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Updated Nov 27, 2012 - 8:56 am

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

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. 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. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

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

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

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