Jesse Flores, self-storage manager at Alaska Mini Storage in Fairbanks, Alaska, has become a kind of Santa Claus figure in the world of Hot Wheels collectors, sharing and giving away portions of his personal collection. Flores regularly sends packages known a RAOKs (random acts of kindness) to names on a growing list of more than 200 collectors whom he has met through online groups.
Flores, 46, is known as “Big Frosty” among collectors. Several RAOK recipients have posted YouTube videos of themselves opening their packages. Some of the contents given away by Flores are worth more than $200, according to the source.
"It's one of those things that I'm fortunate enough to where I can purchase and get items that most people would not even consider going after," Flores said. "They only want one car out of the series, [so] why buy a $40 case? I don't care; I buy a $40 case and like 90 percent of these cars are gone because I have these relationships in these groups where I have no problem just sharing my toys."
Flores’ love of Hot Wheels started during a troubled childhood. He spent much of his early upbringing with grandparents in Mexico before rejoining his parents and siblings in Los Angeles. "I just felt like an outsider, so as a child I just had these issues; but the one thing that sticks out is me playing and having fun with Hot Wheels," he said. "I think that's a direct correlation to how I feel now. Yes, I'm in a better place now, but I remember my childhood as not such a happy place; but there are happy moments. You find me a patch of dirt and it was an escape from the turmoil of the family situation that I was in."
Flores said he made a living selling Hot Wheels through eBay for eight years, but he gave up the idea of trying to profit from the toys when he connected with fellow enthusiasts online who rekindled his love of collecting and sharing. The collectors he admires or develops friendships with often wind up on his RAOK distribution list.
The self-storage manager’s most prized possession is a container of 48 original Hot Wheels from his childhood, although his personal collection is about 2,500 cars. He has another 6,000 Hot Wheels in a heated storage unit at his facility, most of which will be packed and shipped to fellow collectors, he said.