July 25, 2023 4 min read

Do you remember the joy of holding your favorite childhood toy in your hands? Maybe the glistening plastic kept you mesmerized, or perhaps it was the moving limbs or fascinating weapons and accessories that made your heart beat faster. Either way, many people find that this glee fades over time--unless, of course, you're a toy collector.

Here's how to reclaim all that childhood wonder (and maybe make some money while you're at it) by starting your own toy collection.

Why Build Your Toy Collection?

Whether you're looking for a brand-new hobby or have lingered on the threshold of toy collecting for years, now is the perfect time to jump in. Many of the characters, brands, and franchises we loved as children (and even some that came before us) are back in the public eyes and hearts. It's the perfect opportunity to own some of the most influential pieces of pop culture.

Here are just a few more reasons to take that first step into the world of collecting:


Certain toys, especially rare and vintage pieces, go up in value over time. That's not just because new generations are discovering their importance; it's because some styles, designs, and even manufacturing methods simply aren't done anymore--which means you could hold history in your hands.


Many collectors get into the game to reconnect with their younger selves. If you want to conjure up fond memories of playing in your backyard and not paying bills, there's no better way than to find a toy you'd almost forgotten about.


In some ways, toy collecting is a full-time job--one you'll never regret applying for. From scouring sales to researching rare pieces, this hobby can always keep you entertained.


Collecting doesn't happen in a vacuum. You get to meet and haggle with other collectors, discuss toy history, share the stories behind your favorite pieces, and perhaps make some deals you can be proud of.

Getting Started: Understanding The Market

Ready to jump in? Not so fast, grasshopper. The first step in toy collecting is to understand the market you're about to enter--and sometimes, that's easier said than done.

You'll need to think about a few key elements:

  • Current trends: Trends in popular culture tend to impact trends in toy collecting. For example, with the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the past decade and the resurgence of franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, items from these brands could be in higher demand.
  • Availability: For many collectors, rarity is the name of the game. Think about which type or brand of toy you'll focus on, then ask yourself whether these items are actually available right now. It's fun to track down that one-in-a-million toy, but if that's what your whole collection is based on, your wins might be few and far between.
  • Accessibility: Do you live in an area with lots of vintage toy stores, other collectors or even garage sales? Or do you feel like the only toys you see are brand-new, mass-produced department store fare? Sure, you can purchase toys online--but remember that you'll pay shipping for almost everything you can't pick up yourself.

Researching Rare and Desirable Pieces

The next step in becoming a seasoned toy collector is to research specific items. Maybe you already have one and are building your collection around it, maybe you're looking for a toy from a longer-ago-than-you-care-to-mention childhood, or perhaps you just saw something cool online.

Regardless of your reasoning, it's important to base your research on these questions:

"Is it rare?"

"Rare" means different things to different collectors. Generally speaking, toys are considered rare if only a handful were made. This includes short-run or limited edition items, but it also covers "mistakes" or errors in manufacturing that sometimes make a toy even more desirable.

To find out if a collectible is rare, you'll have to research its history to find out when it was released, how long it was sold, whether it was discontinued, and more. Although this information may be hard to come by, try to review multiple sources when possible.

Perhaps most importantly, you'll need to know how to validate a rare toy's authenticity. Make sure to review:

  • The original toy's colors and color placement.
  • The size and shape of the toy.
  • Any brand or manufacturing markings.

"Is it valuable?"

A toy can be rare, but that doesn't necessarily make it valuable. (For example, some toys didn't do well in their original run and still aren't that popular today.) Before investing in a rare piece, know what it's worth on the collector's market.

Keep in mind that some pieces wouldn't do well at a garage sale or thrift store. Certain toys are valuable almost exclusively to collectors, and casual buyers might not understand their value--so don't base your judgment on the "general public."

"Is it feasible?"

Let's say you've found that perfect toy--a 1 out of 100 action figure that was released over a single month in the 70s. Everything's great, right?

Unfortunately, that's not always the case. If you want to make money as a collector--or even just keep yourself out of hot water--you need to make careful purchases. Consider whether a rare toy is within your financial means, whether it will go up in value, and how much you really want it.

Preserving Your Collection's Value

Once you start collecting in earnest, you'll likely realize that toys aren't easy to store--especially if you're keeping them all in their original packaging. Here are some collectibles storage tips to get you started:

  • Pay attention to materials: Different materials need to be stored, cleaned, and protected in different ways. Do your research to find out what your toys are actually made of.
  • Store carefully: Toys with damaged packaging may be worth less. Protect the plastic and cardboard packages by making sure never to shove or bump your toys (or the containers they're stored in).
  • Consider a storage unit: Expert collectors know that you may need some extra space for your most coveted toys. Consider a climate-controlled storage unit to keep items out of the house and out of the way.
  • Think about sunlight: Sunlight can fade or otherwise damage certain collectibles. Store your items in dry, dark places when possible.

In conclusion, collecting is a wide and wonderful world--and we're here to be your guide. If you're ready to jump-start your collection, start shopping or contact us today!