Simon gets it. Greg gets it. I get it, but I’m not sure Max, the photographer, gets it. Too young, I reckon. I’m talking about that feeling of nostalgia triggered by the sight of old die-cast model cars by Corgi, Dinky and Matchbox.
I’m surrounded by them here in the Collectors Old Toy Shop in Halifax, owned by Simon Haley, 54. He’s joined by Greg Brooke, 62, a customer and collector who has been coming to the shop for 27 years.
“I had one of those and one of those – and one of those!” I, a 59-year-old, can’t help exclaiming as I peer at the shelves and glass cabinets filled with row upon row of the exquisite diecast cars, many of the most valuable ones still in their boxes.
Every visitor of a certain age says it, apparently. Some turn up just to ogle the models and be transported back to a time when their idea of fun was pushing their own along the carpet. And then overnight they outgrew their Minis, Zephyr Zodiacs and fire engines, and up to the loft or, more likely, to the jumble sale the little cars went, never to be played with again.
Haley stocks a few hundred of these battered old relics from childhood. Priced from £1 each, they spill out of baskets at the back of the shop, where they’re popular not only with young visitors but also with collectors harvesting spare parts.
At the other end of the shop’s price spectrum is Haley’s Corgi No.267 Batmobile. It appears to be in mint condition and together with its original box is priced at £500. However, there are Batmobiles and there are Batmobiles… Haley’s is the so-called Black First Issue of 1966. His price is competitive considering that Collect-a-Toy, which publishes a price guide for popular collectors’ models, suggests that one in A+ condition with its box is worth £538.