Some time ago, in fact quite some time ago, because it was back in 1967 that six New Zealanders had been corresponding with one another for some time. They were from a strange breed, which in those days was known as "collectors of model cars" (toy cars in the eyes of a lot of people). However those six enjoyed their hobby and their correspondence and the hobby continued to expand.
Those six Diecast Collectors and/or Kit Set builders were Eric Brockie, the late Ron Welford, Carville Stewart, Ron Ford, [the late] Maurice Woolley and Clive Geary, and they were spread from the top of New Zealand to the bottom.
In early 1968 Eric Brockie suggested, by correspondence to the other five collectors, the possibility of forming a club in New Zealand to help bring together all those people with a common interest in this hobby that they had. One word of caution always seemed to come to the fore and that was that they did not want to promote the slot car side of the model car field in this new club as they all felt it was already being well served.
All six collectors pooled their ideas on the possible formation of a club following on from Eric Brockie's suggestions and it was agreed that an Inaugural Meeting would be held in Christchurch in January 1969. Its purpose was for the six to sit down around a table and discuss the benefits and possible problems that they would have due to the wide area that they all lived in (1600 kilometres apart for some of the collectors). The date set for the Inaugural Meeting was the 18th January 1969, which was also the weekend of the Lady Wigram Trophy car races at Wigram Airfield in Christchurch.
By the time the date of the meeting had come around contact had been made with several other collectors and a total of 10 collectors were present at the meeting, with apologies from another 2 having been received.
Some of those present raised concerns that because they were so spread out they doubted whether an organisation could survive. At the meeting it was decided that there was nothing to lose and that a club should be formed and operate for a twelve month period, on a trial basis, under rules that were decided at that meeting. It was also decided that they would meet again in January of 1970 and review the first year and consider the continuation of the club. The club was to be called The Model Car Collectors Club of New Zealand. It was decided the club would not become Incorporated in the meantime, but the position on that would be reviewed in 1970.
Due to the widespread residences of the collectors it was decided that for the first year there would only be one position of Office and this was to be held by Eric Brockie. Eric would be responsible for all matters relating to the Club, but could call on other members' help if it was required.
- models in members collections could be made of Diecast, Plastic, Tinplate, Rubber, Steel or Construction Kits of any type. Models could also be Push & Go, Battery Operated or Clockwork, but if a Slot Car was included as part of the collection the MOTOR MUST BE REMOVED.
- Club members were to be allowed a few lines of free advertising in each issue of the Club Newsletter but they were not permitted to advertise wanting MICRO MODELS.
By the 18th January 1970, it was time for the first Annual General Meeting, and the membership of the Club had risen to 40 members. The meeting was attended by 21 members who traveled to the meeting from all parts of New Zealand. Because of membership numbers at this time, it was felt that there was sufficient interest for the Club to continue supplying a service to any interested collectors and so the Club continued on.
An interesting effect on the hobby in New Zealand in the early years was the fact that model cars (toy cars) could only be brought into New Zealand under an Import License, which meant the supply of models was very limited. The only brand names that were available in New Zealand in any quantity were Matchbox, Dinky and Corgi and even these were not available in large quantities. Matchbox Toys were, of course, the most sought after models in those early days of the Club's existence and to get them from retailers was always a challenge.
A retailer would advertise in the daily paper that Matchbox Toys would be on sale on a certain day at 9am and customers were limited to two models per customer. The phone lines would run hot between club members. "Did you see the advert in today's paper?"
By 8.30 am, on the day the models were to be sold, the queue would begin to form and by opening time maybe 50 or 100 people would be there. Many would buy the allowed two models and run to the end of the queue in the hope that they might be able to get another two, but this was usually wishful thinking.
If you did not like this idea the alternative was to go to the Post Office and get, at the most, one five shilling British Postal Note per person, per Post Office, per day and write to the Lesney Company in England to buy direct from them. This worked okay but then on many occasions the purchaser then had to deal with the Customs Department in New Zealand when the models arrived and quite likely had to pay Customs Duty on the models.
The Club became an Incorporated Society in 1971 called The Model Car Collectors Club of New Zealand Incorporated. Later, during 1981, to meet the changing patterns in collecting, the members decided the time was right for a change in name. The Club then became known as The New Zealand Model Vehicle Club Incorporated.
While membership numbers have risen and fallen over the years, after 34 years the club is proud of its achievements. There has never been a break in the Club's operations and the Club newsletter, MINIATURE AUTO, has been faithfully produced every two months with the October 2002 publication being Issue 200.
The Club welcomes inquiries from any model collectors or model builders anywhere in the world.
We now look forward to the next 30 years.
From an article written for the club magazine, Miniature Auto, by Eric Brockie (First President and current Secretary).