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How I got Hooked on Collecting Toys

It was during the 1970’s when I was in my twenties and scouting locations for a movie called Rudolph Valentino to be directed by Vittorio DeSica that I spotted an antique store going out of business called Sarsaparilla. There was my past laid out in the window with board games, trains, model kits, and cool space tin toys. My favorite was that tin Apollo moon capsule attached to the command module.It was battery operated and as it roamed the floor. A stream of air would come out from the top of the capsule keeping a cardboard astronaut afloat. Well, I soon bought the place out. Thank God it was going out of business, because I didn’t have to pay the higher ticket prices that were now marked down.

During the heyday of having my own public access cable show Biograph Days, Biograph Nights in the 1980’s one of my sponsors was Gary Darrow of Darrow’s Fun Antiques who’s payment was in toys, not cash. I showed the same toys on my program and soon Gary found fans flocking to his store to find their own favorite toys from their past.

                                                                                                      Public Access Television

​​My popularity increased when many of the local newspapers like the Daily News, New York Post and The New York Times started doing stories on Public Access shows. With that new fame brought on calls from network shows like ABC World News Now and CBS Morning Show asking me to come on their program and show off the old toys along with the related toy commercials I had uncovered. Even Leonard Maltin on Entertainment Tonight and Cokie Roberts on ABC’s Nightline profiled my toy commercials, adding to my boomer fame. This brought on phone calls from around the country by people wanting to buy some toy they remembered having as a kid. The most promising calls came from people looking to sell me their toy collections.


I became a regular on shows like Fox & Friends, CNN, MSNBC and ABC World News Now showing the last toys being sold for the holidays. Then I started covering Toy Fair in New York every February. After awhile I was doing segments on Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Easter, Halloween, and later, consumer products. I then tied into many of the public relations firms representing toy companies like Mattel, Hasbro, Galoob, and Milton Bradley among others that sent me toys to review. After awhile my toy collection included every new Star Trek, Star Wars and Barbie doll on the market. I gave a lot of toys away but always kept a set unopened for my own personal collection.




Media Stories on Ira and his Commercials

Click: Watch when I pioneered the use of surprising guests on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman with commercials they were in Before They Were Stars like Susan Sarandon, Dustin Hoffman, Clint Eastwood and Mike Wallace among others.


Profile stories on ABC's Nightline, ABC World News Now, CNN, MSNBC, Fox and Friends and others.

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