We’ve all had to find different ways to cope during the coronavirus pandemic, but one vintage toy collector in Durham region decided to create his own magazine — with a nod to vintage catalogues of the past.
“I like Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, super heroes and other sets of toys,” says Brian Heiler.
Heiler says he has been collecting toys since the mid-80s. But in the middle of a pandemic, he wanted to do something more.
“What do you do, when you collect all this stuff?” he said. “I like to share — I like to share knowledge.”
“It just seemed like a really worthwhile pastime to put it all on paper and put it out to the world and see what happens.”
And with that idea, came a vintage toy magazine called ‘Toy-Ventures.’
“The main goal for the first issue was to create a complete guide for a toy that never had a complete guide before,” he says.
“That is a series of monster toys that has so many variations and so many knock-offs.”
The magazine features photos, articles and interviews about a variety of toys from 60s, 70s and 80s. Heiler already had a following on Youtube. That’s where he described the history of toys, and to his surprise he had enough support from a crowdfunding campaign to print his first issue.
“I posted it online around noon on a Friday, and by the time I got home from work, it had already been fully funded.”
Opening the pages of the magazine brings you back decades to a time when those toys were in their prime. And it looks to be something that’s in demand.
Another toy collector, David Dodaro, says it brings back to life something that was once forgotten.
“It’s cool to see a hard-copy of something and flip the pages. A bit more old school than going online.”
The popularity of the magazine continues to soar — with 1,500 copies of the first issue flying off the shelves in the first month. It’s in a few Canadian stores, 25 across the United States and even two in Tokyo, Japan.
According to some collectors, the timing for such a magazine is perfect. Lenny Storms owns Toy Heaven in Smiths Falls, Ont. He says since the beginning of the pandemic, he noticed a new trend as vintage toys sales have surged.
“People are reaching out and they’re purchasing old childhood toys to give them that feeling of comfort.”
“I think a magazine is amazing. It’s a great idea,” Storms says. “It’s thinking outside the box as well.”
Right now, there’s a third issue in the works — with more on the way. Heiler says even though these trying times have kept us apart — the toy community sticks together.
“You come to collect toys but sometimes you collect friends along the way. And to me, that’s a win.”
It’s a collection anyone can appreciate.