Toy show re-sparks model mystery

By Luke Smith

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Robert’s toy collection

A Leicester toy show has re-opened the mystery into a plethora of buried toys dumped from a factory dating back to 1985.

‘May The Toys Be With You’ is an exhibition showcasing the role of Leicestershire toy manufacturer Palitoy in selling more than 300 million action figures.

When the factory shut down in 1994, there were rumours that thousands of toys were thrown into a landfill site.

The former chief designer of Palitoy, Bob Brechin, told the Leicester Mercury earlier this year that the rumours were true, confirming most Palitoy toys were sent to Lount Pit recycling centre in Ashby.

Toy collector Robert Stuart-Jack said: “The Palitoy factory in Leicester is a bit legendary in the Star Wars collector community. There are urban myths about a landfill of figures when it closed.

“I got my first toy before I’d actually seen Star Wars, but the hype was out there with a Marvel Comic and Topps Trading Cards. I was nine, so it had a huge impact on me.

“When I got married to Ruth, we got our first house and I sold my childhood collection for £325 to pay for our first ‘widescreen TV’. Since then, I have rebuilt my collection, and I am also a member of ‘Echo Base’ which is an online collecting community.”

Another collector, Mark Gibson, said the big thing at the start was ‘Action Man’, another product of Palitoy: “I spent a lot of my childhood playing with Action Man, but it’s well known that their sales were hit massively by the introduction of Star Wars figures when they arrived in 1977.

“I actually lost interest in my teens when football took over my life, but later in my 20s, Robert encouraged me to start rebuilding my collection, picking up cheap figures in shops and car boot sales, and I stored them away in my loft as an investment.”

The Palitoy factory produced many toys, including figurines of the rare bounty hunter Boba Fett, which cost £1.80 in 1980 but can now fetch up to £18,000 at auction. It is believed many of these valuable collectables are still to be unearthed on the old factory landfill.

‘May The Toys Be With You’ opened on July 21 and runs until October 28 at the New Walk Museum in Leicester.

DMU to host talk on black experience in the media industry

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Mill Studios will host the event on Wednesday

By Matthew Chandler

The hardships of being black professionals in the film and media industry will be discussed at De Montfort University (DMU) tomorrow (WED OCT 10)

Beverley Cooper-Chambers will share her thoughts on how her Caribbean background has impacted on her work in the media, while Yvonne Connikie will talk more generally about the black experience in this industry.

The event at Mill Studios will form part of DMU Black History Month.

Jason Lee, professor of culture and creative writing at DMU, said he feels the audience will be able to resonate with both speakers regardless of their own background:

“Racism still exists so it’s important to address this in the film industry and in general.

“Obviously, it’s still about nepotism to a degree; if your father works in the industry, you work in the industry. That hopefully will be coming from the questions as well, particularly with Yvonne. It is about academic research as well; that will be useful for anybody.”

Beverley, a PhD researcher at DMU, is currently investigating why British Caribbean families are stereotyped in television dramas, and how slavery has impacted on these representations.

Jason hopes this relationship is something those attending will become more aware of, adding:

“Hopefully from Beverley, [the] impact of capitalism on the degradation of humanity, particularly large cities like London, Bristol, Liverpool [which] were built on slavery, so I hope people get an understanding of the devastating effect this has had.

“I hope some of the questions people have will be to do with modern-day slavery, which is funding the criminal economy, so there is a correlation between the legal and the illegal.”

Yvonne, a PhD researcher at the University of South Wales, specialises in Black British independent film and founded the Black Film Festival Wales.

Jason wants people to gain an understanding of what being in a minority group is like in the film industry:

“She [Yvonne] has loads of experiences from setting up festivals, exhibitions, and is an expert of black film itself, so I want people to get an understanding of the black experience in relation to black history and also the contribution of black filmmakers in general.

“I want people to be inspired by what both speakers are saying.”

To register for Wednesday’s talk, contact Jason at jason.lee@dmu.ac.uk.

DemonFM board votes to not renew licence

By Alex Murray

Members of the DemonFM board have voted to not renew their OFCOM Licence this morning (Tues Oct 9), meaning that the station will no longer broadcast on FM Radio from the beginning of the next academic year.

The Demon Board voted seven against four against the renewal of the licence.

The current licence will expire at the end of this academic year.

De Montfort University, De Montfort Students’ Union and the Demon Media Board had all been discussing the pros and cons of remaining a community station, but a vote by the Demon Board means that the licence will not be renewed.

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The recently remodelled DemonFM studio, which will no longer broadcast on FM frequencies. 

Speaking before the announcement of the vote, Charlotte Lingham, Head Of Marketing and Communications for the station, explained what the changes would be if the station were to not renew their licence.

