A Guide To Collecting Toys: Preservation, Finding And Other Tips

Starting a toy collection, or looking for tips on how to add to and take care of yours? Follow these tips to preserve your toys!

At some point in your life, you've probably wished you could once again see that old doll or action figure you had when you were young. Some people never let go of their attachment and keep old toys in the attic. Whether you are looking at picking up a piece of your childhood for nostalgic reasons or you have been keeping a collection of stuffed animals in your attic for the last twenty years, you should know how to care for these objects if you want to keep them for any length of time.

First, the beauty of having such a collection is that it is never complete. There are simply too many toys out there to own them all, and despite their great numbers it is sometimes hard to track down exactly what you are looking for.

The most efficient and probably the most popular way of obtaining older toys is via the Internet. Online auction sites are patrolled by people with like interests and are trading and selling constantly. Try a search for your favorite series or action figure--you likely won't be disappointed. You can also customize your auction settings to alert you by e-mail when an auction containing certain keywords becomes available. Keep an eye on the Toys section of the site and create an alert, and you will eventually find what you are looking for. Use a price guide (available in collecting books and magazines) to determine a fair amount to bid.

In most places, the local market for older toys will be limited. New toys can of course be obtained at retail price from a local store, but until the age of the Internet, collectors depended on flea markets, yard sales, used book stores, thrift shops and the like to supply their collections. These areas are still excellent places to look, especially if you are on a budget. However, the selection is still going to be severely limited. If you are looking for a specific item you may want to try placing a classified ad. Inquire amongst your friends and family as to the contents of the boxes in their attics - they may surprise you.

Once you have your item or items, it is essential that you preserve them. This is a fairly simple process, and it begins with a single word: airtight. If you are planning on storing your toys, place them in an airtight container in a place that isn't prone to severe temperature changes--in particular, heat. A hot attic can warp plastic and discolor items like action figures. Sunlight will worsen this effect considerably.

Do not leave your collection on the floor, even if it is in a container already, particularly if you are storing in a basement or on the same level as any rooms with plumbing. Accidents happen, and hot water tanks eventually wear out and can leak their contents throughout the basement without you ever noticing. A high shelf (but not one where the box could be knocked off and damaged!) is recommended.

If you plan on showcasing your toys rather than storing them, your main issues are going to be sunlight and dust. Dust is the enemy of stuffed animals: after going through the wash, they will never be the same. Sunlight is most destructive towards action figures; their protective bubbles may discolor, warp or even melt depending on how hot it is. The figure itself will lighten, and if it is carded (still in display packaging) the designs on the cardboard will fade very quickly. If possible, place your showcased toys in a clear plastic or glass case, and place it in a room on a shelf opposite from the window.

Preserve your toys, and you will still be enjoying their company twenty years from now--or selling them to someone who will give them a good home. Either way, it is essential that you take good care of them now, and you will be rewarded for your efforts further down the road.

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