Our Town Norfolk: Hot Wheels

NORFOLK, Neb. -- Back in 2014, Kent Von Kampen was in the U.S. Navy working for the joint staff in the Pentagon, and as you might imagine, he needed something that would help him relieve some stress. Von Kampen joined the Charmed City Collectors Club in Baltimore and continued his Hot Wheels passion when he moved back to Our Town Norfolk in 2016.

Von Kampen has lined most of the wall in his house with his massive collection of tiny die cast vehicles.

"I started collecting when I was just a kid like anybody else, and through the years, I've collected more than some years and other years where I just kind of lose control," he said.

Von Kampen said he has nearly 3,000 die cast cars in his collection, but believe it or not, he says that isn't even that large compared to some.

He said not long ago, he saw someone on Craigslist looking to sell their collection of 60,000 cars.

"So, along this back wall we have a little bit of everything again, mainly focusing on some European cars, police and fire and through the Japanese cars and finally down to the last area where it's semi trucks," he said.

The 41-year-old really knows his stuff.

"It is unbelievable how much I've learned to appreciate and just gain knowledge and grow from other people," he said.

A 1996 graduate of Norfolk High School, Von Kampen said the advent of the internet has changed the game of collecting die cast cars.

"I can instantly go on Facebook and some of the groups that I belong to and know a certain car is going to hit Wal-Mart, Target, Family Dollar," he said.

Downstairs, and the cars mainly represent the pop culture series. There seem to be more and more everywhere you look.

"Collect what you like...that was the best piece of advice I ever got," he said.

Ideally for Von Kampen, this all becomes a family tradition.

"My hope is that my daughter gains an appreciation for this and maybe it's something I can pass on to her."

Von Kampen loves these shiny little cars, but throughout the years, the people he meets along the way are what make it so rewarding.

"I've dealt with people from India to Australia, and most of the lower 48 here in the states, Hawaii, no one in Alaska yet," he said.

But who knows, Von Kampen might meet his first Alaskan Hot Wheels collector coming up here in the first week of April when he attends his very first National Hot Wheel Convention in Dallas.