbox Land Rover Discovery 8 of 10 of Matchbox 2010 Outdoor Sportsman line.

Photograph of car courtesy of Dominic Buccilli.


Week 10: Hollowback

The picks for Daddy's Matchbox are and will be (for the most part) replicas of real cars that have rolled off carmaker lines -- some Hot Wheels models may be based on modified versions for street racing, but you won't see the car that looks like a dinosaur or something.

So when I grabbed this Hot Wheel's Hollowback from the rack at Target,  I assumed it was based on some underground racing reality or car modified for drifting. As hip as I might seem, this late 40-something dude in Ohio is somewhat removed from the illegal street races of L.A., although I have seen The Fast and the Furious, The Fast and the Furious II, III, and Tokyo Drift (in the spirit of full disclosure, I was actually cooking dinner during III and Tokyo Drift, but I ran into the livingroom for the race scenes).

The idea was, I would tie it into music because obviously this related to the Gwen Stefani song "Hollaback Girl."

I gave the car to Andy, the guy who takes some of my car pics and who is +20 years younger, and explained my most excellent blog idea.

"You know, like the Gwen Stefani song 'Hollowback Girl?'" I asked.

"No," Andy said.

"No, yeah, you know, this is a Hollowback, so the Hollowback girl would be the hot girl who drops the flags during a street race, like in The Fast and the Furious. See, she isn't going to do that."

"Uh, no," said Andy. "The song is 'Hollaback Girl,' but your idea makes a lot of sense."

At that moment we both knew that it didn't, and I just had sounded really, really old.

"Like the girl, who, you know drops the flag, for the...Hollowback..." I weakly said.

"Right. For the Hollowback car. But no."


So I did learn, by Googling, that hollowback is a B Boy type dance move, and hollaback has nothing what so ever to do with cars.

Oh, well, it's still a cool car. And if you don't know what "drifting" or "B Boy" refer to, well I'm sorry -- you're just not as hip as me.

Photo of Hot Wheels Hollowback courtesy of Andy Bindernagel.


Daddy's Matchbox wants to GIVE HEALTH with P&G!!

What's that P&G thing on the right side of the blog? It's a call to action as part of P&G's GIVE HEALTH program to bring water to developing nations.

Every click brings a day of clean drinking water donated by Procter & Gamble to a developing nation, and Daddy's Matchbox is proud to join other bloggers in this great program.

A network of GIVE bloggers and their readers generated more than 21,000 days of clean drinking water this past summer during the GIVE HEALTH Blogivation -- the goal now is to reach 100,000 days by the end of 2010.

Additionally, if this blog generates at least 1,000 clicks, it will get promoted via P&G's Facebook and Twitter account, a nice little plus, to be certain, but the real goal here is to bring water where it is needed.

Thanks, readers, and please take a few seconds to click the GIVE HEALTH button.


Dale Luckwitz, the Daddy of Daddy's Matchbox (and the bubbler of http://thoughtbubbling.blogspot.com/).


Week 9: Nissan Skyline GT R34

This is a car made for speed.

Children, however, are not (made for speed).

They're fast all right, especially when running dripping wet from taking a bath or tearing off down the driveway when you turn your back, but they are not built for speed in terms of allowing parents to do anything speedily -- say, get somewhere on time.

"On time" is an adult concept -- To Racer A (almost 4) and Bubba G (18 months) being awake equals being on time. Even if they are looking forward to going someplace, like a playground, that time thing doesn't call the shots. Being alive is being on time.

The other day I was attempting to get out of the house to drive my son to pre-school (we were not going to be driving a Nissan Skyline GT, however). The leaves dropped from the trees and it had rained, so everything was soaking.

"Ready to go?" I ask.
"Yes, Daddy," Racer A answers, barefoot.
"Where are your socks?"
"In my room."
"You need to wear them," I patiently say.
"Oh, I'll wear sandals."
"No, it is cold and wet. Go get your socks on."
"I don't know where they are."
"You just said they were in your room."
"Oh, yeah. Can you get them? I can't reach them."
[Daddy gets socks - Racer A begins to put on socks.]
"Daddy, listen to this new beat I learned." [Racer A begins to beat box]
"That is a good beat, but we really have to get going, okay?"
"Okay. These socks feel weird. Can you fix them?" [Daddy fixes weird socks]
Can I have yogurt?"

