How to buy vintage toys

Contrary to what you might think, toys aren’t just for kids – they can also be for adults.

In fact, there are a variety of reasons why so many people are now jumping into the world of buying and collecting vintage toys. Whether it’s the thrill of trying to find an original Monopoly board set in near-perfect condition or the urgent need to restock a toy box 40 years down the road, many adults are diving into the past and reconnecting with their childhood favorites.

Separation anxiety from Cabbage Patch Kids, Beanie Babies, or Star Wars action figures hasn’t been medically documented, but what’s the harm in reuniting yourself with these classics?


Here are some important steps to take if you’re considering starting or expanding your collection of vintage toys.

Make It Personal

Rather than collect toys they enjoy, some vintage toy collectors only target items that are projected to significantly appreciate in value over time or that they can flip immediately. However, this creates two problems for the vintage toy market.

First, when other buyers purchase multiples of the same item, they artificially inflate the price of those toys, meaning your childhood favorites will become more expensive. Overpaying never feels great, so make sure to track prices and do research before pulling the trigger on that Dam Troll you’ve been eyeing.

Second, if you are amassing multiples of the same toy, you’re essentially representing the market and what’s selling, not what personally speaks to you. Part of the fun of toy collecting comes from selecting items that bring up fond memories – or getting toys you weren’t allowed to have, or couldn’t afford, as a child! By identifying the types of toys you want to collect, you’ll be able to develop a plan for how you’ll approach your collection. Are you looking to go after all the toys from a specific year, or manufacturer, or perhaps only the rarest models on the market?

Do Your Homework

Once you start researching the toys you want to collect, make sure to read and watch for anything that gives you a leg up on the competition. From articles that expose counterfeiting to discussion boards that talk about price trends, there’s an unprecedented amount of knowledge available online. This research will allow you to spot important details – such as quality of the packaging, whether or not a seal was opened, dust or light damage – when you start to examine listings and make you aware of when a price is either too good to be true or way overpriced. You’ll also be able to share this knowledge with other collectors in your market. In no time, you’ll be a pro!

Create Your Starting Point

Now that you’ve picked the vintage toys you want to collect and have done all the necessary homework, it’s time to start collecting! First, figure out what your budget is. Are you looking to collect an entire set or do you just want to go after the pieces that most speak to you? If you can identify an end goal, you’ll be able to prioritize your purchases properly.

You might also want to think about a rainy day fund – you know, a little extra cash set aside in case a model you’ve wanted for years appears suddenly on the market.

Have Fun

These are vintage toys you’re collecting – not glassware or fine China – so make sure to have fun. Each toy you collect should bring you joy when you acquire it. When it takes its place among the rest of your action figures or model trains, there should be a sense of satisfaction watching your collection grow. If, at any point, it starts to feel like a chore, reflect and determine if you should keep collecting or liquidate your inventory.

While you look for toys to complete your collection, think about these classic toys that your kids might enjoy as well.