By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung
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Videographer / Director: Carlos Chiossone
Producer: Crystal Chung, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal
Extreme collector, Ronald Toby from Philadelphia, has had a life-long fascination with toys, and began actively collecting them at the age of 15.
He’s been buying them ever since, 'once piece at a time', and now owns over 80,000 items.
He estimates today that his entire collection of toys and memorabilia is worth well over $1.5 million - and could be as high as $1.9million - after it was appraised by Philadelphia News in 2011.
Ronald, aged 64, said: “One thing that I have learned about toys is that when you become a man, you’re still a kid inside.
“My collection is like living inside a toy store. I always loved going to the toy store, so having that in your own house is really great.
“Whenever I’ve made a bad move or whenever things go wrong, I just go down the basement to the toy store.”
Ronald’s incredible collection is stored in various rooms throughout his home, in museum style displays.
The retired maintenance manager said: “There are other collectors that may have more merchandise than I have. But nobody displays it better than me, because I turn my collection into a toy store.
"Most collectors have their collections in boxes, put in the basement, put in a garage. They never get a chance to enjoy it.”
Ironically, as a small child Ronald didn’t own a huge number of toys.
He explained: “As a kid, there wasn’t a lot of toys. I have relatives so I would do a little chore for them and it would always get me what I had asked for. I remember my grandmother buying my first castle.”
Ronald’s Mum, Florence, 85 said: “All the other kids would be out playing or whatever. Not Ronald. He would be in the house playing or working with the toys he had and we all respected that.
"We didn’t bother him because we knew that is what he wanted to do, and he was a good kid. No jail time. No policemen.”
Ronald estimates that he has spent over $200,000 to date on his collection which is stored neatly in every single room of his house, with the rooms being separated into different genres of collections.
He said: “I try to have a different thing in each room. I have a swatch room, I have an African room, I have an ice house room which is filled with frozen icicles.
“From there I have a boxing memorabilia room, a 1941 room and a dolls room.”
Ronald’s doll room features over 800 collectible dolls, from Barbie dolls to miniature figurines of Serena and Venus Williams and Charlie’s Angels.
Betty Naylor, Ronald’s best friend, has known the collector for over 25 years, after they met in her collectable store in Philadelphia.
She said: “Most of our best times are going out there, hunting for different items. We go to free markets, we go to auctions together. We sit outside like two old people and watch the toys arrive and go by, just laughing at different things.
“Ronald is a bright, imaginative, passionate, heartfelt gentleman. He’s my hero. He’s my best friend and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.
“I hope to see his collection go to a museum one day because he has got many pieces in here that he has put the time, the effort, the heart, the imagination into.”
One of Ronald's most prized and expensive possessions is his large diorama of the Zulu Wars of 1879.
The detailed battlefield features some 10,000 miniature figures that he has hand-painted over time - with another 10,000 figures still waiting to be painted and take their place.
Toby has devoted decades to developing and maintaining his collection.
He said: “I had two boys and that was the reason I always going to the toy store. I would act like I was going for the boys but I was going for myself.
"One for them, three for me. That was my philosophy!”
With Ronald’s huge toy collection ever growing, he is now looking for a warehouse to house all of the items, including a collection of toy ships that have become too large to hold inside his Philadelphia home.
He said: “When you are a toy collector you always need more space. I am looking for a warehouse right now because you always outgrow the space.
“My creativity has gotten bigger than this house! It was bigger than the last house that I lived in, so I moved here and after 17 years it is time to move again!”
Ronald hopes that his collection will leave a legacy in the future, 'to show what he did when he was here.'
He said: “There is cliché about collecting toys and the cliché is this: ‘He who dies with the most toys, wins.’ And I know quite a few winners.
"I am not trying to be one yet, but I know quite a few winners and it’s true. You never want to sell your toys. You will hold them till the end.”