Another Chicago Toy Show (AKA: “The Kane County Show”) has come and gone, kicking off the start of a busy 2018 toy show and convention season!
What and when is the Chicago Toy Show?
If you’re not familiar with it, the Chicago Toy Show takes place twice a year in April and October. The show is held at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, IL. The show itself is only open to the public one day- the Sunday of each event weekend, but that doesn’t mean the fun is limited to only a single day…
It’s not always common knowledge, or even easily found sometimes, but there are a few key things to mention about the activities surrounding this show. Starting Wednesday before the show, room trading occurs at the host hotel (currently it’s the Comfort Inn and Suites in Geneva, IL).
What is room trading?!
Room trading is basically a mini-toy show inside of the hotel. Dealers coming in to set up at the show will bring items into their rooms and set up elaborate displays (or sometimes just throw stuff onto the bed). Participating dealers will leave their doors open, and people can peruse the hotel hallways and walk into any open rooms and buy stuff before most of the general public is even thinking about the show.
The last few shows have left a lot to be desired in regards to the room trading, as it has felt less fulfilling than many years past. That said, you just never know what you’re going to find- if you can swing being there a few days early, it’s never a bad idea!
What’s the best way to buy rare toys and action figures?
In most of my conversations with people about this show, it seems that it’s fairly uncommon knowledge that the show allows for sales of early buying passes. These passes give anyone in the general public full access to the show on Saturday while the ‘dealer only’ setup is occurring. It costs $50 to purchase this pass, and when compared to the $10 admission on Sunday, people quickly write off the additional cost.
I’m here to tell you… if you are really looking for some of the harder to find items out there, there is no $50 better spent than buying into this show early. Period. The number of toys that change hands on Saturday before the public even knows they are there is staggering. If you’re hunting for good deals and rare toys, you really need to be there on Saturday.
How big is the Chicago Toy Show?
It’s gigantic- it’s five buildings full of toy goodness. There’s a wide variety, too. You’ll find everything from antique dolls, cast iron toys, tin wind ups, and plenty of 70s, 80s, and 90s toy and action figure love! Most shows will tout “there’s something for everyone!” and that generally means maybe a table or two of the stuff you care about… but not at the Kane County Show. You’ll almost certainly find at least one full booth of the stuff you care about. Legos? Plenty. Funko POP? Multiple booths. Kenner Star Wars? Everywhere. Vintage Monster Toys and Collectibles? All over!
The real reason to attend the Chicago Toy Show…
While the show itself is incredible, and you’ll most certainly always find something you can’t live without, the real reason to go to the show is networking. This show, unlike many of the small local shows, tends to bring people together from across the country (and sometimes the world)! It’s a great chance to meet new people and hang out with old friends.
No matter what you collect, networking is key. Many people in the hobby tend to look past the importance of friendships, but to me it’s quite literally the best part of collecting. Many of my closest friends are folks I’ve met through the hobby, and I’d argue that in general (yes, there are plenty of shitbags out there too) people in this hobby are some of the best around. Short of going to a major brand-specific convention (Star Wars Celebration, Power Con, TF Con, Joe Con, etc) this is probably the best all around toy show to bring people together.
What kind of toys can I find at the Chicago Toy Show?
In one word- everything. If you go attend this show and can’t find something that you’re into, you’re probably not a real toy collector. There is quite literally something for everyone! I failed quite miserably at taking pictures, but here are a few that a friend allowed me to include here (Thanks Scott)! Make sure to watch the YouTube channel for my Chicago Toy Haul video – coming soon!