From vintage dolls to rare Hot Wheels, countless pieces from nearly everyone’s childhood live here
G.I. Joes, Beanie Babies, Hot Wheels and other classic childhood treasures are sitting on the shelves at the Toy Shack in Downtown Las Vegas. The antique toy shop carries nostalgic pieces from throughout the years that can make happy memories flood back in an instant.
Although Toy Shack gained fame by appearing in the History Channel’s hit show, “Pawn Stars,” the shelves in this shop preserve more treasures than what is shown on television. Browsing through the Shack feels like wandering through a museum. And like a museum abounding with art, each piece comes with its own story.
We’ve dug deep into this notorious toy box to find interesting tidbits about the shop. Store associate, Kimberly Perez, who has worked at the Shack for over 10 years, gave us a thorough tour. Here are 9 juicy secrets we are spilling about the Toy Shack.
Fun Facts About Toy shack
• Who owns the toy shack? Toy expert, Johnny Jimenez Jr.
• How many episodes of “Pawn Stars” have featured the Toy Shack expert so far? According to the International Movie Database (IMDb), the toy expert, Johnny Jimenez Jr., has been featured in about 10 episodes from 2011 to 2014
• If you sign-up for The Las Vegas Reality Show Tour, the experience includes a stop at the Toy Shack along with several other well-known filming locations such as “Pawn Stars,” “Tanked,” “American Restoration” and more.
1. Most Dangerous Toy
On the top shelf behind the cashier desk, there sits a curious red box labeled, “The Atomic Energy Lab.” This is the most dangerous toy in the store. Perez says that throughout her career at the shop, she’s only seen it taken off the shelf and opened once.
“[There] are samples of uranium and plutonium inside [the box]. There’s only a couple we know of in the U.S.: one here, one in the Smithsonian and one in the Atomic Testing Museum,” says Perez. “I think we have one of the only complete ones. There’s two of them that are complete.”
2. Rare Star Wars Helmet Replica
Star Wars fans will love the striking Darth Vader helmet with a realistic Luke Skywalker (young Mark Hamill) face replica inside. The face is so lifelike it’s almost frightening. It is signed by Dave Prowse, a British bodybuilder and actor, who physically played Darth Vader.
Perez says, “That really cool Darth Vader helmet over there, that’s a one of one replica. It wasn’t in any movies or anything, but it’s signed by the dude who actually wore the costume [and] it was made by the company that does the prop stuff for Star Wars.”
Other authentic Star Wars movie pieces in the shop include: Star Wars Episode VII’s Rebel pilot framed decals, Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s “Grizzly” bomb and Star Wars VIII’s Resistance buckle and more.
3. Biggest Hot Wheel Collection in Town
Toy Shack has the largest collection of Hot Wheels in Las Vegas. These toy cars are the store’s number one sellers. They have thousands and thousands of Hot Wheels and rare ones are kept behind glass on display.
But they also sell less expensive toy cars for kids that play with them now. The entire back wall is covered with Hot Wheels that are all different. Price ranges vary, but the rare ones sell fast.
“We buy and sell and trade so much that when something that comes in that is super crazy, somebody has already heard about it. So we always tell people it’s not a sales tactic,” says Perez. “If you see something in here you want you should buy it because everything comes from people. [We] cannot guarantee that [we’ll] ever have it again.”
Local Tip: Perez says the best time to visit the store is on Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Usually, the store is less busy during this time of the week. When conventions are in town like Level Up, they potentially make the store very busy.
4. A Heartbreaking Appraisal Story
Throughout the years, Perez has experienced both weird and sad appraisal stories (when people come in to sell their toys and learn their value). Out of all her experiences, there is one appraisal backstory that stayed with her.
“My favorite lady was a big romantic. She just wanted to have kids and get married. But I guess she ended up getting this job where she traveled all the time and it was a really good job,” says Perez. “She was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to make this amount of money, get my house and get all my stuff together.’ She passed away young before she got everything together. But everywhere she traveled she bought a bridal Barbie. She had like a U-Haul truck full of stuff.”
The woman’s sister came into the shop and didn’t know what to do with all the dolls, so she sold them.
“What I found sad about that is [that] it’s crazy how you put a lot of love and energy into something and then you consider you’re going to give it to this person [and that] they’ll cherish it as much as you do. And then [her sister] didn’t know what to do with the stuff,” says Perez. “I also found it sad that obviously she didn’t find anyone before she passed.”
