When I walked into the Collectors Toy Fair in Kuala Lumpur in March, I couldn’t hide my fascination for the variety of model cars that were displayed there. Walking past the vendors triggered memories of my brother eagerly fixing his toy-car track and placing his little model cars on it.
This event is held every two years, attracting toy vendors from around the country to display their assortment of toy model cars and superhero action figures of all sizes, to capture the attention of the crowd.
When I met trader Farah Nadiyah Shamsudin, 31, she was arranging her die-cast model cars at her booth. Her selection included miniatures of the Nissan Skyline, Honda Civic series and Volkswagen.
My first thoughts when I saw Farah were surely this businesswoman had a keen interest in t181 WordPress Update, 17 Plugin Updatesoy cars when she was younger or perhaps she even loved playing with them.
To my surprise, she said that her childhood toys were anything but cars. Ultraman and Robocop action figures were her source of entertainment and joy when she was a child.
“My dad would take my siblings and I to Toys “R” Us whenever he received his bonus for the year. The best part about those outings was that we could choose whatever toys we wanted,” said Farah, who used to be a Game Boy fan.
Then Farah sprang the second surprise: She had actually graduated with a Diploma in Nursing, from the Royal College of Medicine Perak, and was working as a nurse at Pantai Hospital Ipoh.
One day, when she visited a hypermarket and was browsing the aisles in the toy section, a Hot Wheels Monteracer model car caught her attention. “At that time, I knew nothing about die-cast toys and never owned one, either. But the design was so beautiful that I had to buy it.”
It was simply love at first sight – and it blossomed into something bigger. After juggling her nursing career and doing part-time trading of die-cast toys, she finally ventured full-time into the toy business last year. (She’s on Instagram @farah_diecast_enterprise.)
Farah recalled how her family was aghast when she first told them about her new occupation, and they discouraged her. Perseverance won the day, however. “I told them how much I enjoyed learning about die-cast model cars as well as selling and trading with other enthusiasts.”
Eventually, her family saw the burning passion in her and knew that she was serious about her newfound business. So they relented, and from then onwards, they began to encourage her.
Like a family
Farah began searching for other die-cast traders, and found one by the name of EdenGarage on Instagram. He helped her to familiarise herself with the model cars available in the market, and advised her to engage with other traders.
So Farah began to reach out to like-minded people. She also joined the weekly gatherings among fans.
“These gatherings are beneficial to me as I am able to trade different model cars with them, and understand the current market for these toys,” said Farah, who has established close friendships with some of these traders and even regards them as family.
Her flexible working hours are something that she likes, too. “My daily schedule starts at 8am when I check text messages from customers. Usually, if they order a particular die-cast model the same day, I would post it to them on the day itself.”
If her customers request for a rare model car which she doesn’t have, she would seek help from other traders who do have that model and she trades with them. That particular model is then sold to the customer.
Just like any other entrepreneur who aspires to see their business develop and expand, Farah hopes to have a physical shop one day when she has enough money to invest in one. “I am also looking into selling other die-cast toys, such as superhero action figures and Transformers toys,” she said.
She encourages those who want to set up their own business to read up and do research before embarking on it. “It is also important that you’re passionate about your work so that you’ll enjoy what you do on a daily basis,” she concluded.
Die-cast model cars are collectables made using the die-casting method of inserting molten zinc alloy into a mold to get the desired shape. These playthings are made entirely of metal but often have details made of plastic, rubber and even glass.
Such items were first made in the early 20th century. But it wasn’t until the late 1940s that die-cast toys became popular. The first commercial line of die-cast model cars comprised the Matchbox 1-75 series by Lesney.
The die-casting process improved on previous methods of manufacturing toys, so that it became quicker and cheaper to make detailed, sturdy models. Some of the well-known collectable brands include Hot Wheels, Green Light, M2 Machines, Matchbox and Johnny Lightning.