York Racecourse turns into playground for toy fans, dinky and not so dinky

They were made to be played with and then discarded at the bottom of a toy box, but it is the ones that remained in their cartons that are popular now.

ALL ABOARD: Clockwise from top, Susan Riley examining a die-cast London bus on her stall at the toy fair at York Racecourse. PIC: Charlotte Graham

A fair at York Racecourse devoted to old toys and models attracted more than 100 stalls and 600 buyers, rummaging for old Corgi and Dinky cars, Hornby trains, Action Men and other 20th century collectables.

“December is our busiest time, for obvious reasons,” said Lorraine Webb, event manager of the family-run J&J Fairs toy business.

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Her father, John Webb, began collecting toys in Lincolnshire in the 1980s and expanded to promoting fairs at which other enthusiasts could buy and sell their models, across the country. They now range in size from 40 to 350 tables.

But the preference varies according to the area, Ms Webb said.

“In Lincolnshire, people like tractors and agricultural vehicles – it goes with the countryside.

“Other places like die-cast metal toys or train sets. In York, it was a bit of everything.”

She said those at the tables were often collectors, but children were still to be seen searching for something they liked.

“Some people are just looking for a toy to play with,” she added.

Although vintage toys are pitched at somewhere above pocket-money prices, most Dinky cars can be bought for less than £200, even in mint condition, according to Antiques Trade Gazette.

But in 2003, a model of an old Foden lorry sold at auction for £10,200, and five years later, a boxed set of six pre-war delivery vehicles fetched £30,000.

Other collectable toys include those themed around films and TV series, as well as Meccano buildings sets and Scalextric racing car kits.