2017 was a busy year for us, starting with our takeover of the long-established Bristol Toy fair back in February, and then a total of another twelve more fairs through the year at Cirencester, Didcot and Bristol. Now we’re kicking off 2018 with a very exciting development for Retro Ronnie, and for Swindon, because we’re steaming back home!

Ronnie and Tim are both Swindon lads, so where better to stage a new fair than in their home town – and how appropriate that the venue is the famous County Ground; home of Swindon Town Football Club. It’s easy to find, with plenty of parking, and it’s just a stone’s throw from the popular Great Western Steam museum and Swindon’s fashionable Designer Outlet. Now it really can be a day out for the whole family! Visit the fair, indulge in some retail therapy, then admire some real steam trains, all within easy walking distance of one another.

Early Bird’s entry is from 8:30 am (entry £5) and the main doors open at 10:00 am. The regular charge is £2.50, with young adults (aged from 12 to 16) £1, and accompanied under-12s free. Our Valuation Roadshow will be operating of course, and we’ll have more of Dee’s excellent catering, with tasty cakes, hot rolls, teas, coffees and snacks available all day in the comfortable on-site eatery.

There’s already been a feature in the Swindon Advertiser, and that’s helped to generate a huge amount of local interest. We’re also delighted that several new Wiltshire-based dealers will be joining our regular traders, so plenty of fresh-to-the-market stock is assured. We hope to see you there!

The Beautiful Game at your Fingertips!

Some games endure, and with football being perhaps the world’s favourite sport, it’s no wonder that Subbuteo, despite some ups and downs, celebrated 70 years of going strong in 2017.

The table-top interpretation of the beautiful game was the idea of Peter Adolph, a demobbed RAF veteran who came home after the Second World War without a job. With an enthusiasm for football and a bit of flair, he took the basics of a rather simpler existing game called Newfooty, created in 1929 by Liverpudlian William Keeling, and refined it into the ever-popular finger-tipping game we still know today.

Launched in 1947, Subbuteo became a feature of just about every young lad’s toy cupboard throughout the latter half of the 20th century, but the game fell out of favour as the millennium approached. Challenged by newfangled computer games and consoles, production ceased … only to be resurrected again by Hasbro, initially with somewhat retrograde photo-realistic cut-outs but then, in 2012, with new, virtually indestructible three-dimensional models in a variety of stances.

Since then, popularity has swelled, and so too has interest in some of the earlier examples. There is now a strong collecting tradition for individual teams, accessories and sets. Some complete Subbuteo sets (in their original packaging) now fetch over £700 on eBay, while rarer teams can easily command more than £300. We think the top price secured so far for an individual squad was £875, paid at auction for a Team Laval set (#249) by French maker Delacoste.

Thankfully local enthusiasts can pick up a full Swindon team, in classic red and white strip, for about a tenner! More information about Subbuteo from the Official Website, or check out our dealers this weekend

Celebrating Dinky – a great British institution …

First introduced by Meccano (Hornby) in 1934, Dinky produced some of the nation’s favourite diecast toys, bringing accurate scale modelling within pocket-money reach of almost every child. Cast from an alloy of mazak and zinc, mostly at around 1/45 scale, they allowed little hands to grasp some of the finest cars, lorries, saloons and sportscars of the day.

Dinky remained in production, steadily becoming more detailed and more sophisticated, until the mid-Seventies, when the volume and quality of competition from the likes of Mattel heralded the end for Dinky. The last models were cast (in the Hong Kong factory) for the American market, and Dinkys disappeared from toyshops in 1979.

The appeal of Dinky diecast toys has never diminished however, and they are now among some of the most collectable of vintage toys. Some originals command very high prices – the most so far paid for a single model is around £20,000 – so it’s no surprise that there are replicas and copies on the market. It’s not the first, but a new a dedicated collectors’ series of models has now been launched by DeAgostini.

The first issue, which is priced at just £2.50, features the 1955 Triumph TR2 in powder blue with red wheels, rubber tyres, windscreen and white-suited driver. As well as a replica of Dinky’s original model, complete with reproduction box, there’s a magazine describing the model and including a history of Triumph’s record-breaking two-seater. Issue 2 features the Bedford 10 cwt “Kodak” van (priced £7.99) and is followed by the Ford Thunderbird (Issue 3 and onward priced £11.99). Overall, 60 issues are planned, meaning a total outlay to the dedicated collector of some £700, although we know from experience that such runs rarely reach the end. Even so, with a genuine Dinky original of the TR2, mint in box, fetching around £250 these days, at least the first issue will tempt many into the newsagent.

Full details of the DeAgostini series is available on the Classic Dinky Toys Collection website. However, remember that Atlas Editions started running a similar series a few years ago, and this is still available through their website. Their collection starts with the Mini Traveller (priced £1.99), then the Bedford “Dinky Toys” van (£9.99 +P&P) followed by the TR2 in pink (£14.99 +P&P for this and subsequent models). Compare the two by viewing the Atlas Editions website, where you can also see their series of Deluxe Dinkys manufactured under licence and replica Dinky Trucks. Also check out dealers at our next fair, who may have some in stock, or you could browse eBay. Always be wary of anyone trying to palm these off as originals, or charging more at Buy-it-now than they’d cost direct.

It’s all in the detail

Boys of all ages (and some girls too!) love a good slot-car track. I bet there have been plenty of sitting room floors covered in Scalextric this past fortnight, as dads indulge their children with the kind of layout they’d wished they’d had as a kid. It’s true to say that, despite the availability of cheap radio controlled cars and virtual reality racing, slot car modelling is still hugely popular.

There are loads of manufacturers today churning out models, from Scalextric (75 years young in 2017) to Carrera and Fly, but track is just track … or is it?

Not to David Beattie. He makes slot car tracks, yes, but I mean, he really creates these tracks. He certainly goes a step beyond the average enthusiast. It’s easy enough to channel out a layout in MDF and stick down some conducting metal tape, but Beattie builds a whole race track world in miniature. The trackside environment is recreated in faithful detail, even down to trees, shrubs, pitlane buildings, gravel traps and roadside cafés.

Whether you’re looking for a Monaco or a Mille Miglia, a Silverstone or a Daytona, Beattie and his craftsmen at Slot Mods can build you a track … at a price. Basic layouts start at around £18,000, but the larger and more detailed creations can run up a bill of a quarter of a million. Despite the hefty price tag, the company has plenty of customers. Some are museums and high-flying corporates, others are well-paid racing drivers or team owners, but Slot Mods builds three or four of these megatracks each year. Okay, only a handful of our subscribers can afford that level of personal indulgence, but the rest of us can still be inspired..

You can admire their work, and dream of what you might do in the loft by visiting their website at Slot Mods.

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