Barry Potter Birmingham NEC Toy Fair Report

04 October 2013
imports_CCGB_plentyforeveryoneatth_66581.jpg Plenty for everyone at the Birmingham NEC Barry Potter Toy Collectors Fair
Rick Wilson leaves the comfort of his computer and makes his first proper visit to a toy collectors fair. ...
Barry Potter Birmingham NEC Toy Fair Report Images
Since I truly rediscovered the collecting bug about 15 years ago, I’ve always been a bit of a lurker, hovering in the background during online auctions, pouncing at the very last minute to snare my quarry. Apart from the occasional serendipity of stumbling across a small collectors event or model shop on my travels, it was nearly always the comfort of bidding and buying from the study chair for me. Something was always missing from that though, something that had been missing since those days when I got my pocket money on a Saturday morning and took the bus into town to visit the local toy store; the touchy-feely factor. It was time. Time to get my hands dirty, take the plunge and visit a proper toy collectors fair.

For my first experience I wanted to go big. Searching the listings, in Collectors Gazette and Diecast Collector of course, I made my choice. It was to be the Barry Potter organised biggie at the Birmingham NEC. With around 600 stalls promised, it would be a perfect introduction.

First impressions count.

Sunday 22nd September was a beautifully sunny day and, with the roads surprisingly quiet, the 75-mile drive to the NEC was a very pleasant one. It could have been pouring with rain to be honest, nothing was going to dampen my enthusiasm! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some old treasure. I would not be disappointed.

The hall was already seriously buzzing with the hustle and bustle of like-minded treasure hunters looking to add to their collection and hoping to pick up a bargain. With the hall packed full of trading tables and stands, I was going to need a plan to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. With traders on all four sides and then back-to-back rows across the middle, I decided to make my way around all four walls first and then up and down the rows. Another decision was that I wouldn’t spend anything on my first “pass”, merely identifying potential purchases and then revisiting later. This was to take away the risk of going too early, spending my entire budget and missing out on something better or finding the same thing cheaper. This was to prove to be a mistake in the case of one item though.

On the very first table that I visited, there was Barry Potter himself. Despite the fact that he had lost his voice (and had a little sign to that effect to hold up and let everyone know!) I introduced myself and we did manage a brief chat. As soon as I’d left Barry, I spotted an old Airfix kit that I have been after for years. Not wanting to risk temptation, I didn’t even stop to check the price as it could have blown my entire budget for the day. It would be my first port of call once I had finished my first lap of the hall.

With a huge variety of toys on offer, there really was something for everyone. Diecast models of all shapes, sizes and ages, tin toys, boats, trains new and old, dolls, teddies, replacement parts, reproduction boxes, original boxes, board games and several bargain bins to rummage through. All the traders I spoke to were very knowledgeable and incredibly helpful too.

It truly was a trip down memory lane as I came across many toys I’d owned as a youngster that I had completely forgotten about. The day out would have been worth it for the nostalgia alone, but I was determined not to return home empty-handed. So, having identified several potential targets, it was soon time to make my first move and revisit that Airfix kit.

A valuable lesson.

Many years ago, I used to regularly cycle to Gatwick Airport for a day’s planespotting. The most impressive sight was always the bright orange Braniff International Boeing 747. Airfix made a 1/144 scale kit at the time but it had always been out of pocket money range. They do come up fairly regularly on auction websites but, because it’s a large box, postage usually takes it out of my modern-day pocket money range too, especially now with the recent substantial price hike by the Post Office. So to find one that would involve no such cost would be a fitting prize for the day. This was the very kit I had spied right at the beginning.

As I made my way back to the table, the reality dawned on me as I noticed a large gap in the trader’s stock, I was too late. My caution had proved to be a false economy. Lesson number one, if it is something that you really want and have been after for a long time, do not hesitate. He who hesitates is lost, apparently.

Star of the show.

During my first lap, I had noticed something that was, in my opinion, the “star of the show”.  C and T Auctioneers had a cabinet featuring some of their upcoming auction items. An incredibly rare unopened trade pack of six Corgi no.261 “Goldfinger” James Bond Aston Martin DB5s, complete with retailer instruction leaflet, which had a pre-auction estimate of £2,500 to £3,500.

On Wednesday 2nd October, this fabulous item sold for £5,500!

Changing the collecting habits of a lifetime.

With one item that had slipped through my grasp and another that was clearly way out of it, I set about swooping upon a couple of other finds before they too disappeared. I also managed to find a replacement missile for my restored Dinky UFO Interceptor at the Steve Flowers stand. So ultimately, it was a successful day and a very enjoyable one too. Much better than getting all square-eyed and trawling through endless pages of a certain online auction website.

As I drove back home along the M6, I realised that my collecting habits have now changed forever. I will be back!
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