“It’s a question of what a person really is. Yes, Kansas City writer David Mansour is a published author. Yes, he makes his living as a hair stylist. He enjoys both occupations. But at a deep, subconscious level, down to his bones, David Mansour is an archivist.”
~ Verge Magazine, 2005
At its peak in 2012 , my toy collection inventoried at 10,000+ items!
Above: At a book signing event in Overland Park, Kansas surrendered by a few of my favorite toys. Below: Showing news anchor Dan Weinbaum how to work a pair of Clackers while promoting From ABBA To Zoom on KMBC-TV in Kansas City in June 2005.
“David Mansour has a flair for the dramatic. When we visited, he insisted we push the toy room door open ourselves, and when we did, we could practically hear the music from ‘The Wizard of Oz’—you know, that moment when Dorothy opens her door to a Technicolor wonderland. (Mansour’s toy room is painted in ‘kid colors’ of the ‘70s – lime green, aqua blue, ‘orange blast,’ and ‘pretty as a princess pink.’).
Which leads us to his list of three things people say when they enter the room:
2. ‘Look, there’s a (fill in the blank) – I had one when I was a kid.’
3. (Nothing – just big-eyed silence). "
~ The Kansas City Star
Above left: The original Barbie & the Rockers birthday gift that launched a toy obsession in 1987! Above right: My growing Barbie collection, circa 1996. Below left: 20-something Me organizing a then-fledgling Barbie collection in 1990. Below right: Me in the "Toy Room" in 2000 - Liddle Kiddles, lunch boxes, board games quickly joined Barbie as other favorite toys for me to collect!
“At the end of a hallway lined with 60s-era paintings of large-eyed children by schlock-artist Margaret Keane, Mansour has devoted an entire room to his toy collection. It’s breathtaking, if you’re into toys; an obsessively-organized room stacked floor-to-ceiling with shelves of Barbies, Kens, vehicles, Bratz snotty-girl dolls, lunch boxes, robots, bobbleheads – a collection arrayed and displayed as groups of mini-collections. Whatever recessive genetic trait causes collecting behavior, Mr. David Mansour has it real bad.”
~ Verge Magazine, December 2005
Star Trek actor George Takei with his own copy of From ABBA To Zoom!
It didn’t take me long to start adding other toys and dolls to the Barbie collection. By the mid-1990s I had accumulated an extensive collection of dolls, action figures, lunch boxes, board games, die-cast vehicles, Pez, bobbleheads, puzzles, books, records, TV and movie toy tie-ins, and other pop culture treasures from a mid-century childhood. I had my collector’s eye on the vintage toys from the 1960s and 1970s. I was on a mission to find the long-lost toys that my kid sister and I played with as children. For the next decade, toy collecting was the BIGGEST obsession in my world. Period. I spent virtually every weekend scouring antique malls and flea markets looking for desired toys. Toy stores, such as Toys ‘R Us and Children's Palace, along with the toy departments of Wal-Mart, Target, and K-Mart were my regular “go to” places. Throughout the 2000s, I received bundles of delivered packages at my doorstep that were my coveted eBay wins. In the four Kansas City, Missouri homes I lived in since 1988, I dedicated a spare bedroom as the “Toy Room." I filled the “Toy Room” with floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall shelving units, which overflowed with dolls and toys displayed in mini-collections. Friends loved to visit this room and referred to it as a “toy museum!"
In September 2012 I moved to the city of my dreams, beautiful San Diego. In preparation for the move I downsized my belongings and sold off quite a few toys. Still thousands of beloved dolls and toys remained; these were boxed-up and journeyed west to Southern California with me. In May 2014, I retired from hairdressing after 28 years and opened an on-line vintage toy store, From ABBA To Zoom (www.shop.fromabbatozoom.com), name after my book. The store's inventory is comprised of the toys items that I had collected from the past thirty years. They are found in over 70 main categories, such as "Action Figures," "Walt Disney," "Paper Dolls," and "Knick-Knacks," housed within three major groups: "Toys," "Dolls," and "Pop Culture Treasures." Shop From ABBA To Zoom... It's FUN!
Above left: In my photography studio (with Corgi Bode) ready to photograph toys for From ABBA To Zoom: Vintage Toys. Above right: Shipping off a bundle of toys to
collectors all over the globe! Bottom photos: Enjoying my California dreamland!
