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.

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