Collecting TOYS

(as a hobby & for fun)

 

  Bottom line for Collecting TOYS (vintage or even modern). . . whatever you decide to collect, it should be something which appeals to your personal tastes. Collecting only things which are worth $$$ (for investment purposes) may seem to be the logical choice . . .  BUT, that train of thought has one downfall  . . .  for it boils down to the fact, the WORTH of any item (regardless of what any book may list the value of it) is only whatever a seller is willing to SELL it for and whatever a buyer is willing to BUY it for. This too, will be influenced by the current market and the DEMAND at any given time for any item.

 

  Take for example- the “GOLD Bob Mackie Barbie” (the 1st doll of the Bob Mackie designer Barbie series), which originally retailed for about $120.00 when she was introduced in 1990. By the time these Bob Mackie’s were becoming hot collectibles (in 1990 to 2000), you were lucky if you could find anyone selling her for between $700 to $1,000. Now (in 2011), the market is flooded with folks trying to sell her and you can pick up this same doll (on e-bay for instance) for between $150 & up.

   The internet is a God-send for collectors of any kind, as it gives one access to lots of background/historical info as well as access to obtaining many hard-to-find items that you  might wish to collect.

 

     My favorite place to search for any toy will most likely be E-bay. For me E-bay is like a HUGE estate (or garage sale), you type in what you’re looking for . . . and voila! All the items that match your search pop up for you to review in the privacy of your own home (no running around from garage sales to estate sales searching for stuff you may never find). Of course the downside, will be that whoever is listing the item may’ve picked it up at a garage/estate sale and may not be well versed in the item and its history (so you may not know what you actually end up with till you win it and get it in your possession). Take for example- when looking on E-bay all you have to go on is whatever pictures the seller posts of the item and their description of said item, as well as any questions you may ask the seller with regards to the item.

      I recently saw a DAM troll donkey on e-bay the picture “looked” good and when I inquired further the seller said the donkey was from her childhood and in excellent condition with original mohair. Given that at the time (the value for these DAM donkey trolls were running between $75 to $150), I figured that paying over $200 for something in mint condition with the original mohair was worth it to me. Imagine my disappointment when I received the donkey and found flakes of what looked like dandruff in the hair at the base . . . the leather was “dry-rotted” and the mohair practically falling out. After contacting the seller I realize they were not experienced enough to realize that the hair was in such poor shape (they really thought the hair was in excellent condition when they listed it). A little embarrassed by this episode, the seller did politely offer to refund me. But I decided to keep the donkey and had the hair professionally restored (this cost me another $40 plus, that I invested on top of the original  $200 plus I paid). So buyer BEWARE, when toys are this old (nearly 50 yrs), there is a risk of leather being dry-rotted, brittle hair (human or mohair), and any metal rusting. These conditions may not always be obvious in pictures alone, so there is some risk (always ask questions before bidding).

 

  In general,  MIB (mint-in-box) or NRFB (never-removed-from-box) will command a higher $$ on the marketplace than those items/toys which have been removed (were played with, are damaged or have been altered in some way). Some collector’s may not be as particular and will be happy with less than perfect condition while other collector’s may be more particular and want items which are from smoke (and or pet) free homes and which have NO odors.

The hobby of “collecting” seems to be a product of an older generation. To those old enough they can recall the once popular pastime of stamps, comic book, baseball cards, and coin collecting, which gave way to collecting other items which struck one’s fancy. The younger generation of today however,  seems more interested in their  i-pods, play stations, computer games, etc. Will those items ever be collectibles some day? Who really knows . . .

  Perhaps I’m alone in my obsession (but I doubt it) . . . I am a self-professed TOY collector. Ok, I’ve fessed up . . . but I don’t go berserk on collecting every toy . . . just the ones that happen to strike my fancy for some reason or another. Toys from my childhood that I recall playing with, always bring back fond memories of a happy & carefree time. There were truly some very unique toys from my childhood and my personal favorites were the DAM trolls along with my Barbie’s, Liddle Kiddle’s and Johnny West. Many happy imaginative hours were spent playing with these toys. In fact, I didn’t realize the wide variety of DAM’s that existed back in the mid-1960’s (eg- animals, tailed trolls, etc), it wasn’t until I was much older I learned of the OTHER trolls made by Thomas DAM from various books . . .  how I truly wished that my childhood had some of these older DAM’s . . . (thank goodness for E-bay!! I was able to find these elusive trolls there) I have now been able to expand my small  DAM troll collection.

      Way before Star Wars and the invasion of the aliens, the colorful “Kosmic Kiddles” made by Mattel toys (circ– in the late 1960’s) were just in sync with the t.v. series at that time “My Favorite Martin”. These were so cool! The Kosmic Kiddles came in five skin tones (yellow, green, blue, purple and red/pink), and even glowed in the dark! They had neat little space ships with wheels and a purple moon-rock base. Mattel’s “Liddle Kiddles” line was also very popular at this time with little girls and even today has a following of collectors. The DAWN dolls, by Toppler (in 1970’s) looked like miniature Barbies and these too are sought after by some toy collectors. Fantasy movies like GREMLINS, heralded the appearance of the GIZMO character (in 1980’s) in many different toys as well as his own cereal! The more recent FURBY’s (and their cousin Shelby made by Tiger Electronics) were so HOT in the late 1990’s that many kids had them on their Christmas lists and parents (as well as collectors) were scrambling to find them and paying truly outrageous prices!!!

    For those folks who like dolls and fantasy/fairies Tonka Toys (yes, the same company that made metal trucks), did try coming out with a line of dolls in order to draw in little girls . . . called Star Fairies(circ-1983), these fairies were based on molds of dolls made by Hornby (aka- Flower Fairies). They came with accessories, animal friends and other fun stuff (click on links below if you’re interested in more info on these dolls).

    Mattel’s Barbie doll line was always a popular item and towards the 1980’s Mattel started gearing their dolls towards the “adult” collector by producing more exquisitely designed dolls in order to boost sales. There are many who prefer to collect the older Barbie’s (1950’s) and some collectors who are drawn to the newer Barbie’s (1980’s & up). Mattel has definitely capitalized on this line of toys, as evidenced in their variety of Barbie’s geared towards several possible lines for collector’s multi interests- designer/clothing dolls, fantasy, pop culture, Dolls-of-the-World, Holiday Collection, Harley-Davidson, Coca-Cola, Bob Mackie, etc. Mattel’s Shani dolls was the company’s attempt at trying to create a line of dolls specifically geared towards Afro-Americans to help little girls take pride in their heritage, the dolls featured  four different  friends (Shani, Nichelle, Asha & boyfriend Jamal). The three girls even had different skin complexions. The Shani dolls 1st came out under the Beach Dazzle series, followed by the deluxe World of Beauty series where Jamal was first introduced along with Shan’s limited edition GOLD corvette and three packaged outfits. But these dolls had a short run (1991-1992), and the line was discontinued. The last series made with the Shani name were Beach Streak and Soul Train Rappin’

Disclaimer:  Information above provided is  intended to be a guide for those who are searching for  information on collecting TOYS. If you are looking for current market values for any of  these items, check E-bay. Like all other toys, since these items are no longer manufactured the going rate may be whatever the current seller is willing to sell these toys for, and likewise whatever a current buyer is willing to spend.

The old “metal” toys (trucks, cars) have always been a good investment as well. Some of the lovely antique porcelain dolls made in Germany or France during the 1800-early 1900’s will always be popular. Trying to find these old antique porcelain, composition or metal/wax dolls in good condition (with no cracked or chipped heads) with original clothing is hard, but if you come across any, then they can prove to be a good investment.