Sunday 24th July started out like any other day. I took my lad swimming and then popped into one of the quarterly toy and hobby fairs in Auckland. They are usually full of trains and Hot Wheels with nary an airplane to be seen but this time was different. This time it would start off an opportunity that not only saw me acquire nearly 70 new models but also make a small profit in the process! The Auckland toy and hobby fair runs twice a year out of the community hall on Dominion Road near Mt Eden, Auckland (the other two times a year it's a larger affair at Freemans Bay). Kiwis just don't care much about aircraft so there is rarely much there for myself and I content myself with picking up the odd book or scouring the sections for transformers and dinosaurs for my lad (and me).
Not this time though - as soon as we approached the entrance I could see a stack of distinctive Gemini Jets boxes and I felt the sort of rush that you just don't get living in New Zealand.
Not only that but the chap selling had a 1:200 Scale Pan Am DC-10. It was a beauty, however annoyingly I was literally beaten to it by the guy in front of me who got it for a steal - $40 NZD! Even better the seller was selling his Gemini's for only $10 NZD apiece! Suddenly the $40 I'd brought along looked woefully inadequate. I scooped up as many Geminis and Dragon Wings as I could readily pay for and put a few other models aside (including a Blue Box Saudia 747-300) with the guy until I could get to a cash machine.
My lad (all of 5) was less than impressed with daddy buying 'more aeroplanes' when I should have been helping him buy Hot Wheels but nonetheless I dragged him to the cash machine and got back in time to spend another $100 or so. I felt pretty happy with my haul but this was only the beginning as the seller remarked in passing that he had literally hundreds more 1:400s for sale - for $10-15 NZD each! Too good an offer to pass up - I took down his phone number.
By 3pm that afternoon I was round his house. Turns out that he's a massive model railroad fan and has the most amazing trainset I've ever seen. He was also the co-founder of the New Zealand chain of Hobby City (still in business in a limited fashion and the only brick and mortar business still selling 1/400s in NZ I know of). Anyway he was actually selling his son's collection. His son, now a grown man with a family of his own, had acquired hundreds of 1/400s, mainly Gemini jets and Dragon Wings, but now wanted rid of them. His elderly father, to whom the task fell, was understandably daunted by the size of the task ahead - so it's just as well I turned up :) .
I liberated another 30 models and went home but had a nagging feeling of an opportunity. The seller had asked me to see if I could find anyone interested in buying anymore so I put the word out on Facebook and was contacted by my regular dealer Mr Waffle. Now Michael may be a Trump voter with a hot temper but he is also a reliable, trustworthy businessman who has never steered me wrong in the many years I've dealt with him. In fact he's done me more than a few favours, from great discounts, to replacement models, to GSE, to most recently a replacement set of Aeroclassics A330 maingear. I can't recommend his shop highly enough - play by the rules and you'll get a good deal.
Below: A closer look at the models I kept for myself. There were many more I was tempted by!
Despite the no doubt insane shipping costs from NZ to the USA he was keen to do a deal so I agreed to act as the middleman and buy up the models and ship them over to him. I had estimated that there were about 200 models but as it turns out there were over 300. My wife, supportive as ever, greenlit the whole thing and I shelled out a small fortune to acquire the lot. Naturally I had a quick look through the boxes and acquired some more for my collection too!
I tell you it was quite a feeling looking through over 300 aircraft in 10 boxes, never knowing what you might find. In the end 288 models were reorganised into 7 boxes for shipment. They consisted of about 2/5th Dragon Wings, 2/5th Gemini Jets and 1/5th a mix of Aeroclassics, SMA, Sovereign, Blue Box and Herpa. Good to his word Waffle bought the lot and they are on their way to California to be up on the Collection Sale by early next week.
As for me I made some money on the USD-NZD conversion - enough to pay for the 69 models I ended up keeping and the last order from Waffle. Plus I also got a selection of 1/144 scale Corgi models featuring classic prop-liners, which he sold to me for only $25 NZD apiece. I get the feeling this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I'm well happy with the outcome. Hopefully you'll be able to grab a model or two at Waffle's Collection sale when they are posted soon.
All the models represented jets and were from releases prior to about 2007. There were lots of older releases and it gave me the opportunity to review some of the Dragon moulds I'd never owned. I took some photos and these'll be used towards future mould reviews. Being of the right sort of date however there was also some disappointments as 4 Aeroclassics 737s exhibited impressive signs of Zinc Rot. These were namely Air Tanzania, Canadian Pacifique, Eastern Provincial and Pacific Western examples. A real shame as I don't own the latter three. This is the first time I've ever seen Zinc rot up close - the degradation is impressive! Anyway I didn't look through every model but from what I saw the rest were all mint in box so enjoy the sale of these kiwi owned models.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of 1/400 scale model aircraft and airports. This blog reports work on my model airport dioramas and discussion of the model manufacturers output.