5 Things You Should Never Say to an Adult Toy Collector

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by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck on February 18, 2020

in Nerd Culture, Trends

Some of us insist on calling them “collectibles” instead of toys, but those of us who choose our battles realize that is one that will never be won. We’re proud to be big kids, honored to own the title “toy collector”. Hell, some us even write for and read magazines about them.

Semantics aside, while some of us don’t mind being labeled as man-children (or women-children, go girl collectors!), there are some things that are off-limits. It’s one of those “you can talk about me but don’t talk about my babies” scenario, with the “babies” in this case, being action figures.

Assuming you’d prefer to steer clear of touching a nerve with this passionate fanbase, here are five things you should never say to an adult toy collector:

Don’t you have enough [insert toy line here]?

You can never have enough of a line you love. The next time someone lobs this guilt grenade at you, identify something your inquisitor owns a plethora of and return serve: Don’t you have enough pairs of shoes/snow globes/yak skins?


That old junk isn’t worth anything.

This past weekend’s edition of the annual New York Toy Fair goes to show that toys are big business. Toyassociation.org reports that the toy industry is at least a $22 billion business, and is growing each year. Building sets, such as LEGO and Kre-O grew 22% from 2011 to 2012, and a quick scan of any LEGO Store will reveal as many adult shoppers (for themselves) as children.

There’s also a difference between toy collectors and collectibles speculators. Collectors hunt at their local brick and mortar jungles for the thrill of it, planning to proudly display their finds as trophies. Speculators stop at retail stores as part of a joyless routine, hoping to find a toy that has value on the secondary market, purchasing the toy, and attempting to sell it for a profit. This practice was largely to blame for the comic book value crash of the early-mid 1990s, and fully to blame for daily nerd rage all around the world.

Countless pieces have been written regarding the considerable value of rare vintage toys, and most collectors are familiar with the Travel Channel’s Toy Hunter, a show that regularly highlights the insane value attached to various toys and collectibles.


Seriously, take more pictures of your toys.

With a thick layer of sarcasm, this is a sentence slathered in mock that might be directed at a toy collector who likes to photograph and share images of his/her collection. Some of our Instagram and Tumblr pages are loaded with pictures of our toys, accompanied by collector community-building hashtags such as #toycrewbuddies or #toyspace. Personally, #toyspace sounds a little too much like ‘Myspace’ to me, but I certainly wouldn’t be too proud to put MOTUC Beast Man in my Top 8! (IF I had him. Seriously, $100 on ebay? MAKE MORE, MATTEL.)

To those who would hurl this sarcastic remark at a toy photographer, I say this: You love your kids, so you post photos of them. We love our toys, so we’ll post pics of them. If you aren’t into it, scroll on by. And to those who want to see pics of my kids instead of my toys, Facebook is a way better bet than Instagram or Tumblr. Think of Facebook as a family get-together or class reunion, and Instagram as a night out with the bros. (“Bros” who happen to collect toys, SO WHAT?)


Aren’t you a little old to be playing with toys?

You’re never too old to collect toys, just ask D.P. Smith, or one of the hundreds of others who have been collecting Hess Trucks since 1964. Ask 74 year-old Navy veteran Bill Kochan if he’s too old to collect toys. Let’s take this opportunity to establish a rule: You’re only too old to collect toys when you’ve become senile enough to trade a 1978 Telescoping-Lightsaber Darth Vader for a shoebox of Beanie Babies.


Relax, they’re just toys.

Just toys? JUST TOYS? Yeah, and Joe Piscopo is “just an entertainer”.


READ ALSO: 11 80s Toy Lines You May Have Forgotten

Howie Decker (@HowardtheDeck) is the publisher of UnderScoopFire, and takes fantasy baseball & taco night very seriously. He has also written for Pajiba, Topless Robot,What Culture, and Pop Culture Zoo and is a managing editor of Cool & Collected – The Magazine for Pop Culture Collectors.

top image via Rebel Scum

Cody Mix February 20, 2014 at 7:47 am

Great article as always. My “toy basement” works out perfect because I can conceal my hobby from daily visitors and allows an escape.

Toys are a hobby just like any other. People go nuts over a favorite sports team, no difference.

HowardTheDeck February 20, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Thanks Cody! I’m relegated to a large closet right now (I know how that sounds) but hoping for a move in the near future, and a top priority will be a more proper display area!

Cody Mix February 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Best of luck. Everyone needs their own space.

Jason G February 20, 2014 at 3:57 pm

The Joe Piscopo line made me laugh…

Lamar the Revenger February 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Amen Howie. Amen

Clarence February 20, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I’m not a toy collector, but I appreciate your pride and your sticking up for your hobby.

Really Rather Random Guy February 20, 2014 at 7:08 pm

My mother-in-law loves to get in the random jab from time to time about “No grown man needing this many toys”.

So I killed her.

Just kidding! Just planning something is NOT a crime.

Cody Mix February 21, 2014 at 8:21 am

You having to add the “just kidding” makes me worry…

Cheyner February 27, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Amen, my vice is Nerf, so at least I can shoot people foolish enough to mock my hobby in my own home.

chutown October 20, 2014 at 10:29 am

I like being a toy collector. Its a stress reliever. Its release therapy. Some people turn to other things…healthy or not…i collect. Yeah it costs alot sometimes but there are worse things people could decide to spend their money on. I dont hide my “addiction” either.

HowardTheDeck October 20, 2014 at 10:37 am

right on man. Thanks for commenting!

Hobgoblin238 October 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I love collecting so much I opened a cafe to show the collection to people who would otherwise never see it. Monster Cafe Saltillo

HowardTheDeck October 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Yes, I’m familiar! I’ve seen your site before and would love to be able to visit. And I see by your Blog List we keep very similar company – were you a part of the Cool & Collected magazine or the League of Extraordinary Bloggers?

Hobgoblin238 October 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Yes I was! I was very involved in the beginning but kinda puckered out at the end of LOEB run.

ulakac October 21, 2014 at 4:12 am

Lol. I thought “adult toy collector” meant something else entirely.

Guest October 30, 2014 at 5:25 am

I’m lucky in the way that my mrs is cool with my collecting and has even started joining in as she loves movie collecting and props so i don’t really get any stick from her!

Yelinna June 16, 2016 at 7:45 pm

They are not just toys!! They are our inaginary friends, secrets keepers, anti-stress/ anti-anxiety/anti depression therapy, our pals during lonely/down hours, creativity projects, story telling tools… THEY ARE NOT JUST TOYS!!!

doug July 2, 2016 at 9:55 am

Agree. You should never say that.

How about getting to the point and just say “Throw that crap out!”

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