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The Pleasure of Collecting Vintage and Antique Toys

Updated on January 14, 2013
My personal Hot wheels collection
My personal Hot wheels collection

Toys have been always around human beings in one way or the other. This trend goes back to a prehistoric time period when humans were living a primitive life. The evolution of toys has been remarkable over the process of time. From the toys made up of clay and wood, we have reached an era of electrical toys like video games, robots, and other types of automatic toys. There is a significant number of people who are interested in collecting old toys which is not only a satisfaction to their interests but also a good means to spend their leisure time and ending up with a fine collection to show off. These toys include old tops, wind-up toys, figurines and train sets. Different trends have been followed throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century till today in toy making. In the nineteenth century, the toys made from wood were very popular. For example, The most popular wooden toy of this period was Noah’s Ark boarded with different animal species. This is also the era of the birth of the popular and familiar “lead soldiers”. In the twentieth century, the British introduced “die-cast” toys like small Dinky cars, tanks, airplanes etc. They became very popular in a relatively short era of time. In the same time period one of the world’s most collected types of toys included miniature train sets. These sorts of toys worked on a manual “wind-up” mechanism. In the later part of the century, tinplate toys became very popular with a semi-automatic operating system. However, the electric toys of the twenty first century have outrun them all in feasibility, operation, and popularity. Certain toys with manual, wind-up or semi-automatic operating systems are now considered as antiques which are collected by millions of people worldwide.

Some of my rarer Hot Wheels car collections
Some of my rarer Hot Wheels car collections

Why Start Collecting Vintage Toys

Most people collect antique toys just for the sake of pleasure as they always want to have something in their custody which is unique and holds an age value. This makes them stand out of the crowd in a certain way. In addition, some people consider it a source of fame, money and show off. There are a number of people who collect expensive and very old toys in order to hold exhibitions. For most of the people, it is a source of fun. They collect these toys in order to go back to the times when they were innocent young children who always longed to have the best toy on the market. Either it is a Christmas tree, a lead soldier, a Dinky car, a beautiful porcelain doll or an ultra nice wind-up train set, it is a source of past time memories for them. To own back something from your childhood which you really loved a lot in that earlier part of your life makes you feel as if you are returned to that beautiful time of your life in an older age. If you are thinking of starting up your own collection due to any of the above reasons, it is totally worth it.

How to choose what to collect

The key to buying antique or vintage toys is specifically one’s area of interest. Generally speaking, any item ranging anywhere from 20 or more years of age is considered to be vintage. On the other hand, an item which has 100 years or more under its belt is considered an antique. All types of antique toys are available on the market. There are toys made up of lead, wood, tinplate, glass etc. You can choose whatever type you are interested in. However, always keep in mind the durability of these materials. Toys made up of lead, wood or any other metal are more likely to remain in a very good condition for a longer period of time. However, antiques made up glass or plastic are more likely to be in a worn our condition over time. It is also a good idea to have a good look at specific books with information about famous manufacturers, designs, and artists to familiarize your own self if starting as a beginner. Obtaining a price guide is also a good option in order to have an idea of how much you should spend over a collectible.

Rare 1970's "Liabe" die cast toy by Popy (part of my personal collection)
Rare 1970's "Liabe" die cast toy by Popy (part of my personal collection)

Why Toy Collecting is Fun

Antique toy collecting is definitely one of those interesting and enjoyable hobbies out there. This hobby not only yields a fun filled spending of your leisure time, but it can also make quite a sum of money for you, that is if you get your hands on something that is worth your while . Therefore, this hobby is beneficial for you both ways and is in a sense like killing two birds with one stone. Researching for toys and scavenging different local stores, garages, and backyards have in itself a lot of thrill and fun activity. Looking after your antiques carefully and managing their arrangements in your museum is another enjoyable thing. There are a lot of people out there who consider it really exciting to discover a new valuable toy in their range as do the children. Therefore, this part of collecting antique toys is never restricted to a specific age group. The fun and excitement of toy collection goes on and on as your collection increases from one shelf to the other.

Where and How to Display Your Toy Collections

Displaying your toy collection is a complete art which gives your collection an audacious and a mighty look with toys arranged in such a way to show your passion for this wonderful hobby. Having a head count of your antique toys, and looking for an appropriate toy case is one strategy if your toy collection is not very big. Beginners can display their collection in one of the most noticed shelf of a common room. With the increase in collection, you can move up to an entire room to display your collection. If you have been collecting for quite a bit of time already, categorizing your toys and displaying them separately in each case according to their categories is an excellent choice. These different cases of antiques can rest in different rooms of your house depending upon your taste. You can also make a small museum in your house if you want to display them away from household items. In any case, it is always preferable to display your collectibles where they stand out to their surroundings and in places most visible to your guests.

To share my personal experience, just like most people, I started out as a novice toy collector, and my interest grew more and more over time. A few of my personal absolute all time favorite vintage toy collections were Redline Hot Wheels miniature cars as well as Bandai owned Popy toys manufactured in Japan. I used to like these particular toys for their intricacy, quality and the fact that such robust toys were made to last. I always took pride in my collections and so should you!


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      5 years ago

      Thank you for commenting galleryofgrace. I am sure more and more people will come to realize it one day :)

    • galleryofgrace profile image


      5 years ago from Virginia

      Very interesting article. Most people don't understand that toys from the 80's and early 90's are now collectibles. Thanks for sharing.


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