I've just returned from the Greater York Toy Extravaganza at the York Expo Center in York, Pennsylvania. I've never been to a toy "extravaganza" before, but I'd really have to say this seemed to be one.
First of all, the show was freakin' huge. Seriously, I've been to dinky, little, local toy shows a lot, but nothing prepared me for this thing. There were two huge banquet halls (a total of 28,202 square feet) filled with vintage-to-modern era toys and other collectibles. (There was also a train show going on somewhere else at the Expo Center, but screw that. This isn't "weirdotrains.com.") And to top it all off, they had music playing in both halls – non-stop Christmas songs. It was great. It felt like we were all going Christmas shopping for ourselves.
As I did with my trip to the Allentown Antique Toy Show last year, I'd like to let you know some things I've taken home from this experience.
1. There are still tons of toy lovers out there.
There were 800 or so tables set up at the show, all surrounded by people eager to buy and sell toys. That means there are tons of people that still have plenty of money to waste on toys... which excites me. It means even in the "recession" the US economy is in, we can still take time to spend money on the unnecessary, fun stuff (myself included). It's great to see people flocking to tables, mingling and laughing, and squeezing through the toy aisles. We are obsessed by our hobby. Some more than others, but there is a common thread for every grown man and woman there. You were either buying something to add to your trash pile at home, or you tagged along with someone who was buying stuff to add to the pile of trash at home. There's nothing wrong with it. I do it. Maybe even you do it. I think it's that quest for the missing or undiscovered gem of a toy... or we're filling a void in our lives... or it's just plain fun.
2. This selection was diverse and so was the crowd (not really).
This show was much more to my liking than the Allentown toy show I attended last year. It had a lot more "weirdo" stuff at a better price range.
The crowds, on the other hand, were not nearly as diverse as the selection. There was not much diversity in race or gender, but in age? Definitely. There were kids all over, teens, middle-aged folks, and even old fogies. It was great seeing the different generations and their generational toy gaps.
As a side note, I'd have to say toy collectors are predominantly white. I'd say that 99.99% of the crowd that day were white people. Not that it matters or anything really. I just thought I'd mention it. (Now that I think of it, most of the human toys I've featured on the blog are caucasian. Crap. Sorry readers. I don't intend on being so racially biased, but it appears the weirdo toy market is.)
3. Sometimes you have to buy out of obligation.
When you've traveled over 600 miles to get to a toy show, you damn well better find something. I'm not sure if what I'm going to feature over the next several weeks will entertain you all. I have a fear that I've resorted to buying things out of desperation or over-excitement. I feel like I bought some things that I might not have at a local show, and I resorted to buying pricier things I wouldn't have at other shows. Oh well. No regrets.
4. Some of the toy collecting stereotypes appear to be true.
Not everyone there was a socially awkward, overweight, unwashed, middle-aged, single man, but there were enough of them there to scare me. I seriously was sorting through a bin while a guy next to me was crapping himself. I kid you not. It was either that, or a major shart... and he smelled like cheese. As long as I bathe, keep running a few times a week and keep my girlfriend, maybe, just maybe, I won't follow that pattern. Seriously, all we have to do is clean up a bit. It's not that difficult.
5. An empty suitcase is a good suitcase.
Here's some advice for folks traveling to toy shows by plane: pack lightly. I brought a nearly empty suitcase with me to York. I only packed toiletries, an extra t-shirt, undies and socks. The rest of the suitcase was dedicated to my hopefully large toy haul. I just brought it along as carry-on luggage, and it worked pretty well for me. It also gave airport security screeners something to chat about when screening my luggage.
Stay tuned loyal readers, because now it's time for me to start posting some of my findings. Have a good week. Hopefully I can update this blog again before the end of the week.