Matchbox USA (1997) 16th Annual Convention Review

The club's 16th annual convention (the longest running Matchbox convention) was held on the weekend of May 31st & June 1st 1997 again at the "Parsippany Hilton" in NJ. This year the convention and the show was held about two weeks earlier than its regular time. It was a great weekend both weather wise and toy hunting wise and was enjoyed by all collectors. Just like every year, I did not go to the hotel on Friday night. I got to the hotel on Saturday morning around 11:00am. As usual Charlie Mack's had a table set up for members to view the auction items as well as registration for the dinner and convention. There were 4 promotional miniature models done this year. Two Code-2 (A Viper & a Prowler) for the convention and two Code-1 MB-44 Model T Vans for the toy show, the following day. I met with a few members at the table busy looking at the models and registering. I was surprise to see Nigel Cooper from UK at the hotel. For the past 4 years, that I have known him, I have never seen him here. But it was a great surprise. That is the fun part that we get to see other collectors that we usually don't get to see. Anyway, again like last year most of the club members were bunched together by the hotel management on the first floor, although some of them were on the second and third floors too. Room trading was brisk throughout the day with almost all rooms were open for early bird shoppers. I picked up a few models from my Want List.

I was told that many diehards arrived on Friday night looking for Guess what? Challenge Cars and other bargains and in room trading Very late at night. Same thing, i.e., in room trading, happened on early Saturday and went on till late in the afternoon. Many dealers had Challenge cars to sell/trade. I was surprised to hear the asking prices on some of these models. The price was as high as $50.00 for a $0.99 Challenge cars. I think this is a rip-off but we, collectors, are stupid (my personal opinion, no offense to anyone) enough to pay that price. I think if we stop buying these models at that ridiculously high price the models would sell at a reasonable price. Anyway, lets move on to the sit down dinner. The sit-down dinner started at 7:00pm an hour later than usual as there was a big Wedding Party going on in the hall next door. Around 120 people (as I counted 12 tables with 10 people on each table) attended the dinner with members coming from 13 different states including CT, OH, OR, IL, MA, MD, MI, MO, NJ, NY, PA, VA, & WV. Members from Australia, England, Germany, & Holland were also present. Before dinner and just before desert there were some spot prizes given. After dinner, rounds of door prizes were held with many interesting goodies being won. I came close twice, once by just one number and once by exactly 100 number off, but could not win anything. Hence I kept my tradition of not winning any door prizes. This was followed by a mini Award Presentation. Two awards were given. I think both of them were surprise awards. Bob Rosconi from Australia won a "Plane Shield" for traveling 500,000 miles to attend 15 out of 16 conventions. This award was given from Charlie Mack c/o of Matchbox USA. Art Cox of New Jersey gave a MOY award to Charlie Mack on the twentieth anniversary of MOY collecting.

This was followed by the auction. The auction started at around 9pm and lasted for about 2 hours. As usual the auction was hosted by Bruce Cohen. The lots for the auction were donated by dealers and collectors including Charlie Mack. There were a total of 134 lots auctioned of which 9 lots were withdrawn either because the maximum bid was not acceptable by the donor or no one bid on the item. Yes guys! there were two items for which no one bid. 15 lots were auctioned for over $100.00 and only one lot was auctioned for less than $10.00. The maximum bid was $550.00, while the lowest bid was $5.00. Although over $6,800 were realized from the auction, it was not as warm as it used to be. I think there were two main reasons:
two main auction bidders did not bid on items (don't ask me why)
the starting price on some items was way too high
I think if the starting prices were low more people more people would have participated and once the tempo is set the prices go up. But this is my personal thinking other people may think otherwise. Also, for the first time in my life I bid on a couple of lots but to no avail, I did not win anything, may be next time.

Sunday began the Toy Show. The dealer set up was at 7:00am with show starting at 9:00am. There were many dealers and collectors with their stalls. Again, for the first time in my life I took some of my spare models and was actually able to sell some. I did not find a lot of new items but I was able to pick some models from my Want List. As usual there were die cast items from Matchbox, Corgi, Tomy, Racing Champion, White Rose, Johnny Lightning, Hot Wheels and others. The show ended at 3:00pm.

Overall, I enjoyed the show and the convention. Just like last year the hotel did a nice job in organizing the event. Also, I should say that Charlie did a great job for running this convention every year so smoothly. The place is quite big and I think Charlie should consider this place again for next years. You must have noticed that I compared this convention with last year a lot, the reason is simple. Last year was the first time when I did report on any convention, so please ignore the repetition.

Before I close this review I wanted to mention one of my surprises. I did not know as to how popular is my web site among Matchbox Collectors. On two different occasions, I was dealing with two different dealers when I ran short on cash and asked them if I could pay them by check. Usually at toy shows no one takes a check from anyone unless they know the party. Both of these people asked me my name and then said, "Oh Yes! We have seen your WEB SITE, No problem, we will take a check from you." I was happy to hear that I am considered as a reputable Matchbox collector. All I want to say (to all the people reading this review and visiting my web site) is:

"THANK YOU for your support. Without your cooperation I would not have been able to do all this.
Please continue to visit my web site and keep sending me your comments and suggestions."

Now is the time to end this review. I hope the collectors enjoyed it. Please feel free to make comments and let me of your concerns.

Shabbir Malik (6/97)./

G book

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