Breaking News: The Chicago Toy Soldier Show

For over 40 years, the big question among collectors in September was, “Are you going to Chicago?” As we reported online, the Chicago Show, originally known as the Old Toy Soldier Newsletter Show because it’s sponsor was a magazine, has been a staple of the toy soldier hobby and a focal point of the year for many collectors the world over. Today, January 30th, as we go to press Roger and Jan Garfield announced there would be no 2023 show due to many points of contention that seemed to have arisen between the promoters and the Hyatt Regency where it was held. We spoke to Roger this morning.

Roger: “There were so many things that did not work out,” he said. “Last year, collectors were unable to get in on schedule, there was a lack of maintenance staff and food service, and then, the other day they said they wanted us to guarantee a certain number of room sales and be willing to pay for any cancellations, putting us at increased financial risk.” He estimated that risk to be as much as $40,000 considering the unexpected, like Covid the last couple years.

Q: Why not just move the show to another hotel?

Roger: “This show in particular was dependent on the Hyatt. It’s heritage, activities in the lobbies, events and speakers and parties. One big issue is that collectors were no longer able to reserve their usual, specific rooms – problem was, dealers and collectors are used to getting their same room for the next year’s show, and we were told that would no longer be accommodated.” “Dealers could not reserve their rooms. And big venues – like the ballrooms – were being booked by other parties, making the running of the show very untenable. It’s a very big deal -- it was a culture that set our show apart from every other. It was not transferrable to another hotel.

Q: What about next year, 2024?

Roger: “I’d just have to say, Jan and I are exhausted. The brand is for sale. It’s time for someone else to step up.”

Q: Have you spoken to anyone about taking it over?

Roger: No, no one has called.

So the Chicago Show is over, at least as we know it. This show -- like others we attend -- produced innumerable memories, innumerable stories. Playsets showed up that no one had seen before. Mint sealed sets were opened for examination by experienced collectors. Deals were made and important pieces were discovered. Bargains were found and made. Drinks were drunk. Dinners were shared.

What’s Next?

The good news is, many more shows are coming this year, and at each one, friendships will be shared just as before, in charming locations like Lafayette, historical ones like the Gettysburg show, Wheeling West Virginia’s Toy and Train show; centric ones like the Ohio and Texas Shows, the Westcoaster near Disneyland and a new one coming at Bucyrus Ohio. Check the list on this website or in PM. So please; let’s go out to a show. Let’s support the hobby as we have some fun. It’s still out there for you. And memories of the Chicago show, the many mint boxed openings, are on many Atomics DVD lineup.