Live Fast, Die Cast. A vanner shares his collection obsession with weekly videos.



Big handA casual diecast toy collector myself, I was stoked to come across a YouTube channel focusing on diecast VANS! Andrew Douglas aka: “That_VAN_Guy” not only collects Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Johnny Lightning, Greenlight, Jada, M2, Racing Champions, Planet Toys, Corgi, Mojorette, Ertl, and Zylamex vans... to name a few — he also obsesses over them. Every detail is painstakingly observed, down to their tiny little paint jobs, tires and any other knitty gritties, this guy knows his toys! Every week he’s here to tell us all about what he sees. From casting spotlights, to mail delieveries, opening and inspecting packages live and on camera, welcome to the world of a diecast van collector who loves to share.


Interview with “That_VAN_Guy” by Beth, August 2018.


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Name, age, where do you live?
Andrew Douglas, 43, just outside Appleton, Wisconsin.

How long have you been collecting diecast vans and how did you start?
I’ve always loved cars. As a kid my parents bought me Hot Wheels and other toy cars, as most parents do. My dad was a car guy and had a lot of knowledge on how to repair anything, he had a lot of great stories from when he was younger. How him and his buddies would street race, or run from the cops and get away with it, or the few times they got too crazy and then got into some funny predicament, accident, or got busted. Times were different back in the 60s and early 70s, the police would just lecture you and let you go, or just give you a ticket. So I think I got the “car bug” from my dad. I always bought Hot Wheels and other diecast with allowance and money from part time jobs. I still buy them today. So I’ve been collecting all my life!


quoteThe van portion of it started in high school. My dad’s daily driver was a 1977 Dodge Van (B200 Tradesman) with no windows, and before that he owned a Chevy van. We also had a 1984 Oldsmobile cutlass supreme 4 door which was my mom’s car. I got my drivers license at 16, so I drove both my parents vehicles quite a bit. When my dad upgraded to a newer dodge truck, the ’77 Dodge van became my daily driver. After my high school graduation he agreed to to sell it to me dirt cheap as a partial graduation gift. The van was nothing special, bone stock with some rust and dents and a faded red paint job, and a 318 V8, but it was my first vehicle so I grew to love it. I spent some time and money on fixing it up — customizing it, putting aftermarket wheels on it, eventually had bodywork done on it, and had it repainted lime green. A lot of kids my age in high school or fresh out of high school would “Cruise the Avenue” in downtown Appleton on the weekends and on summer nights. I guess because of the bright green paint and all the high jinks we used to get into with it, the van became pretty famous. People still ask me when they run into me and reminisce about the past, “What ever happened to that old van you used to have?” or “Do you still have that old van?” Thankfully the answer is YES!


vansHow many diecast do you have in your “collection?”

I’ve never really sat down and counted them but I would have to guess it’s around 600 or 700, maybe more!


I usually add something to my collection every week. I try to put up two videos every week on my YouTube channel “That_VAN_Guy” and one of those videos is usually the “store finds and mail deliveries for the week” video.

Do you have one favorite van in your collection? Tell me about a few of your favorites.

It’s hard to narrow it down to just one, I would say the ones at the top of the list are either really rare / expensive or they are just really cool examples of a hot roded custom van.

Currently the one that I am super happy to own is a custom made Hot Wheels “Super Van” casting that was commissioned by the Legendary Pictures film / movie company. It was distributed to select attendees of the Legendary Pictures panel at the 2011 Comic-Con.

vansSome of my favorite brands and castings would be: Johnny Lightning’s brand original “Boogie Vans” series from 2003-2004, and Greenlight brand vans. Hot Wheels brand castings: “Custom ’77 Dodge Van,” “Super Van” / “70’s Van” (listed as two different names at times in the castings history), and the “’66 DODGE A100.”

Where is the best place to collect — ebay? Online forums?

The best place to collect is always your local toy and/or grocery store, for convenience and price!

For older non-current releases I recommend ebay, facebook-based diecast pages, groups, or clubs, and Amazon. You can also do a Google search for what you are looking for and see where it leads you. Make sure you have a PayPal account, and always be cautious when buying stuff from strangers.

Do you collect other diecasts besides vans?

Yes, I do. I used to collect anything and everything from all the diecast manufacturers, but you need a LOT of room to display them and it’s very expensive to collect everything. So I’ve scaled back and focused my collecting efforts on just vans. I had a collection of over 1,000 non-van diecast, but I’ve sold most of it off in the last couple of years.


The non-van diecast I still collect are diecasts of my daily driver (2005 Dodge Magnum R/T) and my wife’s daily driver (2014 Dodge Charger R/T). I also have a few diecast from my favorite movies, “Christine” and “Mad Max” to name a few. I also have quite a few 1/64th scale Mopar replica drag and race cars.

vansHow do you feel about leaving your diecasts in the packaging vs. opening the package and taking them out?

I am a loose collector, as I prefer to display the cars loose out of the packaging in display cases or on shelves. When I was a kid and started buying my own diecast (Hot Wheels for example) all the card artwork and packaging was exactly the same and boring. But now each car package has it’s own unique graphics and pictures of the car inside, which makes it extra cool. Like a little painting of the car. I guess the best answer is to buy two of everything, one to open and one to keep sealed in the original packaging. Diecasts definitely hold their value better when they are “carded” (still in the original packaging). They now sell “Protecto Packs” for Hot Wheels and other diecast. It’s a clear hard plastic case to put the diecast packaging inside to seal it from getting damaged.

