This is not the first time, I’ve written about nostalgia in relation to collecting model cars. Yesterday, I bought a Kinsmart 1967 VW Classic Beetle, a model made in China but its dark blue colour reminded me of the Dinky model from the early seventies.
Nostalgia relates to our sense of identity, it kindles fondly remembered aspects of our past and helps to cool the anxieties of our present. Music and smells can also evoke the past, a tune or a smell like TCP (the antiseptic frequently applied to my childhood cuts) , will transport me in my mind back to my childhood.
I have the Kinsmart Beetle in yellow, too. But the yellow model doesn’t give me the same nostalgic buzz.
I don’t have any of the models I had as a child, but I have bought similar ones and others like the Kinsmart Beetle that recall those models. I favour models of sixties and seventies cars, and the Matchbox brand, largely because that is what I played with most as a child.
The catalogues also kindle the nostalgia, like this 1970 Matchbox Catalogue (the year Matchbox went Superfast).
Matchbox Cars from the period 1968 to 1972, resonate most strongly with me in a nostalgic sense. I was born in 1964, so these years were the peak of my toy car playing years. I probably stopped buying toy cars when I was around 12, and started buying music with my pocket money instead.
Corgi and Dinky resonate less, because they were more expensive. As a child it was only around Christmas or when Dad’s friend Norman came for his annual visit, that there was a chance for a Corgi or Dinky car.
Nostalgia comes from two Greek words, nostos meaning homecoming and algos meaning longing or pain. My collecting of model cars really took off, when I moved to Tbilisi, Georgia. Maybe I am trying to make a connection to home (England) or my past. The French writer Proust, describes how tasting a Madeleine cake, which he hadn’t tasted since childhood, triggered a cascade of warm and powerful sensory associations. Nostalgia can boost psychological well being.
The oldest models in my collection; a Dinky Triumph Herald and a Matchbox Austin Cambridge, don’t have quite the same nostalgic buzz for me, as they were made before I was born. I was, however, still pleased to find them here in Tbilisi at Drybridge Market.
Sometimes it is not the models themselves that trigger nostalgia but their associations. I loved watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons as a kid, so models like the Flintstones‘ Flintmobile and Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine also stoke the nostalgic fires within. I wish Hot Wheels would put out a model of Dick Dastardly’s Mean Machine from Wacky Races.
Two other posts related to the psychology of collecting: