The Toy Scout Comes To Bradenton



When Bruce Zalkin was 13 years old, his father took him to a train show. He was given $50 and told he could buy whatever he wanted. He decided on a set of 50 lead figurines for $1 a piece. Packing up his purchase, another dealer at the show spied a particular figurine on top and offered the younger Zalkin $50 for the single item. Zalkin took the deal and on that day the Toy Scout was born. Today, just a wee bit older and wiser (and a Sarasota resident), Zalkin makes his living traveling the country in search of rare toys and collectibles, buying and selling amongst a community of collectors, dealers and people just looking to clear the attic. And through this Sunday, the Toy Scout has set up shop in Bradenton for the Sarasota-Bradenton Antique Toy & Doll Buying Show.

Hosted by the Holiday Inn off Lena Road in Bradenton, the Antique Toy & Doll Buying Show is an opportunity for any and all residents of the area to bring toys or dolls they believe may have worth as collectibles, antiques or rarities to be appraised and possibly purchased by Zalkin. A casual affair open as much to spectators as those seriously looking to sell, it’s part Antiques Roadshow and part American Pickers. “If those two had a baby,” Zalkin says, “that’s what we do.”

But though antique is in the name, old doesn’t necessarily mean valuable. Like all markets, it ultimately comes down to demand. “It’s not necessarily age, which is what people think,” says Zalkin. Some cast-iron toys from the 1920s may fetch only $10–$30, but Star Wars figurines in the original packaging can be worth several thousand. “It’s a generational thing,” explains Zalkin, and the people paying top dollar for Star Wars merchandise are the ones who grew up with the franchise and now have serious spending money. “They’re buying back their childhood,” he says. And forget the Beanie Babies, he warns, which amounted to little for than an overproduced and short-lived fad.

Currently running at the Holiday Inn at 5464 Lena Rd., Bradenton, the Sarasota-Bradenton Antique Toy & Doll Buying Show is open from 9:30am–5pm February 23–25 and 9:30am–4pm on February 26.

Pictured: Antique toys and dolls purchased by Zalkin. Photo courtesy of Bruce Zalkin.

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