Friday, October 28, 2016

Chicago Toy Show (aka the Kane County Show)

Twice a year, the fields of Northern Illinois come alive with the sounds of thousands of toy collectors descending on the Kane County Fairgrounds. That's the site of the venerable Chicago Toy Show.
Filling buildings with names like "Rabbit Building," the "Prairie Events Center" and the "Doll House," some 600+ dealers assemble to sell antique dolls and tin toys, Star Wars figures and Hot wheel cars, plus modern toys like Funko Pop figures and Lego mini figs.

This event was held on October 23, 2016. When you talk to old hands about the show, they speak in hushed whispers about the glory days before the Internet, when deals at Kane County flowed like wine and people traveled from all over the world to get in on the action. These days, auction websites and the democratization of information have leveled the playing field, contributing to the decline of toy shows (and not just in the USA).
But there are still a lot of people who like seeing toys in person before buying them, not to mention fraternizing with collecting buddies and learning from the greybeards who bring centuries of combined knowledge and wisdom. Plus there are several food trucks selling delicious ice cream with freshly made waffle cones. So good...

Here's a look at the show:
There are many high quality toys and excellent displays at the Kane County show.

 More after the jump:

One of the coolest things I saw in the main hall

More exceptional metal toys, though I'm not sure too many marching bands rode stage coaches through town. ^_^

This amazing grouping of Popeye tin toys was mostly made in the USA by Marx, with some made in post-war Japan by a factory in cooperation with Marx. The man running the booth was a wealth of information and a connoisseur of tin toy preservation - not to mention a funny guy.
I'm not an expert in Disneyana, but the dealer at this booth pointed out that this Donald Duck toy is very rare.

Nice Conoco sign. I've heard fakes and replicas have impacted sign collecting. It's becoming common at shops and online to see all kinds of metal signs purposely "aged" and beaten to appear vintage.
Speaking of repops, the dealer at this booth knows where it's at. Very friendly guy who shared his experience collecting and selling Star Wars toys.

There were a number of serious Pez vendors at the show.

There was a MASSIVE selection of vintage Star Wars available - mostly loose, some carded, and a few marquee figures. 

Taiwan vintage bootleg pre-Transformers Takara Microman Camera Robo (later to become Reflector in the Transformers line).

A couple of dealers had Lego mini fig armies. Imagine how much set up time that takes.

There are plenty of bargains to be found at the show, and haggling is expected.


Vintage Tauntaun army! (and a Dewback with a modern Hoth Han on it??)

Lots of dealers at the show bag loose figures and put their own headers on them. I guess it's a good way to get your store's info out there.

Some video games present, but just at a few booths
One of the trailers in the dealer parking lot. Exhibitors I talked to live anywhere from two to twelve hours by car from the Chicagoland area. 
The "Doll House" is one of the show's largest buildings. Sellers display vintage bisque dolls, early Barbies, and a lot more. You do get the sense that the doll presence was probably much more prominent in past decades. These days, the Doll House also houses other vintage toy sellers, not to mention a guy selling affordable acrylic cases.

And that's a wrap on our Fall 2016 Chicago Toy Show report. Thanks for reading! Head over to our Facebook page to drop a comment and say hi.

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