The Deland Collectibles Expo
As much as I enjoy collectibles shows, I am always slightly suspicious when an unknown quantity turns up. With the reduced number of shows due to online sales and auctions, new shows are something of a rarity and some don’t even make it to the announced date of their first show. This isn’t a major issue if a local show is canceled at the last minute but for out of town events, it can be a considerable imposition. I was willing to take a chance on the Deland Collectibles Expo thanks to the publicity campaign headed by Blue Heron Films of Daytona and the close proximity to another favorite venue of mine, the Daytona Flea Market.
Since Deland is only a little over an hour from Jacksonville and it’s an easy highway ride, my wife Cindy and friend John Hickey, who was visiting from out of town, headed down early Sunday morning for the one day event. John had been put off by the admission cost of Megacon earlier in the year but figured he couldn’t lose since the Deland Expo was charging an entrance fee of only $1. There was also free parking nearby and a free classic car exhibition across the street. Anyone who attends shows regularly these days knows that you don’t take perks like these lightly any more.
The Expo was held inside an auditorium on the Stetson University campus and the surrounding area was well marked with signs pointing the way. After parking across the street, we eyeballed the car show on the way in and were impressed with the array of vintage automobiles. I was immediately relieved of any hesitation I felt as soon as I walked through the door. The auditorium was spacious and filled with more vendors than I would have anticipated for a first time show.
The merchandise on display for this show was a truly unique mix and a lot of fun to plunder through. There were the anticipated vintage toy and comic book dealers but there were also several record vendors and tables of antique clothing, jewelry and even Civil War memorabilia. A lot of shows advertise that they have something for everyone but this was one of the few that actually delivered.
As I was making my way through the bounty of collectibles, I spotted old friends Larry and Connie Payton of A to Z Collectibles. They were a staple at Florida collectibles shows for years but this was the first time I had seen them set up in quite a while. According to Larry, who specializes in vintage toys, the table prices at shows like FX and Mt. Dora have become very cost prohibitive. Larger shows also attract dealers as customers and they are only looking to buy items cheaply so that they can resell them. It was his observation that smaller shows like this one seem to be coming back into style as people gravitate away from online sales and back into these more personable events.
As I continued down the aisle, I spotted a table filled with just about every antiquated home video game imaginable back to the Atari 2600 and even a box of game cartridges for that system. I briefly entertained the idea of playing Outlaw, Combat, or Air / Sea Battle on a big screen plasma television but ultimately decided against it. If they had only had a Pong game though I would have probably caved in to the nostalgia craving!
Another vendor had an impressive assortment of Halloween costumes and masks including Dick Tracy, Birdman, and Kukla and Ollie whom I remember best from the CBS Children’s Film Festival television show of the 70’s. Apparently there was never a costume for the third member of the gang, Fran Allison. I also spotted some cool vintage Beatles memorabilia including a caboodle bag in immaculate condition.
The final aisle in the show was reserved for a cadre of comic book artists and actor John Martino who played Marlon Brando’s driver, Paulie, in The Godfather. I couldn’t resist an opportunity to discuss one of my favorite films with one of the stars and Mr. Martino was only too happy to share his insights. I was always curious why Paulie, who sets up Don Corleone for an attempted assignation, seemed like such a likable character in the film. There is little hint of his betrayal prior to the act and this actually makes his death in the film a powerful and surprising moment. According to Mr. Martino, a lot of the background from the book, where Paulie is shown to be driven by greed, was left out of the film due to time constraints. I definitely need to read the book!
My final stop in the room brought me to the Blue Heron Films table where I was finally able to meet producer Richard Lester and his son Gary who is both a director and a special effects artist. Blue Heron Films did the second unit work on Ted V. Mikels’ latest film, Astro-Zombes: M3 Cloned which premieres this month in Las Vegas. They had a cool prop display with an Astro-Zombie mask and machete. I picked up a couple of cans of the notorious Lotus brand cat food that was made famous by Ted’s Corpse Grinders film series. This feline version of Soylent Green even makes a cameo in the new film.
After several brief meetings inside the show, Cindy and John and I met up in the lobby to compare notes. John had found the incongruent combo of a vintage leather billfold and a Richard Nixon campaign button while Cindy had a near miss with some vintage jewelry whose price outweighed its attraction. We headed off for the flea market and lunch at this point but everyone agreed it was a fun show. Hopefully this will become a regular event and Larry Payton’s prediction about the return of smaller shows will prove true.