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New Zealand Model Vehicle Club and Otago branch secretary Eric Brockie, of Dunedin, said the national club was formed in 1969 and it was celebrating its golden jubilee.
‘‘In those first years, one or two guys called themselves toy collectors and they used to get absolutely rubbished for it.’’
Some of those antique toys cars were worth ‘‘big money’’ now.
The branch’s annual model expo opened in Dunedin on Monday and runs until June 2.
About 1700 static model vehicles from across New Zealand are on display in the Community Gallery in Princes St.
The national club originated after Mr Brockie contacted five other model vehicle collectors across New Zealand.
He called each collector and expected to ‘‘be laughed out of the room’’ when suggesting they form a club. However, his proposal was accepted and a meeting was scheduled in Christchurch in 1969 to gauge the level of interest.
About 40 people attended the meeting, a national club was created, and the Otago branch was formed two years later.
The club’s membership peaked at about 300 when models could not easily be bought from shops and people joined to learn how to import models from overseas companies. Now people could easily buy these on the internet, he said.
The club now had about 60 members and the southern branches had the biggest following.
‘‘The reason it is strong here is because we get off our backside and do these displays.’