Reasons for Collecting Vintage Toys: Childhood Memories

Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Action Figures

Collecting vintage toys has been a popular hobby for people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds for decades. To some, vintage toy collections provide the chance to observe slices of history, being able to witness the changes to design, craftsmanship, and engineering. Others collect toys to enshrine their favorite shows and characters to display to others. However, for many toy collectors, myself included, nostalgia for their own pasts is the largest draw.

My own toy collection stemmed from my feelings toward my toys as I grew up in the 80s and 90s. During my formative years, I owned toys from several lines, including My Little Pony, Teddy Ruxpin, Barbie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Transformers. These toys became quite important to my childhood for a variety of reasons.

As with most children, I had looked forward to holidays such as Christmas and Easter, when I would receive new toys to add to my collection. Reality never held a limit to which toys I would request, such as wishing for a Godzilla that would walk and breathe fire. Despite never receiving my most imaginative toys, I fondly remember the days when I tore into new toys.

Some of my fondest memories from my childhood involved visiting my friends to share and play with our toys. While I had friends that had toys such as the Transformers Dinobots, I never owned them myself. Meanwhile, I had pieces that they did not have, such as Super Shredder. While we envied each other’s collections, our combined love for sharing our toys built our friendships.

Meanwhile, at home, my toys had another more personal importance to my youth. Being a single child, I spent most of my time playing with my toys alone. Rather than sorrow over the lack of a playmate, I instead expanded my imagination while I pitted the Turtles against the Autobots. Playing with my toys birthed my love of imagination and creativity.

As a youth, I did not just stage imaginative wars, I also imagined my toys as heroes that would keep me safe. Seeing my figures as my defenders, I felt protected from the monsters of the world around me. I had no reason to fear the dark with them watching me as I slept. Instead, I had believed that my toys would come to life as I slept to keep all monsters away.

Naturally, as I have matured over the decades, the importance of my vintage toys has changed, along with the composition of my collection. I no longer actively play with my toys to form epic tales, nor do I still require guardians to protect me from my childhood fears. Meanwhile, friendships still have been formed over the shared love of our toy collections.

However, the core of my feelings toward my figures has remained the same. Each time a vintage figure is bought, a fragment from the past comes back. Sometimes, it is as simple as reveling in the chance to revisit a figure that I had unfortunately parted ways with during my youth. Other times, I seek out vintage toys that I was not able to own myself as a child, such as that Dinobot that my friends once owned. However, I may always find myself dreaming of the chance to own a moving Godzilla figure that spat fire.

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4 thoughts on “Reasons for Collecting Vintage Toys: Childhood Memories

  1. I can definitely relate to the part of having imagination with what toys I had as a child. While I had a sister, I was often by myself coming up with new ways to wage a war with my Star Wars figures along side a small hill behind our house. I would play for hours outside. With my Star Wars collection, I had tons of figures but no ships so, imagination was very key. So going over to a classmates house and seeing ships and play sets, i was in awe. Even for creativity a kid across the street would joint me for a beachhead assault with the addition of some G.I. Joes along our creek side. Definitely some great times for sure. When Transformers become the hot toy, that opened a whole new world. Have to say though, no of those left the house in regards to being played on the hillside but the imagination was still there.
    Definitely agree when you see that vintage toy whether you owned it or not, it does bring back a great memory and brings with it a satisfaction like no other.

    1. I’m so glad that you shared some of your own memories of playing with your toys. There were always fun times to have as a child with toys.

  2. Loved this article! It’s so relatable as I myself being 44 years old, was a child of the 80’s & 90’s. My favorite part of having the vintage Transformers toys & any other 80’s toys is picking them up, & feeling all the nostalgia! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the compliment!

      Nostalgia is a strong reason to keep the toys from my past and to buy new ones that remind me of those times.

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