Giving the gift of childhood memories with vintage toys

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 Barbie remains the queen of dolls. Vintage #3 Blonde ponytail Barbie Doll with brown liner and looking glamorous in her gold gown; $795. Courtesy of Old is New: rubylane.com/shop/vintage-finds

Barbie remains the queen of dolls. Vintage #3 Blonde ponytail Barbie Doll with brown liner and looking glamorous in her gold gown; $795. Courtesy of Old is New: rubylane.com/shop/vintage-finds

Nothing instills nostalgia and evokes happy memories quite like a beloved toy from childhood. Since toys are synonymous with Christmas – and since we are naturally advocates of giving antiques and collectibles as gifts – we think an antique or vintage toy can be a great present for kids and those who are kids at heart to find under the tree.

Whether your gift recipient is a child you want to share your favorite toy with, someone who already collects toys or someone you want to give a warm memory to by giving them their own favorite toy from childhood, these are some of our favorite choices.

 Large antique celluloid baby doll, 1908 to 1919, by Bruno Schmidt, Germany. She’s wearing a dress of silky cotton with roses and for the colder days, she has a fancy pink coat with faux fur trim. She also has her own small and well-loved teddy bear; $275. Courtesy of Hildegard’s Toy Emporium: rubylane.com/shop/hildegards-toy-emporium

Large antique celluloid baby doll, 1908 to 1919, by Bruno Schmidt, Germany. She’s wearing a dress of silky cotton with roses and for the colder days, she has a fancy pink coat with faux fur trim. She also has her own small and well-loved teddy bear; $275. Courtesy of Hildegard’s Toy Emporium: rubylane.com/shop/hildegards-toy-emporium

Dolls

One of the quintessential Christmas gifts is a doll, and the most quintessential doll is Barbie. With her turning 60 this year (and not looking one day of it), “America’s Toy Scout,” Joel Magee, who is a recurring guest on “Pawn Stars,” said Barbie is particularly popular right now and he’s been seeing her everywhere.

“From the girl’s category, Barbie is the queen of all dolls. There’s no doll that beats Barbie,” he said. An original 1959 doll is worth $4,000, according to Magee, but there are many other versions of Barbie to choose from, as well as different outfits and other accessories.

There are also plenty of other dolls besides Barbie. Rag, cloth and wood-jointed dolls, and dolls with wax or bisque heads wearing everything from simple dresses to evening gowns have long been wished-for presents. And dolls’ accessories include everything miniature from clothes to houses.

Stuffed animals

For a new friend for life and something special that can be passed down, you can’t go wrong with a cuddly teddy bear, especially a collectible Steiff bear, or some other Steiff stuffed animals like a cat, rabbit, money, tiger, dog, elephant or fawn.

Pull toys

Pull toys are one of the most enduring categories of antique toys. Pull toys, or wheeled toys powered by the user, have been popular since the time of the ancient Egyptians, whose tombs included miniature animals on wheels. Steiff also made highly collectible and valuable pull toys that they advertised as “high class riding animals” and that are like plush stuffed animals on wheels. Or you could go for an early carved and painted wooden animal pull toy made by Fisher-Price or LEGO.

 This well-loved Steiff teddy bear has lost some of its curly blonde mohair, but its sweet face still makes it a cutie; $65. Courtesy of Amazing Americana! rubylane.com/shop/amazingamericana

This well-loved Steiff teddy bear has lost some of its curly blonde mohair, but its sweet face still makes it a cutie; $65. Courtesy of Amazing Americana! rubylane.com/shop/amazingamericana

 Steiff also made pull toys that are now highly collectible, such as this plush little dog pull toy, circa 1950; $395. Courtesy of Frederickpine: rubylane.com/shop/frederickpine

Steiff also made pull toys that are now highly collectible, such as this plush little dog pull toy, circa 1950; $395. Courtesy of Frederickpine: rubylane.com/shop/frederickpine

Trains and vehicles

Toy trains, Hubley diecast vehicles and Hot Wheels are perennial favorites. Many people collect Hess toy trucks as well. It was back in the 1960s when Leon Hess, the founder of the Hess Corporation, decided to create a quality, affordable holiday toy. In 1964, the original Hess Toy Truck sold for $1.29, including batteries, and was a hit. Today some vintage ones, including a 1975 USA truck in mint condition, can go for thousands, according to the Hess collectibles group on Facebook.

Tin toys

Tin toys are always good fun any time of year. They take us back in time and these little objects not only look great sitting on your shelf or desk, but they will be well-loved under the tree as well. Tin has been a popular toy material since the end of the 19th century and is durable, lightweight and a welcome addition to a collection. Choose a classic wind-up design for great fun at Christmas and beyond.

