St. Charles show offers toybox of memories
If you ever wondered whatever became of that favorite doll or Hot Wheels set from childhood, you may have found the answer this weekend at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles.
The 39th annual Chicago Toy Show would have rekindled even the most dormant childhood memories. GI Joe was there. So was Barbie. And you could find everything from old Matchbox cars to Viewmasters.
In addition to toys, you could find obscure memorabilia, including a poster for Romney for President — not Mitt Romney, but his father, George — and a 1970 Chicago Cubs schedule.
"You never know what you're going to find," said Riverwoods resident Herb Regan, who runs the operation, which has been in his family since its inception. "I have been out here working every crazy job since about age seven."
Regan said the show, which is held in six buildings housing more than 600 dealers, attracts around 3,000 people, some from as far away as Wisconsin and Ohio.
They included Joan Schratt of Crystal Lake, who filled her bag with an old issue of Doll Reader magazine and a Russian roly poly toy, as well as a model of a 1970 Mustang for her son.
Schratt, who said she has a doll collection that dates back to the 1860s, said the show has a collection of vendors that is probably second only to the UFDC (United Federation of Doll Clubs) convention.
The convention catered to the most obscure taste. An Aurora vendor sold Pez dispensers, which pleased Jacque Spohr of Ingleside, whose 17-year-old son Brent collects them.
"He just started falling in love with them," she said.
Spohr said he prefers the older Pez heads. Their haul Sunday included a "diabolic" Pez head from the late 1970s.
Several vendors have been regulars for more than a decade, including Debra Coleman, of Perrysburg, Ohio.
"It's kind of like an extended family," she said. "People just can't wait to get here and hang out and chat."
Former St. Charles residents Kevin and Bonnie Lee, who live in Sparta, Wis., were among Coleman's customers. They said they collect smaller figurines, including Walt Disney figurines.
Kevin said the collection takes up five cabinets.
The Lees have come to rely on vendors like Coleman displaying at the show.
"They know that we are going to be here, so they watch for different things for us throughout the year, and they will set things aside for us," Kevin Lee said.
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