Rare toys and new books boost swapmeet

| 21 Nov 2011

More than 500 model and toy specialists boosted the quality and diversity on offer at the Sandown Park Toy Collectors Fair on 19 November.The last of Barry Potter Fairs four annual swapmeets at the Surrey exhibition centre attracted many international collectors. “It’s the longest-established event and it is now the only major fair in the South of England,” said Potter’s son and co-organiser Ellis. Trading started before the sun was up as early bird dealers searched out rarities while setting up, with tinplates changing hands before the doors opened to the public at 10.30am. “Selling isn’t a problem,” said Nick Powner of Abbey Models, who specialises in classic Corgi and Dinky toys. “The hardest part is finding quality stock and I’ve been to America four times this year.” If you’re nostalgic for a rare ’60s Corgi Gift set such as No 31 (below) with Buick Riviera, trailer, cruiser and water skier, Powner is your man… provided you have a spare £350.

Most expensive car on his table was a cream Dinky MG TF made for the American market and offered boxed for £750, but still no match for a Bedford Nestlé lorry at £2500. “This has the rare Heinz sauce bottle livery,” explained Powner.

Fine artist Jeremy Dickinson is a regular at Sandown, looking for battered toys to feature in his marvelous car and bus stack paintings. “I’m always looking for unusual colours and early Dinkys are the best,” said Dickinson. “But they are getting harder to find.”

Plenty of dealers from over the channel are regulars at Sandown including Paris-based shop 43e Rue, which presented a colourful stock of boxed 1950s French JEP and Dinky toys.  Fastest seller was a rare 1950s Alfa Romeo Alfetta Grand Prix car produced by the factory as a customer gift. It was rapidly snapped up for €1500. Other rarities included a mint Schuco BMW 503 cabriolet (below) for €340.

Control line model racers are a rare sight at swapmeets, but Bill Langley had four on his table including his miniature of the Napier Railton (below), complete with scale driver that he built himself. “We run them on a special area at the Shuttleworth Collection’s flying days,” said Langley.

“The Napier is powered by a four-stroke engine and does 40mph. Even the suspension follows the original design,” he added. “We’ve also recently discovered 50 figures made by Rex Hays for an early rail racing circuit displayed at the 1952 Model Engineer Exhibition, and plan to recreate the track in his honour.”

Lifelong Jaguar enthusiast Michael Driver (below) was on hand to talk about his recently published, limited edition work The Toy Jaguar Book, which relates the story of the famous Coventry marque through miniatures. “My first toy car was a Dinky SS100 and that kick-started my interest,” he explained. “I now have over 2000 Jaguar models, which inspired the idea of the book. I’m still searching and would love to find a Japanese tin plate of a Mk10 which I’ve only ever seen a photo of,” said Driver who currently runs a 1996 Celebration XJS.

Another fair highlight was the display of 1:43 car kits ranging from early Paddy Stanley racers to the latest Brooklins, one of the last UK-based manufacturers. The exhibition also coincided with the launch of White Metal Transport Modelling, a new publication by Ray Strutt and David Wright. “We had the idea in 2006 to tell the stories of the people behind the models,” said Strutt. “We’ve included 160 in the book, covering pattern makers, casters, builders and producers.”

Also getting attention was one of the latest Chinese-made precision model releases: Autoart’s 1:18 Jaguar XJ-S (below), which sold quickly despite its £135 price-tag. “It only came in on Thursday and it’s just available in white so far, “ said Russell Martin of JM Toys. “There is convertible version and more colours to come. Jaguar models are always good sellers.”

The next Sandown event is on 18 February. See: Barry Potter Fairs for more.