Because of my age, I am sitting here in splendid isolation and thought that, as it is the Company’s 25th. Anniversary of business, I would tell you something of the Company’s early history.
Back in 1986, two of us formed a partnership to open a shop “Collectors Paradise”, firstly in Cremorne, moving later to Chatswood. We specialised in Matchbox model cars, but shortly after we opened, because of my abiding interest in old English toys- the Meccano company (which included Dinky, Hornby as well as Meccano and went bankrupt in 1970), the original Mettoy (Corgi) and Britains, then still owned by the family. Britains had a distributor in Sydney and we purchased virtually the whole range stock in the shop, augmented by purchases of collections of old Britains, dating back to the 1940’s and 50’s.
This became a significant amount of our business and every Thursday night we had a gathering in our shop of collectors.. This included Derek Brown (D.B.Figurines) and we commenced selling his sets in the shop. Then followed Brigadier figures, then based in Wagga Wagga, Pearce Miniatures from Melbourne, C.P. Miniatures (Chris Johnson who had recently arrived in Sydney. Sadly, Derek Brown, Chris Johnson and Ricky Pearce are now deceased.
The group formed the Sydney Toy Soldier Collectors Club, which was going swimmingly until they decided to elect a committee, which blew out to about 8 office bearers, including a “Bandmaster” (he decided what music was to be played at functions). The straw that broke the camel’s back was when they appointed a purchasing manager for group buying. Of course being a shop where our customers were 80% of the membership and introduced by us. I withdrew my support and the club imploded. Even though it has been tried, over the years, to form a collector group, it has never happened again.
The business was trading nicely until late 1994, when Matchbox was taken over by Mattel, then the largest toy maker in the world. Immediately they started flooding the market with Model A and T commercial vehicles with different companies logos( Matchbox had always restricted this to 3 a year) , Of course, the collector market collapsed and our business where we selling 360 of each new model, dropped, virtually overnight,to 36. I spent the next 2 months travelling around N.S.W. selling to toy shops and wholesalers, cars in mixed lots This was successful, as they had never handled the product due to Matchbox only selling to designated “Collectable Centres” (ours covered the north side of Sydney.
In mid-1995, Peter Nathan Toy Soldiers was formed and I opened for business at the Woollahra Antique Centre.