Tuesday, April 19, 2011

16A Areos Antique Toys

As I was walking in Monastiraki (near Plaka) on a Saturday afternoon, I discovered a shop at a back street corner in Areos Street. What had caught my eyes are the old toy trucks and some large old dolls at the front of the shop. I was delighted and I was hoping to find a few old vintage toy cars in the shop. Little did I expect to see such a shop in this area because most of the shops are selling gifts and souvenirs. Suddenly I see light shining on the shop, it was like a light of hope as I did not expect to see any antique shop during my stay in Greece.

This is what I saw that day, the light of hope and the shop. I took this photo almost immediately.

I went forward to take a closer look at the shop to confirm that it is the shop that I will bring some "souvenirs" back.

As I stepped into the shop, I was astonished to find the shop filled up with toys, antique toys.

The display is filled up with toys of different era from 1950s to maybe 1980s. Most of the toys looked they come from the 1960s to the 1970s.

I tried my best to take shots of every corner after seeking permission from the shop owner.

There is a shelve full of barbie dolls and just dolls of different origin.

I approached the owner and asked if I can looked at his Polfi which are displayed in the glass cabinate. The friendly old gentleman took the small box of Polfi with 7 cars in it and showed them to me. I delightfully tell the owner I am a toy car collector and we started chatting about toy cars. While we talked, he brought out more cars to show me. The box above contains Norev, Majorette, Tomica, Siku etc. I am quite excited when I saw the Tomica, there are just 4 or 5 of them in loose and play worn condition. Seems like I will have to make a pass on these Tomica and the shop owner told me that Tomica are very rare in Greece.

There are toy cars all around the shop. This case featured Lesney and Matchbox Superfast, boxed and loose. He showed me another box filled with Matchbox and Corgi. I was amazed that he has toys almost everywhere in the shop and the shop is not a small one like most antique shops I have seen. It looked like he took up 2 units as compared to other shops in his area. He told me that he had 7000 pieces of toys and some are at home. I was like "What!??".

Saw some Gama and Faie in this case.

There are so many toys that you will have to do close inspection of every corner.

Hey, did you see someone familiar? It's my Kombie.

I couldn't resist the charm of this toy and eventually bought it after some thought. It's my first vintage tin toy. This Datsun is battery operated but I couldn't bother to test if it still works. I will not play with it anyway and I don't really expect something from the 60s (or early 70s) to work. This is a Solpa made in Greece and a replica of Bandai which I understand. Datsun 1000 should be the ancestor of today's Nissan Sunny. Great looking car!

As he understand I have great interest in toy cars, he asked me to follow him. I asked, "Where to?". He told me just follow and I did so. I realised that there is another unit beside the shop. It's used as a store room, secret room or special room whatever you call it. He started removing all barrier and cardboard blocking the entrance. He switched on the lights in the rooms and invited me in.

This is crazy, I couldn't believe my eyes. There are so many nice toys here.

Vintage tin toys and boxes of plastic toys.

I like that Green Mercedes patrol car because I appreciate the design of old Mercedes. There are also many boxes of diecast cars shown on the top of the photos. See the "Gama" and "Majorette" labels? Many more which I have the luxury of inspecting boxes by boxes.

More vintage tin toys.

Very nice Amercian cars but couldn't afford to collect these in terms of space in my room and lack of vitamin M.

This is a nice one. Amercian Patrol car made in Japan.

More! What cars are these? Apologies, I like old American cars but I just couldn't name any of them.

A pair of plastic RC Mini Cooper made in Greece.

Mix lot of Playart and Faie. Faie are imitation Tomica using the same casting but using rubber tyres. I used to have the purple Nissan Bluebird which I was a kid.

Mix lot of Mira and Guisval. Picked 5 cars from this lot.

I become friends with Mr. Konstantinos after visiting his shop thrice within 5 days. We have exchanged numbers and I gave him my "Go! Go! Tomica" name card. I have asked Mr. Konstantinos on his shop name but he told me there isn't one. I have titled my posting as "16A Areos Antique Toys" because the unit is 16A and it is located in Areos Street. This is my 3rd visit to Greece and walked past this street but I didn't notice this shop exist. I told him that I will tell more collectors about his shop through my blog so that more people will visit him. I have a good news and a bad one for you.

The good news is, Mr. Konstantinos said that whoever came to his shop will get some discount if you informed him that you know his shop through Go! Go! Tomica.

Here is the bad news which I hope it is not true. Mr. Konstantinos will close his shop by August this year as it is time for him to retire. I was sad when I heard that because this might be my first and last visit to his shop. He told me to call him if I visit Greece again in future. I do hope I have this opportunity again. Best wishes and take care, Mr. Konstantinos.


  1. No doubt, this is Aladin's cave! I was shocked to see an old, Hungarian tin-toy on the shelf, the Elzett Railroad Engine! I was wondering, how that could make it there?

    Anyway, if you ever come to Hungary, please drop me a mail, I will take you to our local money burner place. ;-)

  2. Hi Sam, I am supposed to be in Japan next week for another episode of toy car hunting but cancel at last minute. I am thinking of vacation in Italy as it is a beautiful country and I might have some luck in toy car hunting too. I have also put Hungary into consideration. Can you show me website or photo of the shop which I can burn my money? I hope they are not too expensive. I know that Matchbox, Siku and some others are made in Hungary in the 70s.

  3. Well, every time I go there, I try to convince the owner that he is need a presence online, but he is a really old fashioned guy, so no chance. The place called "AutoMania", it is a tiny shop but with full of treasures. Prices are about the same what you can see on the British or German eBay, but minus the postage and the huge advantage that you can have everything in your hand to check the quality.

    Yes, there was official Siku and Matchbox manufacturing in Hungary, you can read more about it here:
    (Look for the "Articles written in English" in the right column.)
    But the price of the Hungarian made Sikus and Matchboxes are really high, because not too much remained in decent condition. As kids we considered those are fakes - of course we had no clue about the true story back then - so no one take care of them or put away them as the "real" British or German toys. So now those are treasured, rare pieces. Just as an example: I collect mainly Matchbox, I have about 2-3000 pieces and all I have is only 5 or 6 Hungarian Matchbox, because the price of the decent examples are mostly insane.

  4. Hi Sam, that link you gave me is great. Thank you. I learn a lot from it. How much is one Hungarian Siku or MB in Hungary? I once saw a loose mint Siku (I think Lambo) in HK but I didn't buy it as the asking price is high. I am also collecting Made in Singapore Mandarin Toys. I think they are much rare than Hungarian made toy cars. I will try to feature them again once I got hold of more.

  5. Sorry for the late reply, but I was in a countryside for a few days and I really enjoyed the computer free environment. ;-)

    Well, nowadays the decent one loose Hungarian made Matchboxes starts from 3000-4000 HUF (16.5-22 USD).

  6. Very nice article, Thanks for sharing this to us. I have visited a lot of blogs to read about this topic and I found this blog is informative to me.
    china rc toys wholesale
    girls toys wholesale