Over the first weekend in May I traveled down to Miami to my first ATCA convention. Being that this was one of the requirements of joining and my first opportunity to meet other toy collectors, I was very excited. This event was on the smaller side in regard to the number of attendees. This worked to my benefit as one of my sponsors, the only person I had actually met, had to cancel at the last moment. I was now walking into a group to meet my second sponsor and the other members for the first time without recognizing a single face. I was nervous about making a good first impression and meeting all of these new people. As it ended up I had nothing to worry about. These were some of the friendliest people I have ever meet. I met person after person that took the time to do more than just shake my hand and ask my name.
The weekend consisted of several tours of private collections, each one was exciting to see not just for the collection itself, although they were fantastic, but to also see the passion and dedication to collecting that these people had. We saw collections in private homes with the obligatory living with your collection issues to a collection that required buildings be constructed to house it. This made my dilemma of where to put another shelf seem trivial. Then again I don’t think that I will ever be collecting an antique steam generator that was a backup generator for a city! We also toured Vizcaya, a beautiful home that fit my tastes so well that I was ready to move in. If you are ever in Miami make some time to tour Vizcaya. There was also a trip to the Wolfsonian museum that was wonderful. As much as I enjoy art I am not an art for art’s sake type of person. I enjoy things that had a purpose but were created with beauty and esthetics in mind as well as items that have a story. This museum was loaded with art that was structural, utilitarian and some items that were never intended to survive their purpose, but did. Just my kind of museum and a must visit if you have time.
Then there was the dining which was always wonderful. Even the sandwiches on a Saturday afternoon bus ride were so good that I wanted that shop to have a location in Orlando. Our dinner on Saturday night was exceptional. The food was outstanding, the conversation stimulating and the entertainment embarrassing! There is nothing like being called up by a Marilyn Monroe impersonator to be serenaded in front of fifty people you just meet the day before! All in good fun.
In all it was a fantastic weekend that would have been enjoyable as just a weekend getaway but I was able to talk toys constantly with so many wonderful people as well. Who could ask for more? I must wait a little longer for my admission into the ATCA but that is ok. My first experience was so positive that I cannot wait to join and travel to other conventions that will further expose me to the wider world of toy collecting. If you collect, no matter what the focus, find a group of like-minded collectors and join. The opportunity to learn from someone in a conversation has an element of excitement that is missing in computer files, online auctions and that piece of newly acquired ephemera. As I am learning, after years of isolated collecting, there is something magical about talking out loud about your passion and having people listen and understand the obsession.