Step into just about any department store and you'll realize a fundamental human truth: When we hear a story we like, we want to engage with it even more. That's why so many movies, TV shows, and even video games have lines of collectible toys complementing the original content.
But what does this mean for pop culture? And, perhaps more importantly, what does it mean for you--an up-and-coming toy collector or someone who's considering a leap into this wonderful world?
Let's find out.
The first thing to know about collectible toys is that they can come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Most collectors have a "niche" they like to operate in; for example, some are focused on a particular brand or manufacturer, while others look for items from a certain time period.
Before we look at the deeper connection between these toys and the popular culture they reflect, let's learn a little more about the toys themselves:
Collectible toys can be just about anything. This includes:
It's easy to think that all toy collecting has to be vintage or even historical. In truth, many modern toys are considered collectibles, too--and they can be just as valuable as certain older pieces. Some collectors prefer to focus on new or old, while others just gather whatever they like. At the end of the day, you get to decide what you collect--but when it comes to the broader story of toys and pop culture, don't forget to take everything into account.
You don't have to focus exclusively on rare toys to be considered a collector. It's fun to know the difference--and, indeed, you can make more money if you sell the right rare items to the right people--but it's not a requirement. Your most important responsibility here is to ensure you get what you pay for; don't stumble into the trap of buying fakes just because you don't know how to tell the difference yet.
Now that you know the basics, let's take a closer look at what's behind this cultural love affair.
Who decides which toys are valuable and which aren't? There are a lot of potential answers, but the most important one is this: We do. As a society, we place value on the stories, content, and experiences that resonate with us. Sometimes, that means a movie is popular and all of its toys are just as loved; other times, the movie flops but the toys develop a cult following.
It may seem like there's no rhyme or reason to this, but in truth, it goes back to the inherent connections between different kinds of entertainment. When people find a fictional universe or story they enjoy, they want to spend more time immersed in that world--and games, toys, and collections are about as close as we'll ever get to exploring Tatooine or riding in the Batmobile.
There are people who played with toys now considered vintage, and those people likely have kids of their own. If you want to share your own childhood experiences--or maybe relive them for yourself--you might turn to old toys. This kind of nostalgia is just one more reason collectibles are especially popular these days: We're going back to find what we once loved.
As certain brands and franchises are "rediscovered" by new generations (not that the rest of us ever forgot about them), new content and conversations are created. This encourages many people to return to a story's roots to see what its toys originally looked like--and that's how collectors are born. Soon, rare pieces become even more valuable because more people are looking for them, and what you thought was a forgotten action figure can suddenly be worth a good chunk of change.
Maybe you want to reconnect with your inner child, or maybe you want to make some extra money. No matter what brings you here, there are plenty of ways to succeed in the world of collectible toys.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
In conclusion, collectible toys are especially popular these days, and it's mostly thanks to TV shows, movies, and video games. However, it's people who decide the value of a story--and that means you have a role to play in this fascinating world.