Ronnie declared that this month was going to be “Fabulous February”, and while he was right in so many respects, it has also been fairly “Frantic” at times as well!
The month began with two fairs across one weekend, starting with another visit to Didcot on the 4th, and then straight over to Bristol the next day.
For the benefit of those who missed our announcement in January, we have taken over the running of the Bristol Toy & Train Fair from from Stuart Vowles, who will now focus on the other events he runs under the Bulldog Fairs banner – notably at Shepton Mallett and Westpoint. We’re thrilled to have added one of the UK’s longest-established toy fairs to our portfolio, and we’re really looking forward to developing and expanding the event. You can catch up on the details by clicking this link to our Press Release.
Founded in 1975, the Bristol Toy & Train Fair was originally staged in the engine sheds at Bristol Temple Meads, but was relocated to Abbeywood Community School (near Bristol Parkway) about three years ago. The move offered more flexibility of space, easy access, and good parking. We now plan on building on the excellent reputation Stu established for the fair, and extending the scope and variety of stock.
The feedback from our debut on February 5th has, so far, been largely positive. “First off, we brought in eight dealers who’d never traded at Bristol before,” says Tim Pearson. “We were also pleased that most of the regulars came back, but we recognise that we’re going to have to work hard not only to encourage new faces to join us, but also to ensure that we retain the existing dealers. We were meeting some of these people for the very first time, and I just hope we made a good impression!”
He went on to say: “The venue is great, size-wise, and offers us plenty of room for expansion. We did have a small problem with parking, but there’s a massive area for over-flow, so we just need to improve signage so visitors can find their way more easily.”
“Our aim is to bring variety to the fair,” adds Ronnie. “At present it’s very die-cast and train ‘heavy’, and we’d like to broaden the appeal by introducing dealers who specialise in other areas, such as Lego, Star Wars, Action Figures and a broader range of other collectables. By increasing the number of dealers and the scope of their stock, we hope to increase the appeal of Bristol, and maximise on the massive potential down at Abbeywood.” The next Bristol Toy Fair is scheduled for Sunday March 19th.
Cirencester Toy & Train Fair
In the meantime we’re off to The Bingham Hall for our first Cirencester Toy & Train Fair of the year, this Sunday, 26th February. Doors open at 8 am for Early Birds, and 10 am for the public, with entry charges at £5 and £2.50 respectively – children under 16 always free!
Don’t forget to bring along any items you’d like to have assessed by the team in our Valuation Roadshow, and if you have anything you’d like to sell on, perhaps to raise a bit of extra cash, then bring it along. Tim or Ronnie will be happy to point you in the right direction for the best price.
From Robby to RoboSapien
It’s hard to ignore humanity’s on-going fascination with robots. Recently we’ve had a series of programmes from the BBC, as well as a compelling dramatisation of Isaac Asimov’s I Robot, and this month’s launch of a major exhibition at London’s Science Museum marking 500 years of robotics – yes, they’ve been around that long!
At the time Asimov was writing his Foundation series, a new breed of robots were coming out of Japan, but their intelligence, artificial or otherwise, was somewhat limited. They had fantastical names like Atomic Robot Man, Big Max, Mighty Atom (aka Astro Boy) and, of course, Robert the Robot. Made from tinplate by companies like Masudaya, Nomura, Daiya and Horikawa, Asimov’s Three Laws weren’t about to be tested by these knee-high creations, with their whirring motors, flashing lights and heavyweight bank of D-sized batteries.
Their novelty, ingenuity and clunking appeal made them hugely popular at a time when black and white blockbusters like It Came from Outer Space were filling the cinemas. They were played with remorselessly … often to their detriment. Few survived, and fewer still last to this day complete with their cardboard boxes, and that’s why some now command vast prices.
Earlier this month an example of the Japanese KO Mighty Robot realised £500 (+costs) at Tamlyns Auctions in Bridgwater, against an estimate of £20-£30, but all that’s small change compared with the £4,296 realised by a recent eBay auction for an example of the friction-powered X-27 Explorer. Thankfully, collectors can still find examples for more sensible money, especially at Retro Ronnie Toyfairs!
Will today’s toy robots ever command the same appeal? Given another 50 years, when RoboSapien is a collectors’ item, how much might it be worth? Current second-hand price, around £75. Your choice …
We were a little surprised to see a feature in a trade magazine a couple of weeks back suggesting that an example of the 1950s Dinky transporter Gift Set 990 was estimated at £1500-2000. From the image (shown right), the Bedford Pullmore and its load of four original cars looked well play-worn, and while the box was intact, it was hardly pristine.
Unsurprisingly, the estimate from the auctioneer was a more realistic £300-£400, and when the hammer fell yesterday at Hansons in Derby, it topped out at a more modest £250 (+costs). Prices for other toys at the end of what was a massive five-day bonanza were equally realistic, so a good day’s collecting for someone.
If you’re into buying at auction, then Aldridges of Bath have a sale on February 28th which includes Dinky, Hornby, Lesney, Mamod and Lledo, as well as tinplate, medals, coins and other collectables. The auction is on-line but always remember to make allowance for auctioneer’s commission.
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