Ms Lingham said: “DemonFM is coming to the end of their 2nd term and 10th year with a community radio licence. Legally, a station cannot have more than three terms, so that means it’s time to decide if we want to apply for our 3rd and final term with the licence.

“The community OFCOM licence allows the station to broadcast on the FM frequency 107.5 FM.

“It also means that we have presenters and DJs who are members of the community. These members mostly take evening and weekend slots, but not exclusively. Having this OFCOM licence also means that we have to abide by the laws of OFCOM, which help to protect the general public and our listeners.”

The station did ask for opinions, with members being able to voice their opinions in the students’ union. These opinions were passed on to the board, before they voted on their final decision.

However, the board have now made their decision on the renewal of the licence. This means that the community members who currently broadcast on the station will no longer be able to after this year.

Although the move had been criticised by some, the decision will open more opportunities for DMU students. More slots will now be available for students to broadcast on the station, helping them to develop their skills on the mic and the desk.

The move will continue to be scrutinised by some. However, the board have finally made their key decision that will shape the future of the station for the next few years.

The Little Theatre attracts big crowd on opening night of cult classic musical

By Jake Olner

Hundreds of people piled through the doors of the Little Theatre last night (Mon Oct 8) for the opening show of the cult classic musical the Little Shop of Horrors.

Last night marked the first showing of a week-long production of the iconic musical the Little Shop of Horrors.

The horror comedy musical brought loyal regulars and new customers and sold over 200 tickets on the opening night.

Claire Goodwin, who has been working at the theatre as a barmaid for 14 years, said: “I noticed that there was a lot of people here tonight that I haven’t seen before, new people.

“That’s just the type of show it is – it’s the Little Shop of Horrors, it has a cult following, doesn’t it?”

The Little Theatre in Dover Street, Leicester, has been a staple of the city’s arts and entertainment scene for nearly one hundred years, celebrating its centenary in 2022.

The bar manager, Kathy Anderton, who has been working at the theatre for 23 years, said: “The beauty of this theatre is that it’s a small intimate space.

“It’s such a nice old-fashioned theatre, everything’s red and gold like theatres used to be.

“We know our customers by name and it’s great,” she added.

Throngs of excited theatre-goers waited in the busy foyer before being asked to take their seats in the auditorium.

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Malcolm, treasurer of The IDOLS, welcomes in the audience to the auditorium

Rebecca Tinsley, 56, of Humberstone, who was enjoying the evening with her two daughters, said: “I took Ruby, my youngest daughter, to see it when she was younger and it stuck with her and now she’s brought the tickets for me.

“We’re absolutely regulars, we’ve been coming here since even I was a little dot.

“The Little Theatre is near, convenient, well priced and they put on really good productions.

“It’s just a little more intimate than bigger theatres and we like that.”

This week’s showing of the musical is being orchestrated by The IDOLS production company who have been performing musical shows in Leicester for over 60 years.

Amber French, 18, who studies performing arts at De Montfort University, said after the performance: “I have not seen the show before but I was very impressed tonight.

“I loved the relationship between Seymour and Audrey, that was great, and the dentist was really funny.

“I would highly recommend it to someone who hasn’t seen it before, it was really, really good.”

Tickets are £15 and can be brought online or from the theatre’s box office between 10.30am and 7pm.

Prison art on show at two Leicester museums

By Muhsin Cabdi

An art exhibition featuring works of art from inmates of the local prison is currently on display in Leicester’s New Walk Museum and the Soft Touch Art Gallery.

The Unlocked exhibition was revealed to the public on September 14 and the last day to see the showcase is this Friday (Oct 12).

The Soft Touch Arts Centre on Leicester’s New Walk was created as a participatory arts program in the Leicester community for disadvantaged children, such as children expelled from schools or children with difficulties and issues back home.

It provides free art lessons taught by art instructors for the children, as well as food on site prepared by voluntary workers.

The exhibition is free to view at both the Soft Touch Arts Centre and the New Walk Museum and visitors are encouraged to take a look at the vibrant displays of artistic creativity.

It features a range of collections, submitted under aliases, from men serving sentences at HMP Leicester as well as those who have completed their sentences and returned to their communities.

Sally Norman, a volunteer at the Soft Touch Art Gallery and supervisor of the exhibition, worked on the program, which was aimed at prisoners and inmates of the local prison.

Sally said: “It is the results of the first year of a three-year program which is looking at whether creative art is beneficial for mental health and wellbeing.

“It is about unlocking potential and unlocking creativity and unlocking positive mental health and wellbeing.”

The exhibition is not a competition as the purpose behind it is not discovering artistic talents and more about what art can do for them.

As such there will be no awards given for exceptional works of art in the exhibition.