End of an era as Modelmania closes

June 29 2018

ONE of Bristol’s only remaining model shops is set to close after 33 years of business.

Modelmania, which is on Clouds Hill Road in St George will close its doors for the last time on July 7 when owners Bryan and Judith Tozer take semi-retirement.

The couple have said that they will continue to run the online and mail order side of their business from the same premises as well as go to exhibitions.

Modelmania opened in November 1985 when Bryan and Judith moved from London specifically to start the business.

"We were doing a bit of toy fair work in London and were fed up with our old jobs and lifestyle," said Judith. 

There were a number of model shops competing in Bristol and Bryan and Judith managed to find a niche in the market selling die-cast model cars from well-known names such as Matchbox, Corgi and Dinky. 

"It was a growing market at the time with new makes coming out," said Bryan. "Collecting habits have changed over the years and our trade has moved from the die-cast cars to the railways.As the model railway shops gradually closed, we began to fill the gap – railways have always been my main passion."

Judith said: "In the past Bryan and I would go on trips to the continent to buy models that were not available in the UK – Belgium and Holland in particular was good for this. 

"We got some good stuff over there; but now it is more global and obviously the internet has changed things a lot."

A number of celebrities have visited the shop over the years including musician Jules Holland and TV presenter Noel Edmonds. The couple have also met other high-profile enthusiasts such as music producer Pete Waterman and the Duke of Gloucester. 

Bryan and Judith still have many regular customers. However, the shop has seen a reduced footfall in recent years.

Bryan said: "The problem with buying online is that you do not get help or advice. For example, there are certain sets that I would never recommend buying for a child because it just goes round and round – they’ll be bored in two seconds. But give them something that they can use to shunt and add carriages to and they will be much more entertained.”

According to Bryan, the quality of models overall has got a lot better over the years and this is noticeable when compared with the model of the 1950s and 60s – especially when it comes to the model railways. 

"A lot of collecting is nostalgia; when we first started a lot of people collected the toys that they remember from their childhood. That market is going now because the people that remember them are slowly going as well," he said.

To visit the Modelmania ebay store, go to: www.ebay.com/usr/modelmaniabristol or email: modelmaniaemail@aol.com