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.
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.
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:
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:
"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:
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."
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.
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: