White’s Guide to Collecting Figures, Number 19, July 1996

A collector’s magazine, popular in the 90s. I picked it up at a used bookstore in Texas for $1.99. It has everything from prices for figures to a tutorial on how to customize your own action figures.

If you know more the history of White’s Guide to Collecting Figures, let me know. While I can find copies for sale everywhere online, I can’t find out a lot about the magazine itself. According to saved captures on Wayback Machine, the White’s Guide website, as referenced in the magazine, wwcd.com seems to have stopped being updated in 2001 and begins redirecting to collectingchannel.com in late 2003. The website went down all together 2007-2014 and the URLs were then purchased by other companies.

Click the first image to open the gallery carousel and zoom in to read.

Continue reading “White’s Guide to Collecting Figures, Number 19, July 1996”

The History and Psychology of Toys

The Place of Play

We begin to play as soon as we’re born, moving our arms and legs, discovering the new world we’ve come into. Eventually toys get added to play. Whether store bought, or found sticks, objects become representative of the world around us, and we learn through our play with them.

Continue reading “The History and Psychology of Toys”

The Toys I Loved

My and my Barbies in between the couch and the side table circa 1996 ish
My and my Barbies in between the couch and the side table circa 1996 ish

Today we’re not going to talk about the Polly Pockets, Fashion Pollys, Barbies, Bratz and Beanie Babies. Although all those things hold a very important place in my childhood and in my heart. We’re going to instead talk about the toys that got away, the ones that still pull at my heartstrings and the ones I want back.

First and foremost, help me find this one

There was a book sold at the Scholastic book fair somewhere between 2000 and 2004 maybe. It was called Make your Own Cool Girls Room or something similarly not creative. A hot pick cover, and pop out hot pink, yellow, aqua and purple cardstock furniture pieces to glue together. There was a little clear zipper pouch to hold the extra ribbon, beads and glue (all included).

I loved it, it was love at first sight. I want it again, but can’t find record of it anywhere. I contacted Scholastic, but they don’t keep record of old stock. It’s probably not as cool as I remember it being, but if I ever get my hands on it, I’d make all the furniture again and find cool ways to photograph it nevertheless.

Continue reading “The Toys I Loved”

What We Keep by Bill Shapiro and Naomi Wax, A Reflection

“What makes these objects so evocative for us is that they hold the memories of people, of relationships, of places and moments and milestones that speak to our own identity.”

We like to criticize consumer culture, and with good reason. But as with everything, there is also good that comes with inanimate objects. A finding of ones self through the clothes we wear, collecting memories through the trinkets we keep, and seeking solace through the items of a loved one. Items are icons through which we frame our world.

What We Keep is a collection of 150 stories about well, what we keep. Each page delves into the sentimental, first hand account of a different person, from celebrities and CEOs to food truck owners and nurses, along with an image of their object. And it truly does an amazing job of showing just how emotional we as humans are, and how important tokens of remembrance become in that emotional way of living.

The items this book makes you consider of your own, and the intimate stories from others, make you feel a connection to some thing, someone, some experience.

Continue reading “What We Keep by Bill Shapiro and Naomi Wax, A Reflection”

Toy Photography and Nostalgia

“There’s a vast difference between inspiration and imitation.”

Jamie Windsor recently released a video on nostalgia in photography, and while I tend to make response posts to things I disagree on, I whole heartedly agree with his video, and there are so many parallels to toy photography – this niche in which I reside. So let’s break this down.

Nostalgia is a very strong emotion, but no matter if we all went through the same things in the same time period, we will experience our nostalgia differently.

Because our feelings of nostalgia are so strong, and can often go hand in hand with our toy collections, it’s easy to want to portray all that we feel within the photos we make. This in toy photography often comes in the form of  recreating a movie scene to the tee with lighting, posing, scenery. While these images can be impressive tests of what you’re capable of as a photographer, the scenes in themselves already exist in the movies we so admire. And because of this, as secondhand toy photographs, they are forgettable.Continue reading “Toy Photography and Nostalgia”

Why Toys R Us is Never Truly Coming Back

Sorry to be a downer…

The Rise and Fall

Toys R Us was the first ever big box toy store. A realized dream of its creator Charles Lazarus. Coming back from war Lazarus noticed a hole in the market, considering all the soldiers were talking about coming back and starting families. While his first store, selling baby furniture was opened in 1948, Children’s Bargain Store was transformed into Toys R Us in 1957.

And business boomed. New toys like Barbie and Mr. Potato Head were being produced. And TV toy ads were telling kids to buy from Toys R Us.

Fast forward to the 1980s and Toys R Us introduced its iconic Toys R Us Kid commercial jingle. And Geoffrey the Giraffe had been promoting the brand for 7 years now.

Continue reading “Why Toys R Us is Never Truly Coming Back”

Vintage Polly Pocket Tour

I recently dug into my old 1990s Polly Pocket stash. They’re back in stores these days, albeit with a very different look, and it was time to sift through my own collection.

I’m definitely missing some of the figures or a building to go with certain figures etc. I matched up what I could however, of both my branded and off brand sets and then subjected some to a photo shoot.

Let me know what you think and if these bring back any nostalgia for you!

The sets:Continue reading “Vintage Polly Pocket Tour”

3 Christmas Toy Catalogs that brought back all my Nostalgia

Is anyone else here nostalgic for printed toy catalogs?

I’m talking about this way too late for it to be useful for your gift buying this year, but I wanted to talk about it anyway :P

I was a kid in the 90s and early 2000s. I remember fervently looking through the toy section of the JC Penny’s catalog, dog-earing pages and even cutting out the pictures of the best toys and placing them in my view binder cover. It was a very special binder that held floppy disks of my Crayola Make a Masterpiece digital drawings and print outs of some of those same drawings, and then on the cover were mini cabbage patch dolls that Santa never got around to bringing me.

When I’ve talked about this to peers as of late, they nostalgically mention the Toys R Us toy catalog, but for some reason I don’t remember that one as well.

This joy at pictures of tiny things I could maybe own didn’t stop at Christmas toy catalogs though. The Dollshouse Emporium used to produce printed catalogs. Each category featured a room display with letters corresponding to that item’s product listing. The little dollhouse scenes with ornate furniture, and toys for the toys told me stories and I longed for every piece. They were exponentially out of my price range however, so I just enjoyed their 2-D counterparts. I ordered a catalog to fill this void, but that will be for another post :P

In attempting to fill the void that Toys R Us left, other retailers decided to release printed versions of their toy offerings this year. Of course Toys R Us says they’re coming back, and KB Toys said they’d be back by this coming Christmas, but it doesn’t seem those things are coming to light yet.

However, Target, Walmart and Amazon all released printed versions of their catalogs this year. Worse for the environment I have to admit, but I was also stoked about it. Amazon left me off their mailing list, I tried to call them out on twitter (I’ve bought plenty of toys from them this past years, I mean we bought an LOL Surprise house, what more do they need?), but to no avail. Target did send me theirs though (shout out to Target, although it was addressed to an Ashley, but at my address). And all three can be found and perused online.

Click on each catalog cover to be taken to that specific digital catalog.