The start of something big
2014 saw the start of a new gaming event in the U.K. Based around the concept that ebay, car boot sales (swap meets to those over the water) and to a degree conventions/expos had become a much harder place for collectors and enthusiasts to hunt out new games to collect and play, especially at reasonable prices.
The folks over at the Retro Collect website decided to set up an event that was:-
- cheap for shoppers to get in (there’s arguably no point saving £5 over ebay prices at an expo when the tickets were £20)
- cheap for sellers (again, prices are not going to lower if the shop needs to cover the cost of it’s pitch, and private collectors are not going to be able to justify a high setup cost just to shift some of their doubles)
- open at a reasonable time, getting up at 5am on a Sunday morning to rummage around in the dark at a car boot sale held in a muddy field is not exactly everybody’s idea of fun
The problem was though, the event was a victim of it’s own demand, arriving close to the opening time of 11am you were greeted by a huge queue snaking around the outside of Leeds town hall, and almost instantly they had filled the small room that had been allocated for it, and were left with no choice but to operate on a 1-in-1-out basis.
Inside, there was an excellent balance of full-time dealers, part-time dealers and individuals selling a much wider variety of items than would usually be found at a convention, but the shopping experience was hampered by being jammed into a tiny room, and essentially having to move around the stalls at the same speed as the rest of the sea of people. Heaven forbid you want to go back to look at an item from a couple of tables ago, as this often meant following the masses all the way back around until you arrived there again, hopefully with the items still there.
The law of sequels
So, fast forward a few months, and there were already signs afoot in the community that there will be a second videogame market, and this time with more sellers, more space, and somehow even more variety.
As all gamers know, to continue a franchise, the next instalment needs to build on the core concepts of the former, and add more of everything. More people, bigger environments, a greater variety of items and enemies, and more gruesome and intricate ways to kill, or be killed by said enemies (ok, so perhaps those last points don’t entirely apply here)
Retro Roadtrip Roundup
So, just in case, the decision was made to meet up around an hour earlier than needed this year, so that we had a fighting chance of being near the front of any queues, and not have to stand out in the cold for 2 hours to get inside. As it turned out, this was a very good idea, as by the time we’d had a leisurely stroll from the Merrion Centre Car Park, there was already a pretty healthy queue forming (youtube interviews with attendees would reveal that the passionate nerds at the front of the queue had arrive around 3 hours before the doors were due to open!)
Fortunately, after some queue bants the time had flown by, and after a little bit of a false start with the queue movement, we were soon underway and making our way inside, and boy, what a sight you were greeted with.
Entering the main room, there were stalls running from the edges of the doors, all around the room, a large area in the middle with more sensibly laid out stalls, in the distance there was a seller that was taking over the majority of a tiered staging at the back of the room, already it looked formidably larger than last year, and then I noticed the doorways leading of either side of the main room promising MORE SELLERS beyond them. These signs were dotted around the rooms, and not only provided useful information on where to go, but also epitomized the theme for the event.
Straight away, I was lured in by the shiny temptation of the Sore Thumbs’ vast array of Japanese titles, and no sooner had I had a good rummage around in a storage tub crammed with all manner of Neo-Geo CD, Sega Saturn and PC Engine titles did I realize that I had already become separated from UK Mike and Ben Jones. Already it was looking like I was better off adopting an every man for himself strategy, and headed off to try and get to some of the more distant stalls before the masses had made there way to them.
The next hour seemed like a blur, filled with a combination of taking photos and hunting for some interesting games, interspersed with some enthusiastic chats with like minded collectors, both there for buying and selling. Soon enough though it was starting to get a bit overwhelming, no sooner had I got myself in a good position to browse, and worked through a large selection of loose Super Famicom cartridges would I realize that there was a whole second layer underneath, and frankly I was flagging and running out of the determination required to spend another 10 minutes fighting through that layer.
I managed to skim through what I hadn’t yet seen, to get a good mental map of what else was around, whilst hunting down the other two, to catchup with how they were getting on (Ben appeared to have given into his feminine side and was carrying a bag of soft furnishings). We sauntered through the outer loop, until ending up separated again, only to shortly later find each other again in the bar that was situated halfway round (what were the chances of that! ) and had a well earned refreshment break.
With the power of Lager inside us we headed back out, this time with a little more focus. I had identified some interesting collections of loose Game Boy cartridges with various sellers that I wanted to try and strike a deal with, and Mike was looking for a Spyro the Dragon for the PS1.
Fortunately for us, there seemed to be a lunchtime lull in effect, and the little bit of extra freedom to move resulted in a much less stressful ‘second half’ and I ended up feeling pretty happy with the deals that I managed to negotiate for my gameboy titles, resulting in all seven costing just £12 total.
As a bonus, I even managed to pick up two of the Beatmania Append discs that I don’t have, for just £5, Mike however did not manage to buy a Spyro, as it would appear that the market value is averaging around £15, which is frankly ridiculous, is this a fallout of the Skylanders craze I wonder?
Feeling pretty tired, and worried about spending too much money (Nintendo’s decision to release the new 3DS, Monster Hunter 4 and Majora’s Mask this friday has given my gaming budget a hammering), we decided to call it a day, and head for the now traditional Guinness and carvery lunch to wrap up the day.
I feel fairly confident that the everyone who attended will have been thoroughly happy with the day, and Retro Collect should feel pretty darn proud of what they have put together, I shall certainly be attending future markets, hopefully with a little more spare cash too.
Be sure to check out the photos that I took throughout the day at the Retrogaming Roundup Gallery page