Volume IX, Number 2

Retromobile 2006
by Frédéric Laurent

Tuesday, the 14th of February. D-Day. Day off at work, one year's worth of savings, three 24 pictures films and a new battery for the camera, invitation in my pocket. I think I'm ready

The Retromobile Paris Show is set at the Parc des Expositions, south of Paris. After a long maze of moving walkways and stairs, I reach the entrance of the exhibition, just half an hour early. I'm not alone : many people prefer a quiet visit during the week to a week end stampede. I grab here and there scraps of talks between enthusiasts. The main subject is old cars, with variations on old bikes, old boats, old trucks, old planes, old everything you can find rusting in a barn and repair. And, of course, old toys and models

At eleven, the exhibition opens. The show is a vast puzzle of stands : car makers, enthusiasts clubs, vintage cars dealers, auctions houses, spare parts dealers, art galleries and models shops, peppered all over the hall, with only the vaguest sense of organization.

I intend to begin with the hunt for models. Let's see who offers what for how much, have an observation round, and come back to the marked cars. In the 1/64 department, there is, as usual, not much. One reason is that the French market lusts only for 1/43 and 1/18 scales. Toy sellers come from everywhere in France and beyond, and would rather pack the car/van/truck with more juicy Solidos and Dinkys. Another and sadder reason is that the 1/64 cars are the easiest to steal

This is the stand of the Galerie du Jouet Ancien. It is in my opinion the best place in Paris concerning old die cast cars (even 1/64). The shop is set in the rue des Grands Augustins, Paris 6eme. As I can (and frequently do) visit them the whole year round, I just say hello.

This is where I bought almost all my all models this year : a newcomer from Switzerland. Not being a Frenchman, he obviously lacks manners and does NOT try to sell me a badly dented Matchbox for 20 euros, like a French seller would do. I find there four pristine Schucos from the sixties and four others.

The rest of my purchases are mostly new cars from this stand. It offered many new hong well and the new Schuco Junior Line 1/64 Series. There's a new player in town, Norev, Siku and Welly its direct targets.

And then, the backpack heavier and the purse lighter, I began to tour the exhibition. This is a tiny selection of the big toys I encountered.

And, thinking about Doug, here is the SM Club de France's stand. The red one is a Citroën prototype of 340 hp. Top speed 285 km per hour. Guest of the club is Robert Opron, designer of the SM and CX.

Conclusion : I left at 7pm, my feet ached, I had kept my budget under control, and purchased 19 cars. Average cost, 4 euros each.

What bothers me now is : there is a whole new year to wait before "Retromobile 2007".