Advisory Council Posts

Dov Kelemer of DKE Toys Brings His Collective Interests to hobbyDB Advisory Council

Dov Kelemer DKE toysDov Kelemer, founder of DKE Toys, is the latest member of the hobbyDB Advisory Council. He comes from a unique perspective as not only a major action figure dealer, but also as a curator of custom and limited edition mashup figures. His creations include one-off mutations of familiar figures with unusual, often bizarre modifications as well as limited edition resin figures.

dke toys tatooine“DKE Toys started with Star Wars collectibles in the early 90s and still deal in them today,” said Dov. The business evolved into the wholesale distribution of designer vinyl toys by 2005. “We were the exclusive distributor for over 500 artists, brands, and designers. We sold the distribution arm of our business in 2016 to Disburst Ltd (www.disburst.com). Now we set up at 3 or 4 shows a year selling limited edition custom resin action figures.”

DKE toys2004 was when Dov considered a shift in his business model. “Star Wars was getting stale,” he said. “There was a lack of imagination and when I started to see vinyl toys made by artists I admired around 2004 it piqued my interest.”

Dov Kelemer Sarah Jo MarksAs a collector, he was fascinated by the Suckadelic line of custom vinyl art toys and action figures. “The Sucklord started the resin action figure medium in 2005 and I started with his first figure. I continue to this day with not only an archive of all of his work but with scores of other artists influenced by him.”

Like many in this industry, his interest started as a young collector. “I have vintage Star Wars figures from 1977. I have very little before that since that’s the genesis of the Star Wars universe.” There is also a creative energy derived from living near Hollywood with Sarah Jo Marks, originally his business partner, now also his wife. “We met in 2001, so she experienced the transformation with me. By 2005 the distribution company began and we got married that same year.”

dke toys vader projectIn addition to distributing and repping custom artists, Dov has several online presences that occupy his spare time and expand the brand. Spoonful of Star Wars and The Vader Project are two of them. Both are art shows that we curated. The Vader Project, in particular, was a way of introducing Star Wars fans to the artists we were working with in the designer toy business. We sent 100 artists 1/1 scale Darth Vader helmet replicas to paint, modify, and mash-up,” he said. “The show toured the world and ended up at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh before being auctioned off at Freemans.”

dke toys bootleg gpkAnother of his interests gets really specific. The Bootleg Garbage Pail Kids Project occupies additional time and headspace in the Dov universe. As someone who appreciates custom and original work, he curates the inventive and creative efforts in this area. “As with Star Wars before, I grew tired of the newer products Topps was putting out,” he said. “There was always more interesting content when artists and creators were just creating without permission and bypassing the licensing and approval processes. These releases tended to be very handmade or homemade and produced in very small quantities for a very short time”

There is also a tendency for art to imitate life and vice versa. Dov notes, “I also find it fascinating to witness and document how pop culture has influenced the actual culture. I love how GPK themes just pop up in life. Right now it seems to be most prevalent in the tattoo scene. I have business cards from tattoo artists in Argentina for example who use GPK themes to promote themselves.”

dke toys star warsdke toys akbarDKE Toys is always up for checking out new artists in vinyl or plastic. If you’re such an artist, he would love to hear from you. “Just get in touch. I respond to all serious emails and phone calls and our info is readily available,” said Dov. DKE is willing to distribute items that are produced in certain quantities. Or, if they are making hand made action figures we evaluate if that was a good fit for a convention release and discuss what works best for us.”

With all this unique experience, Dov Kelemer is a welcome addition to the hobbyDB Advisory Council.

Todd Coopee, Easy-Bake Oven Expert, Lights Up hobbyDB Advisory Council

todd coupee easy bake overn easy bake oven 1970sSometimes a light bulb goes off in your head, and you just have to chase an idea. For Todd Coopee, that light bulb was inside an Easy-Bake Oven.

Coopee, who lives in Ottawa Canada, is the world’s leading expert on collecting Easy-Bake Ovens, the light-bulb-powered kitchen appliances from Kenner. “We had one in the family when I was a child. It was from 1972, sunshine yellow with flower stickers,” he said. “As an adult, I ended up purchasing my first EBO on the web in 2007.” From there, he started on a quest to get one of every variant of the ovens.

