My name is Shabbir Malik and I have been collecting Matchbox since 1974. Like any other child, my mother bought me the first Matchbox (a Regular Wheel # 11 Scaffolding Truck.) I still have that truck in my collection that reminds me of the hot summer day of May 14, 1974 (In Pakistan summer begins early, actually there is always summer in that country). My younger brother and I used to play with it and, of course, we had crashes and accidents with our toy cars. The model is badly damaged, the windows are broken, the body has nail polish on it and the "Builders Supply" labels have long gone. Despite all these things I am still keeping that "Scaffolding Truck" as that was the beginning of a never ending hobby. Although I did get a superfast version of this truck about three years ago, it was not until August 31, 1995 I replaced my original truck with a mint model.
I started collecting Matchbox back in Pakistan where Matchbox was not only difficult to find, it was expensive too. I used to buy Matchbox by saving money from my lunch and school bus allowance. In the beginning my parents and my friends were critical about my collecting to some extent but when they realized that I was a stubborn collector they stopped, realizing that there is no point criticizing. In fact, now my parents and friends contribute to my Matchbox collection. Most of the times they ask me what do I need to prevent any duplication.
Without knowing what I was doing and why I was doing, I kept record of every single model as to when I bought it, how much I paid for it, a small description of the model, and from which store I bought it from (there were only 5 stores that carry Matchbox in Karachi, Pakistan. I don't keep track of this thing anymore.) When I came to the United States in 1987, I had a collection of only 195 models, which is not a very big collection but reasonably big for a Pakistani collector. In 1988, I wrote a letter to Matchbox Company in Monachie, NJ, inquiring about some models. Along with the requested information they sent me a list of clubs that I could join. Hence I became a member of Matchbox USA. Later on I joined two more clubs . Since June 1993 I have been actively buying Matchbox at different toy shows and through dealers and other collectors via mail order. Currently, I have over 7,500 models in my collection. My collection consists of a few Regular Wheels , thousands of Superfast Wheels , a few Yesteryears , a few Super Kings/King Size , Long Haul/Convoys , Sky Busters, a full set of Super GT's (not every variation though,) whole bunch of MB 38 Model "A" Ford , almost all of White Rose racing cars (no transporters), almost every set from Nutmeg , some odd models from Matchbox Collectibles , and Play Sets. I recently bought a complete set of Battle Kings , and Sea Kings , but I still don't have any Bulgarian, Hungarian or Brazilian models.
In order to keep track of all my models I have a huge database that tells me what I have. Comparing this information with the available catalogs and information through current magazines, I make up my want list of missing items. I update and print my database on a regular basis (sometimes twice a month.) This print out goes with me everywhere I go whether it is a vacation or a visit to a small hobby store, a major toy show or just to visit a collector's collection. After speaking and seeing a few collectors' collections I noticed that every collector does the same thing, i.e., keep a record of when a model was bought, how much was the price and a small description. I guess I was born with all the characteristics of a Matchbox Collector.
Like most collectors, I do most of my toy collecting through toy shows. I do a lot of mail orders and, of course, where ever I go I do not miss a chance to visit any local hobby store, toy store or a small drug store that has a toy department. My collection mainly consists of MB 1-75 miniatures that includes all regular releases, promotions, limited edition models, multi-packs and gift sets. I do have some convoys, king size, super GT's, and sky busters. I also have a full range of Harley Davidson including miniature and bigger scale models. Through Matchbox USA I have met with many people and made friends throughout the world. We keep in touch with each other either by phone, regular mail, electronic mail or by personally seeing each other and inform each other with all the new information, e.g., where and how to find a particular model. Among Matchbox collectors there is no such thing as a secret.
Many people say that I spend way too much time with my collection. Well! this is true because it has taken over my life. I spend all of my spare time with my collection. Although only 600 models are displayed in my bedroom, the rest of them are in storage boxes; all marked with what is inside the box in a sequential order. Over 95% of my collection is in mint condition, i.e., never played with. Majority of the models did not even come out of their original blister packs. A few of my friends ask me if I would sell my collection and buy a real car (which I did in 7/96, without selling anything from my collection, ha ha ha .....) or buy a home. I could do that but then what will I do in my spare time? I will miss my collection! One of my friends said that she would marry me if I sell my collection. Again, I could sell my collection and marry her but then what? I would be an incomplete person without my collection. To me there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of collecting Matchbox and discussing about it with collectors.
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