How do you display your collection at home?

I have a few lit curio cabinets, as well as quite a few clear acrylic display cases that mount on the walls. The brand I prefer is Carney Plastics display cases. Also Greenlight and Autoworld sell display cases for diecast vehicles. Plano also makes a organizer tackle box that is frequently used by diecast collectors to display their diecast collection on the cheap. Plano “Stow N Go” 24-Compartment Portable Organizer Model #5324.

What is the most you have ever spent on a diecast van?

I am always looking for deals, and I usually wait a long time before pulling the trigger on a high dollar purchase to see if there is anyway I can find it cheaper or at a more reasonable price.

I have spent almost $100 on one diecast van. It doesn’t happen that often, and I am rarely willing to pay that much for any diecast no matter what it is, or how rare or perfect it is.

one vanHot Wheels or Matchbox, or…?

BOTH! LOL. I collect all diecast brands of vans, as you will see on my YouTube Channel. I do brand and casting “Spotlights” (Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Johnny Lightning, Greenlight, Jada, M2, Racing Champions, Planet Toys, Corgi, Mojorette, Ertl, and Zylamex).

What’s a “treasure hunt?”

Hot Wheels, like say, baseball cards, arrive with a semi-random selection of cars in each case. Briefly, each case contains 72 cars. There are currently 15 releases a year and each release is designated by a new case letter (A, B, etc.). Beginning in 1995, Hot Wheels began adding limited edition cars to some cases. These were called “Treasure Hunts.” There are even more rare cars mixed in with the regulars that are Called “Super Treasure Hunts,” these rareties have special paint, better looking wheels, real rubber tires. That’s the short answer! I could send you a full article on all the details on Treasure Hunts and Super Treasure Hunts, how to distinguish them from regulars, and all the changes over the years.



Are you married? If so, what does your wife/kids think of your collecting?

Yes, I am married, but we don’t have any kids. My wife is fine with my collecting, she understands it’s a hobby. She doesn’t get into it herself. I’m sure she wishes I would spend less money on it but she doesn’t give me too much grief about it.

As any good wife would. ;-)

Do you think you spend too much money on diecasts?

Yes. I would have a lot more money for my real vehicle mods and repairs if I didn’t have this hobby!

quoteWhat other kinds of vans - besides the small scale diecasts - do you collect?

I collect a few larger, more detailed van diecasts in 1/24th and 1/18th scale, such as ERTl and Highway 61 brands.

Why do videos?

It’s a way for me to share my collection with the world, share information, and help other diecast collectors and non-collectors find what they are looking for. Down the road I might be able to make a few extra bucks on the side from advertising revenue if I get big enough / popular enough to help pay for my habit. So hopefully some of your readers will subsrcibe to my channel “That_VAN_Guy” on YouTube!

YouTube Page



Love your little “rotisary” in your videos, what is it?

I was thinking about that the other day, and “rotisary” is probably not the correct term to use for it. “Turntable” might be a more correct term,but then people might think there is a small record player under there. LOL. It just gives me an easy way for the camera to see all angles of the vehicle up close in detail, without me having to handle it and destract the viewer from the item being featured. It’s just a cheap “made in China” turning display stand that I found on ebay.

First VanDo you drive a van?

Yes, I currently own two. The 1977 Dodge B200 Tradesman Short wheelbase that I’ve had since high school. It’s my baby — my first car! I also have a 1995 Dodge RamVan 2500 that was going to be a show van at one time, but time and mother nature has taken a toll on it. You can see it in the background in a lot of my videos. I had a couple photos taken of it at a Van Nationals I attended in Ohio, and then had a poster made of the photos.

What other vehicles do you have/what’s your daily driver?

My summer daily driver is a modified / customized / lowered 2005 Dodge Magnum R/T RWD. We also own a 2014 Dodge Charger R/T AWD.

qDo you collect other stuff besides van diecasts?

Not a lot of stuff, I used to collect martial arts/ medieval/ modern weapons. I am a huge fan of 1980s Ninja Movies, and am interested in Asian cultures. I also dabbled in tabletop roleplaying games throughout the years like Dungeons and Dragons, and Pathfinder, so I have a collection of books, manuals, dice, and metal and plastic painted miniatures. I also have a good sized BluRay movie collection, digital music collection, and video game collection.

I noticed there is another guy on YouTube, named That Van Guy…

Yes, there are a few, but none as active as me, with two new videos uploaded weekly. I think “ThatVanGuy” is an Asian dude named “Van.” “That Van Guy” is a guy with a diesel Ford van, but I don't I think he makes videos regularly. Then there’s “that_VAN_Guy” which is ME! The BEST of All the “THAT VAN GUY’S” on YouTube! LOL. You have to pay close attention to the spacing, lack of spacing, underscores and capitalization, to distinguish the different channels.

Any other thoughts for DON’T COME KNOCKIN’?

I like to help others find the van diecasts they are looking for, just as others have helped me over the years. I’ve also got a Facebook page named “That_VAN_Guy” for fans of my YouTube channel and for people who collect diecast vans. It’s a place to chat about van diecast, share pictures, and a place to buy, sell and trade.


PICTURED ABOVE: Just a few pictures from Andrew’s diecast van collection.




Don’t Come Knockin’