An emotional send off to 25 years of collecting 15,000 Hot Wheels

Dan Kulbel has been collecting Hot Wheels since the ‘90s, and now he’s auctioning them off to move closer to his daughters
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 1:10 PM CDT
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Hill City, S.D. (KOTA) - Dan Kulbel, 73-years-old and living outside of Hill City, fell in love with collecting toy cars in the 90s, and has gathered thousands of them since then.

After 25 years, it’s finally time to say goodbye.

While a standard home might have a two car garage... at the Kulbel’s household, there’s quite a few more cars than that. Dan says people often ask him, “you collect hot wheels? ‘No,’ I say, ‘I hoard them!’ This was my toybox right here,” Dan says encompassed by a massive collection of Hot Wheels and on the verge of tears, “and you’d say, ‘come on down, look at my toy box,’ and they’d say, ‘you’re crazy!”

His collection tops the charts at nearly 15,000. H says that’s, “an accomplishment.” One 25 years in the making, “and the wife has put up with me for 49 years.”

Dan’s wife, Deb, says “after 49 years... yeah, you pretty much have to accept what the other person likes to collect, and actually I just quit walking down into the basement to look at them, so he could do his thing.”

“A lot of these toy you can go around,” Dan says smiling, “they have batteries in them and you press them. You can ask me and I can probably tell you if I have that vehicle.”

Dan says Hot Wheels puts out roughly 250 vehicles per year, and for some years he’s nearly got them all. His realtor asked for a split window corvette, and Dan said to him, “man that’s a hard one! I can’t recall one. But, I found one for him and now he got that.”

He says they’re selling the house, because their kids are in Florida. “So, we’re moving down there so they can help us when we get older.”

A moment the Kulbel’s knew was inevitable. The time to say goodbye to the hot wheels. “It’s bittersweet,” Deb says, “but there comes a time when you have to let go of certain things and move onto new things.”

They’re selling the collection that’s been years in the making, and has brought memories digging through store after store, together, just for a certain model. Or in Deb’s words described as, “just finding that last needle in the hay stack.”

She says some have already found their way into another’s hand, especially kids, “and he’s got a lot of kids started in doing hot wheel collections themselves.”

Dan’s plan for the rest of the collection is to go in an auction, where “sometimes it shocks you what it goes for, but it might be on the low end also.”

Of course, Dan says while they’re packing up shop, they’re filling up their pockets with their favorites. “Load up our little bit they’re taking with us.”

Who knows, maybe the next journey will spark a new collection.

“Oh,” says Deb thinking about what her husband may start to collect, “probably Hot Wheels again.”

McPherson Auction and Realty is conducting the online auction. Click on this link for auction information and some of the more than 25,000 photographs. The auction ends Friday at 6 p.m.

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