The toy had receded to the back of his memories until he saw an exhibit at the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, NY. If you don’t think there are enough different Easy-Bake Oven (EBO, to the insiders), you’re not the only one. “I wasn’t convinced there was enough material for an entire book, but the more I looked into the Easy-Bake Oven’s history, the more interesting it became,” Coopee said. “After some initial interviews with former employees of Kenner, I felt compelled to tell the story about how the Easy-Bake had become a pop culture icon.”

todd coupee light bulb bakingAccording to Coopee, there have been 11 different designs of the Easy-Bake Oven, plus variants in color and stickers. “Many of the models are simple cosmetic changes in color, sticker sets, etc., that occurred from year-to-year.” Anyone familiar with how we document collectibles on hobbyDB certainly understands the importance of such details.

There have also been changes to the engineering, utilizing different combinations of wattage to replicate a 350-degree oven. “The optimum wattage actually varied over the years,” he said.” At its initial release, the EBO was powered by two 100-watt light bulbs. Later models used two 60-watt light bulbs. A design change in the baking chamber in 1978 reduced the light bulb requirements to a single 100-watt bulb.”

While Kenner’s EBO dates back to 1963, the concept is even older. “Of course, it’s important to remember that working toy ovens were around for decades before the Easy-Bake Oven. Kenner just packaged and promoted the EBO in a way that made it appeal to a mass audience of consumers.”

As the Easy-Bake Oven grew in popularity, a slew of competing toy ovens also hit the market from companies like Argo Industries, Chieftain Products, Coleco, Peter-Austin, Topper Toys, and Tyco.

Of course, for Coopee it’s not all about baking at 100 watts. “I collect B-movies, mid-century modern memorabilia, and toys from the 60s & 70s, especially from Kenner Products. I’m drawn to toys that don’t have the ‘mass produced’ feeling you get from some of today’s toys.” To that end, he runs a website called Toy Tales, at toytales.ca. Articles are posted daily on a variety of toys, games, and other objects that were a big part of everyone’s childhood. His book is also available at lightbulbbaking.com.

toy timesSpeaking of books, Coopee is working on another book chronicling the entire history of Kenner Toys. The passion to research and write about a company that disappeared decades ago is the kind of thing that makes all our collecting community grateful to have him join the 70 other experts on the Advisory Council at hobbyDB. (It was Coopee who first reached out to hobbyDB for an interview with Christian Braun that got the whole ball rolling.)Kenner toys

His collection isn’t as big as it once was, however. “Initially, the main focus of my collection was to acquire all of the different Easy-Bake Ovens that were produced, so I could include them in my book. Since then, I’ve donated many of them to several different museums so they could be enjoyed by others.”

As for the best recipes, “Cakes and cookies are always the best places to start!” We’ll drink a tall, cold glass of milk to that!

Toy Hunter Phil Chapman Lends Tinplate Expertise to hobbyDB Advisory Council

Phil Chapman Toy HunterYou might not expect someone who was a child in the 1980s to be a serious collector of tinplate toys. Phil Chapman, aka “The Toy Hunter,” defies that idea. We at hobbyDB are glad to have his extensive expertise as a tinplate toy collector as a new member of our Advisory Council.

“The main focus on my collection is tinplate toys,” he said. “Any size, age or brand mainly focusing on vehicles like car, trucks, bikes & tractors. What appeals to me about tinplate toys is the cars & trucks are so well built just like miniatures of the real vehicles of the time, & with clockwork mechanisms to make the toys move is just fascinating.”

In the collecting world, he is known as the “The Toy Hunter.” He picked  up that monicker after being inteviewd by a newspaper and a TV station, both of whom referred to him by that nickname.’The name just stuck, and people at toy fairs that seen me on TV  said ‘you’re that toy hunting guy!’”

To that end, he can be found on Facebook as “Phil Chapman Toy Hunter

Phil, who lives in the small town of Liskeard in Cornwall U.K, started in collecting tinplate toys about twenty years ago. “After owning a full size vintage tractor & motorcycle & not really having the room to store them, I soon realized collecting tinplate toys was just as interesting,” he said. “So the tractor and motorcycle went, and collecting toys started.”

