Friday, March 25, 2016

Everything in a collection has a back story...

Have you ever looked at a retro item at a flea market or online and wondered, what's the story behind this item? I don't mean, why did they make this goofy Power Ranger toy or licensed Disney item. I mean like what's the story behind this particular action figure. Thousands just like it were made, but what was special about this one? Was it some kid's best birthday present ever? Could it have been the last toy someone ever got before they stopped playing with toys?

I was looking at some old cameras on and kind of thinking about who or what might have been photographed with those cameras. I do the same thing looking at old toys sometimes.

I love toys, and I have a lot of my original childhood toys, but there are also a lot that I sold as a kid. I sold my He-Man and Thundercats figures at yard sales to get cash to buy more GI Joe and Star Wars figures. Once I transitioned from playing with toys to collecting the I focused on a couple lines. Of course now I'm recollecting the toys I sold because I ran out of vintage GI Joe and Star Wars figures to collect.

So here is an example of the story behind a particular toy, the original Leonardo from TMNT.

For Christmas 1988 I asked for Ninja Turtles. I had never seen the show or read the comics. I saw a still image of them from the cartoon and frequently pretended to be one of the Turtlrs at recess with some older kids. I was in first grade and played with these three second graders who watched the show. They told me all about how the turtles each had their own names, masks, and weapons. Some how in my head I got all this information confused because on Christmas morning I was convinced that they put the wrong names on the package. The guy with swords was Michelangelo and the one with nunchucks was Leonardo. How could they mess up the toys like this? Turns out I was just a dumb kid who didn't know what he was taking about (this happened a lot. My lack of knowledge about Darth Vader cause a 20 minute argument one Thanksgiving).

Anyway, after I figured out that Leonard was in fact is the blue masked turtle with swords and went through several years as a big time TMNT fan I moved on to Toy Biz X-Men figures and the Turtles were sold to help continue to grow my GI Joe collection.

My whole family was selling stuff at the Dublin Flea Market (an annual tradition where I grew up and a fundraiser for the local fire company). I was probably in 6th grade at this point. A family we knew stopped by our table and the parents decided to get their son some Ninja Turtles. They bought my Party Wagon and the four original Turtle figures. My mom frequently watched their son during the day if they had work schedule conflicts and once in a while I babysat him on a Friday night if they went out.

So a couple times when I was in middle school I played Ninja Turtles with this little guy with my actual original figures. It was fun revisiting my old toys, probably one of the first times I felt nostalgic. Who know if that kid still has them or if they were sold again at a yard sale.

What I do know is that a couple years later, a friend of mine from church was thinning out his childhood possessions as he got ready to leave for college. At this point I was in high school, maybe two years behind him. He was hanging on to his Star Wars figures and Transformers, but he gave me a small collection of Ninja Turtles that he didn't want anymore. In that collection was an original Leonardo. I haven't seen my friend Kirk in probably twelve years (he never moved back home after college), I don't even know how to contact him (can't find him on facebook) but his childhood Leonard is standing on a shelf in my collection.


  1. I kind of had that "i wonder.." moment the other day with some coins.My daughter and I were looking through my change drawer in our car to get herself an ice cream at school,and we stumbled across a bunch of nickles,quarters and pennies all from the 80's!It made me wonder If any of those coins had a backstory.Had they been used to purchase any 80s toys,lol. Crazy, I know.I even got the urge to start collecting any and all 80's coins.

  2. I love stories like this. I gotta do some of my own some day.

  3. Kind of neat to hear a story on the toys you loved during your childhood. I guess we all here have more toy stories in our younger days that keep us sane on toys even til this day.

    1. Good to hear from you Jim. I haven't seen you around much lately.

  4. I wonder that all the time when am picking up something from the flea or on trade.