Toy Fairs were a big thing for me at one time.
Not so much now at all but years ago I visited as many as I could as both a punter and stall holder.
There were lots of characters at toy fairs [or swapmeets as they were once known] but inevitably I've forgotten most of their names.
One chap from North Yorkshire specialised in JR21 toys. He often went north of the border and sold in Scotland. His boxed toys were all pristine and all the classics were there on his table: Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the odd project SWORD. I think he'd bought the contents of an old toy shop in York.
Oddly enough it was a large box of loose Matt Mason toys I bought off him one Boxing Day at the Morley Toy Fair. There were figures, small tools, accessories and the space station. All for £60 I think. It was 1995 but felt like 1967! I have a feeling the chap's stock was sold off by Vectis, which suggests he may have sold up. I think his name was Peter Leonard.
Its easy to arrange stuff at Toy Fairs because of the set dates. I often ordered toys so I could pick them up whilst I was there. I remember meeting a robot dealer called STARC and buying the Yone Space Frontier rocket off him in the foyer at Donnington before it closed for refurbishment. I still have that boxed rocket but I've no idea if STARC are still going. Its years ago.
Probably further back was buying an Imai Good Boy die-cast of the Scramble Bug. I remember ordering it off a dealer, who often went to Japan. He got me one and I picked it up from his stall. It could have been Birmingham's Memorabilia or Doncaster Racecourse. The dealer was Banzandy. It was a superb toy. A lot like an Edai Grip die-cast and years later our first blog exclusive on MC was offering these toys inside a custom Project SWORD box. Blog friend Terry H had found us a whole case of them!
My Missus and young daughter used to come to some fairs with me. Cabbage patch dolls and cookies were Junior's objective. There was one stall which had a chap selling excellent vintage toys on one side and, presumably his Missus, selling home-made cookies on the other! We all went to that one!
The two giants of selling vintage toys in the UK back then were Jim Star Wars Stevenson and Andy Foley's TV Toy Zone. I don't think I bought anything off them at toy fairs but I did get a task Force 3 by mail order from Andy Foley's fabulous printed catalogue in the 1990's. In fact it was a catalogue by Andy trading as TV Toy Zone that was the first vintage toy mail order catalogue I'd ever seen. I still have it and it reads like a collector's wedding list. Just superb.
I often visited fairs with my friend Mark, who passions were and are as eclectic as mine. After visiting small evening fairs in Normanton and Stanley Ferry and big local meets like Pudsey and Doncaster, it was Memorabilia that always had us really excited. We would go down to this grand affair at the NEC twice a year when we could. This would have been the late 90's-early 00's, when Henry Cook ran it, before Sport memorabilia took over.
We always saved up for the NEC. It was like being a kid again. Money jangling in our pockets, lists of wants we were after, frenzied chatter all the way there in the car. yep, it was a blast and we always came away with bags of great stuff. We'd natter all the drive home and then show my Missus everything we'd bought before having a marvellous meal she's made. She was gracious enough to look interested in our 'amazing' finds so we all sat down to eat happy. The highlight of our NEC forays for me was finding a mint boxed Johnny Seven, my favourite toy as a kid in '67.
I still have the trestle table and plastic shelving I used for my own stall at fairs and often toy with the idea of doing another one with my remaining stock. It was hard work though, getting up early on a weekend, driving, setting up, standing all day, packing everything away, driving home. Ten years older I'm not sure I'm up to it now!
In the meantime, I've found a whole stack of old toy lists, notes, letters, business cards and scraps of stuff from back then squirreled away in the attic so I hope to do a few more posts on toy fairs and my own time as a toy dealer in the near future.
Do you go to toy fairs? Did you? Have you ever sold at one? Is it still a thriving scene where you are?