Collecting Vintage Toys

by Ben on February 7, 2010

Collecting vintage toys can be an exciting hobby that is quickly gaining popularity. There are so many kinds of vintage kinds that the amateur collector has multiple choices to make. While some classic toys can be extremely costly and rare, others are more common and have much lower price tags. There are different ways to pursue the toys sought after, be it online, magazines, or even the local toy store or antique store. Whichever avenue you decide, rest assured that you will never run out of options.

First, decide what genres of vintage toys are going to be collected. “Vintage toys” is an incredibly broad term that encompasses thousands of items over decades and generations. Perhaps you have a particular fondness for toy cars, dolls, action figurines, or cards. Are you collecting toys for financial gain, trying to reawaken your inner child with a vintage Tonka toy, or for another reason? Will you be able to spend large amounts of money in pursuit of a particular toy or would you rather have a less expensive collection? Are you going to buy online, search newspapers and stores, or a combination of the two? Answering some of these questions may help you to narrow your search and stop your new venture from seeming incredibly overwhelming before you even get started.

As with any collectors’ items, condition is key when collecting vintage toys. A small scratch or paint chip can greatly decrease the value of an item that may otherwise be worth a small fortune. Be sure to inspect the toy very carefully before you make the purchase. If possible, inspect it by hand. Does the color seem faded? Are their stains, rips, or other flaws? If you cannot hold the toy in your hands before you make your purchase for whatever reason (say, an online purchase) ask for as many pictures as you need until you feel comfortable enough paying the price requested. If the item is still in its packaging, find pictures of the same item from another source and compare to ensure the packaging is not forged. If you are not planning on fixing up any damages in the vintage toy you are planning on purchasing, decide if the flaws are enough of a diversion to stop you from buying it. If you are buying the item for nostalgic value then it may still be worth your money.

There are many places to search for antique or vintage toys. Sites like EBay and Craigslist are growing in popularity amongst collectors. Here, collectors are able to connect from all over the world. Local antique stores, thrift stores, and even local auctions can be goldmines of vintage toys. Many areas have collectors clubs, where you can meet with other vintage toy collectors in your neighborhood and gain from their experience. Books and magazines for collectors often contain up to date price lists that you can use as a guide and prevent paying way too much for an item. Utilize the tools that are available for people starting collections, follow suggestions, and err on the side of caution, and your new hobby can become an enjoyable and potentially even profitable endeavor to embark on!

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