Collectible Toys

Introduction to toy collecting

One of the hooks that reel us back to childhood is toys. Many collectible toys contain value, whether sentimental or monetary. Nostalgia buffs and toy dealers alike need to understand some basics of collecting toys. Considerations are to be made with regard to obtaining, preserving and determining the value of these classic finds.

Collectible toys can be found in a variety of places. Searching in person is ideal because it allows you to be able to inspect items for damage and original markings. The first stop: Grandmother's attic! If you can't raid your own grandmother's attic (although if that's an option, go for it!), try finding items at estate sales. Other sources include garage sales, antique malls and thrift stores.

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Buying online is an option, although it can be difficult to determine condition and authenticity. It's critical to research companies and individuals with whom you are interested in doing business. Be sure to understand return policies in case an item doesn't meet your expectations. Online resources include eBay (www.ebay.com) and Goodwill (www.shopgoodwill.com). Check shipping charges when making purchases online; some transactions require the buyer to pay exorbitant rates.

If your aim is to earn an income, you'll need to determine a method of selling your items. Renting booth space at antique fairs and antique malls is a viable option. Networking with antique dealers is a great way to build relationships and possibly gain referrals. You can sell your inventory through online auctions or your own Web-based store. Virtual malls allow vendors to post items for sale, usually for a flat fee or a percentage of sales revenue.

How much are your items worth? Simply put, value is determined by what someone is willing to pay for an item. Many books have been published that provide guidance in determining these values. Pricing and value guides are available for many specific product lines, such as Fisher-Price or Hot Wheels. For a broader spectrum of toy values, check your local library or bookstore for titles such as Schroeder's Collectible Toys Antique to Modern Price Guide. An online price guide can be found at www.kovels.com, providing you register on their website for free.

Proper care of collectible toys can have a direct impact on their value. A Barbie with "green ear" (a stain caused by the doll's earrings) is not as valuable as the same Barbie in mint condition. The ideal solution is to remove the earrings before placing Barbie in storage or on display. Naval Jelly is recommended by some experts to remove rust from metal toys. Sanding wooden surfaces might help restore the look of unpainted wooden toys. Other tips can be found online and will provide guidance in preserving your collection.

From the excitement of the search to the pride of displaying your finds, toy collecting is a joyous venture. Through the journey, you'll learn more about finding great deals, assessing value and caring for your collection. Now, go play!

By Carol Vickery