Over the weekend, I visited the Greenberg Train & Toy show on its stop in Chantilly, Virginia. This show rolls through town a couple of times a year and I usually shell out the seven bucks to attend. This time, I left the kids at home so I was able to actually stop and look at the vendor stalls and take a few photos — something that is hard to do with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old tugging on each hand.
I’m actually glad I left the boys at home this time, since the show had only few things that would have entertained them. The show was more for buying than for entertaining, which is a shame. There were only a few train layouts set up and a single ride-on train to make the show kid-friendly.
I’ve been attending model train shows for years and have dabbled in a layout of my own. The hobby seems to be dying a slow death, as it can be incredibly expensive, and kids just aren’t as interested in trains anymore. I’m in my late 30’s and I was probably one of the youngest guys there. If the model train community wants to survive, they need to do more to energize the youth — have some hand’s on activities for the kids, and bring in the LEGO train builders. A few simple things could go a far way in exciting the next generation about the hobby.
If you are a buyer or collector of trains, there was certainly plenty to see:
Here’s a vendor who specialized in Lionel trains:
I loved this assortment of vintage built-up model planes:
Of course, my reason for going to the show was to find some old toys. There were probably over 200 exhibitors but only five toy vendors, so the selection was a bit anemic. There were two vendors who had a nice selection of pop culture items including this one:
and this one:
I spoke with the owners of these booths and was particularly interested in one, who stated that he saw the light a few years ago, in that the younger generation wasn’t interested in trains nearly as much as it was interested in toys such as action figures, so he switched his entire inventory. From what I could see, he made a wise decision as his booth was the busiest one around. I bought three items from him and will quickly seek him out at the next show.
Nestled among all the vendors, there were even a few working train layouts to ogle. As I said, I’ve been to this show many times, and I’ve seen these same layouts many times. Some of the modules are excellent and richly detailed, but I wish the modelling clubs could bring in some new blood and get a little more creative with their displays. I’d love to see a futuristic layout or one based on pop culture (of course).
Overall, the show was great if you wanted to buy some trains. I’m sure I’ll continue to attend and will be interested in seeing if more toy vendors start to show up. You can see the vintage goodies that came home with me here. Did you go to the show? What did you think?
Dude.. photo number five!! I have that police car in a box somewhere! The guts are removed from it, but I’m sure I could put it together and get it to work. It’s a Ford Pinto police car that my mom bought me in 1978. It has a siren with light and sound, and would drive in a straight line until it hit a wall or obstacle. It then does a 90 or 180 degree turn, and then continues on its way
Looks like a pretty good show. Picture #5 alone displays a treasure trove of toys. I’ve been keeping an eye out for a Helper clock, but it’s kind of hard to find one that’s not discolored from time and elements (like kitchen grease). I also used to have a Vinyl Trix rabbit, I’d buy one today if I could get one at the right price. The ceramic Minnie Mouse.. can’t tell you how many of those my wife has. LOL. Looks like a vintage Big Boy in the picture too. I’ve got a newer version on display in my office.
What’s bugging me though… who is that cowboy on the ball? He reminds me of the waffelo’s cereal guy but I know it’s not him. Argggh.. I can’t remember who he is to save my life!
Darrin- That cowboy reminds me of those old “I Hanker for a hunk of cheese” cartoons that used to run on Saturday mornings, but I know that’s not right. Now I have some homework to do!
I’ve been going to the Greenberg’s Train show the last three years when they’ve stopped outside of Philadelphia. I was raised with model trains of all scales, mostly HO & O. Every year I pick up more rolling stock for my layout, but I do keep an eye out on the few toy sellers. Almost picked up some Captain Power MOSC figures, but what ever would I do with them?
Ha! I ask myself that same question all the time, but it’s usually after I’ve plunked down the cash.
I got pretty big into an HO layout a few years ago, but enjoyed the modelling way more than the trains. My layout looked awesome but I could never get the track straight and clean, so the trains never ran well.
What’s the model train atmosphere like in Philadelphia? Like I mentioned above, here in the DC ‘burbs, there are a bunch of old guys into it, but not much young blood.
Yes!!! I remember… His name is Big Yella, old mascot for corn pops. Oh my… I feel Soooo much better now.
Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! http://www.flickr.com/photos/wafflewhiffer/224222076/
That looks like a lot of fun. I wish they had some cool toy shows in my neck of the woods.
Tommy- i’m sure they have this kind of thing in your area, but you probably need to look out for things like antique fairs. There are usually a few toy vendors nestled in among all the old furniture and jewelry booths. If you find a good show, let me know!