A CASTLEMAINE man’s fascination with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has led to his personal collection being showcased at the musical’s national debut.
Kent Bates’ assortment of magical cars and other paraphernalia is being set up at this weekend’s Arms and Collectables Show at Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre before heading to Sydney in November.
For the self-confessed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang nut, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.
“As a collector and as a fan, I’m really, really, excited about it; I’ve been waiting since the original play opened on April 28, 2002,” he said.
With the Australian debut of the production drawing near, organisers have expressed their interest in showing some of Mr Bates’ collection in the theatre’s foyer.
Mr Bates said the specific plans were tightly under wraps but he’s “thrilled” to be involved in some way in the stage production.
His Chitty Chitty Bang Bang collection boasts more than 2000 bits and pieces relating to the 1968 film and stage show – the biggest collection in the southern hemisphere.
“Worldwide there’s about two or three others that have bigger collections,” he said.
The collection started in 1969, with a toy car collected from the first time he saw the film as a nine-year-old.
“Like most children you get your toy and you play with it until it gets broken and you throw it out,” he said.
“But I put mine away, when I got into my 20s I still had the original toys and found some other Chitty Chitty Bang Bang things from swap meets.”
From there the collection has grown to include news pieces, programs, photographs and records from different artists in the films and stage shows.
Among the more prized items is his original program from the film’s 1968 world premiere.
His other love is the mint condition pedal car. “There’s only three or four in the world of those,” he said.
“It took me along time to source it off a fellow collector from America.
“He knew that I was a genuine collector and would have the car to keep not to sell.”
Mr Bates said it was great to be able to show the collection to others and meet like-minded fans.
“You meet people of all ages, passionate about the film,” he said.
“I met an English couple who built a replica model Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car and drove it from the Isle of Wight to Australia, February 2009.
“I got to meet them in Castlemaine and we drove around together, it was absolutely wonderful.”
Mr Bates said he would enjoy sharing collecting stories at the Golden City Collectors Association of Bendigo Arms and Collectables Show this weekend and later at the debut stage shows in Sydney and Melbourne.
The next step from here involves his recently registered “Gen 11” licence plates.
“When I retire I’m going to build my own life-size replica car.
“That’s my ambition.”
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