Phil Rosner and Alan Lortz of Nostalgia Toy Box (NTB) stood behind their dealer’s table at Joelanta 2012 recently, nearly swallowed up by a massive display of ’50s and ’60s MARX reproduction playset boxes. They smiled as I approached, clearly anticipating my appreciation for their work. To an unsuspecting toy collector, their merchandise looked like it had just come off the shelf of an old SEARS Roebuck or 5 & Dime toy store. Others probably felt their heart skip a beat or two, thinking they had suddenly stumbled upon a “holy grail” of NOS (new old stock) merchandise.
But upon closer examination, the truth was quickly revealed. Phil and Alan weren’t selling old toys; they were selling brand-new recreations of BOXES. For any MARX collector with a battered, stained or missing box, NTB’s recreations are a godsend. For those who don’t own any of the playsets, these repro boxes are cool enough by themselves that they stand alone as desirable collectibles.
Before speaking, I stood in silent awe for a few minutes, just studying all the beautiful vintage artwork on each box. The Rifleman. Jesse James. Rex Mars Planet Patrol. What a selection! Once I began to interview the two men, I learned that each box is constructed of bright white, corrugated cardboard, measures 24″ x 14″ x 4″ in size and is illustrated on the top and all four sides. The original eye-popping graphics have all been carefully restored by graphics wiz, Ron Lazority, and look simply stunning.
I admitted to them that I knew little of this area of toy collecting, but was pleased to also learn that a man named Ron Barzso of Barzso Playsets offers recreations of some of the complete sets. So, it appears that collector interest in these old plastic toys is on the upswing! As to the boxes of Nostalgia Toy Box, Phil admitted they make very little profit from each sale, and operate their business more for the love of these old toys and their vintage packaging.
“We all loved these playsets as kids, and we loved the boxes they came in as well. Just looking at all the old artwork brings back so many great memories. A lot of people didn’t remember that there were so many different versions. We now produce over 100 different titles! By tracking down all the original sets and recreating their boxes, we hope to keep the memory of these unique toys alive for future generations to collect and enjoy.”
Bottom Line: Before I left their table, I told Phil and Alan that, if I could, I’d buy ALL of their amazing boxes. We all smiled together and nodded knowingly at one another, sharing a mutual love and fondness for old toys and the unique packaging produced during those bygone years. To visit Nostalgia Toy Box, go to their ebay site HERE.