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Sunday 16 November 2008

A trip down memory lane

"Trafik" kiosk opposite the Vasor Csarnok Budapest, 2006 Susie Mallett

Taking a break from everything to do with work, I got to thinking about my rather lovely collection of tin toys, much of which is packed up in boxes in Norwich. I was rather sad that on this last trip to Budapest I had found nothing to add to it. I had not had enough time to go searching and it was always a matter of searching, peering in every shop window and using experience to tell me if it was worth venturing in and exploring further. It got to be that I could almost smell a tin toy yards from the shop door!

I gathered the bulk of my collection during the four years that I spent in Budapest. There are a few exceptions including my lovely Titanic which I found in Birmingham! In Budapest I became quite an expert at spotting a holdauto or a holdrakétta hidden at the back of a Trafik kiosk that sold everything and anything as well as tobacco.

There were three people who I knew of from the Birmingham Institute gang who were avid collectors and crazy about these wonderful toys, I suspect all three of us are probably still dreaming of our Hornby train set that got sold when we no longer played with it. I was the only one on the spot, another there for 6 months of the year, so we swapped information, orders got placed and if one of us spotted something spectacular then it was usually bought in triplicate. This could easily be done in those days as none of these toys cost more than a pound or two and sometimes only pennies.

Our collections grew fast until 1992, when stock started to disappear from the Trafik kiosks and from the supermarkets that had also been a good place to search. A bountiful supply of clowns riding scooters and torpeautos (mini cars) were always to be found in the huge supermarket in Bathányi Tér. There was also a Czechoslovakian shop near Deák Tér where more modern- looking tractors and a delightful ladybird could be found.

My favourite and most productive kiosk was opposite the Budapest Hotel on Szilágyi Erzsébet fásor just minutes walk from the Petö Institute and it was here that I found not only one but two holdautos, one of the best finds of the four years, and it was in this kiosk that I first noticed that the lemezjártékek (tin toys) where being slowly replaced by Barbies, Kens and plastic tanks and guns.

I thought about my recent trip and the lack of searching time and wondered if perhaps I could find a place if I googled, so that I could then make a beeline straight to it on my next visit to Budapest. And low and behold this is what I found,,
a toy shop on Teréz körút.

I hope my Hungarian is good enough and I am translating correctly. The website tells me as follows.

Tin toys were manufactured in Hungary only since the 1950s, beginning with copies of the Czech and German wind-up cars and trucks, but the push-along models soon followed and in 1954 the first battery-operated toys came on the market.

The jumping chick, similar to my jumping hen in the video, first came into production in 1960. By 1963 there were already 77 different toys being made and soon after, in 1965, came the wonderful mini-cars, the holdrakétta and the one toy I still long for, which I will search for on my next visit, the toláto mozdony( the shunting engine), which can be seen bottom right on this page

When we think of tin toys we think first of those produced in Germany and maybe England and America come to mind, but the leaders in this field were the Spanish, with the company Rafael Paya Pico building them from 1905. In the 1930s they had a work-force of over 500 and they were building many collectors items.

Here's another webpage. You will find a delightful tram and my favourite piece, the ship with its lovely metal flags, which apart from its bulky propeller at the back looks as elegant as the Erzsébet Híd in Budapest:

Majercsik Krisztina and Kelle Antal began restoring toys 30 years ago, and produced a book called Móra in 1985. In 1995 they opened the shop in Teréz körút, Játékszerek Anno.

On the pages of this website I found many of my old favourites from my collection, and one or two more that I would like to have. There were even some toys that we had at home in my childhood, including the horseracing game found on this page that I think my great uncle, a Mountie in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force, had brought for us on one of his visits home.


Trafik -

Hotel Budapest

Holdauto - space car. This has a battery and while moving a light-weight ball floats in the air ona stream of air, quite amazing to watch. Unfortunately mine is in England, so the photo will have to wait.

Holdrakétta – This another spectacular machine, a space rocket on wheels that stops in its tracks and rights itself, then the door opens, like something out of Thunderbirds (one expects Lady Penelope to appear in the steps!)

Czechoslovakian toys -

Játékszerek Anno - Budapest V1, Teréz körút 54.
Kelle Familia Kft.2040 Budaörs, Ipáros u. 1/1

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