Robots/space toys

With the 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo 11 launch, Magee said he is also seeing more space-themed toys this year, but space toys and miniature robots have been popular for decades, starting in the 1950s with America’s obsession with futurism and technology. Vintage robots made in Japan are especially loved by collectors. A lithographed-tin Masudaya Machine Man robot sold at Morphy Auctions this summer for $86,100, but there are lots of more affordable robots and other space toys available.

Star Wars memorabilia

Magee said Star Wars toys and other merchandise remains popular as ever because it is a franchise that older and younger generations can enjoy together. The new Star Wars movie releasing on Dec. 20, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, will generate new interest in the franchise. Original action figures and other toys from the ‘80s are the hottest and also the most expensive, especially if mint. A prototype rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure from 1979 recently set a world-record price for the third time at Hakes when it sold for $185,000. But if you think your gift recipient would just enjoy an action figure of heroic Luke Skywalker to keep on their desk to protect them from the forces of the dark side or would want to actually join the dark side by donning a Darth Vader mask to talk like him, there are tons of choices for under $100.

 A brightly lithographed tin robot wind-up toy, “Mighty Robot,” made in Japan, early 1960s. Wind him up and he slowly walks on his large paddle feet; $75.Courtesy of Victorian Trinkets: rubylane.com/shop/cali4nigrl

A brightly lithographed tin robot wind-up toy, “Mighty Robot,” made in Japan, early 1960s. Wind him up and he slowly walks on his large paddle feet; $75.Courtesy of Victorian Trinkets: rubylane.com/shop/cali4nigrl

 A fun antique celluloid and tin Occupied Japan wind-up toy of a young cross country skier. The mechanism is housed in the body and when it is wound by the attached key, the skier’s legs move back and forth moving the skis in a realistic motion. The arms are stationary but there are wheel on the ski poles to facilitate movement; $295. Courtesy of Ogee’s Antiques: rubylane.com/shop/ogees

A fun antique celluloid and tin Occupied Japan wind-up toy of a young cross country skier. The mechanism is housed in the body and when it is wound by the attached key, the skier’s legs move back and forth moving the skis in a realistic motion. The arms are stationary but there are wheel on the ski poles to facilitate movement; $295. Courtesy of Ogee’s Antiques: rubylane.com/shop/ogees

 Hot Wheels Redline “Prowler,” 1969; $61. Courtesy of Molly’s Antique, Toy and Doll Emporium: rubylane.com/shop/mollys-antique-doll--and--toy-menagerie

Hot Wheels Redline “Prowler,” 1969; $61. Courtesy of Molly’s Antique, Toy and Doll Emporium: rubylane.com/shop/mollys-antique-doll--and--toy-menagerie

 Toy trains remain favorite gifts to give and get. A 1940s American Flyer Silver Bullet Steam Engine and Tender; $72. Courtesy of Bluebonnet Hill Estates & Antiques: rubylane.com/shop/bluebonnethillantiques

Toy trains remain favorite gifts to give and get. A 1940s American Flyer Silver Bullet Steam Engine and Tender; $72. Courtesy of Bluebonnet Hill Estates & Antiques: rubylane.com/shop/bluebonnethillantiques

 A Hubley diecast steel race car from the 1930s in green and silver; $55. Courtesy of Victorian Trinkets: rubylane.com/shop/cali4nigrl

A Hubley diecast steel race car from the 1930s in green and silver; $55. Courtesy of Victorian Trinkets: rubylane.com/shop/cali4nigrl

 A rare mid-century “Rockets Away” dart game with rocket-ship darts and cool graphics of an outer space constellation in primary colors, made by The American Metal Specialties Corporation of Hatboro, Pennsylvania; $175. Courtesy of Openslate Collectibles: rubylane.com/shop/openslate

A rare mid-century “Rockets Away” dart game with rocket-ship darts and cool graphics of an outer space constellation in primary colors, made by The American Metal Specialties Corporation of Hatboro, Pennsylvania; $175. Courtesy of Openslate Collectibles: rubylane.com/shop/openslate

 For anyone on your list tempted by the dark side: a vintage Darth Vader talking mask from 1977; $72. Courtesy of Aunt Sally’s Doll Shop: rubylane.com/shop/auntsallydollshop

For anyone on your list tempted by the dark side: a vintage Darth Vader talking mask from 1977; $72. Courtesy of Aunt Sally’s Doll Shop: rubylane.com/shop/auntsallydollshop

 Relive the exciting Hoth battle scene from The Empire Strikes Back with a vintage Kenner Luke Skywalker action figure in Hoth Battle Gear with 48-card backer. This one even still has the original Walmart sticker of $1.97; $20. Courtesy of My Grandmother Had One: rubylane.com/shop/mygrandmotherhadone

Relive the exciting Hoth battle scene from The Empire Strikes Back with a vintage Kenner Luke Skywalker action figure in Hoth Battle Gear with 48-card backer. This one even still has the original Walmart sticker of $1.97; $20. Courtesy of My Grandmother Had One: rubylane.com/shop/mygrandmotherhadone

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