Chris Braun was an early collector of toy soldiers and started trading toys at age 16 to help finance his degrees. After working for Bain & Company, GE Capital and others, he found his way back to toys while managing a business selling on eBay and other platforms with revenues of more than $15 million. He started www.ToyCollector.com to satisfy both his need for the ultimate resource for toy fans as well as to create a better trading environment for collectors, the public, retailers and manufacturers.
The thought behind creating ToyPedia was simple: construct a comprehensive database where not only vintage toy collectors could discover a breath of toys to delight their imaginations, but provide information about new and old favorites to toy lovers everywhere.
At the heart of ToyPedia is the ability to educate and inform the world at large about toys whether someone found a gem in an attic or picked up at a cool item at a garage sale. Furthermore, it enables us to drive our collectable toy marketplace allowing buyers to find out more about a toy thereby making it easier for them to sell it.
We started out with a tree structure, organized by brand name – everything from A-Call-to-Arms to Zylmex is listed on this level. ToyPedia is intuitive as well, so for household names like Barbie and Hot Wheels, they’re on the same level as Mattel, even though both are Mattel brands. Users can browse the brand list or type a few letters into the search box to display all manufacturers containing those letters. For example, type “Mat,” and up comes Animate Toy, Major Matt Mason, Matchbox, Mattel and Playmates – many more will be added going forward!
Clicking on a brand name gives users the next level beneath it – sometimes that’s a list of product ranges, sometimes it's items grouped by type such as cars, dolls, figures, etc. The data for each brand is structured individually to strike the best balance between preserving range structure for the purist collectors and making stuff easy to find for the newcomer. It’s amazing how complex toy ranges can get, but if someone has a model of a rocket with “Airfix” on it and the next level under Airfix is “Space,” they’ll know that’s where to find it. Sometimes there is more than one sub-level, but the goal is to avoid that as nobody likes clicking through too many levels – navigating back through every stage is easy and gives users big red X buttons to go back a level each time.
Once users find the list of individual products, they can either browse through the list by scrolling or search using the search box (which is there to help at any level). Clicking on the item provides its page along with images, history and stats like the reference number, years manufactured and the material it’s made from (not to mention all the variations it was made in). Future plans call for a more sophisticated search system that can go across levels to make it even easier to find items.
ToyPedia is intended to serve many functions – it’s there to help people find info as mentioned above; it’s also there to give experts a collaborative platform to catalogue toys – and it’s there to provide fun and entertainment to an audience who may not have a particular toy they want to look up, but just enjoy browsing and reading about them. So whatever the reason for visiting, enthusiasts will find what they’re looking for, even if they're not sure what that is yet!