No matter where you live on this planet, if you collect diecast then it is an almost certainty that you have attended at least one toy show or fair. They are usually run by fellow enthusiasts and can be a great place to find that missing item for your collection or just a great place to meet up with like minded individuals to discuss the finer points of the hobby.
There are the smaller monthly meets like those run by local clubs; The Sydney Model Auto Club run a monthly meet in the Sydney suburb of Granville and having previously attended this event myself on a regular basis I can tell you that its is always a great night to catch up with other collectors and do a bit of trading as well. In the UK you can attend larger events like those held in Birmingham; these shows generally feature far more than just diecast and run for a longer time than the smaller meets but are just as much fun and just as much a place to find a great deal.
Of course then there are the bigger meets, things like Modell-Hobby-Spiel held in Leipzig, Germany each October but if you collect Matchbox as your primary or exclusive brand then there can be no bigger and there can be no better than the annual Collectors Gathering of Friends held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the USA and within a month it will be time for the 2019 meeting.
If you have never heard of this event or never attended; then its time to change that. Like other diecast related events big or small held around the world it is a fantastic place to meet your fellow collectors, catch up with friends made online and to buy, trade or swap for that elusive missing piece of your collection. But what makes this particular event stand out is the amount that is packed in to the entire 3 day long event.
Because the event takes place over three days you get a chance to do so much more than just visit a toy show. This year is the 17th time that this event has run and as usual has been organised by the world renowned collector and friend to many Mr Jim Gallegos. Jim has collected diecast with a specialisation in Matchbox since his parents gave him his first cars back in 1963 and has now amassed a collection of Matchbox and other brands that numbers in the hundreds of thousands. But it is not just Jim that you will meet, through his varied contacts he has manged to get Mattel themselves involved in the gathering. Mattel now use this meeting as one of the main places that they will launch and show to the public for the first time some of the upcoming product; this fact attracts a lot of people who are keen to see what may hit the store shelves in the coming year.
Along with the all the benefits of having Mattel involved there is so much more that this event has to offer; each year there a range of talks and workshops freely available for attendees. This year there will talks by Jim Reid who will take a look at some of the real life models that inspired Lesney the original manufacturers of Matchbox, to a talk by Paul Carr a well known collector and ex-employee of Lesney on the people behind the scenes. Not part of the official program but also in attendance will be the likes of Micheal Heralda; a now retired designer from Mattel and man responsible for 5000 different designs for both Matchbox and Hot Wheels.
Mattels involvement is not just a preview of upcoming models, some of their staff that are currently part of the Matchbox team will also be in attendance to discuss a variety of topics of interest to those that love their Matchbox vehicles. When the day is done and the talks are over, the Saturday night ends with a dinner and charity auction which again is well supplied by Mattel with some very unique models. If you do want to attend though, you need to be quick; tickets to the dinner & charity auction usually go on sale at midnight on December 31st prior to the July event and are sold out within days and is it any wonder. The dinner is not only a great meal and a charity auction but also comes with an exclusive Matchbox model made by Mattel specifically for this event. These models are very exclusive, only available on the night in limited numbers so become extremely highly sort after.
After all of that the event winds up on the Sunday with a toy show in the Grand Ballroom of the Albuquerque Marriott Hotel alongside a great first responder vehicle display outside in the car park, a play area for the kids sponsored by Mattel and finally an autograph session with the Matchbox team.
Although I have not been yet myself, this meet is certainly on my list of collectors gatherings to get to one day; having spoken with many that have attended over the years it certainly has a big reputation and lives up to that each year as many attend each year and they are not local to the area. Many of the people I have spoken to fly in from around the world so when people are willing to go to that extent and cost just to get to a toy show; then you know it must be good.