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Toy show comes to town

By Ed Brock

Mary and Neal Walker of Hampton came to the International Toy Collectors Association Toy Roadshow to find a new home for part of their childhood.

Along with some dolls, trucks and games, they had brought Neal Walker's old Lionel electric train set.

"I have no mixed emotions," said Walker, adding that his father was a railroad man. "Railroads are deep in my history. I enjoyed them when I was a kid so I'd like to have somebody else enjoy it."

The Toy Roadshow, set up in the Magnolia Room at the Country Inn and Suites in Riverdale, started Wednesday and will continue until Saturday, open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Their objective is to buy the treasures some people may have hidden in their closets and passing them on to the collectors they represent. It's something they've been doing for 10 years in 1,500 different cities, ITCA Vice President George McCurley said.

"People can bring just about anything they want," McCurley said.

They can bring anything, but they may not get what they expected from the old toy robot that used to belong to Grandpa.

The Walkers went home with a few extra dollars, but not enough to pry that Lionel train set from their hands.

Mary Walker said she is an experienced antiques shopper and she had looked up the train in an antiques magazine and found it was worth about $150 a car. The ITCA negotiator at the Riverdale show, Archie Davis, offered her a little more than $250 for the set.

"I really don't know how they get by with this," Walker said. "I just was shocked. He really was taking people."

Walker said she sold Davis a couple of trucks for much less than she would usually ask, primarily to pay for her trip to the show.

Dawn King of Tucker, who owns antique stores in Roswell and McDonough called "Memories of Yesterday," also decided not to sell her various old toys to the show on Wednesday.

"He gave us a pretty low ball offer," King said. "We can do better selling it individually at our shop."

There was also a mention on the Web site of Maine Antique Digest of two auctioneers and experts who brought a toy to the show and were offered what they called a very low price.

In response to this, McCurley said some people will "get their bubble burst" when they come to the show. The appraised value of an item rarely has much to do with the offers made on them.

"In reality there isn't much stability in pricing," McCurley said.

The guiding principels are rarity, competition and desirability, he said.

"If I have a mint-condition, in the box Lionel it might be worth about $400. But if I have a mediocre set it might be worth less," McCurley said.

Davis said he had offered $1,300 to a man who brought in a 1950 American Flyer train set.

"He said he wants to think about it," Davis said.

McCurley said the ITCA's collectors come from around the world and are interested in any number of things. Sometimes they make high offers simply to assure that they will get the toy they want.

A certain collection of toy robots made in the 1950s by the Japanese company Matsudaiya are especially popular among Japanese collectors.

"Collectors get pretty excited about things related to a television or movie program, especially baby boomers," McCurley said.

For more information on ITAC, call (217) 636-8012.