Toy Stores Of The Past!

Note: Even though this is being released after the holidays, I decided to keep the intro pretty much in tact as I feel it is stronger when connected to the holidays!

Christmas means toys to most of the reader's of this blog I would guess and that is what essentially this post is about. The holidays can be a depressing time, but lately I have been even more depressed thinking about the past. Remember the days when we had multiple toy chains? Here in the United States there were more than 5 major chains but I will be focusing on the big 5 from my past (I say past because one of them I visited the first time as an adult!) All pictures are from searching the web via Google and now lets take a look at the past!

  Out of the five that I am looking at, this is the one I have the least memories of sadly. I remember in the 80s while we were visiting my grandparents in Buffalo New York, we went to Children'd Palace. How do I remember this so well with my bad memory? One reason is that I remember seeing Thundercats on the shelves (might have been the day that I got my only figure from the mini line - a Lizard warrior) because I remember looking at them. However I think the real reason I remember that day so vividly is the store itself. Children's Palace looked like, well a palace! So you felt like you were entering a medievel kingdom while you entered the castle looking entrance of the store. In reality it was just a normal building with castle like towers:
 But to a kid's imagination, it was everything and I think that is why I so vividly remember this visit. I have no clue if we ever went back to it (in fact my memory might be of multiple visits) but I do remember the joy I had that day!
 Before we move on take a look at those goodies in the ad man those were the days (even more goodies are in ads from other stores that I am using!)
"Turn that frown upside down!"
  Probably one of the most influential stores of my childhood (others would be TRU, Phar-Mor, and Service Merchandise). This is the toy store I think I miss the absolute most. I think this is where we got our Nintendo (NES) system. Either here or the TRU.
 If I recall correctly; we went here the most as they were cheaper than TRU.  Also by looking at the ads I can see why I had more GIJOE's than most other lines (only He-Man came close).
 To this day I can still hear the theme song and slogan "Turn that frown upside down!"

 Now we are getting to the ones that were around when I was an adult! Kaybee was probably the greatest toystore of all time! Why?
 Unlike the others, somehow they kept hold of old stock and sold them at great prices. In some stores you could find things from the 80s still in stores in the early 2000's!
 When I first moved to San Francisco, they had 3 toy stores (which are the last 3 on this list) and I remember that I bought stuff like crazy there. Even before that in Georgia, I have fond memories of toys there.
 They also had great exclusives like rereleases (and repaints) of Toybiz Marvel figures, exclusive 8 inch Toybiz figures, The cool but short lived Transformers Machine Wars (which were European figures and unreleased Generation 2 figures mostly) , and we also finally got 3 of the Manimals from G.I.JOE! (to learn about the manimals click the link above, to learn about the 3 that were actually released, click on their individual names: InguanusSlythor, and Warwolf!)

 This is the one that I had no connection to whatsoever as a kid! I went to my first one as an adult when it opened up near the Mall of Georgia! I went often once I moved to San Francisco because it was on Powell Street. This place was the most expensive of the toystores. Last I heard it may still exist but as a specialized store selling stuff like stuffed animals and stuff like that in one store but I don't think it is around anymore!

 Note: after some research, it was indeed closed and then bought by TRU (which put the FAO made stuffed animals in their stores) but then were purchased by a new company in 2016 and reopened this past October. They specialize in certain items like stuffed animals, etc like I thought and are located in New York (actual store) and online. The FAO of the past though is gone (as they no longer sell Transformers, Barbie, etc).

 The last man standing - at least for now.
 "I don't want to grow up, you want to grow up? Because if I did, I couldn't be a Toys R' Us Kid!"
 No turns out we would just become Toys R' Us Adults lol!
 This chain as we all know by now is in danger. They filed for bankruptcy (and still gave their board members raises) and are closing stores overseas and re about to start closing stores in the sates soon supposedly!  This is truly the end of an era!
 The future will no longer be large scale toy stores but independent stores like Jeffrey's Toys (which also sells comics) that sell toys for a huge mark up,
 Online Retailers like Amazon or even Ebay,
 Catch all stores like Target and Wal-Mart. I didn't say K-Mart as that store is extinct in many markets already (which is sad to),
And Walgreens (yes Walgreens!)
  So we'll still be able to get our toys but alas the days of the big toy stores has come to an end (like the Dinosaurs age) and to me this is pretty depressing! What do you think?


  1. Awesome post. Hope your New Year is starting off well. I clearly remember Child World in the suburbs of Chicago. Oh - if I could go back in time. What a place.

    Anyway, you may want to check out - he has a full section dedicated to photographs of toy stores in the past. It's a fun walk down memory lane.

    1. I love the old toy store photos, nice to look back. Yeah I miss the old toy stores!

  2. I think alot of this could also be due to a lack of Saturday Morning cartoons.With those cartoons came the action figure demand imo.Also,video games pretty much allowed kids to put those toys down and play in a virtual world,much more realistic than the crumpled up quilts on our beds that doubled as a battleground for our action figures.Think about It,that add has the Terror Drome listed at 60 bucks.For about 30 bucks you could get a whole world on a video game cart.I still say there is a place for smaller,more compact toy stores.Inner cities and smaller neighborhoods would benefit from them the most I think with these larger toy chains being so far away most of the time.

    1. Tony, I agree with you 100 percent! Video games are proven to be a main reason why action figures are "dying" and sadly with stores dedicated to video games like Gamestop (which are even selling action figures now) toy stores can't even fall on to that.

  3. Toy stores simply don't sell the toys I want anymore. I'm not looking for Pokemon, Hatchimals or whatever other new fangled rigamarole toys that are out there. As such to me I am going to get more bang for my buck by simply going to ebay.

    1. I agree to an extent. I still like a few dolls, blind bags, Transformers, etc but most of what is in Toy stores now is crap. Seriously I think the extent of what I enjoy is the equillivant of a toy aisle in the 80s/90s and thats it, rest of the store is usually a miss.


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