As a little girl, I loved nothing more than to spend hours at a time playing with Barbies.
I had dozens and dozens of dolls, including all of the holiday collectibles. My mom would always tell me, “Keep them in the box, they could be worth something someday.” All of my special collector Barbies are still in the box, still in mint condition, but I would never sell them.
Many toy collectors are those who have grown up loving toys so much, they want to treasure them and the memories they bring forever. Alex Kuvisch is the owner of Fantastic Toyage, located at 5288 Merrick Rd., in Massapequa, and he believes that classic and vintage toys hold the charm of the past, and that’s why there will always be something to keep on a shelf.
“It’s like any other commodity known as supply and demand,” said Kuvisch of what makes an item a collectible. “It’s all about limited edition and when things get popular, they don’t become unique anymore and it takes the collectability away.”
The collectible market is a nice market to be in, because unlike stocks and bonds, collectors get to enjoy their toys and memorabilia on display. Kuvisch has been the owner of Fantastic Toyage for the past 15 years and he said that in order to be serious about collecting, one must be truly passionate about it.
“I sell pop culture that is current today and that was nostalgic for others. We have everything from statues to scale figures down to your regular action figures,” he said. “You’ll see me behind the counter when I’m 90 because I enjoy doing what I do. Around the holidays, I open my house to all of my regular customers and we cater food and share stories. I like to pay back the kindness that people have shown me through the years.”
Kuvisch’s store is chock full of toys, games and mementos, but so is his home. His man cave has a slew of Star Wars paraphernalia and collectibles from his childhood, which is a feeling that he strives for in his customers.
“We try to recapture our childhood when we gravitate towards collectibles. I love it and it keeps me young,” said Kuvisch, who deals with companies all over the world and tries to bring in unusual items to his shop.
According to Kuvisch, the ‘60s was the height of America in terms of toys, and the baby boomer generation had the best to choose from.
“The ‘60s gave you the 12-inch GI Joe, army men, Barbie, cap guns, matchbox cars and board games,” he said, adding that the with ‘70s came, you guessed it, Star Wars. “We’re known as the Star Wars headquarters of Long Island. We have more Star Wars than everybody; everything from the action figures from the ‘70s and replicas from movies to light sabers, helmets and blasters. It’s very much like a museum, but it’s a museum you can take home.”
The 1980s saw Transformers toys and a lot of rock and roll memorabilia, but according to Kuvisch, when the 1990s rolled around, a lot of toys went into mass production, making their rarity obsolete.
“You name it, we try to have it, and if it’s something we don’t have, I will do my best to bring it in,” said Kuvisch, who aims to please his customers. “We’re a mom and pop shop and we have a really good time here. We cultivate friendships with people who are interested in the same kind of thing.”
Fantastic Toyage sees customers from the ages of 6 to 76, and he has items in his store from the 1920s to present day collectibles. Kuvisch prefers personal interaction with his customers and does not sell online and as times change, so do toys, and Kuvisch is saddened that kids aren’t kids these days.
“Kids today are so locked up on their tech world that their missing their childhood,” he said. “Children are no longer running outside and playing.”
Although Kuvisch works a 72-hour work week, for him it’s not work, it’s just fun.
“If you’re passionate about what you’re doing for a living, you never work a day in your life,” he said.