Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Will our Toys be here in a Hundred Years?

Soon to be a grandad I got to wondering how many future generations of woodsies will enjoy my plastic space toys?

Just how long does toy plastic last?

Fifty years on my own plastic playthings are doing ok. No sign of cracks or decay. Not so any soft plastic or rubber. Some of these have perished.

So how long will our Project Sword and spacex and other cool vintage toys be around? Another fifty years? A hundred?

19 comments:

  1. I don't think anyone knows. I've heard it speculated that hard plastic, hidden from ultra violet light may last millions of years!

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    1. Blimey kev! Millions. That's crazy. That means project sword toys may survive to the year it began in solo comics, 3031. How weird is that!

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  2. Anything one hundred years old is an antique. Wonder if any plastic toys already are?

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  3. Bakelite was invented in 1907, so it's possible.

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    1. A bakelite toy, now that's a thought!

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  4. First, congratulations on your forthcoming granddaddicity, Woodsy!

    As to our toys, I think it'll more depend on what our heirs will do with them. If they sell them on, I hope they'll end up with somebody that appreciates them as much as we do. Would be nice if they hung on to them, but there's always the risk of grandchildren having a go or other mishaps. The other concern is of course if there will actually be enough collectors of a next generation that will want out toys, not having our childhood experience of them (I know a chap that's selling now, to still sell to people that do have that experience). Time will tell I'm afraid...

    Best -- Paul

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    1. Interesting insights there Vreedsy, only time will be the judge of things to come. As I would love to envision it, there won't be enough SWORD toys for future space colonies to display even in a single example! Yet they might prefer space toys a bit overlooked today...

      As to "granddadicity" - is that a bird, is that a plane... (congrats Woodsy!)

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    2. Thanks Paul and Arto. Grandadicity! I like that. Yes, the fate of toys is precarious at best I agree. We love our space toys for different reasons. For me it's wholly sentimental. Those toys were there when I was a kid. As time goes by I suspect the toys we love will become harder to get. Tracking down SpaceX and SWORD in another 50 years will be very tough I fear but some hardy souls will hopefully continue the quest!

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  5. first off, dont do as I did when I was younger and hand down your unused toys to the new arrival! Youve amassed a significant collection Woodsy, so it needs to be preserved for futurity. As weve seen, plastic isnt readily bio-degradeable, although the metal bits could rust and rubber elements may become fragile with age, properly conserved, theyll outlast us!

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    1. But weren't old toys meant to be passed down to children Bill! ha ha.

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    2. I must confess, I do worry about what will happen to my 'children' (toys, books, comics, records, etc) when I'm not around to look after them. I'll have to see about getting a Lottery grant some day, to start a museum of childhood before I fall off the twig.

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    3. Great idea Kid! We'll all bring something over!

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  6. When it comes to future generations, I don't think they necessarily need to worry about the scarcity of some toy or other. I think it'll be the other way round, in that there'll likely be a scarcity of interested collectors in the new generation(s). As I think we all agree, "sentimental" memories of our childhood toys are part of the fascination for us. Be it Sword, Spacex, Matt Mason or similar toys, they were only in the shops for a handful of years, so they're tied to people of a very specific age group (us, basically). Without the appeal of that connection, the question is how many future collectors of space toys will be interested in our "old" toys, as opposed to the toys that they had when they were young (read: stuff that's in the shops now).

    To take Major Matt as an example, we all started collecting him again at roughly the same point in our adult lives. Where the early birds had first pick (but paid premium prices because epay didn't exist yet to bring toys out of the woodwork and increase supply), the middle group in general paid less than the early birds, because of epay and despite bidding the bejeezus out of each other, and where the latecomers have it best of all because the earlier groups have long completed their collections which has decreased demand. Matt Mason is not exactly rare in general (certain items excepted of course), which is why the chap I mentioned is selling off his collection right now. Because by the time our generation is going to the sandbox in the sky, there'll be a renewed supply of Major Matt items from our collections. But as mentioned above, it's likely that there won't be enough new collectors with the required interest to buy it all up. I mean, how many of us collect the kind of toys that our fathers played with? Or even older? Yes, such people do exist today - I have some prewar tinplate trains and I know others of my age that do (because I'm in the HRCA), but we're -vastly- outnumbered by collectors of modern model trains, and that's the point I'm trying to make.

    Museum: great idea! But unfortunately I for one don't have enough toys to begin one... :/

    off the soapbox and thanks for reading this far :)
    --
    Paul

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    1. Super insights Paul. I love the generational point you make about groups of collectors of Major Matt. I do agree that the number of future of collectors of Sixties toys will be smaller as our original generation fades. Its a strange thought that our collections will be split up and sold on by our children, grand and great grand children to an ever smaller group of interested collectors who have no link whatsoever to the decade that spawned the toys. I wonder if research will become harder or will everything be online in fifty years? For instance, the identity of Project SWORD's box artists, currently unknown - might that be easier or even harder to research in half a century for anyone on the least interested?

