Monday, August 15, 2016

Ask JKM a Question: To Play or Display?

A reader, James, writes:

“I liked your toys of childhood series of blogs recently which brought back many positive memories from my youth in the sixties and seventies when my favorite toys were the Matt Mason ones.

I also read that you allow your son to play with your vintage toy collection. Isn’t that irresponsible given the value of many of those toys today?”

James, thank you for the question.  I absolutely understand your point, and my wife winces every now and then when a vintage robot or action figure falls off the shelf, it’s true. 

But I made a decision when we moved into our house back in 2009 that my son would have access to the toys in my home office -- at least the open ones -- and that he would be allowed to explore them and play with them. 

There’s nothing wrong with owning toys for display, but most of the vintage toys I write about on the blog were manufactured to be played with…by children. 

I prefer to let my son enjoy these toys rather than worrying about them breaking, or fretting over their ultimate “value.”  

Already, some of my most-prized plastic toys from the 1970s are yellowing, so they may not last long anyway, let alone long enough for the perfect re-sale.

And the memories Joel and I make and share while playing with toys like Big Trak, Star Bird, Castle Grayskull, Snake Mountain, the Knight of Darkness, or Voltron are --  in the final analysis -- worth more to me than owning the toys in pristine condition.  

To misquote Indiana Jones, my toys don’t belong in a museum.  I have already played with some of them (as a child), or some were purchased in used condition (at flea markets and yard sales).  I don’t want to be too precious about "things."

Again, I’m not advocating my choice for anyone else. I’m just saying that it works for my family, and Joel and I are happy with the arrangement.

Besides, the deal is reciprocal. Joel lets me play with his toys too, as long as I’m careful (and my god, he’s got a great Doctor Who collection…).


  1. This was an intriguing question, and I was pleasantly surprised by your answer. I've been a collector myself for 30 years and I was an only child growing up, so the only danger to my collection was the neighborhood kids or the dog. Now that I have kids of my own they're old enough to show interest in my collectibles (just the action figures, not the books or cards)

    There is that moment of panic when my girls pull something off the shelf to examine it - what do I do? Do I let them play with it? What if they break it? but you're absolutely right. They're toys. They're meant to be shared and enjoyed - and who better to share them with than our children? :-)

    Thanks for posting this!

    The Pedestrian Writer

  2. John your access to your toy collection for your son and yourself to create more memories it a wonderful way to go. The toys displayed in your home office are brilliant too.


  3. My answer? Watch the Toy Story movies.