... random questions and diversions continue until we both have on coats and shoes and are walking out the door.

"Okay, let's get in the ..." [Daddy looks for Racer A, who has disappeared. Hears mushy, splashy, leafy sounds.

"Daddy look at all the leaves! They're WET!!!"

[Daddy rushes to scoop up Racer A before leaves have adequate opportunity to transfer all their wetness to the eager preschooler.  Hears creaking door like from an old black and white mystery movie and paddling sound, then mushy, splashy, leafy sounds. Had not completely latched door and Bubba G had escaped, in his pajamas. Has wet leaves on his head.]

I repeat. Being alive is being on time.

The Nissan Skyline might be racing all fast and furious or getting to a place quickly, but maybe sometimes it is just driving to drive -- it's all life -- the race is every second.

Maybe that's not such a bad way to be.

For more on Racer A, check out my other blog, ThoughtBubbling.

Photo of my Hot Wheels Nissan Skyline GT courtesy of Phil Pekarcik.

Nisaan Skyline GT (R34) Number 7 of Hot Wheels 2010 New Models. Hot Wheels and Matchbox are registered trademarks of Mattel, Inc.

Cars are for sharing!

Thanks to everyone who has expressed support on this undertaking. If you like something at daddysmatchbox.blogspot or my other blog thoughtbubbling.blogspot.com, please share it! Facebook it, tweet it, send an email link (just click the share buttons at the end of each blog), add it to your Google Reader as an RSS, or whatever, but help me get the word out. Blogs are for sharing!

Also, a reader pointed out he was unable to leave comments unless registered. That is fixed and now anyone can post a comment, so share you thoughts, and tell anyone you know who has Matchbox/Hot Wheels stories about the Share Your Own Matchbox/Hot Wheels Stories tab at the top of the blog. (Check out MK's great story of collection...and destruction!)

Again, thanks for the support!

With wheels turning --

- Dale

P.S. Picture at top is an original Hot Wheels installment art piece constructed on my ottoman by my preschooler Racer A.

P.P.S -- For those of you who love aquariums and fish as much as I do, I will also be doing random blogs on the Cleveland Aquarium ning -- it's free to join this community as Cleveland gathers support for a wonderful new aquarium -- just click on the Cleveland Aquarium badge on the right of my blog or go to http://clevelandaquarium.ning.com/.


Week 8: Lotus Evora '08

Zipping through the downtown streets in my orange Lotus, my custom-tailored Armani suit crisp and ready for adventure, is something that...

Has never happened.

While you so see the occasional family sedan Matchbox, for the most part, Hot Wheels and Matchbox  represent cars kids think look cool, and while great, it leaves a gap, especially for adult collectors, of unrepresented cars..the cars we actually drove as young adults. I'm talking about the rusty K Cars, AMC Hornets, and Pintos.

You know, a Hot Wheels AMC Pacer would be something.

My grandfather had a red Pacer, but he has been gone for many years, and that Pacer for even more.

In my memory, the Pacer looked something like this:

As you can see, I remember the Pacer as a bowler hat with wheels.

In reality, the Pacer didn't look so much like a hat or gumball machine with tires, but most of us who are even old enough to remember the Pacer must rely on memory, because you don't see the below car on the road anymore.

1975-76 AMC Pacer X Liftback Coupe*

The point is, there are some cars that might be fun to see in 1:64 die-cast form.

At least I would buy a Matchbox of a Pacer. Wouldn't you?

For the record: Johnny Lightning has made a diecast toy 1974 AMC Hornet.

 Photo of my Matchbox Lotus Evora courtesy of Andy Bindernagel.

*Image of the AMC Pacer X Liftback Coupe (1975/76) from WikiMedia Common, image by WikiMedia Common user Spantax, used under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License. Image downloaded Oct. 30, 2010.