By Anthony Savonarota
My holiday retail stint at a popular toy store made me realize how common adult-aged toy collectors are. I wanted to get a better sense of what makes toy collecting so intriguing, especially for a demographic completely ignored by toymakers when it comes to targeting potential customers. So I knew I had to check out the second edition of Toronto’s Toy and Videogame Show.
Even though the showcase took place in one hotel conference room, the total of fifty different local and international vendors that set up shop made the area feel like a cultural clash and a time warp all in one. Just from the vantage point of the entrance alone I instantly recognized numerous brands, from Batman to Barbie to Yugioh to WWE. Parts of the exhibition had collectibles dating all the way back to the mid 1950’s.
Excited, I started walking around.
After spending a few hours going through each portion and being sure to chat with either a vendor or nearby attendee, I realized that Toy and Videogame shows are popular because they attract a multifaceted audience. There seemed to be two kinds of people at the toy show. The first was the investor. The second was the adult looking to relive an aspect of his/her childhood. I also saw how the children at the show seemed just as excited as their parents about the vintage toys. Since for the kids what’s old is in fact new.
For some people a collection is something of ourselves that we can leave behind, therefore creating a legacy for the future. For others, collecting is all about the thrill of the chase. The hours spent searching for another elusive item to add to their collection becomes a hugely enjoyable experience.
Collecting fulfills a psychological need, which is why toy collecting remains popular even if there is a bit of stigma behind doing it as an adult. Once I figured this out, I actually realized how admirable it was to interact with people who were so open about what they enjoyed doing and not care whether they would get judged for it.