Barbie, Snoopy trains take center stage at Pa. show

February 27, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

SCOTLAND, Pa. - Even with her makeup flawless, hair meticulously styled and evening gown bejeweled, Barbie didn't manage to claim the entire spotlight Sunday.

The beloved diva shared it with model trains, tiny cars and the other dolls making their own appearances at a show benefiting Cumberland Valley Model Railroad Club.

In its seventh year, the toy, train and doll show drew more than 350 people to the stands of collectors and dealers.


Many of the vendors said the show is a can't-miss, and just as many said their houses are brimming with collectibles.

"We've moved once for our collection, and we're in the process of building a (bigger) house," Beth Moats of Chambersburg said from behind a display of Snoopy memorabilia.

She adopted the love for Snoopy from her husband, Bob, who learned to read as a child with books that featured the beagle famous for his imagination and adventures detailed by Charles Schulz in Peanuts comic strips.

"We had the privilege of meeting Mr. Schulz before he passed," Beth Moats said.

The couple also receives memorabilia from the wife of the late cartoonist for auctions at a Snoopy-themed show they host each year to benefit Canine Companions for Independence, she said.

A few booths down from the Moats at the collectibles show, Doris Bikle explained that she now has hundreds of dolls in comparison to the few she had when young.

"As a child growing up in the Depression, there wasn't money to buy extra things. And I always loved dolls," she said.

Bikle only displays six dolls in her Chambersburg home; the rest are packed away for safe keeping. She has sewn many of the doll's dresses, meticulously attempting to stay true to the styles of what would have been their original garments.

"My mother taught me to sew when I was just a little kid," said Bikle, who sold an original Shirley Temple doll and displayed china dolls from the 1880s at the show.

The president of the Cumberland Valley Model Railroad Club, John Norris, and his wife, Susan, manned a booth to sell some of their private collection.

"We're getting rid of surplus," John Norris said.

Susan Norris developed a display of N gauge trains for the show in honor of the club's 10th anniversary.

The Norrises and Bill Robinson of Chambersburg, organizer of the collectibles show, arrived at 4 a.m. Sunday to prepare for the 9 a.m. opening of the event at Phyllis M. Argenbright Community Hall.

"We do this as a fundraiser twice a year," Robinson said.

Those funds, garnered from the admission and booth rental fees, allow the club to operate a permanent model train display at its facility on Nelson Street in Chambersburg. The display is visited by civic clubs, nursing home residents and youth groups, Robinson said.

Barbie made her appearance at the collectibles show as an astronaut, hula girl and crew member on the starship Enterprise. Other Barbies included Scarlett O'Hara from "Gone with the Wind" and Queen Amidala from "Star Wars."

"She's been around a long time," said Lisa Carey of Chambersburg.

Carey's collecting habits were influenced by her aunt, who purchased a number of Barbies and allowed her niece to play with them.

"They bought them to play with. Back then, Barbie was a kid's toy. Today, it's a very expensive collectible," said Lisa Carey's husband, Lowell.

They can be so expensive, in fact, that he usually only buys his wife the dolls for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. Those gifts are often more than $750, he said.

"I'm sticking to the vintage," said Lisa Carey. "I like the old stuff."

The difference between the older dolls and the ones found today is quality, she said.

Barbie was first made in Japan, where women handstitched the dolls' clothes at their homes. Someone would visit the home with a collection basket for the ladies' work.

"They used the real zippers and satins," Lisa Carey said.

Reflecting their origins, the first dolls had Japanese facial characteristics.

"Barbie went through probably four facial changes in her first two years," said Lisa Carey, who noted that the first dolls now bring $15,000 from serious collectors.

The Careys said one of the most difficult parts of collecting vintage Barbies is that tiny accessories to her outfits, like shoes and jewelry, have long since been lost or mangled by a vacuum.

"It's just a challenge to get a complete outfit," said Lowell Carey.

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