It’s easy for me to say,
"Hi, I'm David Mansour. I have the best job in the world. I play with toys! Not only do I play with toys, I collect them, photograph them, write about them, and sell them too! As an avid toy collector since 1987 I am now selling my collection of thousands of toys, dolls and other pop culture treasures from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Thank you for taking a look at my webstore. It's going to be a lot of FUN!” (April 2014)
But there’s so much more to this journey of toy collecting. I’ve always been a collector at heart – looking back to my earliest childhood memories I was collecting something—toys, dolls, comics, books, records, trading cards, photos, various memorabilia—you name it, I was probably collecting it!
Above: Records, Wacky Packs, Mad Magazines, and Farrah Fawcett - a few of the many things I collected in younger years!
The pivotal moment of toy collecting occurred on my birthday in September of 1987. I was a young hairdresser, first year in a salon, and on that day a friend gifted me with the entire Barbie & the Rockers set, a rad music band consisting of six dolls. This gift reignited a deep love for Barbie that I haven’t felt since childhood (boys do play with dolls) and immediately I hit the toy stores and toy aisles of local department stores buying up more Barbie dolls. My girl friends and salon clients presented me with their childhood dolls to add to the collection (onetime I arrived for a dental appointment and my wonderful dentist gave me her old Barbie dolls, plus the Barbie Friendship plane from the early-70s). Before I knew it these six Barbie dolls grew into a collection of thousands! s!
Toy Collector, Pop Culture Aficionado, Author, & Photographer
"David Mansour is an avid collector and aficionado of American pop culture."
~ Andrews McMeel Publishing
Through the years, my Barbie from my collection have received a lot of coverage in media, including a "Barbie for President" makeover in the Kansas City Star in 1992 (above left); the coveted Front Page of the Kansas City Star Sunday edition on May 31, 2005 (above right); a Christmas Day newspaper story on classic toys in 2005 (bottom left); supermodels for an actual fashion shoot in Kansas City Spaces magazine, modeling the latest spring fashion accessories in 2011 (below center); and an appearance on KMBC-TV morning news in Kansas City in 2005 (below right)!
“Love what you do and do what you love. Don't listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.”
~ Ray Bradbury
Above: Me among my toy collection at it's peak, circa 2010. Below: Three shots from Stan Williams, New York Ciy author (The Find) and "Elegant Thrifter," when he visited my former home in Kansas City to photograph the renowned toy collection. These were featured on Stan's Elegant Thrifter blogsite in June 2010.
The toy collection served as a foundation for me to write a best-selling pop culture book, From ABBA To Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. Coinciding with the book’s publishing in 2005, the toys and I received a lot of media attention. We were featured on many TV shows, from local morning news spots to national coverage, including CNBC's Squawk Talk and Discovery Channel's Pop Nation. We appeared in in countless American magazines and newspapers, including USA Today and The Kansas City Star. To promote the book I did hundreds of radio interviews across the USA and Canada, discussing pop culture and toys of yesteryear. When I traveled for book signings I brought an array of toys to display, such as a Mrs. Beasley doll from TV's Family Affair, a talking Lost in Space Robot, a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang lunchbox, and of course, Barbie and Ken dolls. Hailed as an "Aficionado of American Pop Culture" by Andrews McMeel Publishing and a "Pop Culture Expert" by the Discovery Channel, I became the person whom the media called when they had questions about pop culture and toys. Throughout this time I maintained a career as a top hairdresser and colorist in Kansas City with the most loyal clients. This was truly an exciting time in my life.
Above: Appearing on Discovery Channel's Pop Nation TV show, which aired nationally for Christmas 2005. Labeled a "Pop Culture Expert/Author" by Discovery, I appeared as a “talking head” and talked about... Barbie, Crayola Crayons, and Pez.
As far as the Barbie dolls are concern, they were always at the center of my heart through all those years of toy collecting. I'm keeping the whole Barbie collection. I'm photographing them--not just posed on the shelves in the collection but on beaches, atop mountains (below), alongside canyons, in the park, at the swimming pool, and just about every place around my California home. This is all for an upcoming book, Beyond the Valley of the Barbie Dolls (above left), showcasing my original Barbie photography and for artwork on exhibition for sale (above right)!
"Toys and Christmas morning just go together." A collection of my toys beautifully photographed by David Pulliam for a December 25, 2005 story in The Kansas City Star newspaper titled "Timeless Toys.
Please visit my Beyond the Valley of the Barbie Dolls website by clicking ...
Above left: #1 on Amazon.com! Above right: Book signings scheduled throughout the country.
"Just take in this gorgeous sea of Barbies and Kens from over the years dressed in dreamy, fashion-plate finery."
~ Stan Williams, The Elegant Thrifter