Note: This feature is in the June TF 2020 issue
Gavin Redman of Wellington, New Zealand, collects English-made die-cast Matchbox toys, including tractors and farm-related models from the Lesney years of 1954-1982. The collection is comprised of the I-75 series of miniature replicas, with both Regular and Superfast wheels, sold as individually boxed toys.
His adult collection began in 2001, and contains few of his childhood toys. At least one representation of each tractor's issued colors is included, such as No. 46f Ford Tractor, painted in both blue and green finishes.
From its inception, Lesney used zamak, also known as Mazak, a zinc alloy, for casting Matchbox toys. The company was always conscious of children's safety and never cast models from lead or painted them with a lead-based paint.
Gavin likes the compact size of the models, which makes storage easier. "There's always the challenge to find something new," he says. "The more you have, the harder it is to get new ones. The ones you're looking for are ones that everyone else is looking for."
He will have some competition at the annual Wellington Toy Fair that he and Tony Dowman organize. This year, the event's 10th anniversary show, will be held in the Chilton St. James School hall, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, on Sunday July 5, COVID-19 restrictions permitting. Collectors and sellers of farming models and other toys come from as far as Auckland and Thames to attend the largest fair of its kind in New Zealand's lower North Island. When there's a lull in the hall, Gavin will leave their stall to Tony while he canvases the venue, searching for what he's after. Or Tony may have gone first, as they take it in turns.