EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 249 - October 18, 2009 - ISSN 1528-6703     6 of 7

Collector's Corner: Classic Childhood Toys

By Michele Alice

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Everyone can remember a favorite toy from childhood. Too bad we seldom held on to them, but that's one of the reasons they're now collectible! Many were considered nothing more than dime-store amusements priced to be easily discarded for something new after a week or two. Any that survived the ravages of time and the rough handling of children's hands deserve the "collectible" appellation. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

Balsa-Wood Gliders
I can recall walking down to the local variety store and plunking down my ten cents for a hand-launched balsa-wood glider kit. Assembly took less than a minute. All parts fit into pre-made slots - no glue required - and it was good to fly! Of course, if you wanted the more deluxe rubber-band-driven propeller airplane, you had to pay at least a nickel more, but the extra "mileage" was worth it.

Names like Guillow, Comet, Top Flite, and Revell are certain to bring back fond memories in many readers who will be happy to learn that many manufacturers of balsa gliders are still in business to this day. And collectors are generally willing to pay up to $50 or so for vintage examples of their products.

All About Old Toys - Wood Gliders (link) - Really nice site by Dave Pecota covers different manufacturers, types. Lots of pics.

Paul K. Guillow, Inc. (link) - "Your One Source for Flying Toys Since 1926." Read the 1959 letter from a disgruntled customer - it's hilarious!

Oldies & Oddities: The Fifty-Cent Classic (link) - Article by Tom Lecompte for Smithsonian's Air & Space Magazine focuses on the Guillow company.

Of course, even grown-ups have used whistles - dog whistles, boatswains' (pronounced bosuns') whistles, and the Hudson brand carried by London's "Bobbies" - but the "funnest" ones to collect are the figurals made to be tooted by children.

They come in all shapes, colors, and materials. Most vintage toy whistles sell for no more than a few dollars, but an occasional "must-have" can result in online auction results like the Steiff Guinea Pig whistle for $40, the Quake Cereal premium Volcano Whistle Ring for $105, and the late 19th Century Staffordshire/Prattware toy whistle shaped like a cockerel for $215!

Collecting Whistles (Schiffer Book for Collectors)

Whistle Museum (link) - Whistles for adults (just in case you're interested).

Variations of this game have their origins in pre-history, and have been played with pebbles, bones, and beans. The last time I looked at the local discount store, all the Jacks packages contained pieces made entirely of plastic. Too bad, but that's why collectors are looking for the older games containing metal jacks, especially the vintage ones in metal tins covered with colorful graphics.

Classic Toys of the National Toy Hall of Fame: Celebrating the Greatest Toys of All Time!

Strong National Museum of Play (link) - Jacks is one of the few inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

(Bounce-Back) Paddle Ball
Not to be confused with paddleball (the sport), Paddle Ball is a toy consisting of a paddle to which is attached a rubber ball at the end of an elastic cord. The cord on my paddle always snapped after just a day or two, resulting in a shorter and shorter bounce as the cord was retied with new knots.

Like all the previously mentioned toys, paddle balls are still being marketed and can make great - and inexpensive - additions to any collection. For example, mini plastic paddle balls of various colors and designs come in packs as party favors. There are holiday paddles decorated with pumpkins and snowmen. And Spider Man, Disney character, and monkey paddle balls of plastic or foam appeal to niche collectors.

So there's no need to leave your childhood behind. Now you have an excuse to buy your favorite toys: you're collecting!


About the author:

Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ eBay ID: Malice9

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