I’ve never been a mint-condition collector, not because I don’t like toys that are in pristine condition and in their original packaging, but because those items tend to be astronomically more expensive and difficult to find. Plus, in collecting vintage toys, knowing that the items were played with at some point and have a history to them, is appealing to me, but sometimes you find items that are in dire need of an upgrade.
I have had this Superman squirt gun in my cabinet for years, and it has been harboring a deep dark secret — half of its head has melted and shrunk. It looks like Lex Luthor curb stomped him on a chunk of Kryptonite. This thing must have been stored in a hot attic or garage at some point, and the plastic melted and rehardened in this deformed state. There’s really no way to fix it and it’s bothered me for ages, but I knew that one day I would find a replacement.
Well, here it is! A shiny “new” replacement with non-crushed skull and less worn paint. It’s certainly not minty fresh but it’s close enough for me.
Broken or worn out toys can often be used for parts or just serve as a placeholder on your shelf until a better example comes along. For me, upgrading items is one of the joys of collecting. I never shy away from a ratty old vintage toy if I need it for my collection, especially if it’s a rare item. When you see it, buy it, because you may not see another one for many years.
Many collectors will tell you to buy only the best quality, and if that’s your approach, then go for it! But for me, I don’t have that kind of patience or bankroll. The thrill of the hunt makes me want to keep looking for better examples, but I certainly don’t mind finding toys that saw some action, and have their own stories to tell.