His childhood featured a different kind of favorite toy. “My favorites growing up in the 1980’s were my A-Team figures,” he said. “Every Saturday evening watching Hannibal & the team getting themselves out of another situation to save the day! And yes I still have all my original figures plus the baddies!” he laughed. “I also have alot of early plastic toy vehicles, as the age of plastic took over from tinplate & batteries replaced clockwork motors, Phil said. “It shows how times were changing.”

tinplate tractor

Chad Valley Fordson Tractor from Chapman’s collection

Phil Chapman Toy HunterPhil is willing to share his toys, although not to play with. “All my toys are on display in Liskeard Museum,” he said. “It is one of the largest tinplate toy displays on show in Cornwall. With twenty years experience specializing in tinplate toys, we get many visitors from all over the UK either just wanting to visit the museum or looking for help identify a tinplate toy.”

He is also in the process of sharing his collection via the database at hobbyDB. His collection and expertise are extensive, and his sense of enjoyment of the hobby is what we’re all about.

Garbage Collector: Meet Matt Oldweiler, Garbage Pail Kids Connoisseur

garbage pail kids adam bomb

Oldweiler doesn’t care to share photos of himself, so enjoy this image of Adam Bomb instead.

Snark and shock have always been profitable forms of entertainment, from Mad Magazine to “South Park” to fail compilations on Youtube. In the mid 1980s, one particualr brand really stood out for its trashy nature. Garbage Pail Kids hit the scene as a parody of the Cabbage Patch kids and in all honestly had a longer cultural impact than than the subject of their satire.

GeePeeKay.com is the brainchild of Matt Oldweiler, who has been an avid collector of GPK stuff since he was a kid. ‘I was 10 years old when I saw my first Garbage Pail Kids sticker (Dead Ted), and I was instantly hooked,” he said. ‘They were this perfect storm of everything my little brain could handle. GPK were little pieces of artwork that were both funny and gross…they were hated by teachers and despised by parents…and every kid in their right mind was obsessing about them 24/7.”

garbage pail kids

Oldweiler’s office is full of all sorts of GPK items.

As one of the foremost experts on a popular collectible, Oldweiler, is now also a member of the hobbyDB Advisory Council.

He began collecting in 1985, the original heyday of the stickers. “Pretty much every waking minute of 1986 was spent looking at my collection, and doing whatever I could to make that collection bigger. I took a little break in the 90s (although I still picked up some items at the occasional card show), but jumped back in with both feet in 2003 and haven’t slowed down since.”

garbage pail kids

Binder after binder of valuable garbage!

Time to mention the elephant in the room of this cultural wonder/wasteland… The “Garbage Pail Kids Movie,” which opened to terrible reviews and bad box office. Surprisingly, he doesn’t hate it. “I’ve been a fan of the GPK movie since day one, and still have the collector cards that they handed out at the theater when I saw it way back in 1987,” he said. “And sure, the movie is @#%ing terrible, but that’s part of what makes it so awesome! Unfortunately I think the original movie is SO BAD that it has ruined any chance at a new version.  But if by some miracle it DID happen I think a lot of fun could be had with a ‘Roger Rabbit’ style approach of mixing animation and live-action together. Maybe one day…

garbage pail kids

Just a few of the cards in Oldweilwer’s collection.

His collection is partly on display in his office. “For decades I kept almost my entire collection in boxes. Sure…it was safe and secure, but I found that I wasn’t getting the enjoyment out of it that I wanted, he said. “So a few years ago I made a conscious decision to display more of my collection and began work on redesigning my home-office (GeePeeKay HQ).  Today I have close to 25% of my collection on display, and I am constantly adding something new to the shelves and walls!”

garbage pail kids

Is this a museum in a workspace or the other way around?

An exact count of GPK items would be hard to calculate, but Oldweiler says it’s in the thousands rather than hundreds. “Over the years I’ve managed to assemble a collection that includes every sticker and (almost) every toy from the 80s, foreign albums and stickers, comic books, skateboards, plush and vinyl figures, and much much more. Although it’s nearly complete there is always SOMETHING out there to add!”

garbage pail kids

Oldweiler collects a few other things as well, including Star Wars and TMNT.

