Exeter Westpoint Arena Toy Fair report

18 August 2014
imports_CCGB_3a.-terry-jenkins-1-_90424.jpg Exeter Westpoint Arena Toy Fair report
David Boxall goes in search of vintage toys at Bulldog Fairs event. ...

The Westpoint Toy Fair is organised by Stuart Vowles of Bulldog Fairs. This event continues to be one of the largest toy fairs in the south west. It is just one mile from junction 30 of the M5, on the A3052. All the parking is free and the usual facilities are available. I was greeted by Stu Vowles at the entrance, who clearly anticipated a very busy day ahead.

My first stop was at the table of Bob Burnett, who had a very colourful display and mainly obsolete models. These included Dinky, French Dinky, Corgi, Tekno, Solido and a few more besides. I noticed an interesting line-up of Dinky toys amid the many ranks of models. These included the Ford Vadette model No 24X, in deep blue, priced at £125; the Bargward ‘Isabella’, in light blue; and the MG Midget in red with tan interior and competition finish. There was also a Maserati Sport 2000 in red with a red interior and white driver, priced at £145, and a Fiat 1800 model No 548, priced at £95. All these models were in mint condition, with crisp boxes – where does he find them all?

Bob Burnet's stall.

Dave Rees, who organises the Poole and Wimborne shows had an extensive display of recently released boxed cars, including Vitesse and Minichamps. These generally ranged in price from £20 to £35. I particularly liked the Austin Healey – available in four different colour schemes.

Next to Dave was AbaJack Models displaying cars and aircraft. AbaJack is known for his civilian and military aviation models by various manufacturers, including Corgi, 1st Choice and Oxford Aviation.  I saw the Spitfire PR XlX, model No HA7601 – part of the 1/48 Air Power Series, priced up at £24; and the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom – part of the 1/72 Air Power Series, for £46.

In complete contrast, Terry Jenkins had another excellent display of old games and toys, mainly from the 1920s through to the 1950s. He also had a pair of very interesting old photo albums, which were huge by today’s standards. I was drawn to the two boxed boats by Hornby and Penguin. The Hornby ‘Electric’ Speed Boat was in orange and white, while the Penguin model (series 4) was a Cabin Cruiser in blue and white. The latter was priced at £20.

There were a number of really good displays featuring diecast for sale. Terry Hann had a fabulous spread of models, representing a number of manufacturers. These were mostly unboxed but Terry usually has a number of boxed vehicles too, so it is always worth a look. Colin Jackson also had a lot of diecast at the show, including a couple of trays full of boxed models. These were all obsolete items, mainly released in the 1960s. Colin often has older models at prices suitable for restoration – so it’s always worth checking the table over.

Keith and Eve Slater had some really interesting toys, which were certainly a bit different. I saw numerous clockwork animals, a wide variety of tinplate toys, several Disney characters of different sizes and even a remote control toy Poodle. There were also a number of robots, a boxed game called ‘Crow Shoot’, and towards the top of the row of shelves I noted the Daleks – menacingly still and silent. There was also a large selection of plastic and tinplate cars in bright and very tempting condition, together with an excellent display of 54mm lead figures for sale.

A row or two along the hall, I stopped to look at Dave Jowett’s table of goodies, which had a really wide variety of toys for sale. These include 54mm lead figures – both individual and boxed sets, tinplate cars and toys, and a selection of older diecast Dinky Toys.

During my walkabout, I found a whole table full of rare items. These included a boxed set of Royal Engineers by Britains. The set included four horses with two riders, a pontoon bridge and equipment. All priced up at £395. Also present was the blue Fordson Major with driver - boxed and by Britains, priced at £245. To complete the trio of boxed Britains models, was the military vehicle with opening driver’s door and rear doors. The driver was present and this item carried a price tag of £155. Chris, the stall holder pointed out a few other hard to find items on offer, such as the Greenhouse by John Hill and Co from 1933. In white with lower brick work in brown/red this item came with a box and a price tag of £95. Also an unboxed Britains Greenhouse in green with a white roof released in 1937 was priced at £100. It was a fantastic display.

Finally, back to diecast with Graham Brooks and a table crammed with all sorts of models and manufacturers. There was very little space between the available items, and so much to choose from. I noted Corgi, Dinky, Spot-On, French Dinky, Tekno, Solido and a host of other models that I did not recognise at all. Nestling in the crowd, I saw the complete Co-op set, alongside the Ecurie Ecosse. There were also a number of commercials, racing cars and competition Minis. The models were mostly unboxed, though I did notice a number of crisp boxes on the shelves at the rear of the table.

I had a great day at the toy fair and thanked Stu Vowles for his hospitality. We chatted briefly about the quality of the table displays and the enormous array of tempting toys, which were on offer. Actually, I sometimes wonder how much we all miss when we are ‘touring the tables’. When I return to base camp to write-up the review, I am always surprised when I begin to organise the photographs that I have taken. What surprises me the most, when I am looking through them more closely, is the number of items that I have missed – toys I may well have been interested in for my own collection. I’m sure that this is partly due to concentrating on the article itself but I do wonder how many of us miss items that we would have bought?

Next Exeter (Westpoint) Toy Fair is Sunday 7th September 2014 . Post Code: EX5 1DJ. Tel: 01373 452857. www.bulldogfairs.com

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