So today, after much umming and arring, I went to the toy fair being held at the NEC. I've been wanting to go to one of the fairs organised by BP Fairs for some time now, however there's never been a suitable location-time match-up. Until now...
With my interest in Memorabilia waning in recent years (as it has with a lot of people), I was intrigued as to how a pure toy fair would compare. Of most concern was if it'd be purely Dinky cars and Hornby trains. But, hey!, it cost less than Memorabilia so even if it was a complete disaster it wouldn't be too much of a loss.
To a degree, my fears were well founded. Of the 600 stalls (so the advertising claimed) a good proportion were for cars & trains of which I have zero interest. Another large proportion of stalls were for Lego. This was a surprise - I knew people collected Lego but I didn't know it'd gotten quite this big in collector circles.
Finally there were enough 80s-related stalls to maintain my interest. I didn't spend a fortune but I did manage to pick up a few things that I'd been looking for. The only problem really was by the time I was into the swing of Haggling I'd run out of stuff I wanted.
In attendance, doing something Action Man-y was James May. There may (or, more likely, won't) be an extended clip appearing on TV in the near future of me spending 5 minutes attempting to push my way through the crowd.
The big problem with Memorabilia these days is that a lot of the dealers are selling 'modern' stuff. Not that I have anything against modern toys, but I tend to buy those over the internet (for reduced prices) which means that when I arrive at Memorabilia I already own all the stuff I would have been interested in. Gone, for the past few years, has been a decent selection of vintage stuff. Doubtless this has been due to the rise of ebay and unfortunately this is the stuff I'm most likely to pick up from a fair.
The toy fair was 95% vintage toys and I think the buying of older toys at fairs such as this is likely to be on the increase due to two big flaws with ebay -
1. You can see and inspect the things on sale. I think everyone has been disappointed with an item bought from ebay at some point, mostly due to 'good condition' being very open to interpretation.
2. Cost. Ebay fees for sellers are going through the roof. I'm informed that you're now hit with fees on postage costs now, on top of all the existing fees ebay claim. Then as a buyer you're hit with annoying expenses such as p&p which, especially on small items, easily take something from cheap to expensive.
I had a good time today. I'm not sure I'd rush to some of the smaller BP fairs simply because I'm not sure there'd be enough stalls to interest me, but I will make an effort to pop along to the next one at the NEC. Meanwhile I live in hope that 'vintage' returns to Memorabilia shows soon.