McManiacs in the News

Original release: January 2002
Byline: Brent Sehnert

Recently we had a couple from our club featured in a local newspaper. While Bill and Pat Poe's main interest is collecting McDonalds premiums, we all know that McDonalds is responsible for distributing a large number of glasses as well. Here is the article that was printed in the Northwest Florida Daily News, July 22, 2001.

McManiacs Bill and Pat Poe take their McDonald's collection to extremes, By LEAH STRATMANN, Daily News Contributing Writer NICEVILLE - There are patches, pins, watches, clocks, yo-yos, phones, cars, planes, and trucks, oh my! Walking into the 10- by 30-foot room that houses just some of the McDonald's collector toys belonging to Bill and Pat Poe is overwhelming. The room is awash with the bright signature colors of the fast food giant, and the variety of items is stunning. The Poes began collecting in 1988 on a whim. Pat had read a magazine article about collectibles of the future and it mentioned that fast food items were well made, but cheap to collect. The retired couple began their collecting with a set of toys that came in Happy Meal McNuggets. Thirteen years later the collection has become the focal point of their lives. Back in '88, there were no books to indicate which toys were fast food toys. Now there are many books and the Poes helped the authors fill them with pictures and information about the toys. The Poes are charter members of the national McDonald's Collector's Club, an organization with more than 800 members. They helped form the Florida chapter in 1993. "At the convention in Indianapolis this year, there were collectors from all over the world," Bill said. This weeklong event allows collectors to buy, sell, and swap merchandise. The collection first brought them to the attention of another collector - Rosie O'Donnell - before she hosted her daily television show. Since then, the couple has appeared with O'Donnell on her show and once met with her at a collection convention in Chicago. The connection with O'Donnell is strong. "Rosie sent a writer to the last convention to do a story on us for her magazine, which will come out in December or January. Since O'Donnell has had her television show, most of the communication has been through one of O'Donnell's assistants. But when O'Donnell learned that Pat had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she personally phoned her and asked if she wanted to come to New York to see O'Donnell's physician. Pat declined, explaining she had every confidence in her local surgeon, but O'Donnell insisted on giving Bill her home phone number so that he might call her after the surgery. "I was shocked. It was such a warm and nice thing to do. She doesn't really know us, but it is clear she really cares about people," Pat said with a catch in her voice. The collection will next be featured on an edition of "Ripley's Believe It or Not," set to air in January. The Poes came to the attention of Ripley's because they were featured on a collector Web site as Collectors of the Month. "The Ripley people were here in April for the interview. We taped 10 hours for a segment that will last about five minutes. Now I know why it take so long to make a movie," Bill said. The Poes take a lot of pride in their collection, but Pat acknowledges their children think they are crazy. "We are hoping at least one of our grandchildren will have an interest in continuing the collection," Pat said. Collecting is only a part of the draw for the retired Air Force chief master sergeant and his retired insurance agent wife. They regularly visit local franchises to collect outdated promotional display items. These items are sold at conventions and the money turned over to the Ronald McDonald houses in Florida. The houses are provided free of charge to parents of hospitalized children. "The Sunshine Chapter of the McDonald's Collection Club has raised more than $20,000 for Ronald McDonald houses in Florida," Bill said. Bill shows an avid interest in the history of the toys and his knowledge is extensive. "There used to be regional toys, but now all the states have the same toy at the same time. McDonald's ultimate goal is having the same toy in every store worldwide," he said. The vast collection has more of a sentimental than monetary value these days. Bill says the collection is not worth what it used to be because of fluctuations in the collectible market. "Since we have collected so long we used to get two or three calls a day. We don't get that many anymore, but the Internet has now come into play," Pat says. "Five years ago the collection was hot. Here you have a 10-cent toy with a book price of $10 and people thought they would get rich. I had a call the other day from someone thinking they had a collection worth thousands and I told them they would be lucky to get $10 for the whole thing," Bill said. He proudly points to one of the original Hamburglar models. "It was discontinued because it was too scary for the kids," he said. Hamburgler shares space with a seven-foot tall Mayor McCheese. The couple's Bluewater Bay home has McDonald's gear everywhere. They have complete playground sets outside, an attic full of stuff they have no place to display, plus the museum room. Like any museum, the room comes with a guest register for the name, date, and comments of visitors. For the Poes, the greatest joy in the collection is the foreign toys they have amassed through sale and trade with other collectors. "The foreign toys are very neat," Pat says. "In Asia, the people love the characters: Hamburglar, Grimace, Birdie and Ronald McDonald," Bill said. "They can't get enough of them and we trade toys all the time." Most of the trading and selling is an effort to whittle down the number of extra toys, although they already have plans to extend the collection to an upstairs room. Asked which toys they treasure most, Pat said she especially liked the Raggedy Ann set she acquired that was sold on the West Coast. Bill seemed to like them all, but was particularly proud of a plastic baseball that opens to reveal the 1974 San Diego Padres team - a ballpark giveaway item designed to entice multiple ballpark visits to complete the collection. At the time of this promotion, the founder of McDonald's also owned the professional league team. "We do it because we are retired and we love to trade with people in other countries," they said. "We have met some mighty fine people through this."

If you are in the news sometime, let us know. We would love to pass the information along. We can now all look forward to Bill and Pat in the Ripley's television segment to air this winter. You also may find them at one of the various events around the US. Even though I live in FL, I have seen them at events as far away as the Portland Expo and every year at the Orlando FX Toy Show.



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