We started off by hoping that 2019 might prove to be a great 12 months for all our customers, visitors and dealers, and extended a huge “Thank You!” to all our supporters. It was as humbling then, as it is now, to think that some of our dealers have been standing with us since the very beginning, and seldom (if ever!) miss one of our events.

“That kind of support is truly amazing, and we’re touched to think that we now consider some, if not all of them, to be good friends, rather than just business acquaintances. We do really appreciate their support,” insists Tim Pearson, who organises our fairs with Ronnie Pearson.

Retro Ronnie Fairs may specialise in vintage toys and games, but Tim and Ronnie are very forward-thinking when it comes to marketing. “Facebook is where we see the future of the business,” says Tim. “It’s the modern way to engage with our customers, and on-line elements like the website, and this newsletter, are definitely the way we intend to move ahead. We now advertise our fairs heavily on the Internet, with listings and posts on social media, and we are also now finding that we’re able to attract new stock – and sell it – online as well.”

Retro Ronnie Topyfairs

Variety is the spice of life, they say, and there’s nothing like fresh-to-the-market stock to keep the collectors happy. “People like the fact that they nearly always see new faces at our fairs, and that’s something we work hard to achieve. We make a point of encouraging new dealers, especially if they’re standing for the first time. We want them to succeed, and come back again. We’re in this for the long haul, and as long as we have the support and encouragement of our friends and families, we’ll keep putting on the shows. We eat, sleep and dream toys! Stick with us, and we’ll do our best to continue bringing you the friendly, accessible, top-quality fairs that have become our trademark.”

New Hornby Record

Highlight of a major Toys and Collectibles sale at Tennants Auctioneers at the end of November 2018 was a Hornby Dublo 0-6-2T Southern railways 2595 locomotive. Dating from just post-WW2, the condition, livery and clockwork motor obviously appealed to collectors, who pushed the bidding well above the £400-£600 estimate.

Despite not having a box, the train was accompanied by two contemporary wagons and a brake van, as well as some original wrapping and a key, and the ensemble eventually topped out at £6000, plus premiums. This is believed to be a world-record price for a Hornby loco.

The sale also included a Dinky 990 Pullmore Car Transporter with Four Cars Gift Set, which realised £1,400, again plus premiums. It seems the demand for the ever-popular Dinky and Hornby products shows no sign of declining.

Don’t Call Me Yak Face!

It’s hard to believe that it’s now over 40 years since the original Star Wars movie hit the big screens, and it’s possibly even more challenging for some of us to accept that we’ve been collecting the little figures that the movie’s success generated for almost as long!

It took nearly a year, but by 1978 the toy world was awash with Star Wars merchandise – and still is. One company quick to jump on the bandwagon was Kenner, who released some of the earliest mini action-figures. Pocket-money priced then, they are now some of the most sought-after figures today, with some fetching prices in the thousands.

Kenner rode the wave for about eight years, but in 1985 cancelled their Star Wars action figure range. At the time a figure of Saelt-Marae, a devious character better known as Yak Face from The Return of the Jedi movie, was heading along the production line. Rather than destroy the lot, Kenner chose to send a batch of figures to outlets in Europe and Canada.

Yak Face was never retailed in the States, and as the Star Wars collectible market grew, values of Yak Face soared, especially in the US. It remains very rare, possibly because Kenner never manufactured a full run and only those few figures were released.

Prices can vary enormously, from as much as £3000 for a prime example still carded in its blister pack, to a more modest £200 for a play-worn example. Check it still has a staff! One of these rare beasts (pictured) was offered at our Swindon fair in January 2019.

Dealer profile – Paul & Carole Dean

Husband and wife team Paul and Carole Dean have been one of our most consistent supporters over recent years, and they are now an ever-present feature at all our fairs. They live way up north, so they like to do a whole weekend of fairs when they make lengthy the trip down to Cirencester or, as they were doing in January 2019, joining us in Swindon.

They always offer an amazing variety of items, from model railway stock to diecast. They’re also well known for being generous with helpful advice and having a major focus on customer service.

They’re great people to work with and we’re always delighted to have them at our fairs.

Worth a Cuddle

We often see a few teddies and dolls, as well as action figures, at Retro Ronnie fairs, but have yet to see one of these.

This partially-dressed Steiff bear, in white fur with internal rattle, is believed to have been made exclusively as a wedding gift for a worker at the German factory in 1912. Brought to the UK by a relative about 20 years ago, the rare bear is now valued at over £5000. Look out for those little ear-tags!

‘Allo ‘Allo

Subscribers of a certain age will doubtless recall the comedy series set in a wartime French café. The BBC ran ‘Allo ‘Allo for ten years, between 1982 and 1992, and one of the recurring themes was the quest for a masterpiece painting by a little-known (but fictional) Dutch artist called van Clomp.

Known as The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies, the painting was rarely seen full frontal, but it became a star lot at East Bristol Auctions in December 2018 when the prop was knocked down for £15,000.

It has since “returned” to Nouvion in France.

So, that was the essence (edited a little) of our Newsletter #18 in January 2019. If you’d like to be added to our mailing list, please subscribe using the widget in the column on the right.