Nostalgia has a powerful and beneficial effect on the American psyche.
Top Gun and Jurassic Park sequels were among the top 10 highest-grossing films of the year, followed by Spider-Man, Batman and Sonic the Hedgehog. You might wonder if someone from decades ago has ever time traveled to his 2022 and left the past based on the brands and franchises that are popular today.
For children and children at heart, you don’t need a time machine to enjoy both old toys and today’s most popular toys. Toys of Our Lives, Verona’s new store at 103 S. Main St. It feels like a toy time capsule from the 1970s to the present. It’s probably part of a little nostalgia-fueled trend: Meep Meepleton’s World of Fun will open in Madison in 2021, joining Retro Revolution on East Washington Avenue.
Longtime collector and seller of vintage and retro toys, Paul Ivkovich, opened The Toys of Our Lives on October 31st.
Ivkovich moved from Burlington to Middleton in September with 237 collectible toys and action figures. And his stock continues to grow.
caring for his toys
Opening a physical store is an evolution for Ivkovich, turning a hobby he started in 1996 into a full-time job. Ivkovich attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and loved going to a vintage toy store in Madison that closed in the early 2000s.
For ten years, Ivković was a teacher of speech, drama and English, but became disillusioned with the political problems of education and the lack of funding to produce the musical he wanted. Early in the 2020 pandemic, Ivkovich saw online sales take off. He came to Madison because he felt it was an inclusive community of wholesome geeks.
“I quit teaching in 2014 to take some time off and focus on my toys,” he said. , shows, and online.”
Ivkovich credits his father’s interest in preserving and protecting toys. His dad regretted losing all his childhood toys, so he encouraged Paul to be more careful.
“He was knowledgeable and visionary and taught me to take care of my toys,” said Ivkovich. “I didn’t want to lose any parts after that, whether it was an arm for a figure or a tripod for a cannon. I just realized something.”
In the early ’90s, Ivkovic took a small portion of his “Star Wars” toy collection to a trade show in Chicago, leaving thousands of dollars in his wallet. “It was crazy how fast they sold,” he said.
He was at the forefront of resale. At that same trade show, eBay representatives were walking around trying to draw attention to his new Web site, he said. His websites for auctions and e-commerce have become an integral part of his growing hobby, along with Amazon and more recently his Whatnot.
hunting never stops
Peddling nostalgia is as much about hunting as it is about collecting. In addition to scouting online resellers, Ivkovich also travels to trade fairs, fandom expos, and comic conventions across the country from New York to Chicago to San Diego. These trips grew from perusing the flea market held at the fairgrounds and browsing antique malls.
The Toys of Our Lives products start in the 1970s. This is because Ivkovich feels that his decade was pivotal for action figures. Action figures could not only include sports heroes, but also characters from movies, TV shows, comics, videos and his games, Ivkovich said.
“The ’70s was really the birth of action figures, when they came into their own,” he said. “In the 60’s everyone had his GI Joe, but the 70’s were the beginning of the golden age of action figures for me.
“Since then, action figures have evolved continuously. Today, it’s so amazing, and the way it’s sculpted, I think it’s a professional work of art.”
One of his common themes over the decades has been the “Star Wars” toy, which continues to inspire new characters thanks to new movies and shows. The first action figure Ivkovich ever owned was from this ever-present Space Opera series.
“There are now three generations who grew up with Star Wars,” he said.
Some of the most engaging toys in the store are toys from 1980s cartoon shows such as MASK, My Little Pony and Care Bears. Marvel comics and Disney animation characters are also popular, and “Star Trek” is also popular.
Some of the toys in his collection have been owned by Ivkovich for decades. “Some things, like fine wine, wait to see how long it takes for the price to mature,” he said. “I enjoy watching trends and riding waves where toys are going. Funko Pops are very popular right now.
“Over time, not all have real value. Beanie Babies have taken a hard tumble.”
Ivkovich’s daughter helps with photo shoots and social media posts. The pair had also filmed a documentary about his lifelong love of toys and his journey to collect them a year and a half ago. He said there was
Ivkovich knows that what keeps people coming back and interested in stores like his is the ever-fresh offering on the shelves, so the quest never stops.
“No matter how obscure the franchise is, no matter how small the fan base is, the fans are still the fans,” he said. “People always have their hearts on fire. I love seeing people have figurines in their collections and cherish them.”