Toys keep collectors 'young at heart'

February 28, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

SCOTLAND, Pa. - Teresa Hesson of Lewistown, Pa., has loved dolls all her life.

"I'd go to Goodwill with my mom, and I'd play with dolls in the toy department while she bought clothes for me," Hesson said. "I'd ask for a doll and she'd say, 'No, we can't afford it.' I wish had some of the dolls I played with at Goodwill."

Hesson may not have those dolls, but she certainly has a plentiful collection.

Several long tables at the Scotland Community Center held the dolls, from vintage 19th-century dolls to Barbies that she is "thinning out" of her collection.

"I live in a life-size dollhouse," said her husband, Gary.

Gary Hesson doesn't collect anything.

"There simply isn't room. I have trouble keeping what space I have now," he said.

Lots of people who see Hesson's dolls smile, remembering their own childhood dolls, she said.

"'I had this when I was little,' is the most common comment," Gary Hesson said.


The Hessons were among 33 dealers whose wares jammed two rooms Sunday at the sixth annual Toy, Train and Doll Show. Sponsored by the Cumberland Valley Model Railroad Club and Sandy and Billy's Toybox, the show included Matchbox toys, Hot Wheels, train-related items, and a wide variety of toys as old as china-headed dolls and as modern as Harry Potter.

John Norris, president of the model railroad club, said he was pleased with the turnout.

"We struck it lucky between two bad weather systems," he said.

The 30-member club sponsors two shows a year.

Chatty Cathy and Barbie dolls shared space with old farm toys. A Jetsons Golden Book sold for $25, a small plastic garage with two trucks for $80. A four-piece set of Ideal plastic farm implements was marked $120. An 18-inch Mae West doll stood beside John Wayne and Groucho Marx. One stand displayed figurines of U.S. presidents; the set ends with Dwight Eisenhower.

Vendors Nancy and Henry Diley of Fairfax, Va., call their toy business a "retirement job."

"It's a fun job; it keeps you young at heart," Henry Diley said.

The Dileys have operated Fantasy Toys since 1990, selling antique and collectible toys on eBay and at shows. They rose at 3:45 a.m. to arrive at Scotland in time to set up for the early crowd.

"This is always a good little show for us," Nancy Diley said.

Their display included mechanical tin toys from the 1940s that still work.

"That's the tough part. Often the wind-up mechanism doesn't work or there are pieces missing," she said. "Kids played with their toys."

A tin policeman on a motorcycle with a side car was tagged $425; Nancy Diley said she also sells reproductions because "not everyone can afford the original toys. With a reproduction, you can share your childhood and let the grandchildren wind it up."

Condition is paramount, she added, showing off a near-perfect, battery-operated Dancing Merry Chimp from the 1950s.

"It's the cleanest toy of its type I've ever seen," she said. The toy, which still has its original box, sells for $245.

"The number of functions a battery-operated toy performs helps determine the value and price," Nancy Diley said while pushing buttons that made the chimp dance, bulge her eyes and clap her hands.

Pam Hess and her daughter, Christiana Hess, 10, of Martinsburg, W.Va., visited the show "for the girl toys," Pam Hess said. "We share an interest in antique toys, mostly doll things."

Christiana carried one of her American Girl dolls, Kit, who depicts a girl from the Depression era. She and her mother were looking for a metal 1940s-style sink for Kit's dollhouse.

"We've gotten dishes and other accessories for the dolls at these shows," Pam Hess said.

"She still gets modern stuff, though," she added, holding up a McDonald's toy in a plastic bag.

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