If you’re feeling nostalgic for the “old days” of toy retail, a newly unearthed video may just scratch that itch.
A mysterious YouTube Channel called btm0815ma has been uploading a massive collection of archival news reports and b-roll for nearly six years. The prolific uploader has nearly 5,000 videos in its library, but it’s a collection of recent videos that have really started turning heads. Just days after digging up some vintage footage from Nintendo of America, CES, and the launches of Playstation 2, Microsoft’s Xbox, and the Nintendo GameCube, a 20-minute reel of raw footage from inside a Manhattan Toys “R” Us location has arrived.
In the clip shot on Nov. 27, 1991 at the Herald Center Toys “R” Us, shoppers can be seen browsing an incredible assortment of early ’90s toys and games from an era where “stack ’em high and watch ’em fly” was still a big part of the retail mantra. The sheer volume of inventory available in a single location is a reminder of how much the business of physical retail has changed in 30 years.
Some highlights include robust floor-to-ceiling displays of Hasbro’s Monopoly, Mattel’s Barbie, LEGO, Little Tikes, Cabbage Patch Kids, WWE and WCW action figures and playsets, and piles of G.I. Joe Brawlers, Kenner’s Robin Hood Sherwood Forest, and Playmates Toys’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sewer and Technodrome playsets. There’s also a great look at the infamous Toys “R” Us “take-a-ticket” video game aisles and a bustling set of checklanes where the registers clicking with a flurry of holiday toy purchases.
The Toys “R” Us in Herald Center opened in 1990 and remained open for roughly 11 years until Geoffrey moved to a new digs in Times Square. That store was open for nearly 15 years before the company pulled the plug citing rising costs.
While times have changed, the U.S. toy industry is expected to have hit record sales numbers for 2020, the final tally for which should be revealed in the very near future.