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Where the toys are

December 02, 2005|By By Elia Powers

A self-described 'eclector' will show off his eclectic collection of antique toys -- about 2,000 of them worth, he estimates, $2 millionRalph Tomlinson is a self-described "eclector."

Let him explain.

"My collection is too varied to sum up," said Tomlinson, a Newport Beach resident. "I have something from every toy genre out there."

Tomlinson has about 2,000 antique items, including aeronautical toys and replicas of early vehicles. In all, he estimates the collection is worth about $2 million.

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Nearly every room in his house is filled with purchased pieces, so when Tomlinson looks for new inventory, he doesn't see any limits.

"My position is that anything fits nicely with my collection," he said.

And now, anyone with a passion for antique items -- or an interest in helping a local organization -- can see Tomlinson's toys.

From 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, he has invited visitors into his home for a self-guided tour. The event costs $75, with money going to the Newport Beach Arts Foundation as it continues to plan free events such as Shakespeare in the park and concerts in the park.

Tomlinson is friends with Newport Beach Arts Foundation member Lyn Belasco, who is the event chair for the fundraiser. She said she expects up to 100 people to attend the event.

Belasco has seen Tomlinson's collection and said she discovers new items every time she visits the house.

"He has something that should be shared with others," Belasco said. "It's like going to a museum. Everything is in glass cases and there's a new toy everywhere you turn."

That includes the ceiling. Model airplanes hang from a string and Disney collectibles are scattered throughout the house.

Tomlinson, 77, has been collecting since the 1960s and has been featured on KOCE-TV and in various toy magazines. In addition to purchasing antique pieces from dealers, Tomlinson also refurbishes the items so they are back to presentable condition.

Tomlinson, a retired remodeling contractor, said he has held open houses a handful of times before. During the events, he plants himself upstairs and gives an introductory speech every few minutes to new guests.

When guests ask Tomlinson to name his favorite collectible, he refuses. There are too many, he said.

Newport Beach Arts Foundation President Lila Crespin said Tomlinson's collection is known for its variety and historical significance.

"He doesn't just focus on one type of item," Crespin said. "His collection tells a lot about the times in which they were created. You aren't just looking at a piece of Americana, you are looking at historical data."

IF YOU GO

* WHAT: Antique toy showing/fundraiser

* WHEN: 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday

* WHERE: Home of Newport Beach resident Ralph Tomlinson

* COST: $75, includes drinks and hors d'oeuvres

* CONTACT: (949) 673-2721. Reservations required.20051202iqug8qknDOUGLAS ZIMMERMAN / DAILY PILOT(LA)Antique toy collector Ralph Tomlinson demonstrates how one of his toys works. The toy is from Germany and was built around 1900. Tomlinson is an avid antique toy collector, having ammased over 2000 toys in his house.

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