MOUNT PLEASANT — Joel MaGee wants your old, vintage toys, comic books and baseball cards, and he’s willing to pay cash for them.
MaGee, who calls himself “America’s toy scout,” will visit the Racine area on Sunday, bringing his Vintage Toy Buying Show to the Delta Hotel by Marriott Racine, 7111 Washington Ave. It’s not a television show — although MaGee has filmed a pilot he’d like to sell. Rather, it’s a full day of toy appraisals and buying, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
MaGee, 56, of West Palm Beach, Fla., traces his appetite for vintage toys to 30 years ago, when he was feeling listless at a flea market in Sioux City, Iowa, with his mother.
“Then, across the room I spotted my old G.I. Joe lunchbox,” MaGee said. “Not the same one, but just like it. It brought a flood of memories into my mind,” from grade school.
“I’ve been on a mission ever since to finish getting my childhood back.” MaGee started collecting vintage toys, comic books and sports cards, and hasn’t stopped.
MaGee does about 30 to 50 “shows” a year which aren’t really shows, but events. This event will be one of four in southeastern Wisconsin for him on four consecutive days.
Usually they draw at least 100 people and their items to be appraised by him. Typically, he said, “You look around the room and everyone’s chatting with each other.”
MaGee’s so knowledgeable about vintage toy values that rarely does he need to consult the internet. “Condition is everything,” he remarked.
However, MaGee added, “Amazingly, there’s always one toy at every event that I have never seen before.”
Comic books are among the most popular “toys” for collectors now, MaGee said. More generally, “ ‘Star Wars’ is the king right now,” he said, but from the same era, Hot Wheels are also big.
Sports trading cards are “a huge part” of the collector mania, MaGee said — but nothing newer than the 1960s. He explained why: “In the ‘70s, (companies) just sold the whole set. It took away all that thrill-of-the-hunt stuff.”
Asked what was the most he ever paid for a vintage toy, MaGee replied, “Often it’s a collection.” He paid $60,000 for an entire comic book collection earlier this year.
The oldest toy MaGee ever saw, in Kansas City, was a toy train that operated on real steam, with pellets that sparked a chemical reaction as the heat source to make the steam.
Admission to Sunday’s event and parking are both free.