Frank and I were at Toys R Us recently, purchasing birthday presents for our nephews, the youngest of which is 2 and adores cars. I mean, loves them. He has a little car box that contains all his tiny die cast cars and he will lay on the floor for hours just rolling them back and forth.
His Uncle Frank was a lot like that. In fact, I think if he had time, he still would be. No joke.
We entered the car aisle of the toy store to find “Hot Wheels” stuff on one side and “Matchbox” stuff on the other. Frank immediately picks up a set of Matchbox cars and starts examining them, while I pick up a “Hot Wheels” case for the cars.
“Here,” I say, showing him the case, “we can get this to hold the cars.”
Now, Frank is an easy going guy. Sure, he is subject to sudden bursts of enthusiasm (we even have a warning sign to that effect in the studio) but all in all, he’s a very happy, go-with-the-flow guy. Apparently, not when it comes to little metal cars, because he looked at me like I’d suddenly sprouted another head. With a level of indignation usually reserved for people who ask your weight or strangers who ask to borrow your car, he said, “Absolutely not. You would NEVER put a Matchbox car in a Hot Wheels case. Ever.”
Oh boy. It appears I pushed a button.
“But,” I argued, “it’s the same thing…”Hot Wheels”…”Matchbox”…”
He just stared at me for a moment and then said, “It is not at all the same thing. Babe, you might not know it, but people feel very strongly about this. It’s like the Canon vs. Nikon debate, but with cars. (I didn’t know. This was actually the first I’d heard of it.) When I was little, “Hot Wheels” made the souped up fancy cars; “Matchbox” made cars that actually looked like the real version. I have always preferred “Matchbox” for that reason. I wanted to see the car as it is; I liked that. Now, though, “Hot Wheels” has become less souped up and “Matchbox” has become more so. There’s not a real difference anymore, which is sad. Each car tries to be the other one instead of being itself.”
He looked down at the Matchbox cars in his hand and then, with a little grin he looked up at me and said, “I’m still a Matchbox guy.”
In more ways than one, Frank Frost…in more ways than one.