In February 2016, many years of dreams and collecting evolved into the opening of The Toy Collector; an eclectic collection of toys through the ages designed to put a smile on your face and remind you of childhood days of playing. This museum is an ever expanding and changing display of both our own and others’ generously lent collections.
In December 2019, the move from the original location in Falsgrave Street took place. This change of venue has provided a lot more space for displays and has also brought in more changes – not only the name of the museum, but also the structure. A Charitable Trust has been established to ensure the museum is part of Christchurch’s future. Hence, the New Zealand Museum of Toys and Collectibles was born.
The Toy Collector and the New Zealand Museum of Toys and Collectables are the labour of love of Alan Preston, supported and encouraged by his partner Ruth Fisher. Alan’s love for toys started with the anticipation and excitement that surrounded the somewhat irregular shipments of Matchbox cars arriving in their local toy shop in The Exchange in Dunedin. Limited to four cars each, the whole family would be dragged into the store to buy the maximum number of cars allowed, to then be shared between him and his brother Paul. While those treasures were lost in the hills and growth around their home in Dunedin (a fact that still irritates him), he grew to have a fascination with miniature from diecast to lead soldiers.
In recent years, their daughter introduced him to a world of Littlest Pet Shop, Sylvanian Families and, in more recent times, Harry Potter and Marvel collectibles adding an even wider range of items to the collection. He was also reminded that nostalgia exists even in the very young when, just as for adults, seeing a toy or picture can instantly take you back to a memory you didn’t even realise had been created.
The New Zealand Museum of Toys and Collectables is the display of years of collecting and, in the past few years, of conscious acquisition to ensure as broad a range of toys as possible.