Treasures that mom trashed Collectors: Your games, cards and toys that disappeared years ago turned up at the Greater Baltimore Collectors Mart. They're worth a lot more now.

April 14, 1997|By Dan Fesperman | Dan Fesperman,SUN STAFF

Everything of yours that your mother ever threw away has been found.

It turned up over the weekend at the Greater Baltimore Collectors Mart at the Pikesville Armory -- every last baseball card and MAD magazine, all those model airplane kits and Fort Apache sets, the piles of postcards and the walls full of tacked-up pennants.

Except now the items are not broken, crumpled nor bent, they cost a lot more than they did when they were new, and they all belong to other people, such as Nick Patrick.

"You have people who come by and realize that if they kept their kids' toys, here's a way to pay their bills," Patrick said, gazing at his miniature play-set empire of Fort Apaches, Cape Canaverals, Super Circuses, Davy Crockett Alamos and Roy Rogers Western Towns, items made mostly by Marx Toys in the '50s, '60s and '70s.

He's culled them from 25 years of searching attics and thrift sales, turning professional 10 years ago with his business, Pegasus Collectible Toys, in Church Hill, Tenn.

Take a look at his Super Circus set from 1952. You once could have bought it for less than $10, complete with several hundred pieces, including miniaturized plastic elephants and trapeze artists, a pair of Siamese twins and a snake charmer. There's even a figure of a little boy ducking under the tent, with a policeman reaching down to grab him.

For whoever once owned it, Patrick figured, "one morning he woke up and his parents said, 'You're too old to play with this anymore,' and they either gave it to cousins or nephews, donated it to a church rummage sale or put it in the attic."

If the same kid had turned up yesterday, perhaps with his own children or grandchildren by now, he could have bought back his old toy for $550, proving that nostalgia is more expensive than fun.

The nostalgia crowd is the sort Patrick generally expects to show up when a show like this runs for a second day, and he should know, attending about 50 such events per year.

The hard-bitten collectors make the rounds on day one, doing some serious buying. Then on day two, he said, "You get a lot of people who'll take that trip down memory lane. They bring the kids and say, 'Oh, I had one of those.' Then they buy something, and they're hooked.

"Then, bang, they're off, and some of them have to find every toy they ever had as a child. Or, with some of them, every toy they didn't have as a child."

About then a customer strolled up to ask about one of the Fort Apache sets, one marked at $175.

"That's your center-blockhouse '70s set from Marx," Patrick said. "That one's mint condition, still factory sealed." He found it a few years ago in an old toy store in Birmingham, Ala., a place so chock full of goodies that he bought the entire inventory.

The customer, Bob Peddicord of Woodberry in Baltimore, was impressed. Peddicord is one of those lucky collectors whose mom never pitched out his old stuff, giving him a running start on the rest of the pack.

190-piece set

He's got an old Marx "Battleground" World War II set, a 190-piece item with German and American soldiers. It, too, would probably fetch a nice price. Patrick looks it up in an old catalog and finds the original retail price: $5.89.

Of course, collectibles include plenty of newer stuff, too, and the weekend show featured a large share of Darth Vader Death Stars and Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, as well as new sets of baseball cards, some Michael Jordan action figures, and collectible-cover boxes of Wheaties so recent that you could probably still eat the cereal.

Walk around long enough and you picked up snatches of inside information, such as the tip from the counterman overheard explaining, "You see, now, this is the new version of the European G.I. Joe. See how the body moves?"

There were also collectible videotapes of some famously bad monster movies.

A television displayed a looped clip from the Japanese "Ultraman" series, featuring a wet, rubbery looking reptilian thug squashing cities and fleeing hordes, which screamed back at him in dubbed English.

Alongside were copies of practically every Godzilla movie ever made, including his legendary matchups against King Kong and Mothra.

Down at the far end of the last aisle was probably the show's most thorough and well-stocked pair of collectors, Lenore and Philip Levine of Three Bridges, N.J.

About 20 years ago, Lenore Levine explained, "My husband just had this vision that one day TV Guides would be collectible, so he just kept buying and buying."

Now they sell and sell, with a collection that's virtually complete back through the magazine's first year of publication in 1948, an archive so well known that even TV Guide buys from them when it can't locate certain old issues from the past.

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