Richard Collier’s Toy Collection

Toy Collecting

Growing up, watching TV was a big part of my childhood. Naturally, when Christmas and birthdays came around, I would ask for the toys associated with those cartoons and movies.

Many hours were spent browsing toys in Banba Toymaster Dun Laoghaire, hoping that I could get the toys I wanted and those that I knew would be too expensive to even ask for.

One of the most significant toy lines I remember as a child was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Years later, I learned that the first series of the cartoon was actually animated in Dublin by Murakami Wolf Dublin *(MWD).

I distinctly remember going into Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre with my mum, hoping to get the Splinter action figure from the Teenage Turtles line. However, upon seeing that the character was a rat in a pink kimono, my mother was visibly disgusted and told me to pick something else.

This obviously struck a chord, because years later, when I was well beyond playing with toys, I found a Splinter action figure at a car boot sale and bought it instantly. This is when my collecting began.

Over the years, I have sought out toys from my childhood, replacing damaged or missing ones and seeking out ones I never had.

My toy collection now consists of characters from TV shows and movies I watched as a child.

There is definitely a nostalgic element to my collecting, but generally, I’m drawn to them because I love the designs. To me, these toys represent the first design objects I interacted with. I appreciate the craft and design that went into developing each of the individual characters.

As an adult, I see them now less as toys and more as affordable sculptures.

A photo of Richard playing with toys in the 1990s. It was taken in the creche that used to be on the top floor of Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre


The WereBears were a series of teddy bears released in 1983 in Ireland and the UK. They were created by the Animator George Nicholas in an effort to offer teddy bears to boys without worrying about being bullied. The bears were designed so that their “normal” head functioned as a hood, and by turning the head inside out it would reveal the “were” face.

Four bears were first released in 1983. The bears were named Grizzler, Howler, Fang, and Gums. Each bear came with a cassette tape narrated by Oliver Postgate of Bagpuss fame, with one side explaining how the origins of the WereBears and the other telling the individual bear’s own adventure. According to the story tapes, the WereBears were handmade by Baron Egon Baconburger in Castle Casserole in the small Bavarian village of Munchen Luncheon.

However, the curse that plagued his family (they were werewolves) was also passed down to the bears on a full moon, hence the WereBears were created.

In 1986, another line of bears called the TerrorTeds were created. A fifth WereBear named Growler was released the same year.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, commonly abbreviated as TMNT, is a media franchise (comics, cartoon, movies etc) created by the comic book artists Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

It follows Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo, four turtle brothers trained in martial arts who fight crime in New York City. Supporting characters include the turtles’ Sensei, a rat called Splinter, their human friends April O’Neil and Casey Jones, and enemies such as Baxter Stockman, Krang, and their archenemy, the Shredder.

The franchise which began as a comic book, was first published in 1984 by Eastman and Laird’s company Mirage Studios and was a surprise success. In 1987, Eastman and Laird licensed the characters to Playmates Toys, which developed a line of Turtles action figures.

About $1.1 billion of TMNT toys were sold between 1988 and 1992, making them the third-bestselling toy figures ever at the time.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park, the epic 1993 film directed by Steven Spielberg, captivated audiences worldwide with its realistic, thrilling depictions of dinosaurs. The awe-inspiring movie was a cultural phenomenon that forever changed our perception of these majestic prehistoric creatures.

Jurassic Park’s merchandising is nearly as legendary as the film, particularly the highly coveted Jurassic Park toy line.

The Kenner toy company was responsible for the first Jurassic Park action figures. The action figures debuted in 1993, alongside the release of the film. These initial releases were a big hit among children who wanted to own a piece of the Jurassic Park magic and bring the movie’s thrilling dinosaur encounters to life in their living rooms.

The 1993 collection included human characters and various species of dinosaurs from the movie.

The figures were well-crafted and detailed and captured the essence of the characters they represented. They were unique because they introduced an innovative ‘dino-damage’ feature, where a portion of the dinosaur’s flesh could be removed to reveal the underlying bone structure, simulating battle damage. This was a first in the action figure industry, and it became a trademark of Kenner’s Jurassic Park line.

As a result of the toy collecting/ toy appreciation I started making my own toys as a personal side project. 

The idea behind them is that they have the aesthetic of commercially sold toys but the subject matter indicates they would never be sold to children. They are very much adult pop cultural references. 

Once I decide on a character, I use epoxy clay and paints to adapt old damaged action figures. I then design and make the packaging for them. here’s a link to an Instagram I set up for them.

The Museum of Childhood Ireland have a selection from Richard’s Toy Collection on display now at Bank of Ireland, Dún Laoghaire.

*Founding father of Irish animation industry