One of my favorite toys, Kota the dinosaur! Photo by Open Book Entertainment
I love toy hunting! In fact, it’s probably one of my favorite hobbies, and surprisingly, one of my most inexpensive hobbies.
First and foremost I’m a Jurassic Park collector. Anything Jurassic Park is instantly necessary. Especially Kenner toys. I like to think I’ve developed a sixth sense for finding Jurassic items almost anywhere I go; but some places are easier than others.
My favorite places to look are antique shops, toy shows, comic cons, and thrift shops. I have found my best luck to be finding Jurassic pieces at toy shows, though sometimes it almost feels too easy since the entire show is geared at vintage toy collectibles. Antique shops are a bit more of a challenge. Typically here the toys range more in the 1920-1970s timeline, and it can be difficult to come across more “modern” items. The perk of finding Jurassic Park items at antique shops is that they are usually priced way below their value. I’ve found that many sellers aren’t as familiar with the popularity of the Jurassic Park franchise and don’t see much value in these items. AKA, jackpot!
On one of my most recent hunts I visited a local Doll Show. This show was geared towards doll collectors who enjoy dolls from the turn of the century and popular classics like Madame Alexander and Barbie. For me, this was the perfect opportunity to scope out a booth that may be hiding some Jurassic treasures. After doing a couple of rounds at the show I final came across a booth that seemed promising. Here are some signs that tell me I may find what I’m looking for:
- Clear bins full of colorful, plastic toys (like Happy Meal Toys)
- Boxes and bins under the table that are full of items for sale, but not presented as cleanly as the items on the table
- Kids toys shoved in piles or bunches in/around the table
Sure enough, under the table at this booth was a clear bin full of large Ziploc bags that each had a theme of toys inside. I found a dinosaur themed bag and inside instantly saw two Jurassic pieces. I was able to snag the entire bag for $2 and while most of the bag isn’t items I would keep, the two I did were totally worth it!
Rarely do I have much luck at thrift shops. In fact, I usually end up leaving with things totally unrelated to what I originally went in for (like beer brand paraphernalia, old records, and bizarre coffee mugs). But that’s not to say it’s not worth stopping in. I’ve seen many people have luck finding Jurassic Park posters, hats, and toys. Even with never finding anything here, I always get excited when I walk in the door in hopes that I just may!
Do I know everything about Jurassic Park toys? Oh buddy, far from it. And because of my slips of knowledge here and there, I’ve missed out on a few great finds. My best “one that got away” was the infamous Gallimimus Kenner “Dino Screams” toy. I found it at DallasComic Con once loose in a Ziploc bag for $20 (ones in their package sell for upwards of $300). I was so focused on looking for a certain piece (Ian Malcolm) I picked it up and immediately tossed it aside. When I left the show I realized what I did and by then it was too late! If I ever come across one again I will treasure it forever!
A lot of people ask why I don’t just buy pieces I want from Amazon or Ebay. True, that would help me build my collection much faster; but it’s just not as fun. I love having a story behind each piece. Whether it has been given to me as a gift or found “in the wild” during one of my hunts, I love to have a little history behind each one. It makes looking at my collection and talking about it much more fun!
People collect many different things – from sports memorabilia to china plates, we all share the love of finding pieces that make our heart race. Whatever you collect, enjoy the hunt!