Novelty Toys

Written by Will Baum
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Novelty toys make terrific collectibles. They are more interesting than coins or stamps, less expensive than most other collectibles, and a lot more fun. Novelty toys include a huge variety of products including everything from Happy Meal figurines to stuffed animals to die cast racing cars.

What is collectible is in the eye of the beholder--at least at first. Then, as other collectors join in, prices begin to rise. That's when you know you have a true collectible toy.

Novelty Toys Born To Be Collectibles

Certain toys are born and bred to be collectible. Ty Warner, founder of Ty Toys, is one of the masters of the collectible toy. His Beanie Babies were always destined to be collectible, from launch to "retirement."

Ty Warner worked at another toy manufacturer for 18 years before quitting and traveling to Italy. In Italy, he watched children playing with toy cats unlike anything he knew of back home. He started Ty Toys with a line of plush toy cats modeled on those he'd seen abroad.

By the time Warner launched the Beanie Babies, he was ready to create a sensation. First, he saw to it that the creatures were available only in gift shops and not giant toy stores. Parents had to work to track them down. Once the popularity of the Beanie line rose, Warner began to "retire" the Beanies. Old creatures became unavailable as new creatures took their place. Each Beanie Baby was and is a limited edition. Collectors of novelty toys went wild.

Novelty Toys That Are Surprise Collectibles

Other novelty toys emerge as collectibles over time, not so much by design as by accident. Pez dispensers are one such toy. Pez began as just a candy. Today, people collect Pez dispensers with rabid energy. Pez collecting is such a phenomenon that Pez collectors have a name: "Pezheads."

Austrian Edward Haas invented Pez candy in 1927, taking the name from "pfefferminz," the German word for peppermint. At first, the tiny candies were packaged in conventional metal tins. Twenty-one years later, in 1948, Pez got their first dispenser. The company marketed the dispenser as "easy" and "hygienic." It wasn't till 1952, when Pez were brought to America, that the plastic heads were added to the dispenser, making them not only easy and hygienic, but also extremely collectible. Today, Pez dispensers can often sell for more than $3,000. It is not unheard of for a coveted Pez dispenser to sell for as much as $6,000. Edward Haas never could have even considered this future for his peppermint.

First intentions are of no consequence to collectors of novelty toys. Whether it's a Ty Warner or an Edward Haas behind a novelty item, people grow attached to certain collectibles for reasons of their own. The Internet is a terrific place to hunt down the novelty toys that appeal most to you.


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