In addition to GPK items, he has collected a, well, collection of collections. “It would be easier to list the things I have NOT collected over the years. For as long as I can remember I’ve collected Star Wars and Disney memorabilia, but I also have a hard time avoiding the occasional Kidrobot/vinyl toy purchase.”

Over thirty years later, the Garbage Pail Kids are still going strong, certainly more successful than the pudgy dolls they satirized back in the ’80s. FunKo has even commemorated some of the trashier entries in the catalog in Pop! form.

hobbyDB hopes to have his entire collection added to our site soon, closing a big gap in our ever-growing database. In case you were wondering, maintaining his vast online library isn’t his actual job. He’s an engineer at a “large telecommunications firm near Denver” when he’s not collecting.  As for his favorite piece in his collection, the answer might surprise you. “My favorite piece in my collection is card #84a JOE Blow,” Oldweiler  said. “Monetarily it’s worth about a buck, but sentimentally it’s priceless.” Spoken like a true collector.

Diecast Collector, Historian David Wright Joins hobbyDB Advisory Council

The Advisory Council at hobbyDB consists of experts on many different facets of collecting, all sharing their knowledge for the benefit of the entire site. David Wright, a noted model car collector from Storrington, England, is the latest to join the Council.

David WrightHis fascination with buses and cars began when he was nine years old. “I started collecting bus numbers while sitting on a grass bank on the main trunk road past my parent’s house to the south coast,” he said. It wasn’t until later in life that he began seriously collecting diecast. He found an old Dinky Austin van in a donation pile, and made a £5.00 donation to the charity to acquire it. “I stripped and restored it, and I was hooked. I then discovered a small shop selling old model cars, stamps and magazines near where we had recently moved in South London, and I began collecting. This means I have been hooked since 1973.”

BMC truck and car

Bakelite 1920s SunbeamHis collection now totals around 1,000 models. British sports cars, such as Allard, AC, Bristol, Jensen, Riley, TVR, Turner, and Wolseley are his primary passion. “I have given myself licence to move into models of British Motor Corporation vehicles, as I just love the red, white and blue rosette logo!” Most of his collection is 1/43 scale, although he also has a nice variety of early Lesney models. One of his favorite larger models is a 1/18 Bakelite design study prototype of a 1920s Sunbeam Roadster, seen here.

David is also a diecast historian who has published several books about collecting. He began by by focusing on lower volume makers other than diecast, who were not likely to have their own existing guides. “My books were prompted by the realisation that many of the makers of white metal and resin models, be they cars, trucks, buses, or trains, are artisans, working on their own, and their stories about how they came into this wonderful hobby needed to be known by all,” he said.

David Wright model car booksDavid Wright“It was only when I retired in 2007 that I found the time to work on the books, and now I am more busy than ever, building kits and converting models for fellow enthusiasts around the world.” He also stays busy driving a commnity bus and traveling with his wife Chris, both of whom are avid bird watchers.

His first two books cover about 170 different model makers in each volume. His first guide, about white metal models (which is sold out), took about three years of research before it was published in 2011. His follow up, a 2013 book on resin models, took about two years. “I then felt confident in my writing style and the self publishing process, together with a comprehensive network of both makers and collectors at my disposal, to work on the British Sporting Cars in Miniature book,” he said. That one was also finished in two years, available in 2015. His books are available on hobbyDB.

As for future writing, he’s taking a break from books at the moment. “I’m happy with my trilogy of books, and continue to publish regular articles on the history of particularly interesting cars, and the models made of them, “he said. “My most recent example is a comparison of the Brazilian made Brasinca, and its similarities with the Jensen Interceptor, Iso Grifo and Studebaker Avanti.”

David also has a couple of 1/1 scale classic cars: an MGA 1600MkII, and a Jensen C-V8 Mk III, both of which he drives regularly. He is also the South Downs Rep for the Jensen Owners Club and collects real car badges, and old cigarette cards of motor cars. “But there’s no space for much more!” he laughs.

David Wright