Why do grown men collect toys?

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  • Some of Sean Nates' toys and how his passion for collecting started.

(CNN Philippines) — Many people collect toys for many different reasons. Toys are an integral part of childhood development. It is part of growing up.

But why do grown men collect toys?

Some say toys conjure sweet childhood memories. Remember how we played games and shared our toys with our friends when we were young? Toys remind us of our childhood.

Sean Nates of South Australia shared with CNN Philippines how his passion for collecting toys started.

“I started collecting toys when I was five years old after I saw the Star Wars movie in 1977," Nates said. "My passion stayed with Star Wars, superheroes, and comic books."

The most expensive toys in his collection, Nates said, is a set of Star Wars action figures worth $5,000.

An action figure is often based on characters from a movie, comic book, video game, or television program. Most action figures are made of plastic and at least have movable parts and are usually marketed toward boys and adult collectors.

Although some collectors started their passion after watching superhero movies when they were young, there are many other ways people get introduced to the hobby.

Tats, a television executive, relates how he started collecting: “I collect because it relives and pieces together my childhood memories.”

“When I was young, there was no means of getting the toys I want. But now that I can afford them, I buy as much as my budget allows it," he said.

Tats added that he started taking the hobby seriously just recently. He said his very first action figure was Green Lantern.

“My first collection was a statue of Green Lantern. But now most of my collections are Marvel figures. I collect rare and sometimes customized figures, Tats narrated.

Many collectors say collecting toys creates a sense of accomplishment. Some like the fun of the quest and the excitement of the hunt, while others just enjoy the puzzles from their acquisitions.

Apart from action figures, diecast model of cars and planes — toys that are usually made of metal but have details of plastic, rubber and glass — are also a favorite among hobbyists.

Leo Mangrobang Sr., one of the founding members of Hot Wheels Club Philippines (HWCP), has been a collector for quite a while. His collection, however, is not limited to diecast cars.

"I've been a collector for over 35 years. I collect [diecast] cars, movie memorabilia — even Barbies. You name it, I probably have it," Mangrobang said.

Mangrobang, who is fondly called "Grand Pa" by other members of HWCP — a group of miniature and diecast car enthusiasts, said he started collecting by chance.

"I started collecting because of Star Wars. My family and I were already living in the US and we saw the first movie — this was in 1977 or 78, I think — my children were still young and they were amused by a small figure of Chewbacca. I started from there,” he said.

Mangrobang added that he loves to attend swap meets every time he visits the Philippines and everyone in the club knows who he is and he is known for his generosity.

"Sharing is part of the whole process. You can’t be selfish,” he said. “I will never stop collecting. Sharing toys with kids is just a small part of being a collector. You never know you might have another collector in the making and what you give may be the start.”

Like Mangrobang, Robby Blanco, also a member of HWCP, is very enthusiastic about miniature cars. He said he started collecting diecast cars in 1979.

"My father used to buy me Matchbox when I was young," he shared.

One of Blanco's favorite hunting grounds for these miniature cars was Ali Mall in Cubao, Quezon City.

“I could spend a whole day just watching the models being displayed," he said.

Blanco added that he started collecting seriously in 2010.

“I was browsing online when I saw a friend posted a photo of himself with lots of miniature Volkswagen Beetle cars. The bug bit me," he said.

A collector once said: “Collecting is having an object of desire. For grown men, the benefit is not always monetary but emotional. The toys may have monetary value to some hobbyists but irrelevant to others who just enjoy the camaraderie of sharing their collection with other collectors who appreciate it.”