BY HENRY I. KURTZ
PHOTOS BY LEE BERMAN, COURTESY OF VINTAGE CASTINGS
A RECORD CROWD OF enthusiastic toy soldier collectors and military enthusiasts streamed through the doors of the Rothman Center at Fairleigh Dickenson University in Hackensack, New Jersey on November 3. Over 1,200 attendees made this the most successful East Coast Toy Soldier Show and Sale in the 31 years since its beginning in 1983.
The collectors were served by 90 dealers at 287 merchandise-laden tables, which filled the spacious facility with all manner of lead and plastic toy figures and military toys, as well as books, DVDs, CDs and other military-related items. William Lango, the show’s founder and producer, whose company Vintage Castings sponsors the event, observed that this was a different kind of show from previous ones. “We had 20 percent more people than came to our last show. I believe this is due to social media—our web site, facebook and word-of-mouth.” There were also a lot more younger people than in the past. For the younger set, there were Star Wars figures and other futuristic toys.
Lango also noted that “Collectors are more focused. They don’t buy as much, but they are willing to spend on items they really want.” Bill Murphy of the Hobby Bunker in Maiden, Massachusetts summed up the view of the more successful dealers. “You have to give people lots of new merchandise. Those dealers who come with the same toy soldier sets year after year are likely to go home disappointed. We bring the latest soldier sets and individual pieces from top firms.” He pointed to tables crammed with figures by W.Britain, King and Country, Black Hawk and other new toy soldier sets. Not the $2.00 boxed sets of Britains soldiers that your grandfather fondly remembers. Today’s new breed of toy soldiers runs from $25 to $75 each, sometimes more.