Nostalgia drives big demand for Hot Wheels, other childhood favorites

Collectibles show draws 300 to Cartersville


Cartersville resident Jeff Powell has been promoting the North Georgia Dixie Diecast and Toy Collectibles show for the last 10 years. His latest convention, held Saturday at the Cartersville Civic Center, drew a pretty big crowd; Powell estimates about 300 people turned out to buy, sell and peruse through a cavalcade of both modern and retro toys and collectibles.

"There was another toy show that was in Acworth and they folded, so I kind of took this one over and moved it here," he said. "They're allowed to sell all kinds of old, new and vintage toys, from Hot Wheels to the newest thing, Funko Pops."

Other relics of yesteryear available at the show included comic books, action figures and old school video games.

Both the number of attendees and vendors has doubled over the last decade. Powell said the show used to be locked at a 60-table limit. Now they're up to 115. 

"A lot of people want to go back and relive their childhood," he said. "And nowadays you can't find this stuff in stores, so now they go back and get it and that's what they put in their man cave, it's their hobby."

53-year-old Bill Fury, of Cumming, has been a vendor since the late 1990s.

Saturday was his third time selling his cache of DC, Marvel, Hasbro and Lego wares at the Cartersville show. 

"The other expos, like the ones in Atlanta, get a little bit more people, but this expo is starting to grow," he said. 

He said his customers range in age from 7 to 60. "It's women, men, children, seniors, all kinds of people," he said. 

51-year-old Don Dickenson, of Hapeville, said he's been a vendor practically his entire life.

"I've been collecting since the age of 10," he said. "Women come to my house and think the house is going to cave in, I've got so darn much cars."

Dealing almost exclusively in Hot Wheels and other diecast car replicas, Dickenson said he makes appearances at about 30 shows a year. He said his customers run the gamut from 10-year-old children to buyers in their 80s.

"Growing up, our first car was a bicycle and a Hot Wheel," he said. "As a young kid growing up, this was my go-to for my toys and my cars. Here I am, 40 years later, doing the same thing." 

He said toys modeled after Camaros, Volkswagens and Mustangs are in high demand these days.

"You think of the most popular cars in the world," he said. "So that's usually the best sellers."

Saturday's event was the first time vendor Russ Kelly Jr., has hit up a toy show as a merchant in about 25 years. 

"We came to this show a couple of months ago and it looked interesting and we thought we'd try our hand at it," the 49-year-old Marietta resident said. 

Kelly said his personal Hot Wheels collection is about 7,000 cars strong.

"If you're a human being, you've probably at least heard of Hot Wheels, and you've probably had one if you are in America for any amount of time," he said. "It's a hobby and a passion and we all love it for our own reasons."

The toys, he said, aren't just a loving homage to the auto industry — they also reflect United States society itself.

"They're right there where American culture is," he said. "They have tanks, they've got futuristic cars, pop culture cars like the Beatles' Yellow Submarine ... there's a car shaped like a hamburger, for crying out loud."

Powell said he's planning four shows next year, currently slated for March 16, July 20, Aug. 31 and Nov. 9. He's also making preparations for another convention in Cartersville in 2018, scheduled for Dec. 8.

"Everybody's going to find something that they like," he said, "something that they've seen before when they were a kid."

More information on the show is online at