Matchbox car fanatics gather in capital

SUZE METHERELL
Last updated 05:00 23/06/2012
Wellington Toy and Diecast Fair
KENT BLECHYNDEN/FAIRFAX NZ

CAR CLUSTER: Tony Dowman, the organiser of this weekend's Toy and Diecast Fair, with some examples from his own Matchbox car collection.

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For those who think that the smaller the car the better, you are not alone.

Wellington Toy and Diecast Fair is on tomorrow, and is celebrating the toys of days gone by, and in particular vintage British-made Matchbox cars.

As well as being a chance for model enthusiasts to go on a trip down memory lane, it is also an opportunity for them to add or start their own collection as many of the toys will be for sale or trade.

Organiser Steven Brown, 46, says he and his friend and fellow collector, Gavin Redman, were inspired by the fairs they saw while living in England, and finding a lack of them when they returned to New Zealand decided to start their own.

He joined forces with Tony Dowman, 54, who has been collecting for the past 25 years, and thinks he now has more than 4000 Matchbox and diecast cars.

"That's nothing, I know people who have two, three times that amount," Mr Dowman says.

The first fair in 2011 was a huge success for the organisers, with 800 people attending and 30 stalls set up. This year they are expecting bigger numbers, with over 60 stalls sold and enthusiasts from as far afield as Auckland, Gisborne and Palmerston North expected to attend.

Mr Brown says that for him, the importance of the fair is creating a sense of community for the collectors.

"A lot of the stuff now gets sold on Trade Me and things like that. You're not really talking to anyone, you're not interacting with anyone – it's sort of become very impersonal."

Mr Dowman says it is also an opportunity for parents to show their children, or grandchildren, the toys of their own childhoods.

"I first collected them as a child. I played with them, but I also had a few in mint condition, in their boxes. I liked the look of the display, they weren't just for play," says Mr Dowman.

Mr Brown agrees. "A lot of it stems from when I was a child and used to go into the shops and they'd have all the cars and boxes and models stacked up on a glass counter somewhere. I think now it's more a nostalgia thing."

The fair is at St Mary's College gym tomorrow from 11am to 3pm, admission $2.

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