Greater Seattle Toy Show makes pit stop in Kent - with cars

Dick Cays picked up his first Hot Wheel car in the 1970s at a swap meet. Now the Kent man displays hundreds of the little cars in glass cases at an office in his home.

Hot Wheels collector Dick Cays

Hot Wheels collector Dick Cays

Dick Cays picked up his first Hot Wheel car in the 1970s at a swap meet. Now the Kent man displays hundreds of the little cars in glass cases at an office in his home.

“It’s been a great hobby and a lot of fun,” Cays said. “I used to do it with my kids. Now it’s just me. My kids have kids, but they’re not into it as far as collecting.”

Cays will be one of nearly 100 collectors and dealers at The Greater Seattle Toy Show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Kent Commons, 525 Fourth Ave. N. Admission is $5. Children under 12 get in for free. The show also returns its Kent venue May 2 and Sept. 12.

Most of the 200 tables at the show will display model cars and trucks from Hot Wheels to Tonka trucks to Buddy L trucks.

“There’s a collector for every type of car,” Cays said. “There will be Chevrolets, VWs, Mustangs and others. That’s what’s neat about the show.”

Promoter Todd Aicher has brought the show for 20 years to Kent. A few collectors, including Cays, initially met at Aicher’s home in Snohomish to have their show before deciding they needed a bigger venue.

Dealers now come from as far as Canada and California, as well as the Pacific Northwest.

“I’m 50 and I’m on the young end of things,” Aicher said. “A lot of guys are in their 70s and have been doing this forever.”

Cays, 65, owns about 500 cars. He will take the extra cars he has in boxes to the show. The cars in the display cases remain in the display cases.

“I go to the show to buy some and to trade,” Cays said.

Cars at the show can sell for a few bucks to hundreds of dollars, depending on the demand for specific models. Hot Wheels are manufactured by Mattel and were first released in 1968. They’re still highly collectible.

“If you keep the cars in their original boxes they’re worth more money,” Cays said. “But I like to display them. I’m more selective now with what I buy. But I get every Mustang that comes out.”

Cays also drives a 2007 black Mustang. He even has a Mustang model painted just like his car. He bought his first full-size Mustang in 2003, but he’s been a serious Mustang-miniature collector for years.

“I always liked that car and I always wanted to own a Mustang,” Cays said. “It took me to age 60 to get one.”

Despite all of the model Mustangs, Cays said a 1967 Mercury Cougar ranks as his favorite car in the collection.

“That was the first car we owned and my kids used it in high school,” Cays said.

As the father of four boys, Cays found that Hot Wheels were a popular toy around home.

“My kids would have track over the entire living room and dining room,” Cays said, of the orange plastic stuff that the cars were designed to roll on. “We had lot of Hot Wheels, but my collection stayed on the wall. They had their own collection and helped me find cars.”

Cays continues to collect cars partly in tribute to two sons who died. His oldest son died at age 16 from a heart virus 24 years ago. His youngest son died at age 19 in a car accident seven years ago.

“That’s why my collection is so personal,” Cays said. “My oldest and youngest sons were more into it. The oldest helped me build my collection. That’s why I keep it going and why it’s so precious. It’s a lot of fun to have something like this.”

Cays said any Hot Wheel car can be purchased on the Internet. But he prefers the Kent shows that he never misses, over buying cars online.

“It’s not as much fun as going to a show and finding a special car,” Cays said. “I think trading is a more personal thing. I also go for the camaraderie.”

If you go

What: The Greater Seattle Toy Show

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Kent Commons, 525 Fourth Ave. N.

Cost: $5, children under 12 free

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