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  7. Being eventually split up is the sad fate of every collection, Woodsy, unless you donate it free of charge to a museum (assuming it's interesting and/or valuable enough, and chances are (most of) it'll just get stored away there). My good Father had two collections in his life. He managed to complete a collection of every seashell to be found in Dutch waters (didn't cost a penny, and gave him something to do on the beach :) and that's still intact, donated to some museum or institute or other somewhere in the Netherlands when we moved to Belgium (which reminds me I still need to take my sons to go see it). His substantial collection of 78rpm Blues records got bought up by a dealer after he passed away, and I think said dealer still hasn't finished selling it off disk by disk. (But those disks do gain a certain pedigree from having been in his collection - he was pretty well-known and still is in those circles.)

    As to research, more and more stuff is going online, incl our very existences. Whether it'll all be accessible is one thing - f ex I don't do farcebook or (even worse) pinterest, so anything happening on the one (assuming it's public) or displayed on the other is out of bounds to me. And pinterest gets me to my second point, and that's quality. Pinteresters and the majority of bloggers just grab stuff, display it out of its original context (though possibly putting it into a new context if we're very lucky) and generally don't acknowledge original sources. Then there's forums full of knowledgeable people, where tiny bits of information surface all the time, but in a very scattered way (though if you're lucky you might find the odd useful link). Wikipedians do cater to quality and acknowledge sources (they're obliged to) but the trouble there is people editing the content all the time, so you may not get the same text you read before. Not to mention the misguided zealots that scrap paragraphs or even complete articles because they break some arcane rule or other, the latter leading to the infamous red links that are not just a disgrace an sich but also extremely frustrating if that red link is what you were looking for...

    Pre-internet knowledge (including your box artists) is entirely dependable on the brave souls that do the digging in offline sources to bring such knowledge online. That includes academics, the more earnest type of wikipedian, and also people (take John Eaton f ex) who collect knowledge about things they're interested in and bring it together in a cohesive and organised presentation. GACCH is another excellent example, which leads to the ephemerality of websites. If it weren't for the Wayback Machine all that beautiful work would be lost. But it can now no longer be googled, so finding it has become that much harder. And that's also the last point: with the internet still growing exponentially it'll be that much harder to find information (of good quality) especially on esotheric subjects like your box art. We'll never be fully sure if it isn't out there somewhere on the net and we haven't succeeded in finding it, or whether it just isn't anywhere online...

    That's my tuppence-worth, and sorry for another ramble. :)
    --
    Paul

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    1. Sorry Paul, this got spammed by blogger. No idea why. I've just unspammed it! I can read it properly now!

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    2. Lovely insights Paul. It is useful to divide time like you have into the pre-internet and the internet era. It has altered the way we do things for sure. I suppose in the past the only way to get a huge body of work like Wildtoys or GACCH to a wider audience would have been magazine articles or a book, which as we have seen may indeed have lasted as long as a website as it turned out. I too am not on Facebook, for personal reasons, but I understand it does allow more people to get involved, for instance, in our hobby of vintage toy collecting. I imagine it could help in research too in the way online fora did and still do. As I am trying to decrease rather than increase my online life I tend to stick to blogging and the old school internet of websites concerned with toys, sci fi, monsters and Gerry Anderson, one of which sadly was the superb GACCH, which I can, as you say, access in Wayback Machine, but the SOLO Project SWORD section seems to have gone, but that could just be my fumbling fingers. The brilliant Stingray Museum went the same way too alas, one of the very first Gerry Anderson toy website I found in the early 1990's. As regards the future of our collections it does seem a shame if a well put-together group of toys or comics or whatever is then frittered away. Or is that the nature of stuff, the way of things? They come together, stay awhile and then split apart again so the whole collecting cycle can start again? Maybe, like surfers, we should just enjoy the moment and wait for the next toy to come along. I dunno.

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    3. I'm afraid it's the way of things, Woodsy. Unless it goes to a museum or archive, any collection gets split (including such items as veterans' photo albums as well, which get bought up to sell the photographs (and empty album) separately to turn a profit, while destroying the visual record of a man's service life). And even museums occasionaly sell surplus items...

      As to GACCH on the Wayback Machine, I had some trouble with links to that very page not working, but it looks like it might be due to which archive version they link to. This one seems to do it:
      https://web.archive.org/web/20160406164459/http://www.technodelic.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/Upload02/ProjectSWORD01.htm

      Best -- Paul

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    4. That Wayback link worked just fine Paul. Thanks very much.

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