‘Happy Nostalgia’: Avid Toy Collector’s Museum Presents 40 Years of Collecting
Alan Preston has perhaps the largest collection of toys in Christchurch.
And if you want to outdo it, you’ll need 40,000 to 50,000 of your own – and plenty of space.
Preston’s collection, which has grown in about 40 years of collecting, is on display in its own museum: the New Zealand Museum of Toys and Collectibles in central Christchurch, which opened last year.
He said about two-thirds of what he owned was available for viewing, while another third was still in stock.
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“Just see the smiles when [people] come out and everybody wants to talk about it and what they have … it’s pretty cool, ”Preston said.
The museum has around 15 different areas to explore.
There is one part with several dioramas from different wars, while another has a mammoth miniature train set that took two months to assemble.
One hall has an enviable amount of die-cast cars, from new Ferraris to Formula 1 drivers.
Preston has also collected a whole range of toys, dolls, Sesame Street, Star Wars and Disney. There was also a large Lego screen.
Preston said there were several reasons he started the museum, including a love of toys, trying to keep kids away from computers, getting kids to value toys, and keeping old toys from disappearing.
“I just think kids will never know again… without being able to see them, they just don’t know what toys from the 50s were, how their parents or grandparents played,” he said.
His own love for toys began when he was around six or seven, when he started collecting die-cast Matchbox cars.
That passion is still there today, as he said the museum hall dedicated to die-cast cars was probably his favorite.
He still collects too, but says he doesn’t have to buy so much now because of donations.
He said TradeMe and Ebay are great places to find toys, as well as second-hand stores.
He tended to visit foreign second hand stores when he went on vacation. “You always find something,” he said.
On a trip to the United States, he filled six suitcases with toys.
Rick Williams was at the museum with his 9-year-old son Henry on Monday and said the visit gave him “good nostalgia”.