This Auckland Hobbies Fair is held bi-annually in Freemans Bay, near Ponsonby, and is substantially larger than the other Auckland toy and hobby fair on Dominion Road. It isn't unheard of to find some aviation bits and pieces at the fairs but it is unusual for it to be civil, good quality or reasonably priced. Nonetheless, I find the fairs hard to ignore and this was the first one I'd been to in over a year due to Covid.
I'm glad I did go along as there was one seller who had a substantial amount of civil aviation material for sale - including books and models. Among the models were a good number of 400 scale releases - mainly of New Zealand and Australian aircraft as you'd probably expect. Not unusually the pricing was quite variable with some models priced at the high-end of the spectrum ($200 for a Phoenix Air New Zealand Smaug 777-300 and $150 for an Air New Zealand 'Star Alliance' A320 by Aeroclassics) but others priced far more affordably.
Above: Both the 'In Colour' and the 'Red Star' book series are excellent
My son, who was with me, was not in the mood for me to linger so initially I just grabbed a couple of avbooks and came back later on by myself so I could haggle. As I had rather expected very few of the models had been sold and as the show was winding down the seller was open to some negotiation. Many of the models were hidden away and I only saw them for the first time after we began to chat.
Air New Zealand models tend to get premium pricing within NZ due to the perceived demand for them. They rarely if ever deserve it and I'm not sure the demand is there for them to that extent anyway. That meant I avoided all the Phoenix widebody models, which didn't really fit my collection criteria anyway. The other 400 scale models that are reasonably common in NZ are Dragon Wings as they were once sold in stores here. Sellers generally don't understand their obsolescence and lots of Dragon releases have limited value, however there is still value to be found in Dragon at times.
In the end I acquired 7 400 scale models - 1 Aeroclassics, 2 Phoenix, 3 Dragon and 1 Herpa. These all ranged in the $20-50 range, which is an area I felt more comfortable at! I've recently been looking at expanding my Australian collection a bit so the two Phoenix early Jetstar liveries were excellent purchases.
The Aeroclassics and Dragon models were nice gap fillers but the pick of the bunch was probably the Herpa CXExcitement Cathay Pacific Catalina. I really like the tiny Herpa Cat mould and with few civil releases this was only my 2nd catalina acquisition.
The seller also had some snap-fit models going at very reasonable prices ($10-25) and I couldn't resist grabbing a few of those as well, which look really nice in the hangar. So overall 12 models and 2 books was a good day's work aside from the fact I had originally only taken $40 to the show so ended up spending more than I had planned!
I believe the next Toy Fair is in September so if you're in the city I suggest checking it out.
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
This site is free. Please donate to keep it going.