Toy collector still a boy at heart

RACHEL THOMAS
Last updated 15:46 11/08/2014
 Kevin Hayward
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ

TOY CAVE: Kevin Hayward in his toy-collector’s haven.

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In the shadows of a garage, teenage mutant ninja turtles scale shelves lined with matchbox cars, a taiha-wielding Santa commandeers a pirate ship, and fighter jets swoop down from the ceiling.

Upstairs Kevin Heyward and his handlebar moustache tend to his prized collection of miniature Austins.

They're the only portion of toys that have made it into the house.

Heyward is a guardian of countless vintage, modern and retro toys, all of whom have their own special space downstairs in his Morrinsville garage.

He pegs a wooden school desk and kauri chair as two of his best finds, which he picked out of a rubbish tip in Takapuna.

The collection has evolved since he was a child - aside from being a haven for toys, it's a timeline of Heyward's life.

Atop the orphaned desk sits his own old school books and a slightly more modern school atlas, "but you go to Google now".

Faded flags and swimming caps from his days in surf lifesaving clubs across the country line one corner. He was a founding member of Clifton Surf Club in Hawke's Bay but "that no longer exists - the beach has been washed away".

One of his first speeding tickets is dog-eared nearby, which he was awarded in Auckland in the 1970s. Penalties were extreme then, he says.

"I think I was doing about 30 mile an hour in a 40 mile an hour limit, and I had to go to court and the judge made me resit my licence, and I was fined $95 which was about a months wages then.

"When I asked the cop what would happen if I failed, he said ‘well, you won't have a licence', so they're not that strict these days."

Beneath a wall of unopened Matchbox and novelty cars, his most prized possessions are housed in a wooden cabinet with a glass lid.

Tobacco pipes, his father's conducting batons and hip flasks are on show, their faded colours juxtaposing the rainbow of playthings. "That's an old opium pipe," he says, hovering over a white one carved out of ivory.

"Mum and dad were both in the Hawke's Bay earthquake and they survived that so I have a book on that, and the rest of it is stuff I've collected."

Among the other eerie keepsakes are a taxidermy fawn and a stuffed pheasant, both of which he insists were gifts.

The grandkids are allowed downstairs provided "they look with their eyes and don't touch".

One of his oldest toys is a green tin bus dating back to the 30s. It's rusted, but the wheels turn and its paint is still bright.

He's also rescued Tonka trucks, some from the 60s, which were destined for the rubbish dump. "I call them sandpit toys and I've picked them all out of inorganic rubbish collections around Auckland."

His favourite is a sleek black model of Al Capone's Cadillac he got through a magazine.

A close second is his lengthy collection of Austin cars, which extends to full size versions in his garage.

Heyward is custodian of four vintage cars; a Austin A55 Cambridge, an Austin A30 "one of the first ones sold in New Zealand", an Austin pickup and a J40 pedal car - which he fits in, just.

In another room, an 1897 edition of a navy and army magazine features a man with a handlebar moustache, Heyward's inspiration perhaps.

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He doesn't know what will happen with the trinkets when he's no longer around, but he insists there is a good reason he collects.

"Perhaps I'm still a boy at heart, and you can't take the boy out of the man."

rachel.thomas@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

- Waikato

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