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Retro toys bring back memories, bring in cash

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Christmas is going old school this year: retro toys are hot this holiday season.

At Auntie Em's Miniatures/Smilin' Jack's Pedal Cars in Glendale, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, GI Joes and Toy Story figures, like Buzz Lightyear, are selling well. Store owner Letitia Ballengee said toys from the 1950s and '60s are selling too because people want to buy back their childhood.

"We sell mostly cars and trucks," she said. "Tonka sells real good because every little boy had a Tonka."

Ballengee's place is wall-to-wall toys: Star Wars, Star Trek, Hot Wheels. She said most of her customers are men.

"We had a woman come in one time looking for a pedal car for her husband and give it to him for Christmas and tell him to shut up," she said. "She was tired of him telling her about the milkman that ran over his pedal car."

Ballengee said some customers have been looking for a certain toy for years. They walk in and there it is on her shelves. That's a good feeling, she said.

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About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite food: Steak and shrimp, and any food on campouts.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Favorite news memory: The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. The 2007 Southern California Firestorm and being at Sky Harbor Airport when the first plane lifted off several days after 9-11. Seeing the American flag on the tail of the Salt Lake City-bound Delta airliner as it took off still gives me goosebumps.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges -- which was outstanding --, Lonesome Dove.

First job: Spinning records at KLER Radio Orofino, Idaho 1980.

First concert: KISS/Cheap Trick 1977 Spokane, WA Coliseum.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, The University of Montana Grizzlies and Texas Rangers.

Outside interests: Sports, camping, fishing, traveling.


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