This was the advice given by a woman pushing an oversized cart of "educations toys," in the Hot Wheels aisle of Toys R Us this past weekend. She'd blurted this out after spotting me (and my very patient better half…) with 27 of the ubiquitous die-cast cars lined up on the store shelf, trying to narrow the group down to just six.
I wanted to shove her into the Star Wars Lego display.
You see, of late my two-year-old son's (finally) taken interest in Hot Wheels. These are his first primeval steps into becoming a car guy and not something I feel should be taken lightly.
It started one morning last week when he went searching through my bedside table and found a 1:43 scale Dodge Challenger still in its packaging.
Years ago, Chrysler used to hand-out miniaturized versions of its Detroit auto show debuts to media, and I had an admittedly ambitious, grandiose plan for selling this model in 30 years and retiring on the winnings. Instead, on Ethan's insistence of "vroom, vroom, pease dadda," I tore it from the plastic shielding and with a smile, he proceeded to drive the tiny orange car over all the furniture in our bedroom and beyond.
That settled it: As my father did for me, and his father for him in years of yore, I was going to help Ethan start his Hot Wheels collection this Christmas.
Back in the aisle at Toys R Us, I realized the monumental task at hand. Despite that lady's grating assertion to "just grab six," (grrr…) these cars will form the foundation of Ethan's connection to automobiles for the rest of his life.
So I completely overreacted.
All American iron and he would turn into some redneck Tea Party member. All Japanese cars and he'd become a stance addict. All European cars and he'd be insufferably socialist.
Variety was absolutely key here. A smattering of cars from the world over, street cars and race cars in equal parts, I rationalized. Hence why 27 examples became the ‘short list.’
Colour was important too. Combing through the display, I spotted a label for "DeLorean DMC-12." Amazing! The colour? Black. As my father justified later that day when I recounted this tale: "oh no, I hope you put it back. A DeLorean's gotta be silver."
In the end, Ethan ended up with seven, not six, cars because of my dithering—a BMW, two Chevrolets, a Porsche, a Nissan, a Toyota truck and a Triumph TR6 like grandpa drives.
Three-quarters-of-an-hour in the Hot Wheels aisle well spent. What we have here is a solid foundation.
Step two? Well, his birthday is in January…