When a Toy is More Than a Toy
Remember the excitement of your childhood days when your parents or your grandparents took you to a store and you wandered for what seemed like hours in the toy department?
Remember the thrill of playing with as many toys as possible? (until you got caught by some adult!) Each and every toy filled your mind with imagination, taking you to another world. From the moment you picked that toy up until the moment you placed it back on the shelf, you were absorbed in a magical world – usually one in which you were the hero!
We all look back on those days wistfully, don’t we? For many individuals, those days are gone forever. They can only sit at their desks at work dreaming how carefree life was then.
But for other adults, the excitement of discovering toys is still a very real part of their lives. They experience that stimulation weekend after weekend as they trek off to enhance their toy collection.
Well, some of these people may visit Wal-Mart or Target, but many of them haunt antique shops, flea markets, swap meets, or estate sales. These people are happily knee-deep in a hobby creating collections of older toys. Sometimes the items they search for may be classified as antiques.
But it’s just as likely the sought-after collectible is simply 30 or 40 years old. These toys are too new to be considered antiques. Instead, these toys are called “collectibles.”
What motivates toy collectors?
Many individuals collect the toys they remember playing with as youngsters. Some 30-something males are now avid collectors of their favorite toy from their childhood: Transformers.
Females of all ages are drawn to collect Barbie dolls – all kinds of Barbie dolls. Some Baby Boomers collect items they cherished in their youth; everything from Roy Rogers memorabilia to space toys.
And then there are those who are still captivated by their favorite childhood television shows. They specialize in collecting toys associated with that, whether it be the Brady Bunch or the A-Team!
What’s going on here?
The individuals absorbed in these toys are engaging in a fascinating and extremely popular hobby – acquiring antique and collectible toys.
These people aren’t snatching these toys up so they can play with them (though we don’t know how many may be doing this as well!) They’re actually buying them so they can display them as a collection.
Toys as collectible items are a relatively new phenomenon in the U.S. It really didn’t exist prior to the 1960s as an organized avocation. In that decade quite a few societies dedicated to the collecting of toys were formed, including organizations like The Antique Toy Collectors of America, The Mechanical Bank Collectors of America, and The American Train Collectors Association.
Some 20 years later – in 1985 – another collectors group emerged, the American Game Collectors Association.
In that decade collecting fever hit the country with a vengeance according to http://www.antiquetoys.com/investment.html. Prices reached their zenith in this decade, as evidenced by the success of the Perelman Toy Museum sale in 1988.
There were only 36 individuals in attendance. The elite of the toy collecting world vied for a collection of 5,000 toys. In less than a 24-hour period, $5 million had been spent.
Then in the 1990s, the high prices came crashing down on collectors. Economic conditions curbed the unlimited enthusiasm of the 1980s – as well as the high prices.
The truth is that the hobby of acquiring collectible toys has exploded again within the last 20 years. Unfortunately, there’s really no way of telling how many individuals nationwide are actively involved in this hobby.
Interest in toy collecting Growing by leaps and bounds!
This much we do know: Collectible toys almost always work their way to the top 20 list of items sought or sold at both auctions and antique fairs. Not only that, but this pursuit is also one of the top five collectible categories in this country. Now those are telling statistics!
Actually, with the ever-increasing nostalgia for anything from the past, it’s no surprise that more of us are turning to our old pals – our toys.
Perhaps you’ve found some of your old toys in your parents’ attic or basement. No doubt the find triggered a flood of memories for you. And that may have even sent you on a search to find other items from your past.
If that’s the case, you’re already on your way to being a toy collector. Congratulations!
Or maybe you’ve been frequenting flea markets and garage sales spotting what you consider are collectible toys, but don’t know if you’re ready to get your feet wet in the hobby.
You may feel as if you don’t know enough about the market to begin to collect. Or maybe don’t know what type of toy you want to collect.
Welcome to THE toy-collecting primer
Whatever the case, you’ve opened the right book! Consider this book a primer to toy collecting. It’s your guide to learning about the hobby – from starting a collection, displaying it, right through to selling some pieces should you eventually choose to.
You’re about to learn the real difference between antique toys and collectible ones.
Yes, there really is a difference between an antique and a collectible. You’ll learn the difference when it comes to toy collecting, and you’ll also discover that the line between the two is much finer than you may think.
The best places to shop for collectibles
First thought – antique shops. Don’t be so quick to open the door to that store. I’ll clue you in on some surprising locations where you may find a diamond in the rough when it comes to vintage toys. And you’ll be surprised at how affordable these gems can be.
Managing your collection to retain its value
Once you have a sizable amount of items in your collection, how do you keep them in prime condition? How do you ensure that these toys retain their value?
There are tricks of the trade that every veteran collector practices – and you’ll learn all about them!
Toys fetching the highest prices
You say you’ll never part with the toy. It means that much to you. And perhaps you won’t, but knowing what the going rate is for certain toys is not only valuable when you decide to sell it. This information can help you save money (sometimes lots of money it) when you take those wonderful shopping excursions.
After all, why pay more for a collectible when you don’t have to? If you’re like most collectors, you’re working on a budget. When you can save money on one item, you have more left for another purchase! Doesn’t that sound fun!
The most popular items among collectors?
Are there certain kinds of toys that collectors can’t seem to get enough of?
Of course, there are. And I’ll let you know what the hottest markets are. In this way you can keep an eagle eye out for them. You’ll also have some idea of the upper limits of what you should be pay for an item in this category without getting taken.
Selling portions of your collection, should you choose
Okay let’s face it. A true collector would never admit that his collection is “complete.” And that’s true.
This toy would certainly “complete” my collection, you say as you meander through a flea market. This would be the crowning item in my display, you think, as you assess the pros and cons of buying another Mickey Mouse figurine.
Complete is something most collectors never experience. Satisfaction? Yes! Contentment? Yes! Pride? Most definitely! But not a sense of completion.
As you immerse yourself in this hobby, you’ll discover why. There’s always another piece with your name on it. Or there’s the same Transformer – only in better condition. Why that would certainly add more value to your collection.
The only certain thing For a collector: Change!
Your collection will never be complete, but what your collection will become is fluid. It will be an ever-changing group of acquisitions – complete as far it stands today, but always in transition with the addition or subtraction of a toy.
You may discover that you tire of this piece, being willing to sell it. Then it frees you up to purchase another. You may say in either case your collection is complete, but it’s not the same collection as it was.
This probably sounds confusing if you’re new to the entire hobby of collecting. For some, just starting out it may sound frustrating. But that is the ultimate beauty and attraction of collecting vintage toys. It’s never the same collection two days in a row!
Are you ready to dive in to your new hobby?
Are you ready to learn more about this fascinating pastime? Are you considering joining the ranks of collectors across the nation – indeed, around the world? Then let’s jump in together and learn more about how you can receive the most satisfaction possible out of this unique avocation!
Let’s go to Chapter One, in which I’ll help you start your collection.