Many collectors do so just for the pleasure of owning a selection of particular toys that they like, and take great pride in displaying them in their homes. But the market in toys is big business. There are some incredible rarities out there and a wider variety of things to collect than in many other fields. Technology, social change and extraordinary circumstances have shaped what children played with over the years.
In the very early days, dolls and toy soldiers dominated, but in the past 150 years or so, when the industrial, technological and digital revolutions brought waves of innovation with them to the wider economy, that development was reflected in the manufacture of clockwork toys, model trains, cars and other forms of transport, robots, electrically driven gadget toys and figurines inspired by TV and cinema.
These days, the passion and knowledge are evident in online toy communities such as Planet Diecast, which contains reviews, blogs and extensive events and catalogue listings. Meanwhile, sites such as The Saleroom give hundreds of auction prices for a broad range of toys, such as trains, diecast, soldiers and teddy bears.