Oakes in Autumn

17 November 2016
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Oakes in Autumn
Oakes in Autumn Images

Ann Evans spends a sunny Sunday in Droitwich with Tony Oakes. Photos by Rob Tysall

On a bright autumn Sunday, the Droitwich Leisure Centre was the destination for collectors and traders for another Tony Oakes Train, Toy and Model Collectors fair. The show was only the second time that Tony had held his fair at this particular venue. He told us that he felt privileged to be at the leisure centre, as it had been quite some time since they’d allowed toy fairs to take place there.

Tony had around 45 – 50 tables and saw a steady trickle of visitors throughout the day. He said he was hoping that once the fair at the Droitwich Leisure Centre became more established, then numbers would rise.

A keen collector of Hornby Dublo for over 40 years, Tony has been trading for the last 25 years, holding between 22 and 25 fairs each year.  He also runs UK Toy & Model Auctions four times a year, teaming up with Barry Stockton and Dave Whitehead. The next auction being Monday 6th March 2017 at Craxton Wood Hotel, Ledsham, near Chester.

With wife Lyn helping out on the door at the leisure centre, there were lots of familiar stall holders as well as some newcomers. One or two in fact were completely new to selling at fairs, their usual method being the internet. No doubt, they would soon see the fun they were missing out on with all the camaraderie and banter that goes on between the dealers at these events.

David Proops usually sells on the internet, but took the plunge to have a stall. He had brought along a collection of Matchbox and Yesteryear diecasts from the 80s and 90s. One particularly nice item was a Corgi Fairground Attractions South Down Gallopers Carousel. In 1/50 scale it was limited to 6,000 worldwide. It came with a standard Hornby controller for mains power and a battery to light up the carousel. David was selling it for £75.

One stall holder we bumped into was no stranger to toy fairs. Steve Clements runs his own toy and train fairs. Steve had ventured north to Droitwich as his own events are generally held three or four times a month in the Eastleigh, Hook, Wootten and Devizes areas. He has been dealing in toys for the last 20 years and has a particular passion for 1/18 CMC models, with lots of detail.

With an abundance of high quality items on his stall, a 1/18 1930s Bentley Speed 6 Corsica, in racing green and made by Minichamps, caught our eye. This was one of 500 made by Minichamps in resin and was on sale for £275.

A variety of porcelain rabbits and squirrels stopped us in our tracks as we browsed Tony Caine’s tables and although not toys, they were cute little collectables selling at £10-£15 each. Tony explained that he has been collecting, buying and selling toys for 40 years, with a particular liking for Corgi, Matchbox and Lledo. Amongst his items were two sets of Lledo Days Gone dairy vans and trucks that he was selling at £15 each. Also under his counter, but not for sale, were two boxed Corgi Special Edition Cadbury’s Cameo Collections.

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Tony told the Gazette:  “I’m not actually selling these. I just think they are a bit unusual. I don’t think Corgi did many models for Cadbury’s. I certainly haven’t seen any others like these before.”

As with any Tony Oakes toy fair there were lots of railway related toys, books and accessories to be found. Along with diecasts, tinplate, vintage and brand new models, bargain boxes, steam engines, TV and film collectables and lots more.

We spotted some really nice 1/18 and 1/35 American scale models and G scale trains on Richard and Sue Atwell’s stand. The couple explained that the toys on their stall were the results of having a shed clear out.

“I’ve been collecting with my son for the last 15 years,” said Richard. “We’ve had to buy a massive shed to accommodate stuff. But now it’s all got too much and Sue decided it was time to down size. So I’ve had a shed clear out.”

However, as well as being a collector, Richard admits that he can’t just leave a toy as it comes. He has to fit lights, sound effects and all sorts of other gadgets to anything he buys. For example, his New York Police Department Ford Crown Victoria in 1/18 scale is now remote control. A lovely Bachmann G scale Tweetsie train now has additional electrics and effects in. Sue added “He cannot allow a toy to do just what it says on the box!”

Bachmann Tweetsie railways originally ran through the Blue Ridge Mountains on the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad. This lovely locomotive was a real bargain for anyone into garden rail, as it was selling for just £20.

As a writer rather than a collector, I only occasionally get tempted to buy items at toy fairs. However I just could not resist a 1940s style Texaco garage and 10 Golden Wheels diecast Ford trucks, which was selling for just £20 for the lot! “A perfect Christmas presents for two of my grandsons” I thought as I asked Sue to wrap it all up for me.

Another familiar face was Le Mans fanatic, Steve Bainbridge who runs a toy and collector’s shop called Our Place in Alcester.  True to form, the jokes were abounding when I asked him about some very nice Franklin Mint tractors that he had for sale. “I got these from an ex-tractor fan –  extractor fan!” said Steve with a smile.

Lined up and all in 1/12 scale were a Franklin Mint McCormick Farmall tractor, an Allis-Chalmers W C farm tractor and a Diesel Super 99 Oliver tractor, all highly detailed diecasts with removable hoods and working parts. They were each selling for around £100.

Finally we chatted to Debra Dickenson who was pleased to have sold some old diecast lorries to a gentleman from Japan. Debra said, “He told me he was over here for a meeting and took a liking to some 1/43 scale snub nosed break-down Dinky lorries made around 1950-52. He said they just couldn’t get them in Japan any more and was delighted to be taking a couple back with him. He happily paid £29 each for his purchases.”