Most customers who wander into Kailua-Kona’s new collectible toy store can find reminders of their childhood — whenever that may have been.
Proprietor Richard Allende opened the doors of ToyConquest on Olowalu Street across from Home Depot five months ago, offering up items the toy enthusiast has gathered during years of travel around the globe as an electrical design engineer.
“Selling and making money with something you enjoy is not bad,” he said.
The focus is on action figures, die-cast cars and dolls. Think Star Wars figures that were released with the movies, including a 12-inch model of Luke Skywalker with Yoda on his back, which sells for $39.95. There are knee-high figures of Spiderman and Man of Steel, Japanese anime figures and collectible designer Barbie dolls by Vera Wang and Anne Klein. The figures date from recent to 40 years old.
“We look for nice quality action figures, mint condition,” Allende said. “It’s all about quality.”
The collection of Hot Wheels die-cast cars is extensive, dating back to the 1960s and ranging in price from $55 to $500. The cars are a big hit with customers, and Allende is surprised by how many women know about the cars and collect them.
NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball figures are also popular with customers.
“I have people come from Oahu to shop for these things because they say they’re really hard to find,” Allende said. “I still have Shaquille O’Neal and Yogi Berra. Somebody bought one MLB card I didn’t even know I had — Jackie Robinson.”
Remember the Darda-Drom metal pullback cars from the 1980s? Allende has stacks of the toys in boxes that look brand new, complete with pictures of grinning kids playing with the cars, dressed in sweater vests and shirts buttoned all the way to the throat.
A military high altitude parachute jumper — painstakingly created and so lifelike it looks ready to dive off the shelf — retails for $399.95. A fireman gripping the Jaws of Life, complete with detailed tools and oxygen tank, is priced at $499.95. The pieces are highly sought after, Allende said.
“This is a real attention-getter,” he said of the jumper. “A lot of guys come in here and stare for a long time.”
Allende hasn’t gone out on an electrical engineering contract in six months — he was in Nigeria last time. Instead, he spends hours in the store that is his passion. He needs more space but is overwhelmed by even the thought of moving.
Allende picked up a plastic truck that was manufactured in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
“I found them in a toy show in the desert of California,” he said. “He was a European who had brought them in from Europe. I couldn’t believe what he had.”
Allende grew up in Brooklyn and has lived in West Hawaii since 1994. As a youth, he had a passion for trains. While looking for locomotives, he discovered people at trade shows making money selling toys. Soon he had his own table set up at swap meets.
Regina Cristo perused the store last week looking for a gift for her grandson, whose first birthday was coming up. The Dragonball Z and X-Men figures brought back memories.
“From 31 years of parenting,” she said, “I have seen — and bought — all of these toys.”