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FANTASTIC LIVES: Transports of delight ...AND NOW.

Byline: JOHN PLIMMER

I N 1959, when Geoff Price was still playing cowboys and Indians, his parents bought him his first Dinky toy.

It was a bright blue single-decker bus that Geoff has treasured ever since -together with the other 8,501 model buses he now proudly displays as his life-long collection. What started as a nine year-old's fascination with miniature models of public transport has developed into the world's largest collection of model buses and coaches.

It's official. It's in the Guinness Book of Records.

'Like most other kids, I was given quite a lot of Dinky toys to play with,' says 53-year-old Geoff at his home in Walsall. 'But I gave most of them away, except for the buses.

'I always had this fascination for collecting models. By the time I got married in 1972, the collection had reached 420.'

Geoff and his wife Linda have travelled around the world, bringing back models from countries including the USA, Japan, Hong Kong, Turkey, Australia and even Sri Lanka.

His collection comprises models made of just about every material imaginable including lead, tin, plastic, ceramics, soap and crystal. He even has model coaches made of leather.

In addition to that impressive collection, Geoff also owns a small group of miniature coaches, housed inside his garage.

'Most of the larger ones have two-stroke engines and are driveable,' he says.

'They're a third the size of the vehicles they've been modelled on and we frequently take them to shows.

'My favourite model is a green 1951 Leyland Royal Tiger single-decker which is always a favourite with children and adults whenever we put it on show.

'Recently a movie was made in Nottingham, starring Bob Hoskins. It was called A Room For Romeo Brass and was about a fanatical collector. I supplied 2,000 models for one of the film sets.'

Geoff also has access to the owners of more than 12,000 classic cars and organises up to 15 shows a year at venues throughout the year, including Dudley's Himley Hall. So how much is the collection worth?

'It's priceless as far as I'm concerned,' says Geoff.

'It represents almost 50 years of my life and I couldn't put a price on it.

'I'll never stop collecting. We've moved house twice just to get them all in!'

CAPTION(S):

JUST THE TICKET... Geoff Price with some of his model buses
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Nov 2, 2003
Words:398
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