Business & economy

Collectable action figures are the name of the game at Beyond Infinity Toys in Ontario

ONTARIO – If you like toy action figure nostalgia, then Joshua Andrews’ store, Beyond Infinity Toys, in Ontario is the place to be.
Andrews, a longtime area resident and business owner, decided to open up the toy action figure shop about a year ago.
Andrews, 38, also owns Snake River Windshield in Ontario.
“I thought I would branch out,” said Andrews.
Beyond Infinity Toys, at 36 S.W. Third Ave., also sells other toys but the collectable action figure market is the store’s bread and butter. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“About 60% is vintage stuff, 1970s and up. There are some cars and spaceships but most of it is action figure era,” said Andrews.
The figures ran the gamut from old staples such as Batman and Superman to Ghostbusters, Spiderman, Thundercats, Marvel superheroes, Ninja Turtles and He-Man.
Beyond Infinity Toys was first situated near Home Depot but Andrews said high rent forced him to move to the downtown location last spring.
In his new location he’s struggled to get customers in the door.
“Everybody who comes in absolutely loves the store. But it’s been a little slow,” said Andrews.
Name recognition is an issue as well, he said.
“Just getting people to know I am here, that’s been the challenging part. During the Frosty Fest I had 30 to 40 people come in who said ‘I had no clue you were even here,’” said Andrews.
Collectable action figures can be big business. The original GI Joe action figures from 1963 trade for $200,000, according to Market Decipher, a market research firm. Other vintage toy collectables, such as Hot Wheels cars, also can fetch a high price.
Antique Star Wars action figures are also in demand and can be lucrative.

There is something for anyone interested in action figures at Beyond Infinity Toys in Ontario including Star Wars figurines. (The Enterprise/PAT CALDWELL)

Kenner Products created a number of notable Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Batman action figures. The company successfully commercialized the 3.75-inch action figure size that is now an industry standard.
The Kenner action figures, especially from Star Wars, were mainstay toys in the late 1970s through the mid-1980s before they began to fade. Those childhood memories of such toys are a driving force behind Andrew’s store.
“There is not another shop like this within 30- or 40-mile radius,” said Andrews.
That’s why, he said, people should come in.
“It’s a nostalgic kick. Someone can come in and relive their childhood in my store,” said Andrews.
Andrews has his own action figure collection.
“I’ve been collecting for years and I saw a need and wanted to put an awesome store in town,” he said.
Andrews said a large part of the action figure inventory in the store was originally his.
“If you understand nostalgia and you come in, it takes you back to when you were a kid. People come in and say, ‘I used to have that toy and I am going to buy it,’” said Andrews.
While Andrews said business at the toy store is slow, he understands how the fortunes of a small business can shift.
When he opened Snake River Windshield in 2016, he said business was slow there too.
“It took about five years to build the business. Once it hit the five-year mark it took off and we’ve been non-stop since,” he said.
Andrews said he loves working at his store.
“I get to sit and talk to people about it (collectables) all day long,” he said.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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