Action Man suit could fetch £20,000
The son of a retired toy rep was "flabbergasted" to find a rare Action Man judo outfit could raise £20,000 at auction.
For decades Doug Carpenter, 88, has kept boxes of pristine toys in his garage and loft, little realising there are collectors who will pay a fortune for the unpackaged toys from the 1960s and 1970s.
Even the ageing original cardboard boxes they have sat in are valuable to enthusiasts.
Mr Carpenter and his wife Daphne have handed the hoard to their son Paul and some of the forgotten gems will be sold off by toy specialists Vectis in Thornaby, Teesside in May or June.
Paul Carpenter, 51, who owns a dental lab, said: "He worked for Palitoy as a sales rep through the 1970s to the mid 80s. He put pieces in the loft and in storage and it has all been forgotten about."
That was until his parents asked him to help clear the space, and he found the boxes of untouched toys.
The pick of the find was a perfectly-packaged Action Man judo suit so rare it does not even feature in a specialist book of the soldier's accessories.
There are also boxed football kits for Everton, West Ham, Spurs and Liverpool among others, an Action Man cricket set and racing cars.
As the sporting range did not sell well compared with military outfits, probably as children preferred to keep Action Man soldiering, ironically those are the lines that are most sought after by collectors now, due to their rarity.
Mr Carpenter, who has a brother, said: "I am flabbergasted that this is worth anything like this amount.
"We played with these and we found a case of ours and they were all ripped to bits. We would have played with most of them. We had lots of friends coming round to play.
"To be honest, we didn't really appreciate it at the time, it was only later on we realised how lucky we were having all these toys to play with."
The pristine boxed judo set dates back to 1969 or 1970 - such is its rarity experts cannot even be sure when it was first produced.
More collectors are looking for Action Man toys as people who played with them reach back to their childhood.
Vectis auction house hit the headlines when it sold a Boba Fett Star Wars figure last month for £18,000 belonging to superfan Craig Stevens.
Valuer Kathy Taylor went to collect the rep's toys which now fill a wall of the auction warehouse. It took two trips with a white van to collect all the items.
She said: "There has been considerable interest already and a fever is building up for it."
Even small Action Man accessories, such as the tiny medals he wore, can be collectable.
She said: "The bits and pieces are in short supply as they tended to go missing when they got sucked up the vacuum cleaner.
"A lot of the value is down to the packaging, they are very scarce in shop stock condition.
"These are very unusual in that they have come out of trade boxes, so they are shop stock."
But she felt there may be other perfect examples out there in lofts and cupboards that have not been opened for more than 40 years.
"Maybe somebody bought it for a present and never gave it, there are still things out there," she said.