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York toy show is among largest in the country

In his lifetime, Barry Skelly has seen a lot of toys. So take him at his word when he says there’s something for everyone at the Greater York Toy Extravaganza.

Held Sunday, Nov. 29 at the York Expo Center, he says it’s the second largest toy show in the country with about 800 tables set up.

Now that’s a lot of toys lining Memorial Hall.

Here’s what you need to know before you head over to check it out.

Bring it on, Chicago

In its 34th year, Skelly said the size of the show is getting awfully close to the No. 1 spot, held by Chicago.

But they have room for more tables than York’s Memorial Hall, he said.

Here in York, the show has 824 tables, which equates to about 300 dealers. They expect crowds of up to 4,000.

Skelly said most of the shows he goes to -- except Chicago -- have maybe 100 to 200 tables, but that’s stretching it.

A true menagerie

There’s plenty of variety at the show because different types of buyers come, Skelly said.

There are lots of people who collect dolls, so you’ll find quite a few doll sellers there.

But there are plenty of new action figures, Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. Pro tip: There will be lots of Star Wars stuff available.

“There are lots of dealers with older toys from the 50s on,” Skelly said. “But also a lot of newer things, it’s such a variety.”

Tales of old

Some toy show enthusiasts may scoff at the idea of incorporating newer toys to the show, but Skelly said it’s needed.

“So many shows have gone by the wayside,” he said.

There’s another show he used to attend in New York, and they decided not to allow newer items and it tanked the show.

“It killed them,” he said. “We need those people to help us.”

What to expect

There will be lots of very rare, older toys, he said.

Back in the 50s and 60s, there were a lot of battery and wind-up toys from Germany and Japan that were shipped overseas. After World War II, toys were one of the main things that helped bring those countries back, Skelly said.

“They were great toy makers,” he reminisced. “The had great wind-up things that you could never believe they did, all done by hand.”

As for what rare items one might find Sunday, Skelly said he’s expecting a lot of things he hasn’t seen before. Or at least things others haven’t seen before. He knows one vendor is coming with old dolls that could be exciting.

There will also be some space toys ranging from the 40s to 60s.

“The imagination back then,” Skelly said. “When you realize what they did and how they did it, it’s truly amazing.”

A fan’s favorite

Toys have been a part of Skelly’s life since his father opened Skelly’s Toys in 1956 in West York, he said.

From 1966 to 1986, his father owned a big hobby shop in the Queensgate Shopping Center.

“It was everything a hobby shop used to be,” Skelly said. “They don’t exist anymore.”

So how does a man with toys in his genes pick a favorite?

Skelly hesitates, but thinks one of his favorites would be a race car he owns. Produced in the 1930s, it’s a wind-up. “It’s just a beautiful toy with the way it was made.”

And it’s that love of the craft that Skelly hopes to share Sunday.

“Even if people don’t buy anything, it’s really history,” he said. “It’s really neat, I know I say that a lot. Toys today are awesome, but they’re made by machines. It’s nothing like back then.”

If you go

What: Greater York Toy Extravaganza

Where: York Expo Center, Memorial Hall

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29

Admission: $5, children under 12 admitted for free