Located in Hamburg, Germany, Miniatur Wunderland is the largest model railway in the world, covering almost 6,500 square metres of floorspace, and with 12,000 metres of H0 Gauge track. Once the next construction phase is finished in 2015, it is planned that these numbers will rise to 10,000 and 20,000 respectively! But the Wunderland is far more than most model railways, as the setup features buildings, landscape, vehicles, figures, ships and a whole wealth of incredibly rendered detail throughout. Miniatur Wunderland depicts real countries in small scale and currently covers Germany, America, Scandinavia and Switzerland - France, Italy and the UK are on the way.
This last Saturday, Toy Collector was at James May's Toy Fair in Central London - the toy extravaganza event put on to tie in with the new hit TV series, James May's Toy Stories where the Top Gear presenter and a bunch of willing volunteers built a life-size Lego house, entered a Plasticene garden in the Chelsea Flower Show, recreated Brooklands in Scalextric and built a life-size Airfix Spitfire kit among other great stunts.
Since 1986, The National Farm Toy Museum in Dyersville, Iowa, USA has displayed thousands of farm toys and collectables across two floors. The exhibits include model tractors, farm implements, trucks, farm dioramas and pedal-car tractors. Dyersville is an ideal place for the museum - for one thing, it's farming country, and for another, it's also home to the ERTL Company, famous for its model kits - and model tractors. Indeed, the idea for the museum was initially proposed by ERTL's Dave Bell and Claire Scheibe, founder of Toy Farmer Ltd.
However, day-to-day running of the museum is taken care of by Curator Amanda Schwartz, who has filled the position since 2005, after working her way up from a job on the front desk, working in admissions. "I worked my way up the ranks," she told us. "I was actually going into a career in Library Science, but then this came along."
For a ten year period starting in the 1960s, graphic artist Roy Cross RSMA GAvA created some of Airfix's most famous box art, some of which is still in use on current releases today. His new book, The Vintage Years of Airfix Box Art has just been published by The Crowood Press.
Born in Southwark, Roy tells us that he really began his career - and a lifelong fascination with aircraft - at the age of 12 or 13 when his mother would take him to air shows at Hendon in the years before World War Two. The white-clad pilots made and their Gloucester Gladiators made quite an impression on the young Roy. "I bought a lot of cheap pulp air magazines from America," he says. "Some were British - one was a thing called Air Stories. I devoured them all. They were all about the First World War and full of illustrations and I'd scratch away with pen and ink, copying them."
Jim Noble is better known as our very own Nobleco, one of the moderators in our diecast discussion forums, and first Toy Collector poster to pass the 1000 posts mark.
But in addition to being an asset to this site, Jim also has his own site at www.DinkyToyGuy.com and an eBay store where he deals in spare parts for Dinky, Corgi and other collectable diecast models. He also does fantastic restorations to order and has just finished restoring a whole fleet of Dinkies in Toy Collector livery! I caught up with him to learn a little more...
This interview with museum owner Chang Yang Fa is the first in an occasional series where LaToya will be talking to people who have jobs that are a toy collector's dream come true!