Local Tip: If you want to bring something in to get it appraised, the process for one item usually only takes about an hour. But depending on how much a guest brings in, it could take longer.
5. A Dangerous, Banned Toy Mentioned on the Tour
When guests visit for the Reality Show tour, Perez says they love to hear about a banned toy that’s come through the store—lawn darts (also known as Jarts).
This vintage toy was a backyard game with darts (made with metal spikes) that players would toss in the air towards plastic hoops lying on the ground. The concept was similar to corn hole or horse shoes, except it was very dangerous.
In 1988, Jarts was banned in the U.S. and Canada. According to a 1987 press release, ”An estimated 6,100 people have been treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries involving lawn darts from 1978 through 1936. At least 80 percent of the victims were younger than 15 years old, and more than 50 percent were ten years old or younger.”
To further prevent the toy from harming anyone, the ban was reinforced a second time in 1997 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) after a 7-year-old boy suffered a brain injury from the product.
In a 1997 press release, CPSC Chairman Ann Brown said, “CPSC banned lawn darts in 1988, but some of these dangerous products may still be in garages, basements, or second-hand stores. Parents should destroy these banned lawn darts immediately.”
6. Unique G.I. Joe Aircraft Carrier
Released in 1985, the G.I. Joe USS Flagg Aircraft Carrier is another rare gem for sale in the store. This aircraft toy was one of the largest and most popular items when it first hit stores, but the high costs at that time meant most kids didn’t own one.
The entire toy spans about seven and a half feet and includes highly advanced features for an ’80s toy like an electronic sound system, towing vehicle trailer, Admiral’s launch plus action figure, Admiral Keel Haul.
Toy Shack not only has this rare toy in good condition, but also has the original shipping box. The retro aircraft is priced at around $5,000.
Fun Fact: Near the cashier desk, there is a glass case with classic toy soldiers set up in a scene which includes nurses taking care of wounded military men, soldiers dining at a table and uniformed men fighting in a miniature boxing ring.
7. Haunted dolls
As seen on “Pawn Stars,” a 1928 Charles Lindbergh doll was featured on one of the episodes. According to Looper, the husband felt sentimental about the doll, but he had to give it up because his wife hated it and his daughter screamed when it was in her room. Perez says that the Toy Shack had the doll on display for a while, but it was sold and is no longer in the store.
“We actually had it on display for a while. I know it sounds weird, but we had it on a doll stand. And we’d come back and it was lying down instead of sitting. Finally, someone bought it, [but] it was here for a couple years,” says Perez.
Although the Charles Lindbergh doll found a home, there is another creepy doll that is still there and for sale. Perez pointed up to a large, pale doll standing near the Atomic Energy Lab kit.
“That doll up there speaks German,” she says. “She’s really creepy and speaks when you make her talk.”
She didn’t know the doll’s name, but she says it aged into a mushy rubber that nearly falls apart when handled. It’s a very delicate, haunted looking piece.
8. Don’t Bring in This Toy
When it comes to the vintage toy business, the shop is willing to look at just about any toy except one kind. Beanie Babies.
“People try to bring in their Beanie Babies all the time. We do not buy Beanie Babies at all. I swear we get like 50 plus calls a day on my shift alone,” says Perez.
This once crazed trend unfortunately lost all its value and none of them are really worth much anymore. Even the Princess Diana Beanie Baby, which Perez says is a toy people frequently ask about, is not worth much. Plus, the store already has a decent sized display of Beanie Babies that are for sale.
Local Tip: Save time and energy by keeping those Beanie Babies at home.
9. Toy Prediction: What Should We Collect Now?
Two words. Baby Yoda.
“Star Wars is timeless [and] we have people coming in for Star Wars all the time,” says Perez. “Baby Yoda and the Mandalorian bounty hunters have always been super popular.”
Perez points to a Black Series Star Wars Yoda figurine still in the package in a glass case. She says it is a difficult collectible to get and that it’s already worth over $100.
“That’s a new one. That’s like a 2001 figure [and] it’s $109. [When] it came out, it was 20 bucks. The Baby Yoda one is like a $150 figure. So imagine you keep that in the box every year, it’s gonna increase. The toy world is insane.”
For reference, see what the original Black Series Yoda is priced at on Ebay right now.
Whether you’re a toy collector, sentimental about your childhood or want to share memories with your kids, Toy Shack is filled with nostalgic surprises.
Location: Neonopolis, 450 Fremont St., Las Vegas, NV 89101
Hours: Monday—Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Phone Number: (702) 538-8600