Regardless of which area of collecting you are involved in, whether it be toys, video games, furniture, decorative arts… you name it; collecting is cyclical. What makes something collectible is generational interest, something that someone grew up around that brings them a euphoric feeling of nostalgia. A return to a “happy place,” for lack of a better term. There is also the academic angle to collecting; but it can be difficult to feel nostalgic about a 16th century old master painting or Louis XVI furniture, so for the purposes of this article we will keep the average, everyday collector in mind.
I hate to admit how fast time moves; it is mind boggling. When I first began working with vintage toys around 2007 all the rave was about 1960’s through early 1980’s toys. Kenner’s Six Million Dollar Man, the 12” G.I. Joe, Mego’s World’s Greatest Super-Heroes and Star Trek were all prime-time highlights in the collector world. Now in 2023, I see declining interest in these toys while witnessing a rapid shift to 1990’s and even early 2000’s toy lines.
But it only makes sense!
If you were born in 1990, you are 32 to 33 years old, the prime age at which a collector typically begins their journey (if not earlier). I’ll admit it is a weird feeling seeing toys I once played with become collectibles. I suppose it is how the generation before me felt watching me track down their old toys. I was an “Indiana Jones” of the toy world you could say, looking for relics to preserve in museum-like cases for all to enjoy. Every weekend I sought out Star Wars, He-Man, and Transformers toys as historical artifacts of the past. Now, the tables have turned, and my childhood playthings have become the nostalgia people collect to preserve.
So, what are coming of age collectors buying today?
Let me start by saying there are tons of great toy lines from the 1990’s and early 2000’s; trust me, I speak from hours of personal experience with them. But the following are the top contenders (in my perhaps biased opinion) dominating the market: Original Jurassic Park, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Mighty Max, Small Soldiers, and Tomagotchi. I feel their popularity will continue to grow over the next five to ten years as their fan base approaches their forties. If you are a bit of a speculator and enjoy some g-rated gambling, start stocking up! It could be a very rewarding future as a new generation of collectors enters the market.