Childhood re-collected

The last generation of traditional toys and games before the advent of computers and digital heroes have become collector’s items and figure large in the nostalgia market. Chiefly action figures, with fixed or flexible limbs, the toy soldiers – to give one example – of the 1980s and early ’90s are at a premium as collectors spend small fortunes on their acquisition. On special websites, thousands of such toys are auctioned off on a daily basis, while annual conferences of collectors take place in the USA and Western Europe. In Greece, stores that sell the heroes of children’s games as well as figures straight out of comics and the cinema are making a hesitant appearance. For example, the action heroes of the legendary movie «Star Wars,» which were first sold commercially in a not-so-distant 1978, now can fetch as much as 2,500 euros. Some 31-year-old Playmobil models can command a price of 800 euros. Every month, magazines come out in specialist stores with lists that give the collector’s value of each toy or game, based on a number of factors from age, condition to rareness. «These are objects that connect us to our childhood years. It’s nostalgia, above all, that turns them into collector’s items,» Sergios Kiskinis told Kathimerini. Since 1974, he has collected more than 2,000 «Star Wars» dolls, 3,000 Playmobil figures, 500 football tables, some hundreds of miniature metal cars and comic-book dolls. «Whether an item is collectible or not is determined chiefly by its age, the number originally sold and, of course, the condition it’s in. For collectors, dolls and toys still in their packaging are the most valuable, otherwise, their price drops by half,» collector Vassilis Psonis explained. In other cases, item value is determined by more intangible factors. Alexandros Margatinas, sales manager of the Hasbro toy company, said that «when ‘El Greco’ was bought up and the factory that manufactured the Bi Bi Bo doll in Greece was closed, that doll acquired nostalgic value and was snapped up by collectors.» Board games present similar trends, with the last Monopoly to use drachmas being an outstanding example. Collecting models and games that are purely related to the movies are a category in themselves, and this is a fashion that is sweeping countries abroad as well as Greece. Figures from old movies, as well as contemporary cult films, are obsessively collected by fans of the genres and acquire collector’s item status regardless of age – despite the fact that, in many cases, they owe their popularity chiefly to clever marketing and the film industry’s embrace of the broader market.