Last February 7th it was my 24th birthday. But more than that, it marked my collection's 15th anniversary! So, I think this is a good time to be a story time. The story of my collection is so tangled with the story of my life that this is almost an autobiography, haha

My father is a big gearhead. When he was a kid, he collected Matchbox cars made by Lesney. Back in that time, there were only two major brands of diecasts in Brazil: Matchbox and Rei, made by a national company called Roly Toys. Not only he collected model cars, but cars were his favorite subject as well, for Lego builds, for conversations and for reading. The time passed and my grandmother gave his models to other kids because "he was to grown up for that thing".

Time passed. He met my mother, they married and me and my two younger brothers were born. But the passion for cars never faded away. I recall, as a kid, browsing through his HUGE collection of the Quatro Rodas mag (Four Wheels, in direct translation), the biggest and oldest brazilian car mag. My favorite edition, as a kid, is now called a legendary edition, with a huge red Ferrari F40 in the cover.

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Before I knew how to read by myself, I asked my parents to read Quatro Rodas articles for me! I loved to see exotic cars, concept cars and all sort of crazy stuff on Quatro Rodas pages. But what I loved most was the Formula 1 section in the last pages. Every single edition they published drawings of each car livery, the pilots' names and a schematics of the next race's circuit, with lap times and so on. I recall reproducing those circuits with anything that came to hand and playing with my diecasts before I started collecting (R.I.P. poor models).

In February 7th, 2000, I woke up early to see what would be my birthday present. I found the crumbled tablecloth over the table suspicious, so I quickly realised my present was underneath. What a surprise when I pulled it and found 20 shining Matchbox models!

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They were so unbelieable awesome!! I couldn't play with them as a normal 9 year old kid plays with his diecasts, so the only way I played with them was "parking lot". It's silly, but I picked up a big piece of paper, drew some parking spaces and tried to park and unpark my cars in increasingly tight spaces without crashing, rubbing or doing unreal maneauvers. I could not conceive the idea of putting a knick on their painting.

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In the following days, with some money I got from my grand parents, I bought my first three Hot Wheels. However, those 23 models were my entire collection for some time. Some years later, my cousin also started collecting models, amidst all that Fast and Furious craze. Since he was a true fan of the movies, he bought a lot of tuned cars back there. But since he was "that richier-than-I cousin", he bought a lot more models than I had, and his collection quickly eclipsed mine.

Time passed. My brothers also got some models, but my collection was still those 23. Eventually my cousin decided he didn't wanted to collect models anymore, and I bought his collection. My bros didn't wanted their models as well, and that was the first boost my collection received.

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I couldn't buy diecasts for a while because we passed some hard times between 2002 and 2005, I think. Back in 2006 things started to get better, and a day on the supermarket something on the pegs caught my eye:

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The Dukes of Hazzard movie was recently released, and this thing was awesome! I mean, it was a Hot Wheels with rubber tires! And what a paint scheme! However, the one I picked on the supermarket had its tampos smudged, so I began searching for another one. I was almost giving up (if I had gave up I would had left it ther) when I found another, digging on the bin, with the paint immaculate.

I was thrilled! I had never seen somethink like that! A R$5 toy car with such detail! The only time I felt like that while collecting was when I got my first models. However, I was a bit disappointed with the fact it wasn't a General Lee, because the number was wrong and it had those "Treasure Hunt" tampos, and a bizarre confederate flag with a TH on the middle... I wanted to seek more information, but we had dial-up connection back there, which was very expensive in Brazil. So I had to wait until the weekend, when the dial up was free.

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When saturday arrived, I searched for Hot Wheels General Lee and found a plethora of information. Apparently, that "Treasure Hunt" thingie was some sort of super rare collector series, and there were serious model car collectors around there. I discovered and used (and still use) this site as my encyclopedia for Hot Wheels. After we got broadband connection, which could be used every day, I accessed it daily, to check if a new model was spotted.

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And then, next year, I was bitten by the Treasure Hunt bug. It seems almost every brazilian collector discovered about Treasure Hunts at the same time, because everyone bought every single TH of the stores to trade or sell in the internet. I must plead guilty, because I was a scalper too.

However, with models now up for trade, I began to seek the collecting community. Those were the golden days of Orkut, and there I found a huge community of enthusiasts. Back there, almost everyone had some photo albums on their profile showcasing models for trade and for selling. That community was my first contact with other collectors, and my first discussions about models.

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On the last months of the year, rumours began about a Brazilian Red Line Club. I needed money to be a part of it, and to buy the models!!! So, next year, I talked with some people and got a job in my city's town hall, to work as an IT assistant. The payment was low, because it wasn't a real job, but sufficient to buy my membership and some models from time to time.

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In 2009 I began at university. The choice was difficult: I could study mechanical engineering to study and work with cars, and left astronomy as a hobby, or study physics to discover about the universe and left cars as my hobby. Since I'm immensely curious about virtually anything, physics won and cars were now officially my hobby. 2009 was also the year I met my fiancée, with whom I'm still with today. I went to buy some coffee, saw a friend drinking coffee with a girl and sat with them. When I told my friend about a crazy new band I discovered from Iceland, where a girl played the saw, that girl gave me her email address and we began to talk via MSN.

Some months later, in a friday 13th, I finally got the courage to ask her to date me, and we are together ever since. Last november 13th I proposed to her, and we are officially engaged!

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In 2010 I heard that an astrophysics professor had an open Iniciação Científica (Scientific Initiation) scholarship slot, so I went to talk with him. These scholarships are a governmental program which pays both the students (2/3 of a minimum wage) and the teachers (I don't know how much) to do research together. However, I wanted to study stars, specially supernovae, because I wanted to know more about those energetic events. That professor worked with galaxies. Not quite what I wanted, but still astrophysics, so I gave it a shot.

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When I went to talk with him, he was late, and never came. Then, another astrophysics professor (which I didn't knew) passed by, and asked for whom I was waiting. I told him about the scholarship, and he said he worked with stars and had an open place too! I didn't think twice, and followed him. Today, he is my master's advisor!

That scholarship meant I had a monthly income again! This, and the discovery of more and more collecting communities on the internet gave my collection another boost. Plus, as an adult, not a pesky adolescent anymore, I regained my passion for collecting toys, and didn't thought about them as child toys anymore.

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A monthly income, and living with my parents meant I had all that money to spend with me. Of course some part of it was used to buy more and more diecasts. The other part financed my other passion: books.

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Deluxe edition books, hardcover books, older books, hardcover graphic novels... My personal library more than doubled!

As a "scientist in training", I began travelling to present my work in astronomy meetings. So now I could visit other toy shops around the country, and bought lots of different models in these travels!

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I graduated in 2013, and started my master's rightly after. I study in a public university (there's no physics graduation or postgraduation in any private university here), and in Brazil there are scholarships for master, doctor and PhD degrees. I got a master's scholarship, much higher than my IC scholarship. Since me and my fiancée both still live with our parents, because we still can't afford something for us own, it means my scholarship money is entirely mine.

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What do you think I do with this money? :)