Copyright (c) 2012 Stephan Wallis
Toys are among the many great building blocks of society, and have been around since before the written word. Playthings are evident in every country and cross every cultural boundary. Over the course of time, toys have become more sophisticated. New toy inventions spring up every year, bringing with them innovations in design and function. Interest in certain types of toys has waxed and waned. Through all of these changes, one thing remains the same: toy collecting.
Whether entering the world of toys as a hobby or as a way to turn a profit, collections are available for every taste. From action figures to antiques and beyond, people are collecting every kind of toy, and for every unique collection, there is often a unique reason the collector has brought the toys together. Some collect toys from television shows or movies. Others may collect toys from certain countries, or time periods. Collections have been made from toys in a series, or a specific type of toy. No matter the reason, collections have been around almost as long as the toys themselves.
Few hobbies are as dynamic as toy collecting. Collecting can take you anywhere from your local store to around the world. The invention of the internet has streamlined the art to some degree, but with the many private sales and conventions, collectors have the opportunity to travel the world in search of the perfect toy for their collection. Just as there are many types of collections, the types of conventions available are enumerable. However, every year, these conventions are packed with toy collectors of all kinds.
As with every other type of collection, the quality of the item collected is key to determining the object's value. Unless, of course, the collection is based on sentimental value, at which point, the value is determined by the collector. In almost every case, however, items still in the original packaging have the highest value, especially if the packaging is kept in good condition. Items which have been removed from the packaging can retain some of their value, but the closer the toy is to its original condition, i.e. the condition it was in when bought from the store, the better. Toy prices fluctuate constantly based on supply and demand, which can also help determine the value of a piece.
Each hobby has its own terms and acronyms, and collecting toys is no different. Most learn these terms by attending events and conventions, or by visiting online forums. Learning the terms, however, is a must for the successful collector. The terms used are often determined by the type of toy being collected. There are some universal terms such as "loose" meaning the item was removed from its packaging, or "HTF" meaning "hard to find," where action figure collectors typically use terms such as "MIB" or "mint in box."
The most important aspect of this, or any hobby, is enjoyment. The pursuit and acquisition of toys is the passion of many collectors the world over. Whether it's having a rare item, the joy of the hunt, or simply taking a look back at history, every collector derives their own pleasure from this amazing hobby.
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