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Top-Value Toys

Collectors Show features vintage dolls, stuffed animals and other novelty items.

January 15, 1998|IRENE GARCIA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

If you think toys are just for kids, check out the All-American Collectors Show this weekend at Glendale Civic Auditorium.

You'll see that when toys are from the turn of the century and cost thousands of dollars, they're for adults with big bucks.

"They're more like an art object than a toy," said collector Tauni Brustin. "They're something people put on their mantel."

That's because vintage toys are very different than their modern counterparts, Brustin said. Most of them have lots of detail work and sophisticated designs.

"You have to remember, back then toys were handmade and hand-painted, like art," she said.

Brustin's career as a collector started 30 years ago when she bought a Mickey Mouse watch for $12, which is now worth $250.

At the Glendale show she will feature many of her Disney items, such as a 1960 Mickey Mouse bank. Or a small car with Mickey and Minnie on each side, valued at $1,500.

"Anything licensed by Disney is very popular," said All-American Collectors Show promoter Jeff Dukow, himself a collector for more than 30 years. "The older the better."

In its 26th year, the event offers the world's largest selection of antique toys and vintage advertising signs in a festive setting. Two floors will be occupied by 250 dealers from around the world buying, selling and trading a variety of vintage items.

There will be tin wind-up toys, cast-iron toys, lots of Disney memorabilia, dolls, arcade machines, movie memorabilia, gambling items and much more.

About 60% of the event's dealers will sell antique toys, dolls and mechanical banks from the 1860s to the 1960s. Some will have advertising signs found in drug stores, barber shops and bars during the same period.

Doll prices range from $30 to as much as $10,000. A rare vintage doll in mint condition can go as high as $150,000. One of the more popular is the Ginny doll from the 1950s. Made of plastic, these dolls range in price from $100 to $400.

If you're into stuffed animals, keep in mind that the ones in this show aren't the cute, cuddly items won at carnivals. American Teddy Bears, named after former President Theodore Roosevelt, have been known to sell for $100,000, Dukow said.

There are also stuffed animals made in Germany in the 1890s that range in price from $30 to $800.

Then there is the cowboy memorabilia, such as guns and holsters, which can range from $20 for a set that's worn out to $300 for a set in top condition.

"The old cowboy stuff is very popular," Brustin said. "It really sells well and people love the whole Gene Autry thing about it."

Other well-liked items include characters created to promote such products as Alka-Seltzer and Pillsbury.

Best sellers among the advertising signs include one with Felix the Cat from old Chevy dealers, Colonel Sanders from the Kentucky Fried Chicken eateries and the icon from the Bob's Big Boy chain of restaurants. Other generic vintage neon signs are also big hits.

"There were only a couple of those Felix the Cat signs so those go for $4,000 to $5,000," Brustin said.

Those willing to spend more money can check out the mechanical banks made of cast iron, among the most expensive items at the show.

The banks, produced from the 1880s to the 1920s, are mostly American made and worth between $1,000 and $250,000.

Dukow's vast collection of mechanical banks includes one that features a baseball theme. When a coin is placed in the slot, a pitcher throws it to the batter, whose swing misses, allowing the coin to go in the bank. The price tag is $6,000.

"They're real fun and very whimsical," Dukow said. "Some of them are real entertaining too."

Dukow says many well-known celebrities are collectors who in past years have attended the show. Actress Demi Moore and actors Jonathan Winters, Dan Aykroyd and Robert Blake have been spotted strolling the Glendale Civic Auditorium floors in past years.

But you don't have to be a big-time collector with deep pockets and a multi-picture deal to find something at the show. Items such as pin buttons and comic character buttons may be purchased for as little as $1.

And even if you don't buy a thing, attending the event can be like a trip to a museum filled with memories.

BE THERE

All-American Collectors Show at Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road. Sat., 12-7 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $1 for children. Information: (310) 455-2894.

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