Kidult Culture: Why Do Adults Collect Toys?

The motivation behind why adults collect toys.

Napoleon Bonaparte, Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie, and Yoo Bin Shin, explicitly different people—both inside and out—all share something in common. We are avid collectors. Napoleon collected countries. Tom Hanks collects typewriters. Angelina Jolie is a machirologist who collects daggers, and I collect toys.

For these four distinctly different individuals to unite in a single matter is quite fascinating.

What is the driving force behind these collectors? What is it that the act of collecting possesses to bring these persons of different ages, generations, races to at once amalgamate into a single mold, a single motivation? In most cases, this bring us to one or the other: enjoyment or investment.

Some collect for enjoyment, and that is, for the fun, the beauty of collecting. Whether it be collecting Judean coins or refrigerator magnets, to some, these objects may have more meaning than their simple presence. The act of collecting allows people to cling to and treasure the past in timeless objects. Yet, for some, the joy comes from the thrill of “hunting.” Some objects are in fact difficult to get hold of, in most cases, for their rarity of condition. Thus, there exists this excitement in hunting when someone forages for something specific and uncommon. When finally this something is attained, a high level of satisfaction follows just as if an unexpected dream was reached. This fun may expand into the realm of connection as well. Many find the fun of collecting in getting to know like-minded fellow collectors and communicating with these newly introduced soul mates about their own collections. Regardless of which aspect, all aspects embrace the theme of collecting for enjoyment.

PC: Pinterest

On the other hand are those who collect for investment. Once a collectable in their hands, they put it out on the market for other keen collectors to stumble upon and purchase. The motivation of these souls lies on the rather scandalous facet of materialism. For these collectors, conveying meaning and depositing emotion are considered extravagance—waste of time and effort. It is rather patience that comes at a price for them. Just like stocks that skyrocket in worth over time, collectables too gain monetary value with time (why antiques are big-budget). Thus, collectors with the intention of investment, would buy, let’s say, a ten-year old classic Darth Vader action figure. Then, they would be given two choices: to sell it immediately or wait for prices to rise (but usually they rise). These collectors can be categorized with those infamous Yeezy resellers.

PC: soul4street

Now the question is why toys? Why toys out of the all other possible collections? When looked at from a distant glance, collecting toys may seem out of place, especially for grownups. Toys are an unable-to-be-pulled-apart essential for toddlers. Hence, the same goes for adults. Toys are relics that allow adults to relive childhood memories. As perhaps a quick drink from the Fountain of youth, “a spring that supposedly restores youth,” toys provide a short break from the demanding grownup life to at once drench them with innocence. Contrary to the widely accepted belief, toys don’t just have monetary worth but also attached is an emotional worth. At least, that’s why I collect toys.


Featured Image:

– Yoo Bin Shin (’18)

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